Tuesday, 27 March 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 13: 'The Old Homestead'

Week 13 Prompt: 'The Old Homestead.'

The Orchard is how we refer to our old place at Grahamvale, Victoria.  I think our family moved out there from town (Shepparton) when I was about two so it would have been around 1948.  Our family of five - Mum - Lilian Agnes (nee Cottam) and Dad - William Louden Pearce.  My older brother - William Joseph and older sister -  Frances Elizabeth and then me - Isabel.

The house was an old weatherboard with a big verandah at the back and the ‘Big Room’ as we called it -  built on as a spare room and playroom.  There was a fireplace in there with openings in the wall to put the wood into the woodboxes from outside.  We kids played Monopoly in there for hours in the school holidays. The big wooden table was so handy - it was also used for table tennis.  When we had visitors it was the meal room and it was decorated especially at Christmas time for the big meals.  
Family Christmas in the 'Big Room.'

Fran and I shared a bedroom and Bill had his own.  We had an inside toilet which had an outside door as well to the verandah, so you had to make sure you locked both when in there so nobody burst in on you.

Mum and Dad’s room was verboten to us, but we would sneak in there sometimes.  Their room was along the passage up the front of the house and next to it was the front door (never used) which had stained glass panels that the sun shone through.  In their bedroom was a large chest of drawers which I now have and in the top little drawers Mum would hide gifts.  We were always trying to sneak in and see what was in there.  On top of the chest there was a cute little weather barometer with a little girl and boy that swung in and out of the little house dependant on the temperature.

There was a smaller dining room inside the house,  a very dark room only ever used by the adults - not so much as a dining room but as a card room.  Especially when Grandpa Cottam lived with us.  Grandpa used to sit out on the verandah in his cane chair and we would love to comb his snowy white hair.

Grandpa Cottam (L) in his cane chair with his walking stick, on the verandah 

Outside the house my brother had a hut which was just his - and he had a note on the door “KEEP OUT”  He had a crystal radio set he spent a lot of time with.  We girls always tried to get in - but maybe I never did as I can’t remember it inside.  Then there was the Shed - a big shed for the orchard doings - grader, packing, cases, trucks, tractor, etc.  Under the shed there was plenty of room for playhouses and hiding spots.   

In the early days we had 2 lovely old draught horses for pulling the plough and other jobs.  Fran and I loved the horses - and occasionally were allowed to sit on their backs for a wee ride.   Jean was Dad’s worker and she was a quiet woman and extremely hard worker.  Unusual to have a female, but in reality Jean dressed as a man and spoke like a man.  We were all taken aback when later on she married and had children.

I have many happy memories from the orchard - it was an ideal place for children to grow up.  

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