Times Past: The Show

Theme for this month’s “Times Past”

Royal Adelaide Show

When we were kids I think this rated just below Christmas for excitement. We always went to The Show which was held in the September school holidays. I remember being there when it was hot but it was only Spring. Mum always arranged for my older brothers to meet up with us at the Penfolds wine bottle. The bottle was enormous and the “wine” flowed continuously.

Mum liked to check out the flower displays which we found boring. I don’t remember Dad being with us, but we did always check out the animals and I can’t imagine Mum ever choosing to do that.

We were allowed to get a Showbag and the 4Square ones kept us happy for days afterwards as we played shops with the little boxes of Rice Bubbles etc. They always had a comic in them and apart from any we managed to get at the church fair those were the only comics we ever had.

No plastic showbags back then

Our family was never one for sideshows, we went on the big Merry-Go-Round but I was a teenager before I tried out the Dodgem Cars, Mad Mouse and Ghost Train. Each year there was some kind of gimmick toy and I loved the slide whistles that meant you could imitate a “Wolf Whistle”. One year fluffy, brightly coloured chickens were on sale and going home on the tram I saw kids with them and was jealous. Now I cringe at the thought that most of the poor things probably died.

Slide Whistle

The log chopping and tree felling was always good to watch. I remember going to the Show by myself when I was about 13 and spent all day sitting in a grandstand watching the ring events. My favourite was the Tent Pegging. One at a time a team of horse riders had to gallop towards a series of small wooden targets which they tried to collect on their lance and carry to the finish line. The team with the most “carries” won the event.

Log Chopping 1950s

The only time we saw Fairy Floss was at the Show and it was a treat, that and Toffee Apples.

I’m not sure when fireworks became a feature of The Show certainly I don’t remember them as a child, they  were only available for Guy Fawkes night, 5th of November. Even if they were on I’m sure by night time Mum would have been worn to a frazzle so we would have been back home and probably in bed!

Toffee Apples

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Times Past: Birthday Parties

Birthday Parties are the theme for this month’s recollections, suggested by Irene A Waters.

(Baby Boomer growing up in an Australian capital city.)

When I was young we had birthday parties though nothing like the extravagant theme parties many kids have now. Most of our birthdays would have been celebrated within the immediate family but during my Primary School years I remember parties I attended at other girls’ homes. Boys were never invited and I don’t remember any boys having parties, even my brothers.

In my class at school there were cousins who lived next door to each other and I looked forward to their parties because they always had delicious cream puffs. I also remember seeing my first ice-cream cake at another party. During those years the party pies and pasties were all home made, nothing was available from a supermarket freezer then.

We played games like:

Pin the Tail on the Donkey

Musical Chairs

Pass the Parcel   (only the last person got a prize)

Scavenger Hunts

We had fun with balloons and whistles which had extending paper ends with feathers on them.

Everyone was given a piece of cake to take home wrapped in a serviette.

My brother Michael’s 4th birthday celebration.

My birthday, guests include neighbours, a cousin and friends from school. A brother of one girl is hiding in the background, probably embarrassed to be there.

There are always balloons at birthdays!

 

Times Past: Haircuts

In response to Irene A Waters at Reflections and Nightmares this post is about haircuts.

I’m a Baby Boomer who grew up in an Australian capital city.

I have a strong memory of my hair when I was little because I had to suffer Mum’s brushing of it. Clonk, drag, clonk, drag, she never demonstrated much finesse when it came to fine motor skills. My hair was always in two plaits with ribbons on the end. A vision has just popped into my head of Mum reaching out to get a rubber band from a door knob so she could fasten the end of my plait. I don’t think I had my hair cut much before I was about 10. I remember the awful disappointment as I left the hairdressers then with what I considered a “boys’ cut”. Maybe Mum was fed up with me complaining about her rough hair styling and sent me off to be shorn.

When I was in secondary school I grew my hair long and when it was in the intermediate stage I permed it myself. No nice styling before or after the perm and I was horrified when I saw the initial result but by setting it in quite large rollers it looked presentable when I left the house.

My brothers had their hair cut by Dad until secondary school. “The Oracle” remembers going to a barber for the first time when he came through the city on his way home from school. There were never any fancy cuts for them, just a short back and sides but at least Dad had enough skill to avoid the “Basin Cut”.

 

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Times Past: Remembered Plants

Irene Waters has taken up another blogger’s suggestion, plants and gardens, for this month’s memoirs.

I’m an Australian, city raised, Baby Boomer.

As I look around my garden now I see things I’ve planted because they bring back happy memories of time spent with my grandparents. I planted a Mulberry Tree because they always remind me of climbing high up the massive one they had in their backyard. I have “Lamb’s Ears” in a pot, I discovered the velvety texture of their leaves where they were growing around the border of Nana’s fish pond. I have a lush fern garden which I always associate with Nana. The path meandered around their backyard with shrubs and trees creating lots of secluded little places.

At home we had a very long lawn along the side of the house, it had been used for playing Bowls and we made good use of it, running through sprinklers in the summer, upending bikes to fix tyres, playing on the swing and rocker as well as doing gymnastics.

Mum worked on the flower beds out the front and along the side while Dad took on all the vegies and fruit trees out the back.

The house was old and for a long time there was a Wisteria covered arch out the front, in September it was wonderful walking under the perfumed, blue flower sprays. Plants I remember Mum growing were Geraniums, Pelargoniums, Coleus, Cinerarias and Dahlias. She always fussed about with Dahlias she cut, singeing the ends before putting them in water. Lilies, including black ones, appeared each year and a Japonica bush with it’s bright flowers on almost bare stems. I loved it when the Guelder Rose bush flowered with its big, white pompom blooms. We kids had fun with the fruit from an old wild peach tree, lining the peaches across the road then waiting for a car to come and squash them.

When we first moved to the house in 1953 the back yard was full of fig trees, all but one were bulldozed and a variety of fruit trees took their places. We ate apricots, almonds, peaches, nectarines, oranges and mandarins, whatever was in season. There seemed to be lemons at any time of year. Grape vines grew along a wire trellis and I loathed coming home at night when spiders would be hanging from the vines and I’d invariably walk face first into a sticky web. Dad also grew tomatoes, sweetcorn and different melons. I lived overseas for seven years and received a letter from Dad once a year, I guess seeing the almond tree in bloom reminded him I wasn’t there because each time his letter told me the tree was in blossom.

In my garden I have Grape Vines, a Lemon Tree, two Fig Trees and a Hibiscus all grown from cuttings taken from the old house. The Snowflakes and Grape Hyacinths which are shooting up now also came from there. I didn’t realize just how many memories were linked to my plants and garden.

 

 

 

 

 

Times Past: In the School Playground

Another post following Irene Waters suggestion, this time it’s about school playgrounds.

I’m a Baby Boomer brought up in an Australian capital city.

I attended the local public school and our “playground” was asphalt but there was also a grassed oval and another area where older girls played softball. The school was near the beach and the bases were simply depressions in the sand. Only the older boys went onto the Oval  during school time.

On the asphalt area we played:

Fairies and Witches, Hopscotch, Chasey, What’s the Time Mr Wolf?, Red Rover All Over etc

Skipping – long ropes for group skipping and short ropes for individuals. A group skipping game I remember went with the chant, “Old Mother Wishy Washy fell down the well. How far did she fall?” The pace was normal to start with but at the end of the chant it became “pepper” ie very fast. However many skips you managed at the fast pace was how far the washerwoman fell.

Marbles -this was really a boys’ game but I loved playing, I probably only played after school

Knuckle Bones – not plastic ones but actual sheep knuckle bones saved from the Sunday roast.

Monkey Bars – I can’t recall where these were so maybe they were actually in community playgrounds but I remember the blisters on my hands

YoYos – Mine wasn’t very fancy but some kids had genuine Coca Cola ones. Yoyos were something that became a fad for a while then disappeared again.

The “Playground” ie asphalt was also where we had to line up in our class groups at the end of lunch before marching into our rooms to the music from the Fife and Drum Band.

Once a week we also lined up in classes for the “Oath of Allegience” or whatever it was … “I am an Australian, I love my country, I honour her queen, I salute her flag, I promise to obey her laws”… and the singing of the National Anthem.

Before I was old enough to go to school, doing a lap around the asphalt for the “Best Decorated Bike” contest at the School Fair.

 

Times Past: Consumerism

Another of Irene Waters topics, “Consumerism

Baby Boomer, Australian capital city

I’m very aware of consumerism now and I think that’s a result of my upbringing. We didn’t waste things, we didn’t go shopping with Mum or Dad. Although we grew up in the city for years we actually had a cow for milk and the backyard had all kinds of fruit trees as well as grape vines. Dad never had a new car and our pushbikes were all second hand. It was all about priorities and my parents had lived through the Depression and made the choice to save their money for things they considered important.

I hated this dress, I’m sure Mum bought it from a charity shop.

Times Past: Weather

Irene Waters has suggested “weather” as a topic.

Australian city, Baby Boomer

I grew up in South Australia, a place with a temperate climate, no snow, no cyclones. That means when I’m home I call a 12C day bitterly cold!

Every Christmas as kids we used to get new “bathers” and often a beach towel so we always hoped for hot weather then but I never liked extremely hot days. I remember staying at an auntie’s home one summer and she got sick of me being under her feet and insisted I go outside. I found a shady spot under a grape vine and stayed there. No one had air conditioning and heat waves were bad for me. Sprinklers gave us wonderful relief and at home we would play on the lawn running in and out of the long, bar sprinkler. In the evenings Dad would often take us to the beach. We also slept outside on the hottest nights.

I don’t remember rainy days though I do remember picking oranges covered in raindrops. In 1956 the River Murray flooded and we helped Dad fold empty hessian bags that were sent to be filled with sand to protect homes along the river. Once when I went down to the horse yards at West Beach the water trough was completely iced over. That amazed me so it must have been a rare thing. Hailstorms sometimes happened and seeing the ground covered in white always made us imagine it was snow.

During one of our caravan holidays we were at Merrimbula when there was a hailstrorm with hailstones the size of golfballs pelting down. I’d never seen any bigger than peas before.

Thunderstorms always caused a mixture of wonder and fear but I don’t remember anything dramatic resulting from one.

Probably the thing that stuns me most about the weather is the way we’ve come to respond to it. I don’t know anyone who’s car doesn’t have air conditioning. People move from air conditioned homes to air conditioned cars to air conditioned shops etc. Primary School children are kept inside if the weather forecast is over 36 deg C, they don’t have a shady hat or if it’s raining. Schools all have air conditioning, when I was at school that took the form of an open window in summer and a wood burning fire in winter.