I don’t recall going out at all with Dad’s parents. They never took Graham and me anywhere. Maybe it wasn’t the thing to do in the 1930s? They were also probably feeling the pinch of the depression in the 1930s and felt a little house bound. I remember going in to Granny Foster after school one day and asking for a slice of bread, butter and jam. She said I could have bread and butter or bread and jam but not bread, butter and jam together.
Dad, on the other hand, would always be taking us out to the show, regatta or into town. The regatta was so exciting, with the ground all full of tents. The water events, particularly the racing speedboats were great, but I got a bit scared when we stood in front of a boxing troupe stall and saw all the big boxers lining up challenging all comers. Mum told me that one day my nose started to bleed and Dad used up all our handkerchiefs and everything else he could find, including the lining out of my nice fairly new coat, until it finally stopped. He never thought of finding the First Aid stall to ask them to help. I guess that was a sign of the era again. You seldom went to doctors – only to the school dentist – and almost all medical advice was given by family, friends or the local chemist.
I must have been in my early teens when Grandfather died and we changed houses with Grandmother. She moved to Number 7 and we were able to spread out into the magnificent Number 3. The two conjoined houses (Numbers 5 and 7) were built of brick circa 1850s as were Numbers 36 and 38 Hampden Road. Number 3 Colville Street, however, was a relatively new building, conjoined with number 1 and was built of modern red brick at the turn of the century (1900). It had four main rooms with a small kitchen/dining room at one end, a very basic bathroom with a wood fired chip heater over the bath and a Huon Pine wash trough sharing a tiny space.
The other significant item in the back area was a wood-fired washing copper that always smoked the house out whenever it was alight, invariably once a week and almost always on a Monday, which was the traditional washing day. Like all the other houses in the area, the toilet was in the furthest corner of the backyard and usually alongside each next door neighbour’s toilet. Dad’s brother Jim would joke that we could talk to our neighbour through the toilet wall if we wished. We had pieces of newspaper hanging on a string to use as toilet paper. Mum’s mother Granny Mac had the first toilet roll I had seen and this seemed very flash to me.
The four houses in Colville Street, Numbers 1,3,5,7 as well as Numbers 36 and 38 in Hampden Road, were all owned by the same landlord, Mr Merchant. He would call fairly regularly on Saturday morning for the rent. He would often stop for a cup of tea and a talk. Mum would keep the rent money in a small tin on the mantelpiece over the wood stove in the kitchen. He did very little for his tenants in the way of maintenance and the houses were quite basic, even for the 1930s.