I was nearly four years old when we moved to Gothatuwa and I am told that I loved to wonder around this large property that was surrounded by jungle on two sides.
Dad had made me a sand pit near the house and Mum tells me that on one occasion while I was busy building sand castles she spied a Cobra making its way towards me. She was in the process of leaving the house to frighten the snake away, when she noticed a mongoose come between me and the cobra and attacked the snake which slid back into the adjoining jungle. Maybe it was the fowls that my parents kept that the snake was after rather than myself. On another occasion I remember Dad shooting a cobra that had got into the house through a open door (in the tropics doors and windows were always kept open to let in the breezes) and had curled up on a chair.
The sight of blood on the walls will forever remain in my memory.
The house was a large white painted mansion with a roof garden that was reached by climbing external timber stairs. Mum tells me that even though I had been told not to climb up to the roof garden it never stopped me getting up there from time to time.
Marie was born on 7th May 1945, right at the end of the war. Her second name is “Victoreen” to commemorate the allied victory.
On another occasion in 1946 I remember my cousins, Peter, Pamela and Jim Kalenberg, Mum’s sister (Aunty Bertha) children visiting us when Marie was a baby.
While we were living in this house there was an Army Base built on the land across the road from us. I remember attending their parades and in particular their habit of feeding the goat that was their mascot, cigarettes. I recall that there never was a shortage of cakes and ice cream for us kids. It was sad day when the camp was dismantled and the soldiers left at the end of the war.
The “Kalenberg’s” - Peter, Pamela carrying Marie, and Jim with Ed and Muriel in front at Gothatuwa House.
I also recall when Grandfather decided to excavate the land below the main house and build another house on the leveled block. The cut was about five metres deep and had a rudimentary fence to protect anyone falling over the edge (No occupational health and safety legislation in those days). Even though it was forbidden to go near the cut, it was great fun for us to peer over the edge without understanding the danger this involved.
At the end of the war I recall going to party thrown by my Father's younger brother Fredrick George Rowlands at his war surplus holding yard near the beach and running between the tanks, trucks and other army equipment that he had purchased from the Australian and Americam armed forces prior to their leaving the country.
I came across an interesting case that was brought by F.G.Rowlands against the Ceylon Government about war surplus that was purchased for scrap iron. The details are found at:-
As I was ready to commence my schooling, my parents decided to move to Colombo to be near St Thomas’ Primary School, Colpetty. Number 16 Palmyrah Avenue, Colpetty was our next house. Thus ended the idyllic days of pre-school.
Marie and Nanny with the Fowl Run in the background
This is all I recall of our stay at Gothatuwa.