My first appointment as a primary teacher, was to Riverstone, in the north-western suburbs of Sydney (1964).
I lived in Matraville (Hillsdale) in the eastern suburbs of Sydney.
I only went by public transport, one day. (Three different types of trains.) Drove my father’s vw, for a while and then bought my own.
75 minute drive in the mornings. 105 minutes in the afternoons.
The girl sitting in my car, in Flint Street, Hillsdale (then still Matraville), I migrated with, to Australia, when she was six and I was twelve, in 1956.
We brought along our parents too and shared this old house, in Flint Street, for a number of years. That’s when you could have called us latch-key kids.
All four parents worked in factories. (At one stage both our mothers worked in a factory then called EMCO, which produced whitegoods and my mother, not very tall in stature, now turned forty, was again doing particularly physical, hard work, as she’d done in the candle factory, in the very early 1930s.)
(I could tell because, very uncharacteristically, the english she was learning there, included vocab which just did not suit her. )
Before and after school we two young ones were on our own, watching Crusader Rabbit and the Mickey Mouse Club, as well as Popeye and Crusader Rabbit.
By the time we’d left the migrant hostel(s) and moved into this old house, I was attending South Sydney Boys Junior High School (later Maroubra Bay H.S.) and she still attended Matraville Primary (where I’d spent the last few weeks of 1956).
Her parents thought they preferred to be back in the Netherlands and they went. But, like so many others, couldn’t settle there either and returned.
Which was good because the two families got on like a house on fire. (Touch wood – because that old house, already partially chewed up by white ants, was not particularly fire-proof.)
Developers came round. This very peaceful, typically 1950s street was to be filled with home units (apartment buildings) but Keith, the service station owner, next door, wanted the property for his mother.
He bought it and had a nice little house built on it.
Our parents bought a home-unit (apartment) each – next to each other of course – in Eastlakes, in what was called Parkes Development. These had been the apartments used to show prospective buyers through and we were the first to move into this development, which many years earlier, had been a race course.
1967 she wanted to see her homeland, with another Dutch-born girl. Stayed a little too long and her parents followed.
She’s not one to write letters or even telephone. We met up when I was I the Netherlands, in 1997 and for an hour or two reverted to our previous roles when the four of us went into the city (The Hague) and had lunch in a big department store.
Loading lunch on to trays and then sitting and laughing hysterically at an anecdote told by her mother about the way a certain dysfunctional problem had been overcome, reminded me a bit of being back in the migrant hostels, in the 50s.
The two families not only visited lots of friends and acquaintances. Not only explored our new environment in the the two (very) old cars but also liked going to The Domain, on Sundays to hear the various speakers, standing on their soapboxes.
Below, her mother (with the basket on her head) hamming it up for the camera, in Matraville Hostel, pretending to play with her toy tea-set.
Below, our mothers, working in the kitchen of the hostel, in Pozieres Ave, Matraville.
Migrating together and having, apparently, a similar age difference to Vivian Vance and Lucille Ball, my mother and her friend, reminded me so much of Lucy and Ethel.
Gerda enjoyed having fun and getting a bit of attention and my mother, Co, happy to go along with it.
Their belongings took two trips to Australia and back to the Netherlands again.
This was the crate that came back with them after a brief return to the Netherlands, in the early sixties.
A stage was reached (upon their return) that it seemed a good idea for me to have my own bedroom, behind the house.
Saturday mornings, the house was vacuumed. All the washing was done. All four adults working away. (She was probably playing outside, with Anna, from across the street. I was a Potters’ Dance Studio.
From my album….