The Moroney family in the upper right corner from us were fascinating. There were 5 girls and a boy. All had nicknames like Annie, Tishy, Birdy and Lorky and all of them had wild curly hair. No-one ever spoke of their absent mother and their father was a mystery. He seemed sad. In our minds they were the “poorest” family in the circle. We saw poverty as having no mother. No-one could imagine life without a mother, but deep things were never discussed between us. We loved, played, laughed and fought with the Moroneys. We loved, played, laughed and fought with everyone. It would change from week to week. Gang fights broke out regularly in the park. No weapons, just our tongues and fists. A week later we were friends until someone said something about someone’s family and the “rought” was on again.
When Debbie Moroney got too wild for us, Sue got Ivan Corvin to beat her up. David took on Annie. I can’t remember who won. It was so traumatic. They both lost a lot of hair. Then Debbie upset Lynnie Schwegmann and she went home crying. Two minutes later, Hildegard Schwegmann marched across the park, pulled Debbie out of the bath and only they know what took place. One rainy day we were looking out of our lounge window across the park. Sue walked into the circle and as her feet touched the grass, Bridget Coppin came running out of her house and wrestled her to the ground. We watched and cheered from our window as our brave sister fought tooth and nail in her raincoat and school uniform.
Our battles were many. Our favourite was the Battle of the Bands. One household would put their music on and then another and then another; louder and louder until the circle was a battle ground of genres.
Mr Menanza was one to stay away from. We thought he was mean and surly. Years later, we realised he was just really sickly. We loved ordering things for him and watching his responses from our windows. From each home we ordered taxis and legs of lamb. It was fun to watch him trying to get rid of 5 taxis and 5 different butcheries who arrived on his doorstep. Rolleston Place was not a place for the faint hearted.
“The Circle” was built on a slope. We had bicycles and home made go-karts and went as fast as we could down those hills. The biggest scar I have is on the top of my left foot. The accident happened when we were all racing each other. None of us wanted to back off or give up, so we ended in a heap of kids and cogs and wheels. That injury put me out of all the fun for months. I can’t remember who won the race.
Under the park were big storm water drains and we discovered that we could take the lids off the man-holes and climb down the little steel ladders into the pipes. One was outside our house and the closest one was across the road and the other one was just two houses away. It was pitch dark down there and there was always the fear that water may come flooding in and we would be washed away. That didn’t keep us out. The older kids found another man hole at the entrance to the circle about 60 metres from our house and only the bravest did that one; all the way under the circle in total darkness. It was too narrow to turn around so once you were in, that was it. Us little ones ran to the end and listened to the girl’s echo-ey screaming and the boys shouting that they could hear water.
The fun ended when Dave started putting the lids on the steel man-holes and refused to let us out.