They all still consider this to be the family home…..
My husband and I bought the house in 1961. The house was £1,400… and we had a job finding £50 deposit – that was big money then. It was £9 a month for the mortgage.
We were so glad to get the house. We decorated it ourselves – as time went on, not right away as they do now. You just had to wait to get stuff. We bought a bedroom suite from Gilpin’s in Sandy Row, we paid it off and they kept it for us.
When we moved in we had no furniture – we had nothing. My mummy gave me a rocking chair and my husband’s mummy gave us an old armchair. His mummy and two sisters bought us a dining room suite as a wedding present. But they decided to wait to give it to us until we had our own family home. It was a long sideboard/ cocktail cabinet… I didn’t drink or anything. It was great …a table and chairs.
We were only in the house a couple of days and I saw a girl going down the street I went to school with. She said: I have a new suite and I can’t get rid of my other one”. It was her mother’s. It was a big, red, uncut moquette…. the design was into the material.. kind of rough. She had all these wee lacey things on the arms. I thought it was beautiful.. £5 we paid. Her brother-in-law was a milkman so he brought it up on the back of the lorry. And we had that suite in our family home for years. It was the kind of suite the kids could have jumped all over all day long.
Later, I wanted a suite with legs. That was the new thing out… you know the wee, spindly legs. The man two doors up made furniture. I just thought it was the last word. Leather arms – not real leather – and moquette seats. But you could spit through it, you know what I mean. But… you just wanted something modern, and that was the style that was out at the time. The other one was really more practical for a family home, but it wouldn’t have been fashionable.
My family home was a 4 bedroom semi-detached house. We lived in the back so I wasn’t used to living straight onto the street. I couldn’t get used to this. I just had to get net curtains right across the window so no one could see in. The venetian blinds came later, and then these (vertical) blinds after that.
This area is just so fantastic and the neighbours. It just suited everything we were doing and the interests that we had…. and the children all played together. Everybody was related to everybody. Now, it wasn’t near shops. There were no shops. I had to walk the whole way down with two or three in the pram, some hanging off the pram whatever. They went to school down there as well. I just liked the house, as a family home, my neighbours and everything. It was a very happy family home
There’s just me here now.
My husband died two and a half years ago. He wasn’t well for a few years before he died. My daughter would take me out and when I’d come in I’d say to him: ‘You wouldn’t believe who I met today… or you wouldn’t believe what somebody said to me in a shop or … I bought this.. it was a bargain’. So… I still do that. I go around the house talking to him.
It’s very, very hard.. very hard. There’s times people say you know you’ve got the TV to yourself and all this … And I know I can go to bed when I want, I can get up when I want, I don’t have to have my dinner at 6 o’clock – I don’t have to have a dinner. It’s all sorts of things like that…. But at the same time you are taking everything on your own…. a cup of tea or whatever. You’ve nobody….and you don’t feel like making food sometimes. And you are inclined to buy too much. No matter how hard you try it’s very hard to buy for one. You waste food – and I hate wasting food. But that’s what happens you know.
My youngest son was living here in the family home but moved out just around the time my husband died…. and so I missed him as well. The house was so full of people. You look around and you see all these dishes and stuff and think.. what am I going to do with it? I don’t need it.
There are three bedrooms and my husband converted the roof space himself. He put central heating in – that’s what his job was – a plumber; he was very handy.
He had a workshop in the garage…. They won’t clear it for me. They say that’s the way a garage is supposed to look. I say: ‘no it’s not supposed to look like that’. There’s stuff in it could go into a museum… tools and a big chest of drawers. Every drawer has nails in its screws in it …hammers and all sorts of things. His safety helmet is hanging up. His hurling helmet is hanging up – he was a hurler as well.
There was always somebody looking for their washing machine plumbed in, or they had a leak somewhere – and he was always there…. Remember the stone fireplaces that were wall to wall? He built one for two of my neighbours, and one for his sister. He just got into the way of doing them. They were all the thing at the time…..I only remembered all this when he died and people were telling me. It’s very hard to get anybody like that now.
I have a very bad knee and have difficulty getting upstairs and so I try to go up as little as possible. I have a rolator but I don’t use it, I have never used it outside yet – because my pride won’t let me. When my husband was ill I didn’t want to have the operation …. and then, I think …there’s no point in going for it now at my age. So, I said I’m not going to get it done…. and I just manage.
There are two handrails on the stairs, they were put in for J. Obviously, I use them. So far I’m able to look after myself. I’m able to make my meals. My son calls every day from work to put stuff out in the bins and things like that. My daughter takes me out in the morning shopping, or whatever needs to be done. The family are all very good.
My daughter was saying why don’t you put in a wet room? But I said I couldn’t be bothered. All that bother of getting it done.
I have to get a rail outside the front door because when I’m opening the door there’s nothing to hold onto. You can apply for it through occupational therapy.
If I didn’t have Footprints Women’s Centre I’d be lost completely. It’s just my saviour. Every week my daughter drops me off, comes back here and does the smoothing or the bathroom… or anything that needs cleaned up. She’ll do that.
These two doors into the living room annoy me. It means you could never use that corner. Say, you wanted a corner suite.. if you put your settee over there this door was knocking into it, or that door. And there’s a draught. You’re getting a draught from there, and you are getting a draught from the front as well.
A lot of people in these houses made their hall longer. It means you only have the one door (to the kitchen) – but it also means the main room is smaller. You can’t have everything, I suppose.
The back door is off the dining room, not the kitchen. So when you are cooking and need to go out to the bin or whatever, you have to go out through the dining room. I always thought that was very badly designed, but we never got round to doing anything about it. The door should have been accessible from the kitchen.
None of my immediate neighbours have changed it. Our age group wouldn’t have really done things like that. There probably wasn’t the money for it. And people didn’t do things like that in those days.
I imagine there are a lot of newer people who would have changed it all. I was in a house down the street and you wouldn’t think it was the same house at all. That wall has gone there’s … like an archway where you can see out the back, and it’d all been enlarged. It’s just beautiful. Totally different looking from my house. Whenever I go into my friends’ houses they are just exactly like mine. When you get older you wouldn’t be bothered changing it.
This hasn’t been decorated since J. died. But sure, when you get to my age…. Is it worth it?
I said to the family at the beginning of the year, I have a big birthday coming up and I don’t want anything. But what I would like you to do is to re-design the garden. I had decking out there and it was all rotting. So the family did the back garden for me. It’s just beautiful and it’s very easy to look after. It’s all pots. My son designed it and they all did the work.
I open my dining room curtains and …it’s like a picture. It’s that false grass and stones and pots. I like flowers. I buy them and my daughter puts them in the pots. She does all the gardening now.
Isn’t it nice? It’s all easy access for me.
It’s not really there for religious reasons, it was bought as a wedding present for the family home. It’s always been there and this has always been a happy, family home so I don’t like to move it.
The last time I got the place painted I was thinking of moving it but thought – no. I’ll just keep it. It’s sentimental more than anything. It’s actually in my wedding photos. I had my wedding reception at my family home so when we were cutting the cake the picture of the Sacred Heart is in the background.
You don’t see those anymore… or statues or anything like that. We have a cross above the bed. The crosses now are more for fashion reason – not so much for religion.
I’m not saying living here was all rosy. The Troubles were very bad. There were jeeps going up and down… and riots. My husband was actually painting the outside the house when the ceasefire broke. There were plastic bullets in our driveway and he was up the ladder painting….
There were times when we had to get on the floor. J. put a big metal bar across the door – because people were opening their doors and getting shot. You were always afraid of that.
There were soldiers in your driveway every night. Soldiers standing at your window, at the door, at the gate, at the back. I would say: “Would you just go outside my gate”. But they would just look at you.
You can see I’m into pink. I didn’t used to be. I just like it.
That picture there is my brother’s painting. He was about 18 when he painted that and now he’s 87. That was from my family home so I keep it and got it framed. He lives in Canada now. I haven’t seen him since mummy died, years ago.
We had a coal fire when we moved in. There was no central heating. We were the first ones round here to get central heating because that’s what my husband worked at. It was the glass-fronted type. Terrible hard to look after. You had to wash the front and sometimes it cracked, and it was very hard to light.
Footprints is just a fantastic place. I went there to do the access course and then graduated from QUB in the year 2000 when I was 62. There wasn’t any pressure on me, I wasn’t doing it for a career or job. I just loved it, it was a great experience.
I’ve been back there maybe 14-15 years. We’ve got a gardening group – though I can’t do the gardening now. We do all sorts of classes and just sitting… talking, people who have been through the same stuff. I just think it’s great and the staff up there are fantastic… they deal with all sorts of other issues.
Although we’re all from all different backgrounds we all just seem to gel. We go out at Christmas time and that’s something to look forward to. I would just miss it so much.