Don’t Mess With Measles


Last week Matt came out in spots and phoned me to see if he’d had Measles, I told him he’d been vaccinated against the disease which didn’t mean he couldn’t have it but it was less likely. A doctor confirmed that it wasn’t measIes but Hand, Foot and Mouth caught from his little one. Now that’s something I never heard about when I was growing up.

I  remember being stunned to learn that Measles wiped out whole Pacific Island communities when the disease was introduced by Europeans because as a kid it was considered just part of life. We all expected to have a nice couple of weeks off school with Measles, Mumps and Chicken Pox. After the initial stages of feeling a bit headachey etc and having spots it was a lark although one friend seemed to have some hearing loss after her bout of Measles. We were on a caravan holiday when my sister, Jaynie, came down with it and I remember being annoyed with her because the back seat of the big, black Pontiac was darkened with a blanket and I couldn’t see out.

I never did get Chicken Pox or German Measles and actually got a chance to “star” because of  a Measles outbreak.

I don’t know if it happened every year but certainly one year there was a Henley Beach Christmas Pageant and my brother, Michael, was to be on a float with a girl as “Jack and Jill” but Measles struck. The girl came down with the telltale rash and couldn’t participate so I was slotted in as her replacement and it was my face that appeared in the newspaper  photos.


You didn’t know that about Nana did you?



Backyard Cooks

Our old home was on a big block, it has now been demolished and there are 14 Townhouses on it with no room to set up a card table! When we were kids we could just about get lost in the backyard and plenty of times we tried to when we were being called in to do a job. Down at the back of the yard was an old wood stove with a chamber for fuel and beside it the oven with hotplates on top. One day my brothers and I decided we were going to make “sinkers”  to put on fishing lines. We weren’t going fishing anywhere so really we were just having a nice play with the fire.

I don’t know where the lead came from but we melted it, made indentations in some sand with a spoon and then poured the lead into the shape. Another time we found some plastic stuff that had been dropped at the bottom of power poles. My memory of it is like the sticks you get for Glue Guns but only pieces not full sticks. We melted that in the fire and then stretched the stuff out into thin strands across the Fig Tree branches. What for? Just for fun.

“Olive Oil” was another thing we said we were making but all we did was boil olives in water then let it stagnate for days until the mix became stinky and we’d toss it away. Although it sounds stupid and dangerous we must have had enough common sense and good fortune combined to prevent us from being burned. Even now I think it’s a better way to have spent my time rather than playing video games.


You didn’t know that about Nana did you?

MUCH FANCIER than our old wood stove but the compartments seem about the same.

MUCH FANCIER than our old wood stove but the compartments seem about the same.

Hippy Hair

I am cursed with baby fine, straight, mousy hair and most of my life I’ve wanted to have hairstyles that just wouldn’t happen. I had horrible cuts through most of Primary School then when I went to secondary school and had more say about it I grew it long. One year I remember giving myself a Home Perm and being shocked by the resultant frizz but managed to make it reasonable by using big rollers in my hair every night until the perm wore off. When Mia Farrow with her urchin hairstyle appeared I finally found a hairstyle that suited me, I added a few blonde streaks and I actually liked the way it looked. Then I set off overseas and because I wouldn’t trust such a drastic cut to a hairdresser whose skills I didn’t know I let my hair grow long.


Mid 70s, the Flower Power era was in full swing and affros ruled. No way was my hair going to obligingly stay in a tight mass of curls but I persevered with perms and kept trying for “the natural, carefree look”. One day I went up to the hairdresser to get my hair permed leaving Papa to look after our little ones at Granny’s house. When I came back with curls my breast-fed baby wouldn’t come near me, he snuggled into Papa’s neck terrified of the weird woman who was trying to take him away. Eventually as he got hungrier and more unsettled and my breasts got painful I tied one of Granny’s head squares over my hair then he came to me and all was right with the world again.


You didn’t know that about Nana did you?



Different baby but same hairstyle.

Parties and Party Frocks

When was the last time you saw me in a dress or skirt and top? I’ll bet you can’t remember! Hanging in my wardrobe you could find the dress I was married in, a crushed velvet skirt I wore when my waist was about 24” and the “flower power” skirt I wore when I was very pregnant for the first time. There is one skirt in there I’ve worn within the last 2 years but really I’ve given up on them. When I was a kid though it was a different time and a different story.

Every girl I knew had a “party frock” which was worn to the various birthday parties. No way was there a different dress for a different party, you wore the same dress until it didn’t fit, then you got a new one. I remember one girl’s parties I always looked forward to, her mum was a good cook and there were always “Cream Puffs”, choux pastry balls filled with cream. Another girl’s party I remember for her wonderful  Ice-cream Birthday Cake.

The games were the same at each party. Pass the Parcel, Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Musical Chairs, Oranges and Lemons,  a Scavenger Hunt and often but not always, Burst the Balloon. You had to sit on a balloon to burst it & there was usually great trepidation involved. We left the parties with Birthday Cake wrapped in a serviette, a little white paper bag filled with lollies and sometimes a balloon.

As I think about the parties I’m reminded of a book we had called, “Amelia Bedelia and the Green Umbrella”. Amelia had brothers and sisters and when she went to a birthday party she took her green umbrella and dropped all kinds of treats into the umbrella to take home to them. When it was time to leave the party though it was raining and an adult insisted on opening the umbrella for Amelia Bedelia and of course when she did all the treats fell out. It was only a story but I felt  Amelia Bedelia’s anguish, I imagined myself in the same situation.


You didn’t know that about Nana did you?

From the days of Party Frocks ...and the poor boy who came along!

From the days of Party Frocks …and the poor boy who came along!

Money Matters?

At my dad’s funeral my sister spoke about growing up and how short we were of money. It was a shock to me. When I thought about our childhood it was about caravan holidays, a great big yard, cows, Dad bringing home bags of fresh fruit from the Adelaide Central Market, the beach, bikes, kid fights and relatives. A time full of activity and being outside, the lack of money in my pocket was another matter completely.


There was one time when I did believe our family was poor but I don’t know what made me think that. Apart from the house we lived in, my parents owned a block of flats and shops, about four of each, at Henley Beach. Once when a shop was empty for a while Mum set it up as a “Drapers” selling ladies’ clothes, baby wear etc. She had an account at a warehouse and when Dad was going to reward me for doing well in a music exam he took me to the warehouse to pick out a leather satchel.

There was quite a range including single compartment, double compartment and even triple compartment in blue, black and brown. Dad asked me to pick out the one I wanted and I picked out the ugliest, brown, single compartment one I could see. He tried to get me to choose something else but I insisted and when he asked if I was sure I told him I was. I didn’t tell him I thought it was so ugly it HAD to be the cheapest one and I thought that’s what we should get. I’m sure we both left there feeling disappointed but overwhelmingly my memories are of rich experiences.


You didn’t know that about Nana did you?

Happy, active kids on Henley Beach Road at Henley South.