OPINION: Recollections of a great place to grow up

I WOULD like to take the opportunity to tell people about growing up in Boolaroo. I feel the publicity of the last week will once again cast a shadow as large as Pasminco on Boolaroo and surrounding areas, when the town might finally get back some of its former feeling.

I felt proud to grow up in Boolaroo. I was born at Speers Point in 1943 and lived in Boolaroo with my parents and siblings. Our darling mother recently passed away at the age of 94 and until the last three months of her life was still doing cryptic crosswords and was interested in what was  happening in the lives of her grandchildren and world and local news. Our mother grew up in Teralba and moved to Boolaroo when married and lived in the same street for 74 years.

I read Andrew Belk’s Weekender piece, and the Boolaroo I grew up in was certainly not the same place Mr Belk did. We all went to Boolaroo school and went on to high school in Newcastle and walked most days past the Sulphide to catch the train to school.

Funnily enough the smell was not such an issue. We also roamed Hawkins hill, picking blackberries, riding down the slopes on cardboard or pieces of tin. Safety was, in those days, not an issue. Parents would take the family down to the park on a Sunday evening where loads of fun was to be had; most people knew each other.

My father worked in the mines, we grew all our own vegetables and always had chooks, so plenty of fresh veg and eggs were on the table. We never had a lot of money to waste but there was always plenty of food for a large family.

Our mother, of course, was house-proud and you could always see white sheets on the line,  although, when the wind was blowing in our direction, mum never did the whites. Clothes were not discoloured, unless we knocked the pole out from the line and they landed on the ground.

As teenagers we were lucky enough to have the cinema and a dance hall in Boolaroo and our local shop, where all the young ones met and listened to music, played pinball machines and had a great time just sitting around talking. If you were bored you went to Speers Point.

The main street consisted of many shops – Friths, banks, a doctor’s surgery, vegetable shop,  a baby ware shop,  and a bakery where on a Sunday morning you would always go and get fresh hot bread. There was a bootmaker, the newsagent, butcher’s, and Hawkins offices and sheds for trucks.

I am not suggesting there is nothing wrong here, and I certainly think proper lead testing should be done.

  Pasminco have to be held accountable and there have been issues that have come to light but a lot of similar issues are being felt around the nation, especially with the amount of children being classified by a so-called spectrum, if they do not fit a certain mould.

I am 71 and have had the opportunity to see a lot of young people grow up here. A lot had high lead readings and have gone on to achieve a lot and become decent solid citizens.

I feel for the people who have had difficulties living here, but a lot of the older residents here have lived to a really good age – many in their 90s. Yes, we have had more than our share of tragedies. I want to see commonsense prevail and the administrators take the option to retest not just one here and there, but a thorough testing, and where necessary take the proper measures to ensure the people living in Boolaroo are not living with this cloud over them.

While  this continues to be in the headlines Boolaroo is being pulled back instead of once again becoming a thriving community as it was in the past. 

I want to show that Boolaroo people have always supported each other, unlike a lot of communities, and was hoping to see our town come to life again and the public to know that it was not a bad place to live. 

The author requested her  name be withheld