Richardson Street, Box Hill South is the place I grew up. It was here I spent my lifetime before marriage and raising my own kids in Warrandyte, a suburb so far removed from the one I grew up in.
Richardson Street is not just about how our house looked and the memories this conjures particularly around the retro 70’s with the wallpaper, orange blinds and brown and orange furniture. To me, Richardson Street is mainly about the people.
We grew up in an era when our close neighbours were referred to as Auntie and Uncle and the other neighbours as Mr and Mrs. My childhood friends, whom I am lucky enough to still be in contact with, no matter how long the time between catch-up’s, were my world in a sometimes chaotic home environment.
Across the road lived the Scott’s – Auntie Hazel, Uncle Andy, Janet and Judith – in a beautiful white well maintained weatherboard home complete with garage. Next door, to the back of us, lived the Hellier’s; Auntie Claire, Uncle Bill, Annette and Joanne.
When I was younger I was friends with the Hoogens, but my memory here is rather vague as they moved away when I was very young. For a time, Peter Brown lived across the road and was lucky enough to own a horse and also had an above ground pool in his backyard. In fact, his house was built on the vacant block on the corner of Richardson and Massey Street’s which was where we built the annual neighbourhood bonfire for Guy Fawkes night. This particular night was a huge event in our Dad’s calendar as it allowed the pyromaniac in him to surface. I do remember that it was fairly gross to build “Guy Fawkes” and then set him and the bonfire beneath him alight and would often have me reflect, even at a young age, how horrible that would have been for the real Guy Fawkes. As the bonfire burned, we also set off skyrockets, sparklers, roman candles, halfpenny bungers and plenty of crackers let off just close enough to scare the living hell out of you! Dad was in his element!
Next to the Scott’s were the Dollenkamps, though I only spent a little time with Yolanda (Jolly as she was more commonly known) as she was a bit older than me. However, Laurie and Robert were friends.
So my best friends were Janet (Scott) and Annette (Hellier) and not only did we play together as kids, we all hit the pub scene together when we were old enough discoing our way around the town and setting the world on fire – or so we thought.
I remember a time when Laurie and Robert were pushing each other around in a pram and looked like they were having the best of fun. Of course, Janet and I wanted to join in, and boys being boys, they encouraged us, but only because after we were both stupid enough to climb in, they pushed us down the hill and let go. Down the hill we flew in this bloody pram until it crashed into the gutter – Janet landing on top of me! Of course, when I went sooking in to Mum about what a rotten brother Laurie was, somehow I ended up with the strap around my legs for being silly enough to get in to it in the first place. He was sneaky like that, my bloody brother!
Another time, I remember Janet and I climbed a neighbour’s fence to “pinch” some plums from the tree. Janet lost her footing and fell off the fence straight on to a rose bush! I remember a thorn from the bush went in her bum as deep as her little finger. Poor Janet, laid up in bed on her stomach, with stitches in her bum, and a box over her bum to keep the bedclothes off her wound. I was horrified, and of course, that was supposed to be another lessen we learnt – don’t steal from the neighbours. It was only a plum after all!
Mum spent every night after coming home from work, over at the Scott’s with Auntie Hazel, discussing the day’s events. Unfortunately for us, this meant that for hours, every night, these discussions would be had over a multitude of sherry’s, so Mum was pretty primed most nights of the weeks and dinner was often had well after 6pm. Dad and Uncle Andy used to have their “pleasant Sunday mornings” in the Scott’s garage – Dad always said as long as it was after 11am it was OK to crack the first beer!
As Annette’s Dad was a painter, he had these wonderful HUGE timber work horses that used to sit in their backyard when he wasn’t using them. Many an afternoon as kids, Annette and I would pretend we were riding real horses and would be shooting cowboys, travelling the countryside and letting our imaginations run absolutely wild. I remember Auntie Claire used to do a lot of cooking, cause the house used to always smell wonderful. We also used to spend hours in an old car that used to sit outside the McGowan’s house who lived “up the road” and the adventures we spent in that “car” on the “road” were amazing! Uncle Bill also played the drums in a band, and from a very young age, I wanted him to teach me how to play. For some reason Mum would never let me learn – perhaps it wasn’t “ladylike”
Christmas’s and birthdays were always spent at Richardson St with a multitude of family and friends. Mum and Dad always knew how to throw a party and we celebrated many grand occasions at Richardson Street. Whether a tent erected in the front yard, a tarp swung over the Hills Hoist in the backyard, or an indoor celebration, we only needed to have family and friends there and know it would be a good party.
Unfortunately, Richardson Street also recalls some sadder memories – those that I do not wish to reflect on here in detail, but are still etched forever in my memory. These however cannot be outweighed by the great memories of a street I lived in for 21 years.
“Home Is Where The Heart Is” was Richardson Street – my childhood Street.