Family Heirlooms, Asset or Burden?

I am now an orphan, an old orphan but one never the less. I have four siblings and our parents’ belongings have been shared out but we all face a similar dilemma, there are things that we don’t really want yet they seem too important to give away or sell.

When my grandmother died in 1959 she left me a few things including family portraits and her antique little lounge, grandfather chair etc. These things sat in the front room of my parents’ home until my father died and I had to take possession. They have been sitting in our shed now for about 3 years.

We have photos of our children and grandchildren on our shelves and walls, they are important to us now, there is simply no room for portraits of my Nana as a young woman or my great grandmother. BUT! I loved my Nana very much and I know she loved me, the inscription on the back is a constant reminder.

A friend of mine has reached absolute despair because along with all her own accumulated stuff she has her late mother’s belongings in her house and has no idea how to deal with any of it. An outsider with no emotional attachment to any of the things would immediately say, ”Just get rid of it!” When it relates to a bunch of old Christmas and Birthday cards I can do that fairly easily but how can you just dump a family heirloom?

I hope I’ve found a solution. I’m making myself a flowchart to help me decide what to do with things and hoping that at least some will be accepted by an historical society. I don’t want to pass on a burden instead of a treasure to my own children, I just hope I never hear them say, “I can’t believe you did that!”

My Great Grandmother,  born in 1846.

My Great Grandmother, born in 1846.


Trouble on the Tram Track

I think I might have been in about Grade 3 when I had a bit of a buster on my way home from school. After we moved from Henley Beach to Fulham (The area is Fulham Gardens now) I had to get to school by tram. We walked the 200 metres to the tram stop at the Tapley’s Hill Road, Henley Beach Road intersection then the tram went right down the middle of Henley Beach Road and across the viaduct after the “S” bend.  We got off just near Fry’s Butcher Shop then we walked the 500 metres to school.

Coming home one day I was a bit late and saw the tram at the stop so I ran but when I was crossing the tram lines I tripped and fell banging my knee on the steel tram track. My case flew open and I had the added embarrassment of everything spilling out. I was directly in front of the tram so the driver would have seen it all.

I don’t remember struggling the 200 metres home from the tram stop but I do remember being home from school for a few days. I can vividly see myself sitting on a potty with my rigid right leg stuck out straight, I couldn’t bend the knee at all so couldn’t walk out to the toilet. It’s possible a doctor came to the house to see me but I doubt it and I certainly would remember if I’d been taken for Xrays.  Scans weren’t invented then so it was just a case of getting over it.


You didn’t know that about Nana did you?

This tram is heading west. going home was east but it's at the stop near Fry's Butcher Shop.

This tram is heading west. Going home was east but it’s at the stop near Fry’s Butcher Shop.


Don’t Bag the Baby Boomers

“With the end of World War II in 1945 Australia’s servicemen and women returned and family life resumed after an interruption of almost six years of wartime conflict. Nine months later saw the start of a population revolution as childbirth rates soared – more than four million Australians were born between 1946-1961.”  (Ref

Most of us Baby Boomers grew up with parents who survived the Great Depression and taught us to “Waste not, Want not”, “Think of the Starving Children in Africa” etc. No one thought the world owed them a living, you got out of life what you were prepared to put into it. No instant gratification for us.

When we got our first pay packet (It was actual money in a small square packet) the mantra was, 30% for your accommodation, save 30% and spend 30%. If you couldn’t pay for it you didn’t buy it. Most of us bought small homes without the luxuries of ensuites and Family Rooms.

Baby Boomers have been a boon to the housing sector and caused industry to expand as the need for consumer goods grew. Whatever age we finished school, some as young as 14, it was expected that we’d go to work. No one had a “gap year” or spent time on the dole. When we entered the workforce we all paid taxes, some of those taxes funded the pension scheme, which allowed people over 65 to collect a pension if they hadn’t saved too much during their working life. Taxes, levies, service fees etc have increased in number and amount and Baby Boomers have paid them.

Women had to resign when they became pregnant and mothers were paid a small amount (50c – $1.50 per week per child) of “Child Endowment”.  No-one was paid any Maternity Allowance,  Parental Leave or Childcare rebates let alone paid $3000 just to have a child.

Now that we are reaching an age when medical problems are affecting many of us, “Baby Boomers” are becoming the apparent cause of all Government financial problems. We are a drain on the government coffers. Well, I think the powers that be can just pay us all the new bonuses, give us back the money we’ve paid into the Pension fund since we’re now expected to be self funded retirees and we’ll use that money to pay for our new hips and knees!

Obsolete Gadgets

My husband loves gadgets, coffee machines, food processors the size of tractors, mini computers to put on your bike handlebars so you know what your heart rate was when you rode up the big hill and the weather station so you don’t have to go outside to see if it’s raining. He’s still lusting after an inclinometer so he’ll know just how far the car was leaning before it toppled over.

When I was a teenager there were gadgets every family either had or aspired to, Knitting machines, Teasmades, Radiograms, wall mounted electric can openers  and Transistor Radios then later Tape Decks, Vertical Grills and tiny TVs.  Probably those most recently relegated to the back of the cupboard would be Bread Makers, Foot Spas, Toasted Sandwich Makers  and Soda Streams .

I have one gadget though which has been considered an absolute necessity for generations  and although I still use mine many people I know have given them up as a complete waste of time and effort.  My son has never seen the need for one. I failed in my duty to teach my daughter how to use one safely and she’s literally been scarred for life and I’m pretty sure my grandchildren will never want to acquire the skills to use one.

Mine isn’t  one that will ever be decorated with Irises before making its way to an Antique Shoppe to be sold as a trendy door stop. My latest in a line of many has a dial, a little flip lid over the filling hole and a water window, it spits out steam.  It’s my iron and I can’t give it up!

A Blowfly Bombarded Bottom

My first year out in the real world of “conventional-respectable-young- ladies” employment”  I was sent to work at Minnipa, on Eyre Peninsula, South Australia. My board was arranged at a place just beyond the town fringe. I shared a room with a girl I’d never met before and there were another two male lodgers, one a teacher and the other boy worked at the local Stock & Station Agents.

The toilet was an outside “dunny”, a little shed with a seat inside built over a deep hole. Every night the landlady would tip the ashes from the woodstove down into the toilet so if anyone went in there after that they got a warmed bottom.

I hadn’t been at the place long before I discovered someone living there frequently neglected to slide the cover back over the hole and Blowflies soon found the place very attractive. When I sat down the resulting darkness caused the flies to head straight up towards a glimpse of light. More often than not they bombarded my bottom, a most unpleasant feeling. As soon as I worked out why it was happening I made sure I created a wide gap and they shot up out of the dark like a rocket.

You didn’t know that about Nana did you?


The Hot House and Skinny Dipping

When I was working at Berri, the summers were hot and we had no air conditioning or insulation in our flat.  It was one of two flats joined together and made out of “Breeze Blocks”.  Rough, partly hollow, concrete bricks.  The inside walls were just the rough surface and after a couple of hot days they just radiated heat into the rooms.  The bedrooms were small with the beds up against the wall so you had to lie away from them if you wanted to try and get some sleep.

One night some friends and I decided we’d cool down by Skinny Dipping in the river.  We drove to a nice secluded place, cast off our clothes and went into the river.  The River Murray isn’t a safe place for swimming unless you stay within the markers at designated spots but we couldn’t go Skinny Dipping at the usual swimming place, Martin’s Bend because other people might have been around.  No way was I going to venture far from the bank where we were but as it happened I wasn’t in the water all that long.

The dark always plays tricks on your mind making things much scarier than they would ever seem in daylight. The area was dark, the river was dark and we couldn’t see into the water at all. If you are Skinny Dipping every bit of you is exposed so when I felt little creepy crawlies start nibbling at my legs it was very easy to imagine them exploring further and no matter how much I thrashed my legs about the bugs just wouldn’t be deterred. Then into my mind flashed the knowledge that the river is also home to much bigger “bugs”,  Yabbies!  I soon made the dash to the bank and my clothes.

You didn’t know that about Nana did you?

A Yabbie

A Yabbie

Not as Brave as I’d Like to Be

Over the last couple of days I’ve been upset by discovering a boy I worked with has been jailed for 23 years for murder. The judge was scathing of him in his judgement and the media has shown graphic footage of his arrest as well as daily newspaper articles. I wanted to write something in the “Letters to the Editor” but my name would be published along with the suburb in which I live and I know I couldn’t deal with the inevitable vitriol which would follow.

I’m hoping that if I put my letter to the editor here it will make me feel better, make me feel I’ve “got it off my chest”.

How can people look at the images of Liam Humbles and rip him to shreds? Don’t they see the completely miserable human I see? His thin shoulders curled around his scrawny body, his completely blank face and his inability to process any reasonable thought.  People take “recreational drugs” to make themselves happy don’t they? Liam is the best anti-drugs image I’ve ever seen.  By contrast the image of his victim shows a wonderful happy face, the face of a person whose loss causes terrible pain but Liam apparently shows no remorse for killing him. I suspect that Liam feels nothing, not hope, happiness, pain, guilt or remorse. Probably he’s felt that way most of his life and when drugs became accessible he abused them to make himself numb but our society needs to ask why and do something about it or we will continue to create people like him.