Monday, April 18

More on My Childhood


I am not sure that I can recall a great deal about the first few years of my life.  My mother told me some things that I remember.

My parents were in the Australian Army - which is where they met. They married while still in service and boarded with a lady near the city of Adelaide, and when my mother became pregnant with me, they had some issues to manage.  They could not board in the small room with a baby, so had to find new accommodation.  Not only that, my parents had to find a hospital so that my mother could give birth with medical care.

As it was wartime, all the hospitals were full with war wounded, and there were no places for women in labour.  However, not long before I was due to arrive in the world, my father rode his bike around Adelaide in search of a place for my mother to give birth, and found it in a small hospital close to the city, at Dulwich.


After I arrived safely, they moved around a few times, until they were able to move into their own home, which was after living at Woodlands.

My mother told me the story of my "kidnapping" at Brighton where they were living.  I was playing in the front yard, and mum had tied the front gates together so that I was "safe" inside while she went into the house to do some housework.

A short time later, when she went to check on me, the gate was open and I was gone.  She raced around screaming, and contacted my father, and a big search was set up.  It went on for about an hour before I came home holding the hand of a little girl who was a couple of years older than me.  I must have been about three years old.  
She had apparently spoken to me in the front yard and told me about her pet bird, (I think that was the story), and asked if I wanted to see it.  Which of course I did.  So she undid the gate, and I went with her to her home.  

Meanwhile, the search was on.  

I returned safely, of course.  I feel sorry that I put my mother through such agony at that time.

In relation to the "Dunny" story, I told my grandchildren about the humble dunny, and they were shocked.  I told them in those days we did not have neat rolls of white toilet paper, and had to use torn off pieces of newspaper and pages from the "phone book."  

I do remember in the early days how it was great to get a new phone book, so that we could put the old one to use in the"dunny".  My grand children were quite shocked as they had not known until then, the primitive conditions that their grandparents had to live.  What surprised me was that grandson, aged 12 at the time, asked me what a phone book was!!!

Also at that time, I remember the "chamber pot" - a china or enamel pot with a handle that lived under the bed.  If during the night, you needed to go to the toilet (lavatory was probably the most common name used), you could use the "pot", rather than go outside the house to the dunny.  Each morning, the mother of the house would empty the pot into the dunny.  When we moved into our house at Oaklands/Ballara Park, we had an indoor toilet, so the dunny did not have a place in our lives unless we visited an uncle and aunt who lived in the country.

Across the road from the house at Woodlands was a castle.  I have just found a video on castles in South Australia, and the Woodlands Castle is mentioned as it was one of the few castles built in South Australia.  It was demolished around 1950.   You can watch the video here. 

Here is something from the website SA Life, about South Australian History.  Not only did I live across the road from the Edwardstown Castle at Woodlands, but I have a connection with the church of St Mary.  It was my family's church back in the early 1900's and many of my ancestors are buried there.  It is not far from Tonsley Park, where my great uncle had a famous farm called Tonsley.  There's another story there.  

Grant: South Australia’s most famous castle was built here on a huge tract of land between South Road and Daws Road behind this beautiful church of St Mary.. it was built by a man called Benjamin Babbage who had vines and roses and called his place The Rosary, everybody else called it Babbage’s castle because that’s exactly what it looked like .. it was South Australia’s FIRST concrete home and possibly South Australia’s WORST concrete home as well.
Babbage was an engineer who used a pioneering technique for making concrete that was fundamentally flawed and created rampant salt damp. It was a grand home…described in the papers at the time as part Arabian nights, part Grimm’s fairytales… Benjamin Babbage died before it was finished and his married daughter and her family lived there.
But…by 1910, it was crumbling away…Babbage’s daughter moved from one room to another as the castle tumbled down around her. Ten years later, it was mostly rubble…the place was demolished and the land subdivided in the 1930’s.
Not far away, on South Road at Edwardstown, was a home that inspired the name for the Castle Plaza Shopping Centre. The first dwelling there was a modest affair built by Alfred Weaver…
The next owner was Scottish sculptor William Maxwell - the man who did the statues in the city of Robbie Burns and John McDouall Stuart. He wanted something that reminded him of home…the results of that are in this article from the 1947 SA Homes and Gardens magazine in the State Library…“Woodlands-The Edwardstown Castle.”
Woodlands was bulldozed in the 1950’s to make way for the Castle Hotel…that in turn was flattened in the mid 1980’s as the shopping centre expanded.


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