LIFE IN LONOA, Part 1
by Peggy Kirk (née Draycott) of Victoria, B.C., Canada
- born 1921 at 27 Abyssinia Street, Wavertree.
To enter our world one had to traverse Picton Road. Wellington Road, named after the famous Duke, branched off from Picton Road and ran down to Gainsborough Road. There branched off: Fairbanks, Wimbledon, Bisley streets. The opposite side was taken up with the railings and gates of the Mystery Park and playgrounds. The railway property occupied the rest of 'Welly' to the Armouries at the junction of Welly-Gainsborough and Lawrence. In the shadow of the railway station were located the five streets whose initials spelt LONOA. We sang a ditty about the names of the five streets:
'Liberty said to Oak "Have you seen Nebo?"
Ono, he's just gone down Abyssinia.'
The five streets were situated in the shadow of the railway station. The abutments of the massive bridge acted as a wall blocking us off in a way from the outside world. The station entrance was under the arches as were the tops of Liberty and Ono streets. The streets surrounding the station and the arches did not yield any city commuters. Railway transportation was for the people of a higher strata of society than ours. For us, the railway meant only two things: the plaintive sounds of the steam whistles penetrating our psyche, night and day, year after year, and the grimness of life UNDER the arches.
The narrow streets of Lonoa were separated from each other by an alley or back lane, barely wide enough to allow a handcart through. The view of each other's back-yard lavatories, or pettys, was free.
The front streets were just wide enough for a horse wagon. On either side was a narrow pavement with a recessed gutter below its outer edge. The five streets were identical. The thirty-six houses, eighteen each side of a street, were identical. The roofs, chimneys, windows and walls were identical. The 180 brick boxes, separated from each other by a wall only as thick as a brick, housed our neighbours.
The interior of each house was divided into four rooms. Many interiors were further divided, by an old blanket or a curtain gathered onto a length of string and strung across the bedroom. This afforded the only bit of privacy for a man and his wife, in many cases. The children had their own names for the hovels of Lonoa - cockroach castles or bed-bug bordellos. Wal and I would stuff our chewing-gum into the holes of the walls to halt the infestation of bugs and fleas from the next-door house.
(To be continued)