We moved a lot when I was young. A few moves saw us back in Perth. I can remember one xmas staying in a flat with my aunty Faye. I don’t know why we were all there but it would have been crowded. As I remember it was a 2 bedroom flat and it had to fit Faye, her two kids, Mum and 4 of us kids. I can remember the xmas tree being surrounded by colourful packages. We were all excited about those gifts and would have a look to see which package belonged to us. Melissa and I both recieved little cowgirl outfits. I remember running around with the kids playing cowboys and indians. I loved that outfit lol. But the gift I loved the most was a little sewing machine with its own cover. It was the biggest box and I was so excited to discover it was mine! Paul got up early on xmas morning and woke us kids up. Mum was sleeping on the couch so we had to open our gifts very quietly. But of course she woke up. I don’t know what time it was, probably very early. It felt great to be having xmas with family.
When I was in grade 3 Mum decided she had a gutful of the North and moved back to Perth. Dad was meant to have finished too, but they asked him to stay on for another year. Mum wasn’t going to stay so we rented a house in Woodlands. It was a two bedroom house, with wooden floorboards, a wood stove and a leaky wooden fireplace in the lounge. It was owned by an Italian guy so he had the usual grape vine out the back. Mum didn’t drive back then so we walked everywhere, or caught the bus. My primary school was within walking distance, so Patrick and I would walk to school, Pete would catch the bus. I don’t think Paul was with us then. He was still having treatment at the Clontaff Boys School. I hated that school with a passion and couldn’t understand why we just didn’t bring Paul home. At that time treatment for someone so young with Schizophrenia was nonexistent, so this school was deemed the best place for him to be.
At the back of the house was the toilet, laundry with original copper and a sleepout that Pete had as his room. Sometimes he and mum would argue so he would slam his door and put his records on high volume. Usually it was “Thick as a brick”, I think because mum hated that record. She would yell at him through the door but he had it locked so she couldn’t get in. Unfortunately it had a lock on the outside too, so mum would lock him in. Ah the joys of being a teenager and a parent. It was such a cold house in winter that we would drag our mattresses into the lounge room with the fire. The fireplace did leak but we managed to fix it somehow. Probably Pete did, as he was the “go to” man while dad was up north.
I made friends with a girl who lived next door. She was Italian and went to my school. She would invite me for lunch sometimes. This is where I discovered Italian grappa. We had a little crystal glass to drink from. I thought I was very grown up, until I tried to get up from the table and found the earth moving! It was homemade and lethal to an 8 yr old who hadn’t grown up with it. The house is still there and I often drive past it.
Once Dad came home we moved to Balcatta. The front of that house had the most beautiful rose bushes, but mum and dad were not in love with them, so out they came. We lived opposite a family with a little girl called Sally. They became friends with our family. I wasn’t too keen on Sally, she was a bit bossy for my liking. Probably too much alike lol.
The thing I loved about going to school in Perth was the free milk at recess. I thought it was the most delicious stuff. It came in little glass bottles and had cream on top. Having lived on powdered milk up north it was heaven. What I didn’t like about going to school in Perth was having to wear shoes. Up north we had bare feet or thongs, period! In Perth you had to wear socks and shoes. My feet were like leather and closed in shoes were so uncomfortable. I would hide them on the way to school, which resulted in several notes home. I remember mum had a pair of black boots which laced up on the side. I use to love wearing those boots and pretending they were mine. So mum bought me a little pair of zip up ankle boots to wear. She had no trouble getting me to wear those to school. My parents must have come to an agreement with the school, because they were not usually allowed.
Near the end of grade 5 dad was posted to Albany, so once again we were on the move. Mum and Dad decided to buy a caravan as we were going to be there for 2 years and they liked the idea of the caravan, instead of GEHA housing. GEHA stands for government employee housing association. They were usually old houses, and years later when Bruce and I moved to the country, they still were. So off to Albany we went. All our worldly goods packed into a 24 foot caravan and a station wagon. By now it was just mum, dad, me and Patrick, plus our dog Shelaighly. Peter had joined the navy and Paul was out and about doing his own thing.