When Peter was born, he was the 100th child in “The Circle”. It was a cul-de-sac with only one way in and out with a “huge” park in the middle. The similar looking houses faced the park all the way round. Our house was directly opposite the entrance and the highest number; number 28. I’m pretty sure it was known as the house whose owners just couldn’t get the colour right. Green sounded great until the deed was done. Wilf and Val blamed each other until it was re-painted and they again discovered that choosing paint just wasn’t their thing.
There were children everywhere and in every house. We knew the inside and out of every house and every garden and “under the house” where there was one. We had one. It was dark and low and full of all kinds of junk and piles of sand. We could creep all the way under the house into all the rooms. Some parts were just enough to lie down in.
In the park there was a frame with three swings and next to it was a see-saw. When we were tired of spinning and parachuting off the swings and bouncing each other off the see-saw, we spent hours in the big “Kaffir-Boom” tree near the Schwegmann’s place. We would find broken pieces of beer bottles and glass under the tree and spend hours high up in its branches, carving the names of our boyfriends and girlfriends, with arrows and hearts, deep into the bark. (Trees didn’t have a voice then). At the end of the day our hands would be cut to shreds but we were happy tree dwellers.
After school we would meet in the park to play rounders (a simple version of softball). The Kaffir-Boom was home base and the two smaller trees were the bases. There were many tennis balls lost and many windows broken.
The mango tree in the Moroney’s garden was also one of our favourite spots. We ate green, hard unripe mangos with salt, pepper and chilli powder until our tummies ached. It was a great way to be able to bunk school the next day. We also turned the mango tree into a space ship. It was so real that we had the little kids running home to get food and their bags before it took off. It was in that same garden that I smoked my first and last banana leaf.