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!

 

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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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Times Past: Remembered Plants

Irene Waters has taken up another blogger’s suggestion, plants and gardens, for this month’s memoirs.

I’m an Australian, city raised, Baby Boomer.

As I look around my garden now I see things I’ve planted because they bring back happy memories of time spent with my grandparents. I planted a Mulberry Tree because they always remind me of climbing high up the massive one they had in their backyard. I have “Lamb’s Ears” in a pot, I discovered the velvety texture of their leaves where they were growing around the border of Nana’s fish pond. I have a lush fern garden which I always associate with Nana. The path meandered around their backyard with shrubs and trees creating lots of secluded little places.

At home we had a very long lawn along the side of the house, it had been used for playing Bowls and we made good use of it, running through sprinklers in the summer, upending bikes to fix tyres, playing on the swing and rocker as well as doing gymnastics.

Mum worked on the flower beds out the front and along the side while Dad took on all the vegies and fruit trees out the back.

The house was old and for a long time there was a Wisteria covered arch out the front, in September it was wonderful walking under the perfumed, blue flower sprays. Plants I remember Mum growing were Geraniums, Pelargoniums, Coleus, Cinerarias and Dahlias. She always fussed about with Dahlias she cut, singeing the ends before putting them in water. Lilies, including black ones, appeared each year and a Japonica bush with it’s bright flowers on almost bare stems. I loved it when the Guelder Rose bush flowered with its big, white pompom blooms. We kids had fun with the fruit from an old wild peach tree, lining the peaches across the road then waiting for a car to come and squash them.

When we first moved to the house in 1953 the back yard was full of fig trees, all but one were bulldozed and a variety of fruit trees took their places. We ate apricots, almonds, peaches, nectarines, oranges and mandarins, whatever was in season. There seemed to be lemons at any time of year. Grape vines grew along a wire trellis and I loathed coming home at night when spiders would be hanging from the vines and I’d invariably walk face first into a sticky web. Dad also grew tomatoes, sweetcorn and different melons. I lived overseas for seven years and received a letter from Dad once a year, I guess seeing the almond tree in bloom reminded him I wasn’t there because each time his letter told me the tree was in blossom.

In my garden I have Grape Vines, a Lemon Tree, two Fig Trees and a Hibiscus all grown from cuttings taken from the old house. The Snowflakes and Grape Hyacinths which are shooting up now also came from there. I didn’t realize just how many memories were linked to my plants and garden.

 

 

 

 

 

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: Weather

Irene Waters has suggested “weather” as a topic.

Australian city, Baby Boomer

I grew up in South Australia, a place with a temperate climate, no snow, no cyclones. That means when I’m home I call a 12C day bitterly cold!

Every Christmas as kids we used to get new “bathers” and often a beach towel so we always hoped for hot weather then but I never liked extremely hot days. I remember staying at an auntie’s home one summer and she got sick of me being under her feet and insisted I go outside. I found a shady spot under a grape vine and stayed there. No one had air conditioning and heat waves were bad for me. Sprinklers gave us wonderful relief and at home we would play on the lawn running in and out of the long, bar sprinkler. In the evenings Dad would often take us to the beach. We also slept outside on the hottest nights.

I don’t remember rainy days though I do remember picking oranges covered in raindrops. In 1956 the River Murray flooded and we helped Dad fold empty hessian bags that were sent to be filled with sand to protect homes along the river. Once when I went down to the horse yards at West Beach the water trough was completely iced over. That amazed me so it must have been a rare thing. Hailstorms sometimes happened and seeing the ground covered in white always made us imagine it was snow.

During one of our caravan holidays we were at Merrimbula when there was a hailstrorm with hailstones the size of golfballs pelting down. I’d never seen any bigger than peas before.

Thunderstorms always caused a mixture of wonder and fear but I don’t remember anything dramatic resulting from one.

Probably the thing that stuns me most about the weather is the way we’ve come to respond to it. I don’t know anyone who’s car doesn’t have air conditioning. People move from air conditioned homes to air conditioned cars to air conditioned shops etc. Primary School children are kept inside if the weather forecast is over 36 deg C, they don’t have a shady hat or if it’s raining. Schools all have air conditioning, when I was at school that took the form of an open window in summer and a wood burning fire in winter.

Times Past: Xmas Trees

Because it’s the right time of year Irene Waters, from Reflections and Nightmares, has suggested Xmas Trees as the theme for the month.

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

Although I remember having Christmas Trees when I grew up I can’t recall what they were like. I did manage to find one photo and it’s obviously a synthetic  tree. The funny thing about seeing this photo again is I’m reminded that I was so shocked at seeing the hideous “china cabinet” that I made certain that by the following Christmas a decent one was in its place.

I was the photographer. (Some captions can’t be seen unless you click on the photo.)

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Mum holds her first grandchild.

For the first two years of my married life we lived in a caravan and our Christmas Tree was tiny. It was difficult finding decorations that didn’t swamp it. Over 40 years later two little foil angels still come out each year.

The first house we lived in backed onto a sheep paddock and after our first Christmas there I saw a number of ex-Christmas Trees tossed over the fence. I hated the idea that lovely living trees were chopped down, decorated with trinkets and sparkly lights then discarded as rubbish. I made up my mind I’d never have a real Christmas Tree and I haven’t.

Our Christmas Trees have always looked lifelike. Now that I have grandchildren the tree goes up after the big city Christmas Pageant and the kids help to decorate it. I don’t have anything breakable on it except the very old, bedraggled little birds which I always place high up. The tree always comes down before Jan 1st, I feel it belongs in the old year not the new one.

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2016

Times Past: Dressing Up

Irene Waters has suggested, “Dressing Up” as this month’s theme for Times Past, I certainly won’t have much to contribute from my childhood.

I’m a Baby Boomer and it wasn’t until 1959 that TV came to Adelaide, that was also the year I started Secondary School and any inclination to dress up as a special character was behind me. Halloween wasn’t celebrated but one Christmas when I was about four or five I got a cowgirl suit and was devastated, I wanted a cowBOY suit with chaps like my brothers got. Mum sewed the outfits out of vinyl and put fringing on the edges. Ballet performances meant costumes but they were decided by the teacher and the only one I remember was a green elf costume with little bells along the zigzag hemline.

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My kids dressed for a celebration of their school’s 70 year anniversary.

Halloween has become more popular and I remember my son being a Werewolf and also a Punk Rocker. There is also a photo of him dressed as an explorer which I presume means it was for a school event. I’m sure as adults they’ve dressed up far more often not only for parties but also on one occasion to attend a cricket match. On that occasion my son was the Tin Man and his friends were other characters from The Wizard of Oz.

My grandchildren are very enthusiastic fancy dressers! The costumes have included Easter Bunny, Royal Guardsman, soldier, Princess Elsa from the Frozen movie, pirate and most recently my 17 year old grand-daughter was Maleficent.

Our hall-stand is smothered with hats and our four year old grandson loves to put on a hat and assume the character. His favourite at the moment is a toss up between the Top Hat, which makes him a magician, and a pilot’s cap. The cowboy hat has been ignored recently.

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