Well the challenge went out to my sisters to start telling their story and what they remember and it’s interesting for me to see what Deb has been prompted to write about. So I’ll post hers first, Karen’s will come at some time and me, being the oldest will try and fill in some of the gaps as we work through this exercise. This is for our kids, so we can give them the echoes of our childhoods before they fade as echoes do.
The first 5 years
So the challenge is about the things I remember in my first 5 years of life!
Well, that’s a hard one to remember back over 40 years.
The first thing that comes into my head is remembering sharing a bedroom with my big sister. I loved that. Although I’m sure she didn’t! as I go older I did such things as going through her wardrobe and borrowing her clothes and trying to make out that I didn’t. I’m sure that didn’t endear me to her.
I remember living in Box Hill and sharing the house with Mum & Dad and my brother Laurie and my sister Karen.
Our house was quite modest, had been painted and wall papered by Mum – which is I guess where I get that talent from.
I remember having our dogs although I can’t remember how old I was when we got our miniature poodle Bamby who I loved desperately. I do recall being told about Noddy, our golden Labrador and how he would sit under my pram and mind me every time I was placed outside. I’m not sure though that I have actual memories of that.
I remember being ill several times in the first part of my life. I remember vaguely being minded by my cousin Cheryl and getting really sick and taken to Fairfield Infectious Diseases hospital. I asked Mum only about a year ago why did I go to an infectious diseases hospital. She simply replied that I was really sick running a temperature etc and I was taken there. I asked her but why infectious diseases and she said “just because!”. I still find that weird for instance why wouldn’t I have been taken to simply another hospital like the Royal Children’s hospital?
I clearly remember going to hospital to have my tonsils taken out. I was about 3 years of age and Mum took me to hospital, I think it was Box Hill Hospital where I was born. I remember Mum sewing me a new nighty and dressing gown it was blue with pretty flowers on it and lace around the collars and hem and she also made one to match for my white teddy bear which I took everywhere with me. I remember the Doctors holding a mask to my face and telling me it was fairy medicine and I would go to sleep and dream of fairies, which I’m pretty sure I did. I remember Mum picking me up and driving me home in the old car and stopping at a milk bar somewhere and she went in and bought me banana flavoured toothpaste and a new toothbrush.
I went to Bennettswood Primary school, but don’t have a lot of memories of my first year. I do remember some of my primary years and some of my friends there. One notable memory was of a girl there Giovanni who no-one liked and everyone was teasing her because she was a “wog” – I took her under my wing and made sure she had people to talk to and play with. Even then, kids were cruel. I also remember one day down at the oval playing sport, when suddenly the teachers yelled at all of us to “get down, lie down, lie down” – we were getting swooped by magpies, it must have been breading season. Unfortunately one of the boys, Kevin Bond got swooped and pecked in the back of his head. He was bleeding everywhere and had a fairly large hole in the back of his head. I am still very wary of magpies now as an adult and it must have been due to that incident. Kevin Bond was a kid who’s great-grandfather (?) was the captain of the Titanic. I remember Kevin had a locket with his grandfather’s photo in it.
I remember walking to school, although I’m not sure if I did when I was that young. In later years I certainly did. I remember two things about that, one was that I had to walk down a lane way to get to Eley Road and it frightened me all of the time. So much so, that I imagined people jumping out and getting me and often ran the length of that laneway to get to the road. The other thing I recall when I was in primary school was walking home one day and seeing some UFO’s. I was with other children and there were quite a few flashing objects in the sky – from my recollection about 6 or 7 of them. They definitely weren’t planes and they appeared for several minutes. Many of us just stopped I the street and stared at them. In my excitement, I couldn’t wait to get home and tell Mum and Dad that night. It was in the papers the next day – I don’t know what they said, but I obviously wasn’t the only one that saw them.
I remember getting home from school and making myself a snack of Vegemite on toast and being excited about Mum getting home from work. I always met her at the front door or on the porch when I heard her car. She would always say “let me get in first”. She would then take off her coat, put her bag down, start dinner and then have the time to ask me about my day. I wondered why she seemed flustered by my greeting, but realize as an adult, my kids did the same thing and I often heard myself saying “let me get in first”.
I don’t remember much about TV in my early years, other than the fact that we had a black and white telly and it used to be fuzzy a lot. I also recall the “test page” appearing on TV after dark, when the telly stopped of a night time. I do remember one of my favourite shows being “Treasure Island” – but I don’t know how old I was. Mum entered me into a competition and as a prize I was sent out postcard/photos of the crew and they had all signed it. I thought that was fantastic. I wish I still had them.
We lived opposite our “aunty & uncle” Aunty Hazel & Uncle Andy. I always thought they had a beautiful house – a little white one that was always immaculate. We always walked through the back door, to get into their house which took us through the kitchen. I don’t remember why we never went through the front door of their house. I was friends with one of their Daughters Judith and we had several trips away over the years with Mum and Aunty Hazel. Most notable were the trips to Bonnie Doon and the Star Glen ranch where Mum and Aunty Hazel would stay inside all day by the open fire and Judith and I would go trail riding on the horses. I rode a beautiful ex-racehorse Madam a big black girl, who would play up on everyone except me when she took riders out. Uncle Andy worked for a lolly place and every time I went over there he would give us bags of lollies to take home. I loved that! Judith loved horses and I have a memory of her running outside to cuddle a horse one day who was riding down the middle of our street. She was hurt as she cuddled its backside and it kicked her in the head. That didn’t stop her from still loving them. I also remember Judith unintentionally hurting me too one day. Again I don’t remember the age I was, but we were playing in our backyard on the swing set when I stopped to go inside and get us a snack. As I was walking back to the swings, I was telling Judith to stop swinging whilst I was walking up and she didn’t. I was consequently struck in the back of the head by one of the steel posts that you put your feet on. I needed stitches in the back of my head.
The other “aunties and uncles” that lived next door to us where “Aunty Claire and Uncle Bill”. They also had two daughters – one closer to Karen – Annette and Joanne was closer to my age. They had a lovely house in Massey Street and I was jealous that they had their own rooms. I remember Aunty Claire did a lot of cooking, there was always something cooking every time I went there. Especially at Christmas where they made many things. The thing about Christmas that I loved a their house was that they used to hang chocolate decorations to their tree and every time I came across I was allowed to “take one” home with me.
I remember Summer time with friends and family – always in the immaculate outdoor above ground pools that Dad kept immaculately clean. He spent many hours outside cleaning and would then encourage us to get in and create “whirlpools” so that he could scoop up any leaves etc. I remember outdoor BBQ’s – again Dad’s domain as he was the “outdoor king” firing up the Barbie, cooking the snags and sunning himself in his white singlet and handkerchief hat.
Birthdays – I definitely couldn’t say I remember any from under 5 years. I have however seen photos so am a little unsure as to whether my memories are real or those perceived from looking at photos. I do however, think that I was given my first “walking doll” – she was a beautiful doll with black hair, a bride, and you held her hands and she walked. Nana gave her to me and it was either for my birthday or Christmas. In later years I remember thinking she wasn’t as beautiful as I had thought when I first got her. Her hair was very wiry and I guess they simply improved the production of dolls over the years.