I think I was about 10 years old when we moved into what was I think was number 1 Ryries Parade. I say ‘I think’ because the number 1 was on our letter box but one day when I was walking up the other end of Ryries Parade I saw that there was a number 1 on the house at the other end of our street. I ran home and told my mother that number 1 was on the letter box down there. I don’t know if she did anything about it. I often wondered if the postie got confused. I didn’t look to check if the house next to that number 1 was number 3 and how far down they followed.
My one brother, three sisters, mother, step father and I all lived in this house. Our home had a rather wide back verandah which stretched from one end to the other and had a wonderful view over Middle Harbour. We would often see fish jumping and of course we did a lot of fishing. The house was built up off the ground, about 15 steps.
We (my neighbours Victor Trundell and his sister Elva and I) used to pull in the boats that were moored at the boat shed and climb on them. We did a lot of fishing from those lovely boats. Just next door to the boat shed was a lovely white sandy beach, which was quite flat till about 10 feet past the end of the stone wall which ran about 500 feet along the waters’ edge.
The area was mostly bush. I think there would have been 7 houses in the street besides ours at that time. The houses were about 4 on our side, and the rest on the other. The road was not sealed, it was just dirt.
There were snakes in the bush. There was one family up the road from us where the child went to get into bed and there was a snake curled up in her bed.
Each year we used to have a great big bonfire night, for what I remember was Empire Day – 25 May. We used to build huge ones; there was a lot of flat rock in the bush, within clearings, which we would build the bonfire on. About five families would join in. It was a lot of fun.
We had a dog called Stumpy, so called because he had a stumpy little tail, which he used to wag like an electric fan. He was a bitser of medium size. He used to come down to the water with us. My sister Enid once entered him into a show for the best tail wagger, which of course he won. You couldn’t see his tail; it used to go so fast.
We used to catch tadpoles a lot, from the streams which went down to the water.
When we went down to the water (Middle Harbour) we had to walk through bush. There was a bush track. People used to go down Shellbank Avenue to get to their boats though.
Opposite our house was a 2 storey very large sandstone home called ‘Shellbank’. People called McCilri lived there. Mrs McCilri rented this when she left her husband. She had 3 sons. They were wool classers. They had a good job. Eric married a very beautiful young woman who was one of Sydney’s main models – Hazel Black. He may have bought the home, but when they were married and their daughter was about 3, it was a Sunday morning and his wife wanted to go out on the boat and he wanted to sleep in, Hazel said she’d take their daughter with them, he heard an almighty explosion, their boat had blown up, and his wife and child killed. After that he could not speak for quite a while. He ended up with cancer of the throat and he was dying. Some years later – in the late 60s I saw him being interviewed on television and he was speaking about this. He felt it was the shock that caused his cancer.
We used to quite frequently walk up to Cremorne Junction and not think anything of it (the distance) to get around. We used to walk to Middle Harbour Primary School and then later to Mosman High School.
To do the shopping we had home deliveries from the butcher, the baker, the milkman and the grocer and a green grocer who came around with a cart, pulled by a horse.
My mother would buy other items from the city. We would get the tram down to Cremorne Wharf, and then the ferry across to Circular Quay.
Living in Ryries Parade, Mosman has left me with many fond childhood memories.