Moving onto ‘Own’ block of Land with ‘Deposit’ and ‘Easy Terms’.

Own Block with garage. Little brother tending a cabbage.

Own Block with garage. Little brother tending a cabbage.

Leaving the lean times and memories of tie-clips and perky breasts (furtively enjoyed in the timber yard) behind, we will now go forward to an episode that too might have been significant in  causing my intermittent scepticism of migration in general and my own in special. That is not to say, that not having moved countries things would have turned out to have been  any different. To now have reached a level of freedom, hopefully some insight, and to have the luxury of enough time still left to come up with some answers that have eluded me so far.

The saving for the future was now on in earnest. My mum became the financial wizard and accountant . It had to be struck with a compromise between pocket money and fast saving to get our own place to live at. How we slept those first few months I have no memory off. We had nothing on arrival except the clothes we wore and the 4 steel trunks that travelled with us on the boat. The vacuum cleaner, and the pride of our street back in The Hague, the electric washing machine, we had shipped over separately. We could wash our clothes and vacuum, but on what did we sleep? I can’t remember anything about bedding. Did we sleep upright? It is possible but I don’t think so. Migrants are made of pioneering stuff, but upright sleeping was never an option? Right now, people would probably reflect and call migrating; seeking a life-style! We would surely at first been seeking for bedding?

The extra hours worked now above the normal forty hours became vital. Each day mother would wait for us to come home but it was always welcome if we came home later than expected; ‘overtime’ was being worked and, at time-and-a-half, would bring our aim of moving into own place closer and closer. Of course, work on Saturday or Sunday was as close to heaven as dad’s Milky way. Double time-money delirium! Even though it meant forgoing the cake eating event on the creaky veranda during the Sunday morning.

Dad would put his pay packet under mum’s dinner plate each pay day which I think was  on a Thursday. Dad did this as a kind of weekly joke as if tipping the waitress for a nice meal. It might read a bit strange but families have their own jokes, don’t they?  I would just give my earnings  to mum straight away  without any formalities or any joking, and so did my elder brother Frank. The coffer was swelling, slowly at first, but with increasing speed in tandem with the urgency. One of the items still to be told to complete a picture of our stay with the Dutch friends and their generosity of allowing us to get on our own feet, was the early morning urinating rituals.

The old house at the time we were living in it was crowded with two large families. The Dutch family with five children and ours with six making a total of fifteen including both sets of parents. The toilet was outside and at the back of the lean-to that I used as a dark room and for all of us a bathroom. It was quite a walk, often too far for us and the boys would share the nr 1’s with the rats and three legged dog against the stacks of timber outside. This was especially so at waking times. There was a flimsy partition between our portion of the house and that of our friends who had the larger part including a couple of bedrooms upstairs. The  four girls sleeping upstairs would run down each morning and urinate loudly in a bucket which was next to the flimsy partition and clearly audible. This would result in a loud Dutch howl of laughter and coarseness from me and my brothers on the other side of the partition. We almost woke up early not to miss the ritual. That’s how it was then!

Over the next six months we heard amongst other Dutch migrants that the way forward was to get own block of land with a garage on it. The available time left after working o.t (over-time) was taken up by endless discussions on own block of land. It sounded like out of ‘Mice and Men’ and it was far above my Dad’s understanding or his interests, but not my mum. She knew the way forward was to do what other people advised us about. It wasn’t just the talk of other migrants. The world of ‘real estate’ seemed to be everywhere and Australia was at the fore-front of owning own home on own block of land. It was the very essence of what success was about. In any case renting was a waste of money and everyone nodded in agreement. It wasn’t made clear why that was so. But questioning ownership wasn’t on the horizon of pioneering migrants. Renting is what they had left behind!

Peace

Peace

It was a contagion that still lives on today. Nothing eases awkward social occasions better than the mentioning of ‘real estate’ and ‘home ownership’ around the dining table or even standing around an art gallery sipping the chardonnay while discussing Edvard Munch ‘The Scream’. Mum understood the language of ‘own block near railway station’, of mortgages, easy terms, deposits and interest rates immediately  and  had worked out that with the present level of income from Dad and her two eldest sons including so much o.t, we already had a ‘deposit’ for own block. Deposit and own block had the Oosterman family firmly in its grip. They were holy. My dad remained puzzled why we could not just go to the local council and asked to be given and provided  a modest home to live in. It was now all so different.

After a while he was happy with the star-lit heavens and totally trusted his wife to steer us into the security of own block and garage. The garage was allowed then to be lived in as long as the garage door was painted the same as the garage walls. Better still, take the garage door off and replace with a window to then help the local council in simply designating the garage into ‘a temporary dwelling’. It sounded so much more domestic than garage and was legal to boot.

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26 Responses to “Moving onto ‘Own’ block of Land with ‘Deposit’ and ‘Easy Terms’.”

  1. bkpyett Says:

    Really enjoyed your story Gerard. We had some Oosterman families living in Devonport when I was growing up. They belonged to the same church. It helps me understand how it must have been for them. I do remember Christopher’s family living in the garage whilst his dad built their house. Wonderful really, allowing people to gradually have their own home.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Oosterman in Devonport? That could well be some distant relative. It is not a common name. Living in garage was common for migrants to try and get a house together. Today they might well be called ‘a granny flat’.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. auntyuta Says:

    All this sounds extremely familiar to me. We first lived in a hostel, thereafter we shared a “temporary dwelling” with another family. Finally, after having been in Australia for 5 1/2 years, we could move into our own two-bedroom cottage on our “own” block of land. We thought we were doing very well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      We lived in the garage for two years after which we had the house built. It was a huge improvement. It had three bedrooms and own bathroom. The toilet was still outside. The street did not have sewer.

      Liked by 1 person

      • auntyuta Says:

        Our street did not have sewer either. We opted for a pump-out system for we were sick of outside toilets. Our septic tanks were as expensive as a third bedroom would have been. We had to pay for every pump-out. Usually we needed a pump-out every four weeks. But when it rained a lot, all the rainwater made the tank fill up quickly. When we called for an additional pump-out in the rain after about two weeks the tank would have been already overflowing which was very unpleasant!🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        You wonder how it was possible for people to build houses on un-sewered land . We did not get a flush toilet till the mid sixties when our street was connected to sewer. We had a pan collection system till then.
        We were a 2 pan a week family, which meant giving two crates of beer to the council workers whose job it was to collect the brim-full pans every week.
        They hoisted the full pans on their shoulders and ran to the truck and brought the freshly tar coated pans on their return. We loved the smell of a fresh pan.

        Like

  3. nonsmokingladybug Says:

    This is so interesting to me. I grew up on a farm with a well. Things were different then, the house were I grew up in was 200 years old. I love reading your stories and hope from the bottom of my heart that you have younger followers and readers as well. Things like that shouldn’t be forgotten.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Living out in the woods, I still use a convenient tree on occasion. Interesting on ‘house fever.’ I never really had it and didn’t even bother until I was in my early 50s. Great stories Gerard. I always look forward to the next one. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Carrie Rubin Says:

    Very interesting to get a peek into your history. Sounds like your mother was a strong, intelligent woman, and I love how you and your brother pitched into the household earnings. Kids today could learn from that.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Silver in the Barn Says:

    I so agree with Carrie. You learned early the value of a buck. My husband got his first job picking apples at twelve and had to give his mother a cut of his hard-earned wages. While it makes me mad that she would charge him “room and board”, he has no resentment. There were eight kids to feed,after all. BTW, my husband vividly remembers his parents discussing a move to Australia. Obviously that never happened, much to my good fortune.

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, my mum called it board and as her other sons reached the legal age of work they too would get a job and give money for the all important mortgage re-payments. Of course, no further higher education which is in contrast with my cousins and nephews, nieces back in Holland of which many went onto university and became professional. I don’t know if that was a good thing or not! I often think of that.
      We gave our daughter the opportunity and she has a university degree.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. greenwritingroom.com Says:

    I love the amazement in your voice as you recount the every-event-a-surprise of those times.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. rod Says:

    It had never occurred to me to own a house till I met my wife, who had a handle on these things. She had an electric fire as well, with four bars! I couldn’t believe it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Andrew Says:

    We seem to be obsessed with owning a house. I suppose it gives us a sense of security. My mother was always the money-keeper too. A generational thing perhaps.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    While stationed in Connecticut for a time in my childhood we walked a distance from the house to an outhouse. Interesting during the long icy winters. I too gave my mother a small amount of money when I got my first job after high school. I never minded doing it. We never owned a house. Mostly lived with my grandmother when my Dad was at sea. When he was transferred we rented whatever we could find. He never wanted to live on the base. When he retired he built his first house.

    Like

  11. gerard oosterman Says:

    I think owning own house is very much a result of Governments steering it for the sake of ‘economy’. The alternative of renting or subsidised council housing is deliberately made more unattractive.

    Like

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