The Neighbourhood

The neighbours were a wonderful group.

Starting from Number 11 Colville lived Mr and Mrs Makepeace Snr, parents of George, who had been at sea most of his life and was a skilled sailmaker. George’s wife, Lois, was a member of the Batt family and they had two boys, David and Peter. We still keep in touch with David.

Number 9 housed the Fazackerley family – Tas, his wife and four children, Bill (Air Force), Paddy, Delma and Una. Old Tas was wounded in the First World War and took occasional, almost epileptic turns. The fits used to frighten us kids when we were around. I made a bow and arrow from a pussy willow tree growing in our yard in Number 7 and was so proud of putting a nail in the end of the arrow, firing it and having it stick into a soft target. I showed it to Tas one day. He tried it but had a small ‘turn’ and pulled the arrow back too far, causing the metal point to penetrate his finger. He just stood there and broke the bow and arrow into little pieces and threw them over our roof. I didn’t go back into his house for a while but he seemed O.K. when I did. When we moved out of Number 5, I’m not sure who moved in but in a short while the Harrolds were there. Mick, a wharfie, Joy his wife, Irene, David and Peter. They were really good neighbours. Easy to get on with particularly when Mick ‘had a few.’ He had a lovely silver bike and was very generous in allowing me to use it whenever he didn’t need it. The bike was full size, not meant for kids, so to ride it I had to put one leg through the bars. It wasn’t easy but I would do anything for a bike (we couldn’t afford one at that time). It had lovely curved handlebars and like all male bikes of that time, fixed wheel. Pedals were directly linked to the back wheel sprockets, so as the wheel went around, so did the pedals. Brakes were seldom needed as we put back pressure on the pedals to stop.

Number 3 held the senior Foster family.

Number 1 was the home of Mr and Mrs Smart and their daughter Marie. They were very quiet people and kept largely to themselves.

Around into Hampden Road at Number 36 lived the Bearman family. They were related to the Harrolds, with Mick the father, Lola, and kids Don and Yvonne. Like most in the area they kept largely to themselves, which must have been difficult at times, although all the kids played together, the wives talked and the men usually caught up at the pub, particularly on a Saturday night.
At Number 38 lived Thelma and Jack Hansch, again in a tiny cottage, and like the conjoined house next door (36) only two rooms. They had no family.

Next up Hampden Road were Mr and Mrs Bridge, Cyril, his wife, and their son Jack. Jack was a boat builder at Taylors slipyard in Napoleon Street and Cyril was a member of the Bridge fishing family, owning two lovely boats, ‘Inez’ and ‘Storm Bay’ (built by Perce Coverdale in the 1920s). They had a fish punt floating at either Morrison Street or in Victoria dock and sold their catch from there. The three Bridge sons married three Noye sisters, the boys and girls all from the Nubeena area.

At 42 lived the Eiszeles. Some half a dozen in family from what I can recall. I remember Bob, similar in age to me, a couple of girls, and an elder brother in the Air force. Up Hampden Road from there were the Coopers and the little dress shop.

This close little group gathered around the corners of the two streets meant that most of the backyard fences almost met. In several cases, like Numbers 7 and 9 Colville, and 9 Colville and the Bridges in Hampden Road, some of the palings were off the dividing fences, allowing access between the properties. As kids we would go through the fence to Fazackerleys, and watch Jack Bridge built his Cadet dinghy ‘Turk’ and later a Derwent class yacht ’Janus’ in the Fazackerly yard because it had more room than their own. This style of close community living made for a relatively safe environment, allowing kids to be sent to shops or on an errand with almost total safety. I was quite young when sent to buy scallops or couta at Burnett’s couta sheds on the waterfront at Napoleon Street, alongside the slip yards. I never liked being asked by Auntie Betty to buy her some couta because it was never right for her. There was always something wrong with it so I tried to dodge that one if I could.