Doing it the Hard Way

Some years ago when Joyce Fisher built her home (now owned by Laurie and Phillipa Hamilton) in Schnapper Point Drive the ‘ready¬≠made’ lawn came by truck. I remarked to my late husband, Rod how I thought it a wonderful, new idea.

Rod went on to tell me that when he left school at thirteen year’s of age, as did most of his generation in those depression years, he went to work at Boydtown. Whiters had the old Inn then and were in the midst of restoring it. A mammoth task as it was in a great state of disrepair, with even some of the walls caving in. With pick and shovel, they made the road out to the Princes Highway. Sharp spades were used to cut through the thick grass, rolling it up as they went along. This was placed on the sand, around the buildings, thus making ‘Instant Lawn’ which goes to show the method was used way back in the 1930s.

Rod also told me of the construction of a home in Mitchell Street, which is easily seen as you go down the hill into Eden. It is on the left hand side and easily distinguished by the pillars on the front veranda. It belonged to ‘Snowy’ Fantham, an original fish transporter but was built by the Eurell Family years before.

It and the Hayes home (which was situated on the right hand side of the road below the ‘old’ CounCil Chambers) was constructed by a Sydney builder.

It was long before the days of power tools and everything was made on the site. Rod commenced his ‘apprenticeship’ with the builder and his pay was ten shillings ($1) per week, a 44¬≠hour week in those years. The unslacked lime was placed in large drums and covered with water which was carted in kerosene tins from the creek at the bottom of the hill as you turn the corner as you travel to Pambula. The mixture bubbled for days and when it settled was used with sand for mortar to be used in the laying of the bricks. All the studs and plates of the frame were mortised and dove-tailed.

The most interesting thing about those homes was the builder could neither read nor write. Rod’s uncle Charlie Dowling made measuring sticks of different lengths, in the old imperial measure of three feet, nine feet and so on…which were used by the builder in place of a ruler. The home built for the Eurell family still stands today, a monument to the wonderful workmanship of that builder all those years ago.

Leone Pheeney

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