In the big avocado tree in the backyard, was a Dad-made tree-house. Many a battle was fought up there.
When I was 9, the garden near the back veranda was dug up and a small swimming pool was put in thanks to our granddad, Papa. We watched for months as diggers dug and concrete was poured. It was late in the afternoon when we started to fill it up, and we were too excited to sleep. We lay awake all night listening to the water gushing in. Val gave us permission to jump in early the next morning even though it wasn’t even half full. Wilf, the Englishman, who couldn’t swim to save his life, came out in his pyjamas, pretending to be sleep walking, and walked down the stairs and into the pool, much to our delight. From then on, only on extremely hot days, we would see him doing a very awkward “doggy paddle” across the pool.
There were two pools in Rolleston Place; The Schwegmann’s and ours; both were full of kids. It was hard to get us out of the water. We jumped from the garage roof and the walls that surrounded it. We made tidal waves with ten kids all holding onto the edges and swaying backwards and forwards until there were “huge” waves. We went through myriads of lilos, tubes and blow up chairs.
Peter’s 6th birthday party was memorable. Ten eager 6 year olds stood around the pool in excited anticipation. My mother asked in a loud voice “Can you all swim?” All raised their hands straight up in the air and nodded. “Ok, party’s starting… now!” Into the deep end jumped ten 6 year olds, and all of them proceeded to drown. Peter and all the other caught-off-guard spectators started fishing them out. That was quite a party. We learnt then that 6 year olds don’t know the difference between “can” and “can”. All they knew was that their mum said they could!
Dad got fed up with the avocado tree shedding its leaves into the pool, so despite my mother’s pleading and our tearful protests, down it came, along with the tree-house and our childhood. Our bottom-length long hair also had to go, but that was a price Sue and I were happy to pay for the benefit of swimming at night. Midnight skinny dipping was fun with all the girls as long the good looking Rushton boys weren’t peeping. We spent hours at the Rushton’s house, until David was caught holding their cat face down in their toilet and until Mr Rushton in his playfulness, picked me up and bit my belly button. From then on, I stayed on our side of our small white concrete fence.
When we were entering our teens, dad laid a dance floor near where the avocado tree had been. With the pool and dance floor came endless days and nights of swimming and partying. There wasn’t a better place to be, so that is what we did one holiday after the next; well into our young adult lives.