Times Past: In the School Playground

Another post following Irene Waters suggestion, this time it’s about school playgrounds.

I’m a Baby Boomer brought up in an Australian capital city.

I attended the local public school and our “playground” was asphalt but there was also a grassed oval and another area where older girls played softball. The school was near the beach and the bases were simply depressions in the sand. Only the older boys went onto the Oval  during school time.

On the asphalt area we played:

Fairies and Witches, Hopscotch, Chasey, What’s the Time Mr Wolf?, Red Rover All Over etc

Skipping – long ropes for group skipping and short ropes for individuals. A group skipping game I remember went with the chant, “Old Mother Wishy Washy fell down the well. How far did she fall?” The pace was normal to start with but at the end of the chant it became “pepper” ie very fast. However many skips you managed at the fast pace was how far the washerwoman fell.

Marbles -this was really a boys’ game but I loved playing, I probably only played after school

Knuckle Bones – not plastic ones but actual sheep knuckle bones saved from the Sunday roast.

Monkey Bars – I can’t recall where these were so maybe they were actually in community playgrounds but I remember the blisters on my hands

YoYos – Mine wasn’t very fancy but some kids had genuine Coca Cola ones. Yoyos were something that became a fad for a while then disappeared again.

The “Playground” ie asphalt was also where we had to line up in our class groups at the end of lunch before marching into our rooms to the music from the Fife and Drum Band.

Once a week we also lined up in classes for the “Oath of Allegience” or whatever it was … “I am an Australian, I love my country, I honour her queen, I salute her flag, I promise to obey her laws”… and the singing of the National Anthem.

Before I was old enough to go to school, doing a lap around the asphalt for the “Best Decorated Bike” contest at the School Fair.

 

Times Past: Wheels

I’m a Baby Boomer who grew up in Adelaide, the relatively small capital city of South Australia.

This month the theme of Times Past is, “Wheels” and what excitement there always was anticipating a “new set of wheels”.

1938-pontiac

Me on the left, Mum and Dad with Mike sitting in front.

The first family car I remember was a big black one, The Oracle, ie big brother, tells me it was a 1938 Pontiac. I can still remember sitting in the back seat when Dad drove Mum to hospital for my sister’s birth when I was 3 years old. It had what are now referred to as “suicide doors”, I just remember sitting lost in the big bench seat of the cavernous, dark vehicle.

ford-10-cwt-estate-car

The next one, a Ford Thames estate car, I remember more for the associated angst than anything else. Dad bought it from a cousin who worked for “Dependable Motors” and there seemed to be one problem after another with it. I guess it appeared perfect for a family with five children. The first time I rode in it was when I was picked up from the railway station after a holiday at my auntie’s in Port Pirie. I tried to wangle my way into the front seat but obviously absence hadn’t made the heart grow fonder. I had to sit behind on the bench seat for two and behind that was another bench seat. The only other memory I have of it was sleeping under the stars beside it and Dad spending hours under it after it broke down about 2 hours into a planned long holiday. There is no family photo of the car, not suprisingly!

vanguard

The replacement for the barrel of bolts was a Vanguard Spacemaster.

I don’t ever remember the 1954 Vanguard, Spacemaster breaking down and over the years we went from one side of Australia to the other. It had big bench seats front and back. I can remember shortly after I got my license reversing it out of the driveway and getting it caught in the wire of the gate. The gate was open at the time I just didn’t manage to keep a straight line! Thinking back I have no idea how I managed to drive it at all, the bench seat was set up for Dad and I always felt the car drove me not the other way around. The Vanguard was eventually put out to pasture in the back yard and stayed rusting there until Dad died and it went for scrap.

valiant

I’d left home when Dad got the Valiant but I did get to drive it a few times and was most impressed.

 

Not once in his life did Dad get a brand new car.

Before I was born Mum did drive but the story was that one day when she was driving in the city the car got stuck on some tram lines. Mum bundled my brothers out, got home somehow and told Dad where he could find the car. After I got my license Mum “bought me” a Ford Consul at a local auction for $65. Some days after it arrived home Mum got me to sit with her in the car, when she asked, “Which one is the brake pedal?” my heart sank. She’d never had to sit a test to get her license but surreptisiously kept renewing it  until she decided she was going to drive again. Fortunately she never did but if Dad was driving anywhere in busy traffic and we spoke to Mum she’d say,  “Don’t distract me, I’m driving!”

consul

My sister and our niece with the early 1950s Ford Consul.

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.

Rose-bottle

Clubs: Times Past

This month’s topic for Times Past is “Clubs” you can check out the site here.

I’m a Baby Boomer, city of Adelaide, Australia

Our family wasn’t into joining clubs, in fact we didn’t socialize very much at all, family was the focus. I went to Sunday School….  regularly when it was almost annual Picnic time. Before I was even a teenager I’d become disillusioned with the church but I joined the Youth Group for the social interaction. The only thing I remember about that was going on “Progressive Dinners” which I thoroughly enjoyed. For anyone unfamiliar with them each course is held at a different person’s home. Sometimes we met up with the Youth Group from a neighbouring church and that’s how I found out about their Tennis Club.

I joined the Tennis Club, there was never any pressure to attend church. I loved participating in the matches and went to practice every week. I distinctly remember Saturday nights being dejected because it was a whole week before the next match. It was the only time I really socialized, I was very shy at school.  I belonged to that club until I left home and the city.

When I was at College I joined the Travel Club and even became president or something and was responsible for organizing trips interstate. Meetings were held in the lead up to the trips. Like going to Sunday School belonging to the club was just a means to an end.

After I married and had children we joined the local Tennis Club and were active members for many years. We all made many friends there and enjoyed lots of social occasions.  I eventually stopped going when I realized that on hot days I was so badly affected by the heat that I was a write-off for the rest of the weekend.

The only club I belong to now is a 4WD club which my husband and I joined so that we’d have the support of experienced members. Although we attend meetings and participate in some activities I wouldn’t describe myself as an enthusiastic member. We’ve made friends  there and enjoyed camping trips away but in reality I think we’ve inherited the strong “family group” emphasis and we enjoy that more than membership of any clubs.

tennis-club

St Richard’s Tennis Club 196?

Childhood Toys

This is my response to Irene Waters prompt about Childhood Toys

I’m a “Baby Boomer” and live in the city of Adelaide, South Australia.

The theme set me thinking. The only toy I could remember having was a doll I called, “Kelvin”. I insisted it was a boy doll simply because it had very little hair but I don’t remember playing with it much. My Nana also gave me a knitted black doll with multicoloured stripy body and wild woolly hair. I feel reticent to say it but they were very common and called, “Golliwogs”. In Adelaide at that time we never saw anyone with dark skin and to me it was like a cute alien and much cuddlier than the bigger, less pliable doll. I did find a very posed photo of me with some toy rabbits but they look pristine and I’m sure they were never playthings.

toys3

My grandfather made us little wooden carts but they were kept at his home.

toys1

I’m one of five children and when I couldn’t think of any other toys I asked my brother about it, he agreed we didn’t have toys. There was a model steam engine which Dad would occasionally bring out and show us how it worked but no one actually got to play with it. Probably just as well or we’d have been burnt.

When I was a teenager Dad went to Japan and brought home a colourful rooster which he loved, I think it crowed and pecked but we didn’t play with that either. He kept it in his room and would bring it out to show it off, everyone got a laugh out of it……. except maybe Dad’s grand-niece who doesn’t look too thrilled in this photo.

toys2

In reality I don’t think we missed toys, we found too much to do outside.

Punishment

This piece is written in response to Irene Waters blog topic, Times Past – Punishment

I’m a Baby Boomer living in an Australian capital city.

Firstly I’d like to say I was lucky, I think in my family no-one got any pleasure from punishment.

The first punishment I can remember came when I refused to eat my dessert, quinces and rice, I was shut in the bathroom and told I couldn’t come out until I was ready to eat it. I don’t remember how that ended but I do know I don’t eat quinces or sweet rice.

It’s interesting to me that I can remember only one individual instance of being smacked by Mum though I know it happened more often and when I heard, “I’ll give you 5 fingermarks on your backside” I certainly knew what that entailed. The instance I do remember was a smack across the face for making my younger sister cry just before Dad was due to get home from work.

I remember “having my backside tanned” by Dad when I slammed my bedroom door in a rage and it broke the ceramic door plaque. I felt I deserved that one but I still feel a sense of injustice over a school punishment. In Grade 3 we used to get stamps in our handwriting workbooks if our writing was very good. I was sitting next to a boy when I saw he’d coloured one of his in so I did the same. When the teacher saw what I’d done she was angry, I protested that I’d copied the boy. She gave me two whacks across the palm with a wooden ruler and told me one was for colouring it in and one for lying.

I think we were kept in line more with words than fear of being physically hurt and Mum was a master of sarcasm. Dad used his own hurt to make us feel bad. I remember once being so excited when I saw Dad bring home my big brother’s Christmas present that I raced off and told him what he was getting. I don’t know how Dad found out but he looked at me and told me to get out of his sight. That really hurt.

 

What Did We Do Before – Air Conditioners?

After another night where the minimum temperature was 22 deg. C the day has heated up again and I’ve come in from watering the garden to a nice cool room. I can’t imagine how I’d cope now without air conditioning but I grew up without it. Most of my childhood was spent living in a brick house built around 1900, it had very high ceilings and in summer it took a while to heat up but it took an equal amount of time to cool down. On hot nights we often slept outside on the lawn, I don’t remember being attacked by mosquitoes but I do remember the stars. I’d feel vulnerable doing that these days.

During summer days we’d often play under the sprinkler, we had a long bar one on a stand and sometimes we’d just lie under it. We also spent a lot of time at the beach. Sunburn was an issue!

I don’t remember us having any fans at all.

Dad lived in the house until he was 98 and even after my brother installed an evaporative cooler in the lounge room window Dad was reluctant to use it preferring instead to lie on his bed with a fan blowing over him.

No school I attended ever had any air conditioning. Cars didn’t have any either so the only option was opening a window which didn’t help much when the outside air was stifling.

Air conditioning units now usually offer the option to heat but instead of that we had an open fire. Because the old fires burnt so much wood we only had a fire in the lounge room, the door was kept shut to keep the warmth in and the rest of the house was cold! Before we had air conditioning in our current house we relied on a slow combustion fire in winter and ceiling fans in summer.

I can’t remember when I bought my first car with air conditioning but I certainly remember the 4 hours of driving my old Morris Oxford from my parents’ home to the country town where I worked. In winter that meant setting out wrapped in a blanket with a hot water bottle in my lap!

We’ve fitted roller shutters and good curtains to our windows to help insulate us from the harshest weather but it’s lovely to have the luxury of air conditioning when we need it now.

Holiday in the sun?

Holiday in the sun?