Sunday, December 14, 2014

The House that Granddad built!

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt encourages us to take a closer look at the backgrounds in our photos.  The details in the background can often tell us a lot more about when or where the photo was taken.

The photo below was labelled "Wallace Mottram 1944".

Wallace Mottram - 1944
Cousin to my Grandfather
You are probably thinking "What is so special about the background?"

Well it was a very special place to me in my childhood!  The first time I saw this photo, I immediately recognised this path and front doorstep as my grandparents home in Moe, Victoria. 

Let me take you on a tour of the house from my early memories;

As you enter the front door, there is a small hallway.  Directly ahead is an antique crystal cabinet against the wall in the corner, which I now know belonged to my Great Grandmother, Mary Walker (nee Mottram).  There was a photo in a frame on the top of it.  Behind this photo,  Nanna would hide lollies for us kids.  I was just tall enough to stretch and reach to find a bag of jelly beans to share with my sister.  I remember being scared and upset as Mum yelled at me for "stealing" the lollies but then Nanna knelt down to my level and gave me a big cuddle, telling Mum that it was OK as they were for us anyway.  I was only little but I could tell that Mum was angry at Nanna but she said nothing more and I wasn't in trouble anymore!  I thought Nanna was wonderful!

I am forever grateful to my cousin (pictured below) for giving me the crystal cabinet, which is the first thing that you will see when you enter our front door. 

My cousin at Nanna and Granddad's front door
circa 1956

Standing with my back against the inside of the front door, my grandparent's bedroom is on the right and the lounge room through the large sliding door on the left.  When Grandad went off to work, my sister and I would sneak into Nanna and Granddad's bed.  Nanna, wearing her maroon chenille dressing gown (which I still own), would give us pencils and colouring books and she would make us a Milo to drink (very carefully) in her bed.   Something that our parents would never have allowed us to do at home!

My cousin, Cindy,  sister, Deanne, and I in the lounge room in 1969
The door behind us is Nanna and Granddads bedroom.
The crystal cabinet is through the sliding door, around the corner to the left.

There is a bedroom door to the right of the crystal cabinet,  My sister and I sleep in the two single beds on either side of the room.  This room was my fathers for a time when he was little and my cousin tells me that walls were covered in Football flags and awards.  There is a window, which opens on to an enclosed verandah.

The hallway goes around the corner to the right.  Next to the bedroom that we sleep in is another bedroom, which my parents sleep in when we visit.

At the end of the hallway is a bathroom.  A strange memory to have but I remember that there is a toilet in the bathroom (which was unusual to me) and there is a pretty doll sitting on the cistern, with a crocheted dress, the spare toilet roll is under the dress.
I think that the bath was pink and the tiles green but cannot be sure.  Maybe a cousin who reads this could help me out?  (My cousin later confirmed via Facebook that I was correct)

27 Princes Highway, Moe, Victoria
 Built 1935.  The land cost  "2 quid"
The Walker family lived at Becks Bridge until the floods of December 1934.
After the floods my Grandparents lived in a bark hut and the children were billeted out
separately until the new house was built.  Much of the timber was from the old house.

Back down the hallway and around the the left through the sliding door to the lounge room.  As a child it seemed huge but that was probably because I was so small!  There was a copper picture of a boat on the wall, granddads bar (a huge old globe of the world that opened to reveal glasses and bottles) and a domed green clock with moving parts at the bottom (sorry I cannot remember it properly or explain it).  We were not allowed to touch the bar or the clock!  The dancing ballerina in the bottle is the most vivid memory in the lounge room, as Nanna would wind it up over and over again for me.

The lounge room led directly into the kitchen area, which I also thought was large.  It must have been a decent size as I remember Christmas Dinner and a long table with pew like benches on either side, with our family, all the Aunts, Uncles and cousins making a lot of noise.  Nanna made an excellent Christmas Pudding full of threepence and sixpence.  I would eat so much that I felt that I would pop!

Later renumbered to 89 Lloyd Street, Moe, Victoria
Granddad is on the verandah and someone is sitting on the steps.

The back door to the right led out to an enclosed verandah.  On the other side of the verandah was a sleep out.  My Great Grandfather, Ambrose Walker, died in this room from a heart attack.  My uncle says that he could feel his grandfathers presence in the room when it was his bedroom.  My father later slept there too.  I seem to remember sleeping in here once but we were usually inside.

Out the back door, there was an outside toilet down the path to the right.  The cistern was up high (well it seemed high when we were kids) and there was a chain that needed to be pulled to flush the toilet (very noisily) but I couldn't reach it.

My grandparents, Gordon Walker and Rita Walker (nee Jones)
Dad tells me that a marker across the road indicated that it was 83 Miles to Melbourne

Now I cannot be certain but I think that the path directly ahead of the back door had shedding on the right and one of the rooms was the outside laundry.

There was a lemon tree in the back yard that was watered frequently by the men!

I have some wonderful memories of the visits to my grandparents house in Moe, which still looks good today (below is an image from Google Maps).

This post was inspired by Sepia Saturday. Please click to see more posts.


  1. What struck me about your post is the detail you can remember about the house, I should not have been so surprised as I can remember just as much about the house I was born in although it's almost 60 years since I was there and have no interior photos to refer too.

    1. I was only six when my grandmother died and 14 when my grandfather died but I remember it vividly.

  2. Such wonderful memories Sharon and the way you related them made me feel I was inside the house with you. I can still remember, fondly and vividly, most of my grandparents houses and they moved quite a lot. Glad to hear the men looked after the lemon tree, I think it was mandatory wasn't it?

  3. The house looks very cheerful in the color Google picture.

    1. It also looks like it has been extended a lot but we considered it to be a big house when we were kids with 3 bedrooms and a sleep out. My father was one of 6 children.

  4. I wish I remembered my grandparents' house. I know we were there more than once, but all I remember about it was a child's musical rocking chair my cousin & I took turns sitting & rocking in - holding a giant (or what seemed like a giant at the time) teddy bear that otherwise sat in the rocking chair. And then we'd be ushered into my grandfather's bedroom where he was sitting up with oxygen tanks hissing. He had a heart condition and needed to breathe the oxygen. The hissing and the strange green tanks scared me & I feel sad now that I didn't want to be in there. I guess I never told anyone I felt scared because nothing was ever explained about those hissing tanks. So with my attention focused on all that, I never paid attention to the house. But then I was only 6 so maybe I wouldn't have noticed much anyway?

    1. I can definitely understand why you were scared!

  5. The background for your photos was your vivid memories. My dad was in the army and we moved around so much I can't remember much of any particular home. But my grandparent's home was always there and like you, I can see still see all the rooms and the furnishings, hear the sounds, and smell the air.

  6. You are quite right to focus on the familiarity of backgrounds - it was an aspect of backgrounds I had almost forgotten about. A path, a wall, a door - each can open up a warehouse of family memories - as you so expertly demonstrate.

    1. I feel very lucky that the same path features in so many photos and that I had one photos of the inside too!

  7. Love the nonchalant pose that started our journey through the house...isn't it amazing how much we can recall when something triggers it off. Your lollies story made me smile :) One of those great childhood memories. Also loved your idea in a comment about getting a jigsaw done from your travel idea for a birthday gift for himself I think :)

    1. You certainly have a lot of wonderful photos that could easily become jig saws :)

  8. Sharon, I enjoyed this so much. I remember reading about your ballerina in a bottle, and now I can put that story together with this one. So cool. It's interesting to see the house at various times - I see the new owners have bumped out the front window.

    I have vivid memories of my grandparents' house (the grandparents who lived next door to us, that is) because I was there almost as much as I was in my own home! I should record my own memories as you have done.

    1. Yes the ballerina in the bottle is very special to me.

  9. Wonderful memories and anecdotes and you reminded me of my own grandparents and their cuckoo clock which my grandfather would wind up. I’m amazed that you still have her dressing gown.

    1. My inlaws had a cuckoo clock that I would have liked but the brother in law gave everything to charity.

  10. Such a fantastic take on this week's Kerryn I felt I was with you in the house during your description. The home today looks as much loved as it was then.

  11. I am thinking that I should do something similar for my other grandmother's home.