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.
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.