The first encounter that I had, personally, with the Tocumwal houses, was in 1948, when they were very new. Dad became friendly with a man named Bob Peak, who was also working at 'CS' (as we always called it). Bob - as I later found out - had also recently returned from the War, having been, I think, a prisoner-of-war in Poland, and he and his family had recently moved into Tate Street. We had no car in those days and Dad would often hop on a bus on Saturday mornings and go to visit friends. This particular day he took me to O'Connor, 'to meet Mr. Peak', and I remember standing in the Peak's kitchen, with Mr Peak smiling at me and saying 'I'll go and get my little girl, Elizabeth. She's just outside, collecting the eggs!' Elizabeth came in just then and I got the impression of a very pretty, animated little girl, with thick, blonde hair, which she wore in two long plaits. At this time Elizabeth was eight and I was six.
Over time we developed with the Peaks a special and very enjoyable 'family' friendship. They were a phenomenon at the time, in that they were one of the few families who owned a car. I remember that, one Sunday, Bob rounded up his family and mine and took us all for a drive out to the Cotter River for a picnic. On another occasion they invited us to tea, one night, at their house in Tate Street. We lived in Ainslie and Bob came to pick us up and drive us to his house. It must have been winter because it was pitch-dark and I can remember that we soon left the streets and houses far behind and seemed to be driving miles out into the bush. Mum remarked that we were 'driving out into the never-never'! That was about 1949.
My family went back to live in Sydney for most of my primary school years but just before we came back to live in Canberra again, the Peaks offered us a three-week holiday at their place. The Peak's house in Tate Street had such a strong personality that I was acutely aware, even at eleven years of age, of the comfotable, relaxed, rambling, 'farmhousey' feeling that it had. Apparently it had brought 'something' with it from its original setting. It was such a happy house.
Cowboys and cracker nights
The cross on the chimney
Todd Street ceilidhs
Dances and a keg of beer
Sunday at the Raccosta's