In 1961, my mother was widowed. My brother and sister were two years, and three months, old respectively. I was fourteen at the time.
Starting with nothing my mother got a job and built a life for us. After a short time in Cranborne Hostel, a welfare-sponsored hostel, we soon moved to the low-rent Queensdale flats – long prefabs with shared bathrooms and toilets.
Christmas approached and I told my mother I would get us a small Christmas tree – she wanted one because she was trying to give us as much of a NORMAL Christmas as she could.
Across the road was a large fenced area inside of which was an electrical transformer station. The area also had quite a few mature pine trees growing in it. One evening I got hold of a saw and clambered up to the top of one of these pine trees and cut off about the last eight or nine feet. I dragged this home, to my mother’s feeble protestations but she was giggling and laughing about it at the same time.
We put the bottom of our TREE in a bucket filled with stones and soil, dug out the Christmas decorations and we had our decorated tree for Christmas.
Other than my friend Willie – who helped me – no one ever seemed to notice the truncated pine tree!