‘You can chop the kindling’ my father said.
I was not allowed to chop the large logs. In our backyard there was the ubiquitous wood pile. We would have logs of wood delivered to the home. Malley Roots were a speciality. They burnt for longer and usually were thrown into the hearth when the fire was well alight. The woodman came during Winter and the logs were neatly stacked against the fence. There was always a large log on which smaller logs were placed and then split. I was able to chop the kindling which was like and ancient version of fire lighters.
We had two fire places, one in the dining room and the other in the living room. Both rooms were connected with glass doors. The furniture was basic, a lounge, two lounge chairs and a nestle of tables, the dining room had a sideboard and a Queen Anne table with high backed chairs. This was only used when family came for dinner, otherwise we ate at the kitchen table which for many years was covered with a linoleum top and sometimes covered with a basic table cloth. The kitchen was small with a Kooka stove, a refrigerator and some cupboards. It was the 1950’s and there was no evidence of grandeur.
I would come home from school and set the fire. Two large logs as a base and the kindling in a criss cross form under which we stuffed old newspapers. There was only ever one fire going at one time. In cold Melbourne winters the dining room was where all the action occurred….Often Mum would be doing the ironing and clothes would be draped on a clothes horse in front of the fire. There was a warmth and cosiness to the room.
Often the fire would go out and I remember using the spreadsheet of the newspaper to create a draught that would re ignite the flames that had died out. It was like a magic trick to me as a young child. There were always a few logs left by the back door which would be brought in when the fire had died down….sparks were always a danger as they could easily burst forth from the fire place and cause havoc, may a clothes item had small holes from floating sparks.
It was a simple life. It was not for many years that we had a radiator. A suburban domestic scene. We did not have a television till the early 1960’s, and like all families it became the centre of entertainment. Before this is was the ‘wireless’. I guess we spent our evening talking, doing homework, and reading…
Such a contrast some 60 years later…