Dad built a closed-in veranda onto the back of our little house. It was his pride and joy. It hosted many a sleepover of boys and girls, lined up on mattresses and in sleeping bags. When it was a girl’s sleepover, Dave and his friends would climb through his bedroom window to join us and we climbed through ours when the boys were around. It was all good, clean fun which usually ended with someone kissing someone. BUT, our main goal was to see who could tell the scariest story and of course they all started with.. “Now, this is a true story…”
“The back veranda” was also home to an old piano; our very own honky-tonk piano. It was slightly out of tune but perfectly in tune when dad played ragtime and honky-tonk. It was just slightly awful when someone tried a Richard Claydermann number. Our favourite style was “bums”. We would put our feet on the stool and our bottoms on the keys and bounce up and down the octaves with a great sense of creativity and musicianship. Of course that had nothing to do with it being out of tune. We also loved opening it up and watching the inner workings of the hammers and strings. Dave got into honky-tonk and blues and would bash it out with great gusto. Once a mouse got into the piano and snuck out and bit his toe while he was playing. All of us learnt to play “by ear” and “by bums”, just because it was there, available and open for abuse.
Our house was filled with music. We were a singing family, except for Dave who preferred to do the Zulu dance. Nothing like the Von Trapps but did we sing. We sang from the moment we could and if we couldn’t we had to anyway. Whenever friends or family came around there was a concert and the Lowe kids were always on show. Sue loved “My favourite Things” and Peter was born to entertain. He would sing “In the Good Old Summertime” “I’ll Be Loving You, Always” and many other golden oldies.
The big French windows of the veranda looked onto our backyard. Until I was 9 it was a place for Dave’s white rats and snakes, our 2 dogs Kim and Lady, one cat called Peanuts and rabbits. The names of our rabbits came from Beatrix Potter: Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton Tail and Peter. It was the perfect Lowe song, since our names were Susan, David, Linda and Peter. No matter where we were, and no matter how tired he was, whenever we sang that song, little Peter would stick out his little neck and belt out the last line and have the last word:
We’re a happy fam-i-ly; yes a happy fam-i-ly
And we live at the foot of the big fir tree
Flopsy, Mopsy, how could they be sweeter
And funny little Cotton-Tail…. (BIG PAUSE)