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.

Times Past: Dental Memories

Oh Irene, what a topic for this month on Times Past!

I’m a Baby Boomer who grew up in Adelaide, capital of South Australia though I did have a father with a rural background which had quite an influence on our lives.

My first memory of a dentist was being taken there by Dad, presumably because I had toothache. He left me in the surgery and went off to do some business or maybe just to escape in case I cried. I don’t remember anything about the experience except that I walked out of there with a tooth in my hand. I suspect I might have been wondering if the Tooth Fairy paid up for holey teeth. I would have been less than 5 years old.

We went to the dentist regularly and I always had heaps of fillings. For some reason I didn’t have strong teeth like my brothers and younger sister. We only had lollies or soft drinks on very special occasions. I brushed my teeth and brushed them to the point that I made grooves along the gum lines but still, I was the one who needed fillings. Every time! In 1971 fluoride was introduced to South Australia’s water supply and my grandchildren rarely have a filling.

When I was 13 I was running across a lawn at school, I slipped and when I fell my mouth hit the concrete edging. It broke off half a tooth and chipped another. The school phoned Mum and she made an appointment with the dentist. I caught the bus back from school into the city and another towards home getting off at the stop near the dentist. He put a copper sleeve over the broken tooth and that stayed in place for months. Over time the edge of the copper would flatten out and abrade my soft skin then I’d have to go back and get it filed smooth again. Eventually the teeth were crowned and after that abcesses developed under the crowns and dealing with those required more drilling! I hate the sound of the high speed drill.

Me, with copper tooth band, brother Mike and younger sister, Jayne

Me, with copper tooth band, brother Mike and younger sister, Jayne

Once, when I was about 15, Mum made me take my youngest sister to the dentist, she bit his finger and he was so cross he made me take her home again. He told me to tell Mum she had to make an appointment with the doctor for my sister to be “knocked out” before he’d touch her again. I was mortified.

I loathe dental injections and for a few years put up with the short term pain of having fillings without them but after a dentist inserted a pin in a tooth and I felt every bit of it going in I went back to having injections.

I looked forward to being 30 because I’d decided that by then my teeth would all need to come out, I’d get false teeth and never have to go back to the dentist again. Now, decades later I still have my own teeth and I’m still going to the dentist every 6 months! My brother, he of the few fillings, is the one who has been told he’ll need false teeth because he’s worn his down chewing on chop bones.

Times Past: Wheels

I’m a Baby Boomer who grew up in Adelaide, the relatively small capital city of South Australia.

This month the theme of Times Past is, “Wheels” and what excitement there always was anticipating a “new set of wheels”.

1938-pontiac

Me on the left, Mum and Dad with Mike sitting in front.

The first family car I remember was a big black one, The Oracle, ie big brother, tells me it was a 1938 Pontiac. I can still remember sitting in the back seat when Dad drove Mum to hospital for my sister’s birth when I was 3 years old. It had what are now referred to as “suicide doors”, I just remember sitting lost in the big bench seat of the cavernous, dark vehicle.

ford-10-cwt-estate-car

The next one, a Ford Thames estate car, I remember more for the associated angst than anything else. Dad bought it from a cousin who worked for “Dependable Motors” and there seemed to be one problem after another with it. I guess it appeared perfect for a family with five children. The first time I rode in it was when I was picked up from the railway station after a holiday at my auntie’s in Port Pirie. I tried to wangle my way into the front seat but obviously absence hadn’t made the heart grow fonder. I had to sit behind on the bench seat for two and behind that was another bench seat. The only other memory I have of it was sleeping under the stars beside it and Dad spending hours under it after it broke down about 2 hours into a planned long holiday. There is no family photo of the car, not suprisingly!

vanguard

The replacement for the barrel of bolts was a Vanguard Spacemaster.

I don’t ever remember the 1954 Vanguard, Spacemaster breaking down and over the years we went from one side of Australia to the other. It had big bench seats front and back. I can remember shortly after I got my license reversing it out of the driveway and getting it caught in the wire of the gate. The gate was open at the time I just didn’t manage to keep a straight line! Thinking back I have no idea how I managed to drive it at all, the bench seat was set up for Dad and I always felt the car drove me not the other way around. The Vanguard was eventually put out to pasture in the back yard and stayed rusting there until Dad died and it went for scrap.

valiant

I’d left home when Dad got the Valiant but I did get to drive it a few times and was most impressed.

 

Not once in his life did Dad get a brand new car.

Before I was born Mum did drive but the story was that one day when she was driving in the city the car got stuck on some tram lines. Mum bundled my brothers out, got home somehow and told Dad where he could find the car. After I got my license Mum “bought me” a Ford Consul at a local auction for $65. Some days after it arrived home Mum got me to sit with her in the car, when she asked, “Which one is the brake pedal?” my heart sank. She’d never had to sit a test to get her license but surreptisiously kept renewing it  until she decided she was going to drive again. Fortunately she never did but if Dad was driving anywhere in busy traffic and we spoke to Mum she’d say,  “Don’t distract me, I’m driving!”

consul

My sister and our niece with the early 1950s Ford Consul.