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: Dental Memories

Oh Irene, what a topic for this month on Times Past!

I’m a Baby Boomer who grew up in Adelaide, capital of South Australia though I did have a father with a rural background which had quite an influence on our lives.

My first memory of a dentist was being taken there by Dad, presumably because I had toothache. He left me in the surgery and went off to do some business or maybe just to escape in case I cried. I don’t remember anything about the experience except that I walked out of there with a tooth in my hand. I suspect I might have been wondering if the Tooth Fairy paid up for holey teeth. I would have been less than 5 years old.

We went to the dentist regularly and I always had heaps of fillings. For some reason I didn’t have strong teeth like my brothers and younger sister. We only had lollies or soft drinks on very special occasions. I brushed my teeth and brushed them to the point that I made grooves along the gum lines but still, I was the one who needed fillings. Every time! In 1971 fluoride was introduced to South Australia’s water supply and my grandchildren rarely have a filling.

When I was 13 I was running across a lawn at school, I slipped and when I fell my mouth hit the concrete edging. It broke off half a tooth and chipped another. The school phoned Mum and she made an appointment with the dentist. I caught the bus back from school into the city and another towards home getting off at the stop near the dentist. He put a copper sleeve over the broken tooth and that stayed in place for months. Over time the edge of the copper would flatten out and abrade my soft skin then I’d have to go back and get it filed smooth again. Eventually the teeth were crowned and after that abcesses developed under the crowns and dealing with those required more drilling! I hate the sound of the high speed drill.

Me, with copper tooth band, brother Mike and younger sister, Jayne

Me, with copper tooth band, brother Mike and younger sister, Jayne

Once, when I was about 15, Mum made me take my youngest sister to the dentist, she bit his finger and he was so cross he made me take her home again. He told me to tell Mum she had to make an appointment with the doctor for my sister to be “knocked out” before he’d touch her again. I was mortified.

I loathe dental injections and for a few years put up with the short term pain of having fillings without them but after a dentist inserted a pin in a tooth and I felt every bit of it going in I went back to having injections.

I looked forward to being 30 because I’d decided that by then my teeth would all need to come out, I’d get false teeth and never have to go back to the dentist again. Now, decades later I still have my own teeth and I’m still going to the dentist every 6 months! My brother, he of the few fillings, is the one who has been told he’ll need false teeth because he’s worn his down chewing on chop bones.

Times Past: New Year’s Eve

In the absence of a topic from Irene Waters on the theme of Times Past, I’m choosing my own and since New Year’s Eve has just passed that seems relevant.

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

Our family wasn’t into socialising and New Year’s Eve wasn’t something we celebrated but when I was a teenager I felt envious of those who did. One year I went walking about our suburb checking out what was happening, there wasn’t really much going on.

In 1971 I arrived in Scotland and had my first experience of a full-on New Year’s Eve or Hogmanay.  It was eye opening. I was in a group with friends from work and we went to total strangers’ houses, all that was expected was that you’d have alcohol. Ever since that night if I smell whisky it reminds me of Hogmanay. I’ve never acquired a taste for it. Since that first experience I’ve always felt the New Year was cause for celebration, a time to let the hassles of the previous year go and start afresh. I always try to have my ironing basket empty so I don’t drag that job into the new year!

My husband grew up in Scotland so Hogmanay was an annual event. One particular year a bottle of whisky was broken. Newspaper was used to soak up the spilt spirit and the paper was put in the woodbox to be used to light the fire in the morning. On New Year’s morning a very grumpy Hector, the cat, staggered out from the woodbox where he’d spent the night.  He was always a grumpy cat so there was no way of knowing if he was an ugly drunk or it was just his usual nature showing.

Although we left Scotland in the mid 80s we always “see in the New Year”, not with whisky but with a nice glass of wine instead.

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.

dressups1

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.

dressups4

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.

collections-shells

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.

collection-coin

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!

collection-bottles

About a third of the collection!

 

Treatments: Times Past

The Times Past theme this month is “Treatments”, click the link to check it out.

I’m a Baby Boomer and lived in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia.

Looking back I think we were a healthy lot, we survived the measles/mumps/chicken pox diseases and I can’t remember much else apart from recurring Tonsilitis for which I was prescribed big, pink  Penicillin tablets that could have choked a horse.

Probably our most common treatment for anything and everything was a hot water bottle. I don’t use one now, instead I’ve substituted a microwaved wheat bag . Very comforting on sore tummies and backs!

One treatment that immediately came to mind though seems just ridiculous. If we got a bee sting Mum would dab the spot with a laundry “Blue Block”, these were designed to be put in the rinse water to make whites appear whiter. I’m sure the only thing they did for our bee stings was highlight them and invite sympathy.

Blue blocks

I remember seeing my brother with purple feet because he soaked them in a Condy’s Crystals solution to try and get rid of his Tinea.

Calamine Solution was the treatment for rashes, hives and sunburn. I have no idea how it was supposed to help other than being cold though the pale pink residue did help to camouflage the redness. Once, after sitting in a boat all day, I had a bad case of sunburnt thighs,  Dad put butter on them. I can remember it melting but not soothing.

Calamine lotion

Dad also was a great believer in the power of “Bovril”, a salty, meat extract he mixed in hot water. He brought a cup to me when I was in bed nauseous and with stomach cramps, it was probably the worst thing he could have brought but I didn’t let him know that. The smell certainly did nothing to make me feel better.

Bovril2

Colds called for Nyal  Decongestant, Vicks Vapor Rub and Eucalyptus Oil. Dad could chew Hudson’s Eumenthol Jujubes but they were too strong for me. I still use Eucalyptus Oil frequently and used Vicks Vapor Rub with my own children, they do help clear stuffy noses.

VicksCuts and scrapes all got the Solyptol treatment ie a wash in water with a dash of Solyptol added.

Solyptol

On a window ledge near our back door was a little box with sharp pocket knife, I can’t remember what else was in it but I hated the whole notion of that box. It was the “snake bite kit” and we were supposed to cut the area where the snake had bitten and suck the poison out.  Fortunately despite snakes being around we never had to use it.

For a few years an old auntie lived with us and she was always taking Ford Pills and Bex Powders. I can still remember the advertising jingle, “Ford Pills, keep you really regular, buy Ford Pills.” A Bex powder and a “good lie down” were supposed to help any woman’s problems but apparently after they were banned in 1977 the incidence of Kidney Cancer dropped dramatically.

One day I was fossicking about in a cupboard and saw a cute little green bottle, I unscrewed the top and took a sniff. It seemed to almost take the top of my head off,  that was my introduction to “Smelling Salts”. I used to faint quite often when I was young but unlike in the movies Smelling Salts were never used to bring me round. I now have that little bottle but wouldn’t contemplate giving it to anyone to sniff.

smelling salts