Times Past: Collections

This month the theme for Times Past is “collections” and you can check out the host page here.

I’m a Baby Boomer … classified by age rather than personality type! Grew up in an Australian capital city.

I don’t think of myself as much of a collector though at various times I have started them. The first I remember was a butterfly collection when I was about nine or ten and I kept them in a little box I’d covered with shells. I guess that means I’d already started collecting shells. I do have jars of shells now, sorted into similar types but I don’t go out looking for them it just seems I often find interesting ones to bring home. The same goes for stones and feathers.


In my teens I bought an album and started a coin collection, I’d go to the nearest shop and get some coins to sort through. I learnt that in Australia there were different mints and how the place of manufacture was indicated on the coin, eg a dot after the date. I couldn’t believe it when I found an extremely rare 1930 penny. I was right not to believe it because the one I found was English rather than  Australian so only worth face value.


By far the biggest collection in our house is my son’s beer bottle collection which he started over 20 years ago, it was supposed to go when he got his own house but that has now changed to “when I get my shed”. I’ve a feeling his wife will make sure the bottles and cans never get into the house ….. if they ever leave here!


About a third of the collection!


What did we do before – Shampoo

When you walk into a supermarket and are confronted by a confusing array of shampoos, conditioners, mousses, waxes and gels it’s hard to imagine any person living in the “developed world” could remember a time when they didn’t exist but I do, almost.

As I child I think we always had Sunsilk Shampoo though I know Mum used Halo because that attracted bees which meant I had to extract them from her permed hair! It didn’t matter if your hair was oily, dry, thick or fine there was just the one type of shampoo. When I went to stay with my auntie for holidays though there was no shampoo and we just lathered up soap in our hands then massaged it into our hair. Certainly for me there was no silky-soft feel to it for a while after that but it was only about a weekly occurrence. Mum used to rinse our hair in lemon juice which she said made it shiny but recently I’ve been wondering about that. Was she really trying to make us blonder?

I don’t think we ever had “baby shampoo” so it was definitely a case of keeping your eyes screwed tightly shut until every bit was rinsed out, shampoo in the eyes stings! We didn’t have a shower until I was in my teens so we washed our hair in the bath and slid down under the water to rinse it off. The final rinse was the lemon juice one.

The first dandruff shampoo wasn’t invented until 1963 and you could tell who had the problem because of telltale white flakes on their shoulders, I can’t remember the last time I saw that.


The Perils of Boating



This photo reminds me of a couple of memorable holidays I spent  camping beside the River Murray. I think the first instance we were camped somewhere near Swan Reach and it was only my brothers, Dad and me. We had great fun out in the boat fishing and trying to catch yabbies. The weather was lovely and sunny, perfect for wearing shorts while sitting in the boat. Growing up I don’t ever remember people having any sunscreen though I did see some people smothering themselves with oil when we were at the beach. The result for me was by the end of the day my thighs were badly sunburnt. Dad put butter on my legs and it melted immediately, I’m not sure of the logic behind it but he wasn’t alone in thinking it was a good solution. It did nothing to soothe me but I had to try and sleep through at least another night before we headed home. Eventually the burns became scabs, it was the worst sunburn I ever had.


Another time it was just Dad, Mike and me camping out. We had the small bondwood boat which seemed to weigh a ton when it had to be manhandled into the water but we had some fun with it once it was launched. There was no motor at the time so Mike rowed it until he had the bright idea that we should use a tarp and an oar to make a sail. Somehow we managed to get the oar up and the tarp attached. It was great until the “sail” really filled with air and we couldn’t control it. The River Murray is notorious for hidden snags and deep holes which create whirlpools sucking unsuspecting swimmers under. I was terrified that we were going to end up in the water (Of course we didn’t have life jackets!) but luckily eventually Mike managed to regain control and sheepishly rowed us back to camp.

My worst experience with that boat deserves a post all to itself so that will have to come later!

The Fingers

My fingers are the link

A common feature that guaranteed

He was my father

And the same for him back through the ages.

Over the years it gave me comfort

Of all his children I had the most obvious link

The connection

Some people ask, “Did you break it?”

“No”, I say, “They’re both the same. It’s genetic.”

And now the babies come

With each new arrival I check the fingers

The sign always makes me smile.

It’s our connection

To our past

To the future.

Not to be Trusted

I went to school Primary School in the 1950s, the days before trendy backpacks. Girls carried little cases and young boys had little leather backpacks but nothing like the modern ones. Older boys, if they were lucky had kitbags. I think maybe kitbags and long pants went together!


Inside the cases and bags there were no flash drink bottles, insulated lunch boxes, MP3 players, mobile phones or “tablets” even if they belonged to big Year 7 kids. Things you might have found in a case or bag were some doogs (marbles), skipping rope, piece of string to play “Cat’s Cradle” or a ball. There would probably have been a reader, maybe a homework book and most kids would have had lunch in a paper bag. I can’t remember ever taking my lunch, Mum always gave me money to buy it from the little shop beside the school.

The little shop sold all traditional lunches, pies, pasties, sausage rolls and I guess sandwiches.  In my last couple of years at Primary School they introduced Hotdogs and they were very popular. Coke must also have been available because I remember a particular incident concerning Coke.

When we were thirsty we used to go to the taps at the troughs and drink the water from our cupped hands. Nobody wandered about with little Fruit Boxes or pop top bottles of drink. One day our teacher must have felt an overwhelming need for a Coke because she sent me to the little shop to get it for her. On the way back the urge to taste it was just too great.  Everyone else was in class so I took a sip through the straw then realized it would be lower than she expected so I topped it up at the water trough. She drank her Coke and said nothing but I was never asked to get her a Coke again.


You didn’t know that about Nana did you?

My Face is Ageing Ahead of My Feet

I just don’t understand it, gravity makes everything head to earth doesn’t it? As I’m ageing gravity seems to be the cause of facial features I’d rather not have taunting me in the mirror. The excess skin on my neck, which appeared from nowhere, is heading towards what would be my mammary gland mantelpiece if I was willing to suffer “uplift bras”. My starvation-prevention-reserves always relocate south and my doctors have scared me with stories about bits which might drop out if I don’t create a cast iron basement.

Why hasn’t the skin on my legs decided to collect in wrinkles around my ankles? Why do my feet look like those of a 17 year old when, unlike my face, they haven’t been nourished by an array of “age defying” creams and serums?


Is that noise I hear Mother Nature chuckling?


Everyone these days is aware that people publishing texts online might not be who they claim to be. Those with ulterior motives can use anonymity to their advantage but the majority of people have no evil intent and it can be simply liberating.

If I publish a photo of myself it would be normal for you to make assumptions based on my age, sex, skin colour and context. A photo showing me surrounded by young children isn’t going to give you the impression I’m a microbiologist, bricklayer or Pole Dancer. Do you expect a retiree to potter in the garden, climb trees, scramble on all fours through a concrete tunnel or go Skinny Dipping? Would I be more competent using computers if I were younger? If I’m an aboriginal Australian am I likely to be interested in ballet?

Even a person’s relationship tends to define them in others’ eyes. If I refer to my wife, my husband, my partner, my lover, my congregation, my team or my community certain images and expectations are conjured up.

The reality is it’s a mistake to make assumptions about people so the anonymity of the Internet is very liberating IF you can let go your own inhibitions and liberate yourself.

Do you think you see me in the photo below? If yes, what does it tell you about me?