21 July 2021
A family home with history gets a major facelift
At 91 years young, Kathleen Tuckerman is a bit of a legend as the first public housing resident in her street. Kathleen has lived in her Rutherford home for 65 years, raising a family here with her late husband Laurie.
This property was recently renovated thanks to Hume Community Housing’s successful application for a $4 million government stimulus grant to upgrade 70 social housing properties it manages in the Hunter region.
The Tuckerman’s family’s lived through the infamous 1955 Maitland floods which threw the family’s life into chaos.
Husband Laurie was in the army and was called on to help during the floods and then work in the area, so they needed housing.
“It all happened so fast, we were up to our waists in water and for two weeks Laurie was gone helping to find people. It was a very difficult time,” Kathleen said.
Help came on 9 June 1955 when Laurie signed the lease for a shed on Bruce Street, East Maitland, which they made home for a while. Then, just over a year later, on 10 September 1956, he signed the tenancy for their brand-new home in Thompson Street, Rutherford (see photo).
It was here that the Tickerman family grew, and like many devout Catholic families at the time, it did quite a bit. In the end Kathleen and Laurie raised four boys and four girls in the three-bedroom home.
Kathleen’s daughter Kayleen Rinkin remembers it all very well and recalls they had great fun but had to be organised.
“We had four girls in bunks in one room and the four boys in bunks in the other! We all got along and enjoyed our lives growing up I couldn’t fault it,” she said with a big smile.
Kathleen is the eldest of 13 children, so she had excellent training for her role as a mother of eight and is proud of all her children who have all done well in their lives. She is surrounded by photographs of her family and has an infectious, happy smile which must have been a positive for her family over the years.
But over the 65 years with many feet up and down the floorboards and boisterous youth, bouncing onto walls, the house which watched these children grow, saw a much wear and tear. By 2021 a facelift was definitely in order. Although some work had been done in the past, this was a long time ago.
“I remember the house being painted when Dad was alive, because we had to move the furniture room by room for each paint job, and the only other change was my Dad putting a shed in the yard where a big peach tree once stood,” recalled Kayleen.
“There was the odd bit of maintenance here and there, and they moved the toilet inside, which was major, but nothing substantial like Hume has undertaken.”
The major renovation included new carpet, windows, new kitchen and importantly a new bathroom – especially designed to suit Kathleen’s aged care needs. There is also a new fence earmarked for the back yard.
“Mum loves the kitchen, which she got to choose the colours and finishes for. On the first day she washed up three times because having two sinks is such a novelty!” said Kayleen.
“But it’s the bathroom that’s the star! The original bath and shower were awkward for Mum at 91, so they removed the bath and now it’s a safe walk-in shower, and I can get in there too to help her if and when that is needed,” she said.
The project did however mean quite a bit of change for Kathleen. She had to move out for six weeks and moved in with one of her other daughters and her family, which Kayleen thought was the best move.
“There were of course delays and issues that took place during the job, and I checked on the work daily and often saw things that needed fixing and these were addressed.
Kathleen and her husband, who live around the corner, popped by daily often liaising with Hume’s project managers.
“It’s the longest Mum has ever been away from home!
As for Kathleen she is very happy with her new home.
“It’s like a new broom! I just hope I live long enough to enjoy it!” concluded Kathleen.
Hume would like to thank Kayleen and Kathleen for their patience and their input. Hume hopes Kathleen enjoys many years to come her newly renovated home.