Mosman Voices - oral histories online

John Carruthers

Interviewed by Trish Levido on 15 February 2006
Subject: ,

John Carruthers. He bought the residue of the land from the association after they ran out of steam, they didn’t sell the last two houses on the eastern side….

Trish Levido. ….of your house.

John Carruthers. On the western side … they hadn’t sold Nos 7 & 9 at Quakers Road.

Trish Levido. They were the only two blocks that were left then.

John Carruthers. They were houses and the gap between 9 Quakers Road, and what is now 67 Bay Street. That’s the last one that sits down on the western side, and my father bought the rest of the land from the association at some time, I don’t know some time in 1926 or something like that.

Trish Levido. As an investment.

John Carruthers. Well, we built this house on it in 1935.

Trish Levido. What was the number of the block that he built the house on?

John Carruthers. It’s now 50 …

Trish Levido. …it was changed to 50 Central Avenue.

John Carruthers. No, it was always 50 Central Avenue. They started to number them from the top to the bottom, they didn’t number those, they all had place names, they named the houses. We were ‘Lecindra’.

Trish Levido. That was the name of the house.

John Carruthers. Yes, in Central Avenue and it didn’t have a number that I know of anyway.

Trish Levido. How many houses would have been around in this street when you were called ‘Lecindra’?

John Carruthers. Not a great deal, a big gap between our house and Central Avenue on the southern side. There were five vacant blocks.

Trish Levido. Nothing at all from Spit Road to the bottom of the hill.

John Carruthers. From the bottom of the hill to our place was all bush.

John Carruthers. After he came back from the war he worked in the Limbless Factory in Surry Hills. My mother didn’t work and they lived at Clovelly at that time. He became interested in these houses here after Charlie Avis who also worked there, he was an amputee, had a leg off too. He went there and he bought the first house, which is now No 77 Bay Street. I don’t know when Charlie came in, but it was some time before we did, we came here in 1922.

Trish Levido. And so they became friends when working together.

John Carruthers. Yes, and also Mrs. Avis was my auntie’s sister, so there was a family relationship as well as being a friendship.

Trish Levido. Do you know what year it was when he moved here?

John Carruthers. We moved here in 1922

Trish Levido. Going back to the big house that you currently live in, do you have any idea of what your father would have paid for the original cost of the building?

John Carruthers. £2000.

Trish Levido. Why did your father decide to build the big house when you were already living in one of the ten weatherboard houses further up the road?

John Carruthers. Well, he wanted to improve himself I suppose. They had some spare money….

Trish Levido. ….did he inherit any money do you remember?

John Carruthers. No, he didn’t inherit any he saved it up he was a very thrifty man.

Trish Levido. Was he a handyman?

John Carruthers. No.

Trish Levido. So he paid a builder to come and build the house, he didn’t do any of it himself.

John Carruthers. De Putron was the architect.

Trish Levido. Violet Peters said that all of the houses were De Putron designed houses.

John Carruthers. That’s right they were all the same.

Trish Levido. But your house wasn’t it was it.

John Carruthers. No, it was slightly different over there.

Trish Levido. Because of the design of the house, because of the Lot?

John Carruthers. No, because the addition they put on, this verandah on the side, which was different.

Trish Levido. This verandah that we’re sitting in now?

John Carruthers. Oh no, this house hasn’t changed.

Trish Levido. The house that we’re in now at 50 Central Avenue was that designed by De Putron?

John Carruthers. Yes.

Trish Levido. If you took me on a mental walk through the houses could you tell me what they were like?

John Carruthers. I have a small drawing here.

Trish Levido. That’s wonderful.

John Carruthers. They’re all basically, a little square like that and they all had an open … they were later closed – a little verandah on that side and the kitchen was there, the toilet there and there was a dining and lounge room together. Then there was a small hall with bedroom 1 there, and bedroom 2 there, and they had a verandah there, but our house ‘Lecindra’ had this extension on the side, which is a small kitchenette in addition to the kitchen. We used to eat in the kitchen.

Trish Levido. So the kitchen was like a dining room.

John Carruthers. It was a kitchenette with an enclosed verandah along the side here.

Trish Levido. Violet told me that a lot of people used to sleep on the verandahs that was their bedrooms and the children slept on the verandah.

John Carruthers. All of us slept on the verandah we slept out there. My brother and I both slept on the verandah. It was fairly wide and enclosed in glass.

Trish Levido. So about two or three meters wide or only 1 ½ meters wide?

John Carruthers. No, no it would have been about three meters wide.

Trish Levido. So it had a wall around the lower half?

John Carruthers. No, this was an enclosed verandah. A little bit at the front was open and then another verandah here, which in our case was open but the others were enclosed and that’s where the kids used to sleep.

Trish Levido. So where was the bathroom – that’s the toilet?

John Carruthers. There was no toilet because it was an outside toilet, no I’ve got that wrong that’s the bathroom.

Trish Levido. That’s a bathroom where it says toilet on the map it’s actually a bathroom. So the bathroom mainly consisted of a bath and a basin, and you had an outside toilet.

John Carruthers. I haven’t been in any of the others except Avis’s, also I’ve been in Roberts the next one to Avis’s.

Trish Levido. So this is No 50.

John Carruthers. No, that’s not No 50 this is ‘Lecindra’.

Trish Levido. What number was that?

John Carruthers. There was no number, just Central Avenue. It’s now No 5 Quakers Road.

Trish Levido. And you think that this design would be the same in all those houses.

John Carruthers. Yes because the next one down from Avis’s was the same as Avis’s.

Trish Levido. The same design – now when you say Avis’s do you have any idea of the number of Avis’s.

John Carruthers. Yes, Avis was No 77.

Trish Levido. The same design as No 77 Bay Street.

John Carruthers. Well, it’s now 77 Bay Street.

Trish Levido. Do you remember if the houses were all the same plan and the same layout, so they were a reasonable size house because they all had at least two bedrooms, plus the verandahs.

John Carruthers. It wasn’t very big that verandah….

Trish Levido. ….in the other ones, this one was a reasonable sized one, yours was bigger.

John Carruthers. Yes, ours was much bigger.

Trish Levido. So he would have paid to have than enclosed verandah with the little kitchenette on it.