Monday, 4 March 2013

Growing up in Paddington, NSW

I lived in Paddington, NSW until I turned 13.  My sister and myself lived with my Mother and my Grandmother in my Grandmother's terrace house and we went to boarding school in the Blue Mountains, Katoomba, NSW.  Neither Joan or myself were allowed to play in the street however we were permitted to go to Centennial Park but "never talk to strangers".  How strange back then when children were permitted to go to the Park as today it would be most dangerous. The park is 360 hectares and was a great place to learn to drive and also wash the car and picnic. My mother learned to drive there which was less hair raising than when Joan and I had to sit in the back seat and she would drive to my Aunt and Uncle's home in Waverly.
Centennial Park

My grandmother (Mum to us girls) let rooms in her Terrace house. Mum had her bedroom at the front of the house, ground floor.  John (her son who is 10 yrs older than me) had his bedroom in what would have been the lounge room in former (and later days) and partitioned to make it a private room.  Then we had Sergeant Ware, a copper at the local police station in Woolarah had a bedroom on the 1st floor.  We also had Mrs Smith who was a bit of a worry and tended to drink somewhat on the first floor also.  My mother, Joan and myself shared the front large bedroom, which had a balcony kitchen on the first floor.
There was a bathroom with a penny heater for hot water.  Years later when I moved back as a young married woman, Mum had saved jars of pennies and we still used them for the bath heater.  Downstairs was  an eat-in kitchen and a small room that was used as the family room.  The kitchen was a sort of lean to addition and outside the kitchen door there was a strip to take you to the "back yard" which was probably the size of a bedroom.  What helped to make the back yard so small was a lean to laundry, half of which contained a double cement sink and a copper (and later a washing machine).  The other end of the lean to was stacked and stacked with items Mum figured were worth keeping and also tools as she was a real whizz at fixing things.  In the backyard was a double pole held clothes line.  Gosh I loved hanging washing on that lime and hoisting the pole up and then pulling the ropes that worked the pulleys ....
Also in the back was an outdoor dunny (toilet) with a wooden seat and a pull chain flush.  As there was no toilet paper back then. Mum would get us girls, when we were home from boarding school, to cut newspaper into squares and thread them on a piece of heavy wire to hang in the toilet.
From the back yard was a gate to a walk only lane-way and sometimes going to the toilet was hairy as we were one street behind Oxford Street and the "Light Brigade" hotel and drunks might call in to use an outdoor toilet!  No light in the toilet and many a time we would call on either Mum or my mother to come out as door was locked and nobody answering.
I remember when Mrs Smith moved out (no doubt after another night of her coming home drunk) and Mum was tidying out her room and the top hallway was lined with empty bottles. And these weren't just long-neck beer bottles but spirit bottles.  Considering the only booze we saw in our house was when my bachelor Great Uncle Colin visited at Christmas and he brought home beer from the pub and on Christmas morning Mum would get him to bring home a Vegemite glass of brandy for the Brandy Sauce for the Christmas pudding, we were pretty shocked young girls to see this.  I sort of missed Mrs Smith as once she gave me a ten shilling note to help her up the back stairs where she had fallen and couldn't get up to get upstairs to her room.
76 Gordon Street
 I recently did a Google and found 76 Gordon Street had been on the market and it sold for $1.5M!!!
Some afternoons, Mum would sit on the front verandah on top of the gas metre box (in the corner by the window). Some afternoons she would shell peas for our dinner and Joan and I would help. She said it would be better if we whistled whilst shelling so we didn't eat the peas!  Other times we would just watch the world go by and talk about things that little grand daughters talk to their Mum about.  She was a great listener, my Grandmother.
When we lived in the Terrace the whole strip of 4 were owned by one lady who rented them out.  They were then all an awful oxide red colour with peeling paint but in the 60's were becoming very vogue and prices going up no end to live close to the city.

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