Writing 101: Our House

Throughout my childhood I lived in just two houses, one until I was six the next until I left home at twenty.

Our house was old. Built in about 1900 from red brick, fronted with stone and when we moved in it was all original, the laundry, “bathroom” and kitchen. By the time I was twelve Dad had made improvements in all those areas.

The front door had a heavy knocker and a weird contraption to open it. A small round handle was on the inside and it lifted a bar which allowed the door to open but there was a heavy old key too. The front door opened into the passageway which went the whole length of the house with rooms opening off each side.

There were four fireplaces, a beautiful white marble one in a front room and a black marble one in what was our Dining Room. The other two were wooden with inlaid tiles. We only had a fire in the Dining Room and Dad always insisted the door be kept shut to keep the warmth in which meant in winter the rest of the house was very cold. All of the rooms had very high ceilings.

Apart from the four big rooms at the front of the house there was a smaller bedroom and a very narrow pantry. There was a step down then to a porch area with bathroom and kitchen going off to the sides. How the rooms were used changed over time. When I was twelve my oldest brother had already left home but that still left my other brother, my two sisters and me so most of the rooms were bedrooms.

The toilet had been updated from a “long drop” to a flushing one connected to a septic tank but it was still away from the house and I hated having to go out to it in the dark.

Our yard was big! Big enough for at least a dozen different kinds of fruit trees as well as Mum’s ornamental plants, sheds and vegie gardens. We always had chooks but since my brothers went to an Agricultural High School we’d also had geese. I hated the geese. They were dirty and nasty. Very dirty and very nasty .

We knew everyone all around from old Captain White, an ornithologist, to the newest immigrants who came from Europe for a better life in South Australia. When I was twelve, new houses were being established in the area which until then had been mostly market gardens.

Today, on the site of our home, are fourteen, two-storey townhouses. What a different life it will be for the kids who live there now.

Does this ring any bells with you?

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