1970s Revisited

We discovered a bottle of Mateus Rose in our cupboard, no idea where it came from but we do know it’s not the kind of wine that appreciates in value over the years so we drank it. They have such nice bottles which just cry out to be kept so I put it on the windowsill with some Ivy in it. Bingo! I had a flashback to the 1970s when just about everyone our age did the same thing when they left home and moved into their own space. Why Ivy? Well it’s tough and always seems to survive no matter how neglected it is.




This photo of my 3 year old grandson eating an icecream cone reminds me that when I was little, cones like this one cost  tuppence ha’penny, normal sized single cones were 5 pence and the big adults’ double cones were 10 pence. There were twelve pence in a shilling and that became 10 cents in 1966 when Australia changed to decimal currency. That means you would get 2 of these little cones for a bit less than 5 cents, which sounds just absurd!

Getting an icecream when I was a kid was a real treat, if we were very lucky we’d get one when we went to the beach. It was always Amscol  Icecream – vanilla, chocolate or rainbow , usually rainbow. Our fridge at home didn’t have a freezer compartment so there was never any there. On special occasions one of us would be sent down to the shop to get a brick of icecream which came in a rectangular cardboard box and was wrapped in newspaper so it wouldn’t melt on the way home. With our dessert  we’d get a slice each. There were 7 of us in the family so there was never any left over to worry about and even the cardboard was licked clean!

Now there are just 2 of us and there are 3 different tubs of icecream in our freezer. None of it’s Amscol  because the company that started here in Adelaide in 1922 was wound up in the 1980s. Instead there is 1 litre of Caramel  Honey Macadamia, 1 litre of Café Grande and 2 litres of South Australian, Golden North Honey.

I must admit that I still like icecream just as much now even if it’s plain vanilla.

Bottle Top



This bottle top reminds me of an ad that we used to hear on the radio when I was a kid. The jingle was, “Woodies lemonade, the best ade made!”  Apparently Woodroofes was first made in South Australia in 1878 and until the multinationals came onto the scene it was the only carbonated drink we ever saw.

We rarely had any fizzy drinks even on birthdays so it was very exciting to get some and to feel the bubbles tickling my nose.

For birthdays we’d get cordial but most of the time we just drank water. If there were plenty of oranges or lemons on our trees we’d make up a jug of diluted juice.

When I was at secondary school, friends and I would sometimes go to “Speddings Milk Bar” which was close to the school. We’d each order a “Spider” which was a fizzy drink with a scoop of icecream in it. The most wicked one was made with Coke. I don’t think kids these days ever have Spiders, maybe they simply have more sophisticated tastes!

Almond Blossom Time

It's blossom time.

It’s blossom time.

Today I noticed an Almond Tree blossoming and it reminded me of the annual letters I used to get from Dad during the 7 1/2 years I lived overseas. At the time Airmail letters were expensive to send and any going “Surface Mail” would take weeks and weeks to arrive so most people used “Aerogrammes” instead. From a normal envelope size they folded out. They were made of thin, blue paper and you had to be careful what you used to write with or the ink would bleed through and deprive you of the bit of space on the back.


I travelled, I married and had children and all my news reached my family by Aerogrammes because although they always had a phone at home I didn’t. Mum wrote every week and once a year Dad would write when the Almond Tree was in blossom.

Old Phone

An old wall phone.

An old wall phone.

This photo reminds me of the old phone that was in the house when we moved to Fulham. Our home at Henley Beach had a “modern” phone and I was mortified by the monstrosity that hung on the wall in the back porch. I still remember our number, it was L8246, our current number has no letters, just 8 numerals! Times have really changed, our children don’t even have home phones, only mobiles.

Apart from the lunacy of it’s appearance the thing I remember most about the old wall phone was the day an Italian man used it to get married, by proxy.  It was the only phone he had access to. Marriages by proxy meant the groom wasn’t actually with the bride instead there was a stand in or proxy. After the marriage was formalised the bride was able to come to Australia to be with her new husband.

Apparently it was a very common thing at the time because so many young European men came to Australia there simply weren’t enough suitable women available. When the young men had a home they’d start the search for a bride in their homeland. I don’t know if Vince knew his prospective bride before he left Italy but they certainly had a long and happy marriage.

Our "modern" phone.

Our “modern” phone.

Starting a New Life


This photo reminds me of a little enclave that existed not far from our house. It was just north of Henley Beach Road between Tapley’s Hill Road and the “S bend”. On the “S bend” there was a cluster of rough letter boxes on posts and that was the only indication of the large number of homes up the dirt road. The homes in the enclave were made of asbestos and would have been considered shacks by established residents. I think the land was owned by the Ayton family and expect they collected rent for the land occupied.


I remember visiting the home of my friend, Anna, she was an only child but many families living in these little homes had several children. Anna’s father had been a dentist in their homeland but his qualifications weren’t recognised in Australia. He had set up an area with a curtain screen and behind that was his dentist chair. I presume he did some dental work for other residents but don’t really know.

During the 1950s many people left Europe and came to live in South Australia, the early arrivals wouldn’t have had support from the local community many of whom were suspicious of the allegiances the immigrants might have had during the war years. They had to work very hard to establish themselves. There were a large number of immigrants including Greeks, Italians, Bulgarians, Yugoslavians etc around Fulham Gardens where we lived.


Most of the newcomers we knew were Italian and got jobs as conductors on the Public Transport system or labouring. They worked, saved and eventually built family homes in the Fulham and Fulham Gardens area. Often when one home was built relatives would come out to Australia and share the house until they were able to build their own and move out.

City Cows


This photo reminds me of just how much vacant land there was around Henley Beach and Fulham when I was young. Just across from where Henley High School is now there was a paddock with a horse called, “Mercury” in it and I know Ricky rode it sometimes but it was a stallion and I don’t know if it ever went out of the paddock. I think it was owned by Mr Hughes who lived just opposite. When we lived at Henley Beach Dad kept a cow on the vacant land between Henley Beach Road and the Torrens outlet at West Beach.

Our cow or maybe even cows kept us supplied with milk, I know one cow was called, “Jessie” and this is a photo of Mike with her calf. When we moved to Fulham the cow was grazed in different areas around the few houses. One day Mike and I were sent to check on the cow, I think it might have been tethered, we had to make sure it had water and was OK. It was over near the old Weetunga “castle” and when we reached her we saw two legs sticking out of her rear end. Mike raced back home to get Dad and I stayed at the cow, fascinated. I found out afterwards Mike got whacked for letting me see such a thing!

In the photo you can also see the old Viaduct in the background, that was for the tram and sometimes when we were coming back from the cows the brave ones would duck under the track where the soil had been scraped away and sit hunched there when a tram went over. I also remember seeing pennies that had been run over by a tram but don’t think I would ever have wasted a penny that way! It used to cost tuppence to travel from the stop nearest  Henley Beach school to the corner of Tapleys Hill Road and Henley Beach Road at Fulham.

Twin calves on ground around Henley South.

Ricky and Mike with twin calves on ground at Henley South.