Maggie’s Mistake

For too many years we had neighbours from hell so when I started finding bits of wire on our driveway on an almost daily basis I secretly cursed them. Their old fence had been patched with all kinds of bits and pieces and I assumed the wire bits were from there. Eventually though I came to realize I only noticed the bits of wire in the winter when the Magpies and Wattlebirds were nesting. I decided they must pick up the bits thinking they’d be good to use in their nest only to realize they are too hard and unwieldy.

Wire pieces have been appearing on the driveway again over the last week or so but this morning I found the best bit ever. It was in our backyard, a complete, shiny, wire coathanger. I wish I could have seen the whole event.



Old Phone

An old wall phone.

An old wall phone.

This photo reminds me of the old phone that was in the house when we moved to Fulham. Our home at Henley Beach had a “modern” phone and I was mortified by the monstrosity that hung on the wall in the back porch. I still remember our number, it was L8246, our current number has no letters, just 8 numerals! Times have really changed, our children don’t even have home phones, only mobiles.

Apart from the lunacy of it’s appearance the thing I remember most about the old wall phone was the day an Italian man used it to get married, by proxy.  It was the only phone he had access to. Marriages by proxy meant the groom wasn’t actually with the bride instead there was a stand in or proxy. After the marriage was formalised the bride was able to come to Australia to be with her new husband.

Apparently it was a very common thing at the time because so many young European men came to Australia there simply weren’t enough suitable women available. When the young men had a home they’d start the search for a bride in their homeland. I don’t know if Vince knew his prospective bride before he left Italy but they certainly had a long and happy marriage.

Our "modern" phone.

Our “modern” phone.

Starting a New Life


This photo reminds me of a little enclave that existed not far from our house. It was just north of Henley Beach Road between Tapley’s Hill Road and the “S bend”. On the “S bend” there was a cluster of rough letter boxes on posts and that was the only indication of the large number of homes up the dirt road. The homes in the enclave were made of asbestos and would have been considered shacks by established residents. I think the land was owned by the Ayton family and expect they collected rent for the land occupied.


I remember visiting the home of my friend, Anna, she was an only child but many families living in these little homes had several children. Anna’s father had been a dentist in their homeland but his qualifications weren’t recognised in Australia. He had set up an area with a curtain screen and behind that was his dentist chair. I presume he did some dental work for other residents but don’t really know.

During the 1950s many people left Europe and came to live in South Australia, the early arrivals wouldn’t have had support from the local community many of whom were suspicious of the allegiances the immigrants might have had during the war years. They had to work very hard to establish themselves. There were a large number of immigrants including Greeks, Italians, Bulgarians, Yugoslavians etc around Fulham Gardens where we lived.


Most of the newcomers we knew were Italian and got jobs as conductors on the Public Transport system or labouring. They worked, saved and eventually built family homes in the Fulham and Fulham Gardens area. Often when one home was built relatives would come out to Australia and share the house until they were able to build their own and move out.

City Cows


This photo reminds me of just how much vacant land there was around Henley Beach and Fulham when I was young. Just across from where Henley High School is now there was a paddock with a horse called, “Mercury” in it and I know Ricky rode it sometimes but it was a stallion and I don’t know if it ever went out of the paddock. I think it was owned by Mr Hughes who lived just opposite. When we lived at Henley Beach Dad kept a cow on the vacant land between Henley Beach Road and the Torrens outlet at West Beach.

Our cow or maybe even cows kept us supplied with milk, I know one cow was called, “Jessie” and this is a photo of Mike with her calf. When we moved to Fulham the cow was grazed in different areas around the few houses. One day Mike and I were sent to check on the cow, I think it might have been tethered, we had to make sure it had water and was OK. It was over near the old Weetunga “castle” and when we reached her we saw two legs sticking out of her rear end. Mike raced back home to get Dad and I stayed at the cow, fascinated. I found out afterwards Mike got whacked for letting me see such a thing!

In the photo you can also see the old Viaduct in the background, that was for the tram and sometimes when we were coming back from the cows the brave ones would duck under the track where the soil had been scraped away and sit hunched there when a tram went over. I also remember seeing pennies that had been run over by a tram but don’t think I would ever have wasted a penny that way! It used to cost tuppence to travel from the stop nearest  Henley Beach school to the corner of Tapleys Hill Road and Henley Beach Road at Fulham.

Twin calves on ground around Henley South.

Ricky and Mike with twin calves on ground at Henley South.