Sunday, March 10, 2013

When I was a Girl

Reading a message board elsewhere, I realised how interested I was in how everyone grew up - what some people got to take as "normal" and what was deemed "exotic".

When I was a girl:

We had a party line phone - our number was 4S which meant that if there were three short rings, the call was for us - and if you wanted to make a call, you would pick up the phone and say "working?" before you rang - if it wasn't for anyone on our line, we had to call the operator and get connected.

Our school still had thunderboxes - septic toilets came to the school when I was about year 3, prior to that we had to walk to up near the oval, sit on a wooden seat above a pit and bucket, sprinkle sawdust on any business that was done and George would empty it every week - when a teacher went a bit mad one Arbour Day and they planted over 20 new trees, one of the science experiments was that the pre-fertilisation treatment for a few of the trees was courtesy of such - and those trees did grow a treat!

The toilet that we had at home was downstairs - it was known as "the library" as it was on the subscription list for the Readers Digest.  There was a gas bottle kept outside of it with a patch of black paint on it - I gave myself nightmares for years after a poignant episode of "Whodunnit" where a pirate's patch was integral, as I imagined it to be a pirate.  I had NFI what a pirate actually was.

We had meat with every meal - meat was cheap for us, as we lived on a cattle property (and corned beef was far more regular than ham).  Vegetables were a little harder to come by.  When Mum first moved up there, she was flat out finding potatoes or onions locally.  While pumpkin were truly plentiful (Dad would always throw a few seeds into the ashes of any burned trees), other fresh commodities were scarce.  Mum did try to make a vegetable patch, but kangaroos and rabbits fared far better than we did.  I thought peas were either tinned or surprise.  I thought mushrooms naturally were wrinkled. 

Television was a choice of 2 channels (zero with bad weather) and I didn't see Sesame Street in colour until I was about 6 - I was shocked at how yellow Big Bird was.  These days, with digital and the weather we are having, most nights I have a choice of 2 channels (as NITV is still picture NITV, sound SBS so not an option)

If you were blessed enough to be have been bestowed with a camera, generally you bought a 100 film (unless you were a bit fancy) and really conserved your pictures as even though you had heard rumours of 26 photos being achieved on a 24 roll, all too often they were busted as myths with doubled pictures or blurred results.  Once you had finished a film, it was sent off (with a price tag of 24.95) to be returned a week or so hence full of surprises and disappointments.

It would take us a full day of driving to get to Brisbane - and visit one Grandmother.  We used to play "White Horse" with the billboards and number plates we zoomed past -it was preferable to be on the drivers side during the first part of the trip, as cars whizzing by were your best bet - but passenger's side nearer to the city, as the billboards offered riches.  When we saw the "Supa-Maid" ad on the side of a shop, we knew we would see Grandma in only a few minutes and that she would be down by her little blue fence waving once she saw us at the top of the street.

The other Grandma lived in a house that had an upstairs bathroom AND the old bathroom still in existence under the tankstand.  It was always a gamble, chosing which one to use, as the frogs lived in the downstairs one (but the temperature regulation had been ironed out) but the upstairs one you had to put the hot tap on until it was scalding and then add cold a tiny turn of the tap at a time - because it would go to freezing if you went too far.  She also had a matching set of fluffy yellow accoutrements for her toilet (in the new bathroom) that I thought was so soft!

So - what was it like when you were a girl (or boy)?


BB said...

Amazingly my recollections are very similar to yours... especially the camera film bits!! LOL. Will add that weekends were filled with jobs and mustering - no videos, no game consols, although my sister could read for more than 24 hours at a sitting!! ♥

Debby said...

It would appear that BB's sister and I have something in common. We lived in the woods. We had TV in the summer (three channels), and rarely in the winter, the antenna being up on a mountain behind our house. The squirrels gnawed through the wire on a regular basis and we spent many a day walking up that slope with a roll of electrical tape looking for bare wires. In the winter, it was not possible to make that trip. I went to the same 4 room school that my father had gone to, and I had some of the same teachers. My mother did not drive, and my father was never home. We children walked into town once every two weeks in the summer to get books from the bookmobile, and the beautiful lady always set a book aside especially for me. I remember that to get there, we had to cross a railroad trestle that scared the bejeebers out of me, because I was afraid of heights and you could see the creek flowing far below. And my siblings would get so aggravated because it took me so long to get across the trestle. When I got home, I would gorge on books, reading and reading and reading until I was actually sick from reading so much. I remember that we spent long hours in the woods or building 'haunted houses' underneath a bridge on our road because my father slept days, and if he did not sleep well and you were anywhere around, it was automatically your fault. So we'd get up in the morning, pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grab a gallon jug of koolaid from the freezer, and spend the day as far from home as we could get. And blackberries! The blackberries were enormous and you'd get scratched all to heck, but they were totally worth the scars! That's what I remember.

Debby said...

I should point out that my winter memories and summer memories are distinctly different. In the winter when we had school, my father slept while we were in school and generally was on his way out the door by the time that we got home. In the summer he slept days, and we simply made ourselves scarce as hen's teeth.

jeanie said...

BB - funny that. And no, never 24 hours at a sitting while I was a kid - no matter how I may have tried (and is apparently the reason that I am short-sighted!)

Debby - I was going to say Dad was never mad at us, but there were times we pushed his buttons - that being said, if we were home from school we were rarely home - often, as BB said, he had us out in the paddocks working. He could sleep for Australia in the recliner most nights and nothing would wake him save the closing music of whatever program with a request for a precis of the program!

Debby said...

I love that line: sleep for Australia. We used to laugh at my father. He could never stay away for the television, and would always doze off, but if you tried to turn to one of the other two channels, he'd snort awake and yell, "HEY, I'm watching that!!!" I guess you could say that he could sleep for America.

Debby said...

*stay AWAKE. sigh.

Agus said...

I was not a girl, but a boy, and my memories would not tell you many interesting things.
However, I enjoyed reading your post. Best wishes from Spain, just around the corner, you know. ;-)

jeanie said...

But Agus, they would still be interesting to those who have no concept of what being a boy in Spain would have been like.

Agus said...

Being a boy in Spain? Oh well, what could I say?
We are talking about many years ago, during the 60s and 70s, and I think I could not have a better childhood than I had.
I guess life in Spain for a boy was not that different from any other European country, except for the fact that at school boys and girls were in different clasrooms, so girls were for us some kind of a wonderful and unknown world.
We used to get together out of the school, and during holidays season, and I can remember how I enjoyed discovering that unknown world.
Life at home was around the family, mine was very funny, we were 4 siblings at home, and besides our parents, our grandmother lived with us, as well.
When I was 4, and until I was 9, we used to spend our holidays in a beautiful place. My parents rented a house in a small village close to the mountains, and I remember that every year, the first working day of July, I was watching through my bedroom window, waiting for the truck that had to pick all our baggage and rest of stuff, to go to our wonderful holidays place where we would be staying for three months......I still can remember the excitement of those moments!
When I was 10 my parents bought a small beatiful house in other village not very far from there, and we started to spend our holidays in that new was a nice time that I spent there, but never was the same, I would never remember my first holidays!
And don't think I can tell you much more.....of course there are many things I could say about my younghood, but that could fill a whole book and it would be extremely tired to do it now hahaha! but yo can ask me if you are really interested, of course. ;-)