All families have their own mythologies, their own folk lore. Stories told and told again. Embellished, extended. The house at Docker St looms large in my dad’s family. Its mythological status now enhanced by its absence. Its replacement – an old, squat, boxy block of flats, no threat to its memory.
It wasn’t even owned by my dad’s family, just occupied by various family members. Often all at the same time. Growing up an only child, I could only fantasise about such a crowded family abode. The prospect of cousins as constant playmates seemed idyllic.
The only photos of the house are a series of wedding portraits, taken in front of a marble fire place by glamour photographer and family friend Athol Shmith.
My imagining of this house is put together from fragments described by various family members. A manse, next door to St someone or other. An enclosed veranda where people sometimes slept. Children running down the hallway and hiding under tables.
Most startlingly by my dad
… you know, the room at the back with the picture of Stalin on the wall. And the map of the front.
Excuse me? Stalin?
To 1950s Australia, life in Soviet Russia clearly wasn’t as it seemed. I can only imagine the horror these kind hearted idealists must have felt on learning how people really lived.