Sunday, 8 December 2013

Week 5 - Your Childhood Home - very late in coming :)

This blog post is really late, as I've recently started a fantastic job in a library and that keeps me really busy. This will be my last post in the series, as I'll be writing blog posts about my ancestors and their stories, which has gone by the wayside lately. I skipped week 4 because I don't really have a favourite season. I'm such an indoor girl that I really don't notice the weather. Living in Australia we have stinking hot summers, and the winters aren't terribly cold where I live (like maybe down to 4 degrees Celcius), with no snow because the coast is close by. There's something I like and also dislike about all of the seasons. If it could be spring or autumn temperatures all year round I'd be fine with that. :)
So that's my poor excuse for week 4. Now onto week 5......

The prompt for week 5 is Your Childhood Home

When did you leave home? I left home in a couple of stages. Firstly I moved out during the school weeks to live with my grandparents and go to the senior high school that my mother had been to, which was close enough to my Dad's parent's place that I could be a day student. I would come home very weekend and for the school holidays.

Where was it? The first house I lived in was in a Hunter Valley mining town called Pelaw Main. Our house was a first-home-buyer's-special miner's cottage that backed onto the bush and some grazing land. There was mine-subsidence under the house, and Dad said if you put a marble at the front door it would roll straight out the back door, so the house was on a bit of a slope! There used to be a whole other street full of houses behind ours, but they all started to fall into the coal mine, so they were demolished. Mum said that in winter you could see steam from the mine coming up through the grass out the back. We lived there until I was 3 and my younger sister was about to be born. I presume we needed a house big enough to hold the growing brood.
The photo below is my Mum holding me in her arms, and my Dad's brother, Uncle Max. I think that was Max's car. Mum hadn't learned to drive at that stage, and Dad had a motorbike for getting around. The house looks nothing like this now. It's been extended on most sides and you wouldn't recognise it as the same place. I even had to double-check the house number with my Mum to make sure the one I can see in Google Street View is the same. The only things I remember about the house was that the verandah floorboards had many splinters, and I was taken to Kurri Kurri Ambulance Station to get a large one removed from my toe. And my Dad would park his motorbike there and I was allowed to climb onto it, but I did burn my leg on it when the muffler was still hot one day. Ouch!

Our Pelaw Main house c1968

You can still see the ghost of the streets behind the houses where whole families lived & played up until the 1960's.

Where did you move to?

From here we moved a whole 4.1 km the neighbouring town of Weston. I can remember the layout of this house better, as I we lived there until I was nine. It had a bedroom on each side of the hallway at the front, and another opposite the lounge room as you walked further down the hallway. Behind the lounge was the kitchen, and opposite that was the bathroom and laundry. We had an inside toilet, too, which was a step up in the world after our last house! I can't imagine Mum toilet training two toddlers with an outside toilet, as well as contend with the rain, the dark, spiders, etc. Thank god for modern plumbing. Two days after we moved here my sister was born. I'm sure Mum was thrilled to be moving house at nine months pregnant!! As an adult I've driven past the house and it looked so much closer to the road that I remembered. When we moved in it had plaster moulded into fruit shapes around the hallway, which was painted to be the colours of the actual fruit. Ugh! It was quickly painted over in white. My sister and I shared one of the front bedrooms, and I can still see our twin beds and matching blue & white floral bedspreads. I can remember it was a long dark walk down the hallway at night to the toilet. There was a park within walking distance, which I was allowed to go to ALONE (times sure have changed, and maybe not for the better) and play on the fun but apparently dangerous equipment (if you believe the people who make the current park regulations and equipment). The slippery-dip was always blisteringly hot on the backs of my legs, and very high up, so I didn't go on it very often. Behind our back fence was a cream or yellow weatherboard church, which I used to climb through some broken palings in the back fence to see. I don't recall ever seeing people there, though, but occasionally there was confetti in the grass, which was very exciting. Now it's a duplex - typical. We had hydrangeas planted down the side of our house, and Boston fern along the back verandah. My grandmother helped me plant some zinnia seedlings along a side garden, but I think the soil was pretty hopeless so they didn't sprout. My lack of understanding of the importance of regular watering might've had some part to play. The front fence was chain-link when we lived there, and the front porch had a brick half-wall instead of pickets. The side fences were wooden palings, and there were three huge (to me!) garages at the end of the driveway that aren't there any more.
Our Weston house where I lived from age 3 to 9

In 1977 we moved again, an hour's drive away, to be closer to Dad's workplace, and we ended up at Gorokan on the beautiful Central Coast of NSW. I think I was lucky to grow up in the area that I did. It was full of families, with no real trouble around, burglaries or vandalism, etc. Sadly, the area isn't the same now. The house was sold about 15 years ago and The house is now rented, to one of our old neighbour's children (who is now over 30). I wonder if she feels weird to be sleeping in what was my Mum & Dad's bedroom, a room where she would never have been allowed to venture as a child coming to play with my sisters.

I lived here until I moved to Sydney for work in 1987. My first marital home was only around the corner, which was very handy for babysitting. As I was growing up in Gorokan, a group of neighbours would get together regularly for Guy Fawkes Night, Christmas celebrations, and a weekly tipping (betting) club, and called themselves the Minnamurra Mugs, named after the street. Those were the days........

Gorokan house
My Uncle Max painted each house on a corner of a tablecloth as a wedding present.
Pelaw Main house
Weston house


Cessnock house
Gorokan house
The Cessnock house pictured on the tablecloth at was my grandparent's home until they both died and it was sold in 2003. It was in the family since the 1930's. My grandmother lovingly tended some rose bushes near the front fence, one of which flowered into a large bloom that had huge petals like maroon velvet and smelled divine. Sadly, I can't find the same one anywhere. If I could find one I'd grow it as a reminder of my grandmother. This is what the house looks like. It was freezing in winter, and hot as hell in summer, but it was the place we all gathered as a family, and that's what it's all about after all.


  1. Congratulations on the new job Janelle. Library work is so interesting and rewarding, I hope you continue to enjoy it.

    I'll be here and ready to read your posts whenever they pop up in my RSS feed.

    1. Thanks Jill :)
      I enjoy reading your blog each day. I usually read it in a morning as part of culling my overnight emails, while lying in bed resisting getting up.