Times Past: Pets

Our family always had a dog. From photos and stories I know that before I was born Andy 1 and Andy 2 were part of the family but the first dog I remember was Mick. Dad came back from a visit to my Uncle Geoff’s farm and I can still see myself looking through the car window. Dad told me to look in his pocket and there was the little pup. Mick was a cross between a Border Collie and a Blue Heeler, I thought he was very handsome. When I was a kid most family dogs were “bitzers”, unrecognisable as any particular breed.

Big brother and Andy.

I don’t think anyone got their animals desexed and poor Mick succumbed to the lure of a beautiful white Samoyed which came into the area when market gardens were subdivided and sold off for housing. The fancy Samoyed’s owners didn’t appreciate Mick’s visits and shot him.

Mick playing along with us.

Dad always dreamed of having a farm, that didn’t happen but we did have plenty of animals at different times. Cows, a sheep, chooks, ducks  and geese. The ducks, Lucy and Lucky  were considered pets but for a while my Auntie Myrtle was living with us and she hadn’t been brought up with the luxury of pets. One night Lucky appeared at the dinner table along with carrots, peas, potatoes and gravy!

Lucy with some of her babies. Jayne and Mick in the background.

Our next dog was a Golden Labrador which came from a farm in the Adelaide Hills complete with millions of fleas. We thought she was sick when she wouldn’t respond to anyone and when we hadn’t seen her pee for 2 days we took her back to the farm. On arrival she immediately squatted and relieved herself which seemed to show she wasn’t sick but traumatised by being separated from her family. We brought her back to our place again and she soon accepted her new situation.

Dad also brought home a kitten which was found at his work. Soxy didn’t need any encouragement to stay. One day though she was bitten by a snake and Uncle Geoff who was up visiting wanted to bury the apparently lifeless cat but Mum didn’t let him. It was lucky for Soxy because he recovered and seemed none the worse for his near-death experience.

A Soxy look-a-like.

Another kitten which came into our lives wasn’t so lucky. It was a gorgeous little fluffy, grey ball and I named him Stephelius after a song that was popular at the time. He had a penchant for water. If someone was in the bath he would clamber up and walk around the edge of the tub. It became obvious something was wrong so I took him to the vet. He diagnosed kidney disease and that was the end for the kitten.

A Stephelius look-a-like.

I also had a couple of Guinea Pigs, then a lot more. I think I learnt quite a lot from them including the painful fact that sometimes you need to separate the male of a species from their babies. My youngest sister, Cathy,  also kept some very appealing Silkie Bantams which free ranged.

Eventually we all left home but Dad always had dogs for companionship.

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Times Past – Horses

Irene at  Reflections and Nightmares asked for input from fellow horse tragics.

A Baby Boomer I grew up in an Australian city but our suburb and others nearby included some swampy areas where horses were kept.

I’m about 3 in this photo, big brother seems to be in control.

I loved horses and occasionally I was able to go on trail rides through the swampland in an area which is now totally reclaimed and the site of fancy houses, businesses and a large shopping centre. On some of the swampy ground an old man, “Mr Gray”, used to live in a caravan, not the modern type but more like a gypsy caravan, an old wooden one with steps up to it. In a circle around his caravan were low corrugated iron stables, not at all fancy, I think probably cobbled together from second hand sheets of iron.  There must have been about 10 horses. Nowadays,  if kids were going off to such a place alone everyone would be suspicious of the old man’s motives but as far as I know there was absolutely nothing untoward about it. We paid to go on a trail ride which he led and I suppose he and his horses were able to live on the meagre proceeds.

While I was at Primary School every weekend I used to hang around another place with horses, that was near the Breakout at West Beach. People agisted horses on the Breakout and on weekends girls would gather with their horses. I still remember some of the horses. Tiny was 16 hands high, an ex-racehorse and Rita (named after an actress, Rita Hayworth, a redhead) was a chestnut ex-trotter and once I was doubled up on her as her owner tried desperately to get her to break into a canter. It didn’t happen that day, she just trotted faster and faster! There was an old shaggy horse someone owned and you could hire it for the day, 10/-, I think.  One day I was lucky enough to be given the money to hire it and I had a lovely day with it. I snuggled up to its old neck and felt wonderful having a horse all to myself.

After my day hiring the shaggy, old horse I went home happy but later that night I was scratching and scratching. Mum checked my head and said it was full of bugs, I had to get into the bath and have my head scrubbed then submerge myself under the water. It must have been powerful soap because it dealt a killer blow to the lice or whatever they were! After that I never felt tempted to snuggle up to that old horse again.

When I was about 13 I regularly went on trail rides with a girl from school, her mother would drive us across town to the stables. I remember one day being happy to be able to ride, “Ginger” because she wasn’t an old plodder but I discovered she did know when we turned for home. When we reached a straight, dirt road she took off, I had no control over her at all. Luckily there was no traffic on the main road as we bolted across it and I was still in the saddle when we came to a stop. I think terror kept me stuck there because I know I often fell off for no apparent reason.

I only recall one boy having a horse but he wasn’t a regular at The Breakout.

This photo was taken at Uncle Geoff’s  farm, Trixie was his stock horse. Little sister is on board. I remember getting big bruises from that knee pad when I fell off.

Times Past: Cooking with Mum

This month’s prompt from Irene Waters made me chuckle, “Cooking with Mum“.

I’m a Baby Boomer so my mum was a stay at home housewife, right? Wrong! I don’t think Mum ever intended to fill that role, running a business was what she loved and whenever an opportunity came up she took it.

I know there won’t be any photos of her cooking and there certainly won’t be much to write about!

Dad loved Rockcakes and the only thing I can remember cooking with Mum were batches of those. I didn’t get to crack eggs into the mixture or to squish it through my fingers. My job was to grease the tray and dust it with flour. Although I’ve tried to bake cakes I think I’ve inherited Mum’s culinary skills and after all these years I’ve learnt my limitations. Luckily I married a man who loves to cook and he passed on his enthusiasm to our children.

Rockcakes

Times Past: Trees

This month for our reminisces Irene Waters has suggested the topic of “Trees”

I’m a Baby Boomer who grew up in the city.

Our first home was at Henley Beach and Norfolk Island Pines lined many of the streets in the area. They were tough, helped lessen erosion and provided wind breaks. When we moved a couple of kilometers east our road had only a few of the Pines but outside our house was a big one. When our ex-neighbours came to visit, climbing that tree was a challenge. The first part was relatively simple because the lowest branch was within reach and there were no big distances between the levels. The higher we went though the more the tree swayed and certainly the more scared I became so I was nowhere near the highest climber. The person who seemed fearless was Jenny, an ex-neighbour who probably was about 10, she continued higher and higher even when her body swayed from side to side as she clung onto the trunk. She definitely was the bravest.

Norfolk Island Pine in the background.

As kids we were all given a  tree. I think mine was a Navel Orange. I know my younger sister had the Mandarin Tree and I was jealous of that, all kids love Mandarins. There were also Figs, Almonds, Golden Queen Peach, Apricot, Grapefruit, Lemon and Plum trees.

One day Dad burnt off some dry grass underneath a very big, old Gum Tree then that night flames shot out of the top like a Roman Candle. Dad climbed up the ladder and sawed the top off the tree.  My oldest brother’s tree was supposed to be a replacement for the old dead Gum but that was still standing when the new one planted beside it had died and rotted away. Years later Galahs started nesting in the hollow each season.

The old Gum Tree with top sawn off.

Times Past: Meals

When I see children tucking into Sushi, Curry, Pizza, Yiros or Spring Rolls it makes me realize how much broader their eating experiences are than my own childhood ones. Our family didn’t have a rich cultural diversity and our meals reflected that. Any spaghetti we had came out of a tin and bore no resemblance to the delicious Italian recipe I’d enjoy now.

Breakfast would have consisted of Weetbix or Cornflakes in Summer and possibly Semolina in winter, definitely not muesli with yoghurt. We also made toast in a toaster where you had to stand and watch it all the time, the toast didn’t pop up, you had to open the door to check it and to take the slice out.

We ate breakfast, lunch and tea, I think it was considered posh to have “dinner” in the evening. Staple night time meals were Mince with mashed potatoes and peas, forequarter chops and sausages or stew. Mum used a  Pressure cooker  to cook stew and I hated being asked to drop the valve over the jet of steam when she was busy out in the garden. Sometimes we’d have “English Fillet”, I’ve no idea what kind of fish it was but it was orange and it was cooked in milk and served with white Sauce and parsley. We’d have boiled potatoes with that. Savaloys were a filling meal served with vegetables and Tomato Sauce.

Pressure Cooker

When our old Auntie Myrtle was living with us she took over the cooking and we had to eat things like Liver and Bacon, crumbed Brains, Tripe and Kidneys.

Sunday lunch was usually a roast of Forequarter Lamb or rolled Brisket with plenty of roast vegetables and Gravox.  Although we kept chooks we didn’t ever kill them for dinner but in the 1960s a Chicken Shop opened within a mile or so of our place and occasionally we’d get a Roast Chicken for Sunday lunch or a special occasion. Unlike now when we have as much chicken as we want at a single meal it was really not much more than a delicious taste of it when I was young. Vegetables would be whatever was in season and always fresh; cauliflower, spinach, peas, green beans, silver beet, swedes, parsnips, turnips, potatoes, carrots or pumpkin.

During the week we’d have salad with the left over roast meat. The salad was made up of tomatoes, Iceberg Lettuce, Apple Cucumbers and onion. No French or Italian dressings just mayonnaise or a splash of vinegar. There would also have been Beetroot but not on my plate!

Sunday night meals were easy and quick like canned mushrooms on toast, Baked Beans, spaghetti  or Scrambled Eggs.

Canned spaghetti on toast

 

Desserts were usually some kind of stewed fruit from our trees or canned served with custard. Our fridge couldn’t keep icecream so that was a special treat. Other desserts were Jelly, Junket, creamed rice or sometimes Blancmange   A favourite dessert of Auntie Myrtle’s  was Bread and Butter Pudding.

Bread and Butter Pudding

“Take Away” meant Fish and Chips if we were very lucky when we went down to the beach. Rice was a dessert dish and my first meal with savoury rice would have been when I was about 18 and had my first “exotic” Chinese meal.

Yum, Sweet and Sour Chicken with Fried Rice

Times Past: Birthday Parties

Birthday Parties are the theme for this month’s recollections, suggested by Irene A Waters.

(Baby Boomer growing up in an Australian capital city.)

When I was young we had birthday parties though nothing like the extravagant theme parties many kids have now. Most of our birthdays would have been celebrated within the immediate family but during my Primary School years I remember parties I attended at other girls’ homes. Boys were never invited and I don’t remember any boys having parties, even my brothers.

In my class at school there were cousins who lived next door to each other and I looked forward to their parties because they always had delicious cream puffs. I also remember seeing my first ice-cream cake at another party. During those years the party pies and pasties were all home made, nothing was available from a supermarket freezer then.

We played games like:

Pin the Tail on the Donkey

Musical Chairs

Pass the Parcel   (only the last person got a prize)

Scavenger Hunts

We had fun with balloons and whistles which had extending paper ends with feathers on them.

Everyone was given a piece of cake to take home wrapped in a serviette.

My brother Michael’s 4th birthday celebration.

My birthday, guests include neighbours, a cousin and friends from school. A brother of one girl is hiding in the background, probably embarrassed to be there.

There are always balloons at birthdays!

 

Times Past: Haircuts

In response to Irene A Waters at Reflections and Nightmares this post is about haircuts.

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

I have a strong memory of my hair when I was little because I had to suffer Mum’s brushing of it. Clonk, drag, clonk, drag, she never demonstrated much finesse when it came to fine motor skills. My hair was always in two plaits with ribbons on the end. A vision has just popped into my head of Mum reaching out to get a rubber band from a door knob so she could fasten the end of my plait. I don’t think I had my hair cut much before I was about 10. I remember the awful disappointment as I left the hairdressers then with what I considered a “boys’ cut”. Maybe Mum was fed up with me complaining about her rough hair styling and sent me off to be shorn.

When I was in secondary school I grew my hair long and when it was in the intermediate stage I permed it myself. No nice styling before or after the perm and I was horrified when I saw the initial result but by setting it in quite large rollers it looked presentable when I left the house.

My brothers had their hair cut by Dad until secondary school. “The Oracle” remembers going to a barber for the first time when he came through the city on his way home from school. There were never any fancy cuts for them, just a short back and sides but at least Dad had enough skill to avoid the “Basin Cut”.

 

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