Monday, October 11, 2010

53 Dahlia Street

Janet Frame lived at 53 Dahlia Street, Palmerston North. I recall this was a good house. Large, and solid, and full of character. Lots of memories.

Now it's for sale.

And it has attracted the attention of the local newspaper, the Manawatu Standard.

Reporter Michelle Duff has unearthed a really lovely story about Janet Frame, and it sounds so typical of Janet's generosity and friendliness: a local eight year old aspiring writer once left a note in Frame's mailbox asking for advice. The following morning Janet Frame turned up at the little girl's house with the gift of a blank notebook inscribed to her (Vanessa Barnes, now aged 29) saying "To Vanessa. If you want to be a writer, you must write, and see what happens".

The news article contains the usual delightfully contradictory statements about the mythical Frame, eg: she "was not often seen about town" but despite this, "Palmerston North residents remember her vividly".


BRENTON said...

Lovely story and a wonderful name for the street! I wonder if Janet liked Dahlias?

Pamela Gordon said...

Yes Janet liked dahlias. Her father used to grow them, and the garden at 56 Eden Street in Oamaru has a glorious variety of dahlias to commemorate that fact. And funnily enough, one of Janet's fictional characters, Godfrey Rainbird from THE RAINBIRDS, lived in a Dahlia Terrace at one point in his story. That was written years before Janet found the lovely house in Palmerston North.

FYI I think one of Janet's favourite flowers was the lilac. And the geranium. And the flowering currant. And the sunflower.

Alix said...

I also lived at 53 Dahlia Street as a teenager about 1968 or thereabouts. My mother rented the house at the time. I can recall an old wood burner stove in the kitchen. Also from memory the house would still have been original. What a pity my mother is not alive to know that Janet Frame chose to live there much later. I drove past the house last year and noted some changes to the outside, what a pity I didn't realise the house was for sale, I would have liked to have had the chance to revisit.