Saturday, April 30, 2016

Please Shut the GATE

When I was a kid, there was a sign - white, with blue writing - metal -affixed to our back gate.

"Please Shut the GATE".

Did you have a back gate when you were a kid?

All the important people in our life came through the back gate.

It was the way to the shed and the yards, the clothesline and the car shed.

People of no importance - the postman or other grown ups - may have occasionally breached the front gate, with it crepe myrtle forest, or more often the side gate near the patio and the tv-antenna tower, but the really important people - Dad, Jock, Grandpa, Tex, Mum, us kids - all used the back gate.

The sign had thin cursive script for the first three words - "Please Shut the" and then gone wild with a block 3-D effect capitalised .

I remember sitting on the laundry roof when I was a kid - there was a really cool way that even a little unco kid like me could access the laundry roof - I was sitting up there and staring at this sign. I might have been about four or five at the time?

Anyway, I think Mum had caught me on the roof and made me get down and I spent a bit of time hanging out in front of that gate having a disagreement about the relative justice - or indeed injustice - being given in banning a child from being able to see the world from a height - and I must have used the sign to focus on as I had to listen to her go on about danger and plummets and blah blah blah blah blah...

I KNEW what the sign said, because it was one of those little things that people would read out aloud as they passed the threshold - but there was a moment in time when it suddenly became clear to me that this word - GATE - equated to the actual sounds of the word that they said.


How cool it was, I thought, that someone had worked out that certain shapes represented sounds - and I was suddenly absolutely VORACIOUS in seeking more words to masticate and savour.

Nothing was safe from me. Weet-bix packs were awesome, with information not only on the OUTSIDE of the box but on the cards too. I read ingredients on jars and every billboard between our home and my Grandma's.

That is how I read books. I can read books with plot and little padding, but I wallow in a good word-puddle.

 The sign is no longer there - that gate is no longer there, I am no longer there, the laundry roof is no longer there, Mum is no longer there - all that is there now is the bottom of the back stairs.

That - and this blog post.


Kelly said...

I like the nostalgia you can evoke with your posts. You obviously don't just READ words well, you WRITE them well, too!

Now... thanks to you, I'll retreat to my own memories of a back gate or two.

jeanie said...

I would love to know about others back gates - where I live now doesn't have one, it has a FENCE but no gate.

Leenie said...

That moment when you realize that reading is the key to finding out all kinds of cool stuff is memorable. Sorry your mom didn't see the magic of a rooftop view. But keeping kids out of high places is one of mom's jobs.

Debby said...

I loved this. We all have those bright and shining moments in our childhood that we remember so crystal clearly. I remember things like watching the dust motes in a ray of bright sunlight. My old iron bed. A long gone cat that we used to dress up and push around in our doll carriage. I like how you made one of yours come to life again. Very sweet.

jeanie said...

Leenie - I now know (as a mother) that all those words Mum was using were life-preservers :D

Oh yes, Debby - I remember dust motes - they are fantastic!

Kelly said...

A fence, but no gate?? Is there a neighbor beyond the fence?

My childhood yard had more than one gate, and each one has special memories that accompany it.

jeanie said...

Indeed no - Paradise is rather suburban on our boundaries hence the 7' high wooden exclusion walls that are currently being softened by bamboo, lilli pilli, bottle brush and passionfruit vines - but unfortunately to see the neighbours on the other sides, we must exit via the front and go around...

BB said...

AH But I am there... I remember you and your VORACIOUS reading... the Weet-Bix packet, the milk carton, the dictionary, the Bible... inhaled!!! I am glad that sign set you off - I never knew this story of how it all began!!!