I got a call this morning from my brother who has been delving into the places we have lived over the years, including those before we were born.
My recollection, hazy at best, is that my father’s parents lived in Camberwell, a suburb of Melbourne, and the boys, those that survived the war, lived there too. He had three brothers, I think, and a sister. From what I’ve read, his older brother was a sensible chap and the peacemaker between him and his parents.
Later one of his brothers went to Sydney, his sister lived among orchards out Ringwood way, and another, much later, moved to Queensland. We very rarely, if ever, saw them, and the last time I did with most in one place, was after my Grandmother died. I do remember Dora, the site, visiting us once, and being young at the time, she seemed a very forbidding woman.
But, this is about where they lived.
My father, presumably before and immediately after the war, was at home, and my mother at her home in Pakenham. There her father ran a service station and motor mechanic shop and was well known. Their house, at the time, was built over the road, just a short walk from home to work. The place, the first time I saw it, was a mechanic’s dream, with old cars and car parts outside and inside garages, and a woodworking shop with every tool imaginable.
Once the place had very elegant gardens, but by the time I got to stay there, in the 1960s, it was all overgrown, and the house was in disrepair. My mother’s brother lived there with my grandmother, and he was a fearsome, huge man who said little. All I knew about him was that a) he was the one who found his father after he had killed himself, b) he liked fishing and went to a place called Corinella, and c) he was a mechanic like his father.
So, at some point in 1948, my father must have up and left, perhaps after an argument with his parents, and moved to Keiwa House, Bogong, where the Snowy River Hydro-Electric Scheme was being built, as a projectionist, bringing films to the workers in Town Halls.
As I’ve said, my mother stayed in a boarding house for ladies during the week and went home on weekends. I have the first letter that my father wrote to her which references the fact he went calling on her, and she was not there. We’ll never know what she thought, but there’s a second letter, after she wrote back, so a friendship was struck. He told her, almost in minute detail, what he was doing, and presumably, she told him about hers.
A year later, they married.
Now it gets interesting. We both thought that their first house, after getting married was in Carrum. It wasn’t. In the pile of letters were references to the family staying in a rented flat in Camberwell.
Sometime after that, there is a contract for a war service loan in relation to a property in Carrum, which turns out to be the first house they lived in, where my brother, born in 1950) lived, and where I lived after I was born in 1953. I have interesting if vague memories of this house, and of the people who lived behind us because we could climb through the fence into their property. We knew them during, and after living in Carrum.
Now, today, some interesting new facts came to light about the Carrum house. We always assumed we owned it, but it seems that we didn’t. A copy of the title for that property never had the name Heath on it, so did we rent it? More information is required, and we need to dig deeper. Let’s hope there are no skeletons there.
And something else came out of a discussion with the daughter of my mother’s sister, that it was believed my mother’s parents bought them a house in Chelsea, but my father, apparently, refused to live in it and sold it.
OK, I never claimed that my father was the sort that might have accepted charity, so perhaps in a moment of madness, he lost the plot. The question is, what happened to the money?