Sunday, October 3, 2010

Karen's first five years

Karen and I were born 17 months apart so you would think that our memories of events would be similar and in some cases they are.  What is worthwhile for me in this exercise is that in reading each others memories more are prompted.  I've asked Karen and Deb to stick to topic because I've got a lot more questions to ask them and I'd rather that wasn't pre-empted.  Still this is a bit of fun for us and helps give us a little bit of closure as well.

So here is Karen's first chapter and I'll save my comments for the next post.

Karen’s first 5 years of memories…….
Well I see bro that you have filled the gaps before I have had a chance to try and remember ……….However, there are some things that I do recall that you have not mentioned, probably because they are my memories and not yours - haha

I remember losing a tooth after biting into an apple – though I don’t recall how old I was when this happened – but do remember my horror and not being able to finish it because it had blood all over it.

I remember my dolls bassinette that I used to stand on tip toe to place my “baby” to bed. I still have that bassinette and it is only 550 cm high but a treasure that I cannot imagine ever throwing out.

I remember for the majority of my life spent at home at Box Hill, that I HAD to share my bedroom with my little sister, Deb – and yes, Deb did pinch my clothes out of my wardrobe and this went on till I married at 21 and finally left home and she had no access to my wardrobe. The trials and tribulations of being a big sister! Much, much more about this at another time as it doesn’t relate to my first 5 years…….

I remember being too fat to climb out of our sandpit – this memory is only recalled because I have seen myself in action on Uncle Arthur’s home movies. Our Uncle Arthur was in fact a Cinesound cameraman so his home movies were actually top quality stuff that we used to sit around and watch either at our house or the Brown’s via the old movie reels that were then displayed up on the painted wall. Birthday parties, bbq’s, chopping down trees in the bush - what fun times they were and thankfully Shirl did have them all transferred to tape a few years ago – we now need to convert them to DVD and will put that on the “to do” list. I think a movie night is on the cards.

I remember the dunny can man and how horrified I was that he carried it around on his shoulder, and I also remember getting the sewerage put in and the big trenches dug in our backyard. I also remember the outside dunny, the spiders, and hating having to go out there in the dark, well, actually at any time, because there were always lots of spiders. 

I remember our Christmas’s – placing our Santa sacks out to be filled with an abundance of toys from Father Christmas, and getting the biscuits and beer out for him to enjoy while having a break from all the flying around the world. Every year, or so it seemed, we would be dressed up – me in hat, gloves and often with a little handbag – and be taken in to Myer in the city to visit Santa and sit on his knee for a photo and of course to tell him what a good girl I had been all year and what I wanted for Christmas. Christmas was always spent with family – Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles, Cousins, neighbors and the “stranger” that Dad always invited over for lunch and the “Christmas tree” because otherwise they would have spent it on their own. Mum never knew how many or who would be there, and always made sure she had a packet of new hankies (Men’s and Ladies) wrapped and placed under the tree so they received a present when we did the “Christmas tree” (the giving out of all the presents). I remember being given money to buy everyone presents. This was done in the week before Christmas and I remember walking around and around the shop (I think it was Coles and this sold everything except food back then) and eeking out my money so I made sure everyone had a present under the tree from me. We were all spoilt rotten at Christmas and it was all about family – wonderful, wonderful memories. 

I remember being a “Christmas baby” (born on the 22nd Dec, 1958) and always having a celebration for both my birthday and Christmas even though I still think it is rotten being born at this time of the year. Having to wait 12 months for two major events to happen at the one time, and never having the chance to celebrate my birthday at school was always a disappointment to me. Guess it’s about time I got over it…….maybe!
I remember our beautiful dog Noddy even though both you and Deb have mentioned him, but there is no way I can’t make mention of our beautiful family pets (the others, I will talk about another time).
I remember always having a bird and vividly recall our yellow canary Tweety, who we would hang outside the back door in the sunshine, and the beautiful singing he used to do. 

I remember our home at Box Hill and the décor in the early years. The front porch wasn’t built, so we climbed a little hill, or a huge mound of dirt really, and then had to step up to the front door. Polished floor boards throughout, a servery from the kitchen to the dining room, a yellow check couch, a briquette heater with an open brick area next to the heater that used to store the briquettes and wood for the fire, an Astor TV, and the white venetian blinds that I’m sure were there all the time – in later years these would have orange curtains hung in front of them being the 60’s and all. Our laundry, was a kind of “outhouse” – attached to the back of our house, but you had to go out the backdoor and step into the laundry from the back porch. It was here also on the back porch, that a little timber box with a hinged lid stored the nugget and subsequent  polishing brushes – there was no way we were ever allowed to go to school with dirty shoes. A huge wattle tree lived here in our backyard, and in later years served as a means for Laurie and I to climb it to get on our roof and pretend we were anywhere and anyone.
I remember the ice chest and the man delivering the ice and carrying it to the chest with a big hook. I remember many, many years later when I had a house of my own, that I would have loved that ice chest as a piece of antique furniture in my own home. Unfortunately, that sort of thing was sent to the tip along with a Singer treadle sewing machine that used to live in the laundry with the crystal cabinet that thankfully didn’t make the trip to the tip and does have pride of place in my loungeroom. I remember the Kelvinator fridge with the big heavy door and the shiny silver handles on our kitchen cupboards. 

I remember being taught to cook, primarily by my Nana Joyce. Cooking cakes with Barb and Helen and then having afternoon tea with Nana’s beautiful china cups and saucers are a wonderful memory. Mum didn’t cook many cakes as this was left to me – subsequently when I left home Mum gave me her  Sunbeam Mixmaster which still mixes the cakes, muffins and biscuits at my place today.

I remember my first day of school – well actually not my time at school, but I do remember having that photo taken with Laurie in our front yard. I started school in the January having only just turned 5 that December. Starting school that young  and for some strange reason, skipping Grade 1, was to curse me for most of my secondary school years. When I began High School, I had only just turned 10!

I remember going to see The Magic Circle Club live at the studios in Nunawading. I remember being on TV because at the end of the show when the song was sung, I had two of the characters either side of me – that was very exciting.

I remember our Vauxhall car though I do know that was around for quite a while. One of the biggest memories I have of this car, was Mum driving us home from school one day and Annette Hellier and I leaning on the left passenger door as the car turned right into Eley Rd from Station St. The car door flung open, Annette fell out and Mum just yelled at us for being silly rather than being too concerned about Annette’s skinned knees – we must have been lucky the car didn’t really go that fast. 

I remember spending so much time with our wonderful other family, the Brown’s. Being put to bed in Auntie Gloria and Uncle Arthur’s bed while they stayed up drinking and singing “Mother” or “We were drunk last night.” We were then picked up out of our slumber late at night to make the trip back to Box Hill South from Bulleen, always with Mum driving and Dad falling asleep in his drunken stupor.  No seatbelts in those days and definitely no breathalysers.
I remember laying in bed of a morning and peaking out the venetian blinds to watch the horse and cart go by with the milkman running from house to house collecting the empty bottles and leaving the new one’s – in summer the milk would be warm with the cream already forming under the tin lid by the time it was collected and brought inside. I was never allowed to run outside of a morning and join some of the other neighborhood kids running behind the horse and cart but wow I would have loved to have been able to do that.
I remember holidays at Christmas and Easter normally spent on the banks of the Murray somewhere up on the border at places like Koondrook, Echuca  and Corowa. No camping facilities in those days – holes dug in the earth for toileting, bathing in the river if it wasn’t too cold, and ice and esky’s or the river to keep things cold and more importantly no electricity just the glow of the campfire or torches to see with.
I remember mushrooming and ferreting both normally done on private properties of people we didn’t know. Once we were fronted by a man with a shotgun who screamed at us to get off his property or else we’d be shot.  Ferreting was something I would rather forget. Having to help my cousins hold a net at the end of the rabbit hole, as my Grandad or Uncle’s let the ferret in the other end to chase the rabbits out. A quick slit of the throat of the rabbit, with me trying so hard not to look and be sick, and home we would go, rabbit stew for tea. Many a time family tried to coerce Shirl and I into eating the stew (otherwise there was nothing else to eat) by giving us the fluffy rabbits tail to keep – I must have gone hungry many times because I can’t recall ever having a mouthful of rabbit stew.
I remember many trips with family and friends, stopping anywhere, rain, hail, snow or sunshine and firing up a bbq. Dad would fling a tarp between some trees and there we would stand around, have our barbie and head home – Dad was the Masterchef of hot chips! Always a pan of them bubbling away, washed, potato skin left on, sliced and cooked in dripping with lots of salt on a bush barbie, at home in the kitchen, the backyard or anywhere, chips were always on the menu. Sometimes we were even given fried bread – a slice of bread, thrown in the hot dripping and eaten with delight – damn fattening and probably shocking for the arteries, but fabulous none the less.
I remember when Mum was pregnant with Deb (so probably should have changed the title to first 6 years!), and asking us if we knew of any names we would like our new baby to be named. At the ripe old age of 6, and yes this was to become a bit of a habit of mine, I fell in “love” with a boy at school called “Bregaldy” Well, in actual fact it was Bradley but I couldn’t pronounce it properly. He had a sister, Debra, so of course that was the name I told Mum and Dad, and that’s what she was called. The “Gaye” side of the name – well I won’t take credit for that!
I remember getting my tonsils out - I was about 2 or 3 at the time. Mum and Dad dropped my off at the hospital where I was met by a Nun who took me by the hand and down the corridor (just with her) to my room. I don't remember much else other than being told I would dream of fairies when they put me to sleep and vividly remember that I did.

I remember when Mum brought Deb home from hospital and laying her down on the floor on her beautiful hand knitted baby shawl while we all stood around and goo gaah’d. In fact, I do think there may be a photo somewhere of this. 

Well Loz, this wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be – I didn’t think I would be able to recall much. It is amazing once you open up the memory gates,  that they all come flooding back. I’m looking forward to the next challenge and the next installment as I have so much more to tell.

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