Walking Down Virtual Memory Lane


Photo: tageo.com

I visited a nice blog with photos of Enkhuizen a while ago. My parents lived there for a few years. in the Westerstaat. It has a link to Google Earth  and it was great to stand in front of the house!

I told myself I should do that more often. There’s nothing like Google Earth if you’re a homesick emigrant. Or just getting older and wanting to go down memory lane. Well, now I can.

The first place I went was Collaroy, in the state of New South Wales, in Australia. I lived there in the sixties. On 54 Collaroy Street, to be exact. So I Google-Earthed it, and sure enough, there it was. And I could walk down the street! Amazing.

Our house (the white one) taken by my aunt in 1980)

Collaroy Street is very steep, because it goes up the side of a plateau, surprisingly called Collaroy Plateau. Our house was the top one. We had a beautiful view of the rest of Collaroy beneath us, and then the ocean. With binoculars we could see migrating whales from our living room. (At the time I thought they were dolphins, but later I wondered how I could have seen those from such a difference. Then I read about whales migrating along the east coast of Australia, and that makes a lot more sense. I just wish I had realized it at the time.)

As the street went up from Pittwater Road, it got steeper and steeper. Behind our house –and I mean about two feet behind our house–it was just straight vertical cliff to the top, where the new subdivisions were, and my school, Collaroy Public School. I’m hoping that, as Collaroy has no doubt expanded, so has their imagination when it comes to naming things.

But back to our street. So it didn’t go all the way up to the last five houses. Steps up the rest of the way. Man, we must have been in such good shape! Not to mention the guy who came and emptied the outhouse barrel every so often. He literally had to haul our shit down those stairs.

bagworm (photo: teejaybee)

A smaller driveway now goes up to the rest of the houses, and our wooden house–with gaps between the walls and the windows where the most interesting bugs crawled in–was torn down and there’s now a brick house with no windows on the side where my parents had a beautiful view of the sun rising over the Pacific. I expect they at least still have windows in the front. But why should I care? Good question. And I wonder if they know about the cave . . .

The houses on the street have changed, it seems. When we lived there in the sixites, most of the houses were a bit long in the tooth, and here and there a fancy new house had been built. But it looks like they’re about ready for the third generation of houses since I lived there. Most of the houses look like they’re from the seventies, and a bit long in the tooth . . . It’s a sad state of affairs when the average human lasts four times as long as the average house.

A lot more has been paved over, which doesn’t look nice. I’m especially ticked off that they paved most of the strip park along the beach to make way for parking. Only a few of the pines remain.

Nevertheless, Collaroy street looks like it still has more or less the same feel. Lush unmanicured bushes, lots of shade, and part of the stone wall near where the one hundred fifty-odd steps to our house began is still there.

I remember that one day my dad was fiddling with his old car–a Holden–and my brother and I were hanging out around near him. The car was pointed downhill, next to the stone wall, and my dad was talking to someone and not paying attention. That was the moment my three-year-old brother decided to get in the car and play around. And why should kids not play in cars? Because they can accidentally release the break. Which my brother did.

And there went the car, heading down the second-steepest road in Collaroy, which came out onto Pittwater Road, the main road along the coast, even though it was only two lanes. And beyond that a strip of park and then the beach.

My dad almost had a heart attack, and he started running after the car, knowing that once it got speed, there would be no way he could catch up. But nothing terrible happened. The car (or my brother) drove calmly onto a driveway of a house just a little ways down. It went uphill and so it worked like a break ramp does for trucks in the mountains.

And here’s the kicker. That driveway is still there. At the same angle, which must be awkward when you’re coming uphill, because it’s at such a sharp angle, but it was perfect to save my little brother coming downhill. It was gravel at the time and now it’s paved, but that’s the only change.

How cool is that?

4 responses to “Walking Down Virtual Memory Lane

  1. It was so nice to share this stroll with you. I’ve looked at past homes on Google and it certainly does bring back memories. Thanks for sharing yours.

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  2. Google Earth is awesome indeed. When my sister moved from Zaandam to Diemen, I googled her address and found myself standing on the corner with a 360 degree view possibility. Was great to see where she lives now 🙂

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