It's not often that I read every single post in a thread before replying -- I mean really
read them: take in every word and sense the emotion
and humanity behind what people have written.
This thread is wonderful. It's a gentle reminder that at the end of the day, we're all real people here; we all have our own lives and experiences, we
all have something special.
So, it got me thinking. I was born in the UK but we emigrated to Australia before I'd even started school, so my memories all stem from there.
I remember when I was four years old and both my parents were working, so a girl called Margaret used to picked me up from kindergarten and look after
me until Mum got home from work. Looking back on it, she probably couldn't have been more than 10 years old herself, but she was utterly reliable and
trustworthy. We used to live in a seaside suburb called Glenelg back then and on fine days Margaret sometimes took me down to the beach. Not to swim,
but she would let me "paddle" in the shallows.
I remember when I was five and my older brother used to make model airplanes from "Airfix" construction kits. They cost about 2/-6d in the those days.
(Two shillings and sixpence -- which five years later when we changed over to decimal currency would be 25 cents.) He painted these models with
miniature brushes and real paints that were either in tiny little paint tins (made by "Humbrol") or in miniature bottles with corks in them.
I remember my first train set. It was wonderful, with carriages that had tiny lights inside them and a locomotive that had a light on the front. I'd
watch it going round and round on its tracks for hours on rainy days.
On sunny days we'd be outside, mostly racing around in our pedal cars. We had two, but we apparently owned both of them jointly as we'd swap cars with
no complaints. I loved those cars. The harder you pedalled the faster they went. No electric motors: it was all muscle power. And they were built
solidly, with all-metal bodies and a steel chassis. Sorry to bore you with details, but pedal cars in those days were built to be used and to survive
the worst that children could dish out. One of the pedal cars was the classic "Cyclops" Austin A40.
Oddly enough, the first real
car I owned (at 17) was a 1948 Austin A 40.
I liked those old pedal cars so much that when I found one many years later in a junk shop (for $20), I bought it and restored it then gave it to my
own two children. Before I handed it over to them (as this was all done in secret as good surprises should be), I had a few friends' kids try it out
to make sure it was all working as it should.
Do I really need to say that they all wanted one, instead of the plastic ones they had and which break after three days?
Over here in Prague, I built three pedal cars for my wife's grandsons to play with when they visited. Made them all by hand. (I had pictures of them
somewhere. Must dig and see if I can find them...) Anyway the boys have now outgrown the cars so I took one out to our cottage in the country and the
neighbour's grandchildren spent half the day racing up and down the street in it. (It's a dead-end street in a sleepy village and we were outside
picking apples and keeping an eye on them all the time. Quite safe.)
Simply put, those old pedal cars my brother and I had were a big part of our childhood.
Now, other things...
We had a coke machine in school. It dispensed those wonderful little bottles that you had to open with the opener that was riveted to the front of the
machine. Those little cokes cost 6d (5 cents) so I couldn't afford one very often. Then, when decimal currency came in (14 Feb 1966), a technician
came out to replace the coin mechanism in the machine. Seeing as a sixpenny piece was the same size, weight and value as a 5-cent piece, you might
wonder why they needed to do anything at all. The answer is simple: after decimal currency, we then had to insert a 5-cent piece and
piece to get a bottle of coke. Yep, they jacked up the price to 7 cents. (A 40% increase!)
I remember the bus ride to and from school used to cost 3d (Three pence [pennies]) each way. My brother and I often used to skip the ride home and
bought lollies (candy) instead. You could get quite a nice bag of lollies for 3d.
I remember that the summers were long and hot and it seemed to go weeks without any rain. Winters were cool and rainy. It just seemed more predictable
I remember my Mum taking me to a "chicken pox party". And yes, I caught it! It was a pretty normal way to do things then.
And some things others have mentioned: little toys in the cereal boxes. Yes -- we loved those! Especially the little animals that you put together and
then attached a piece of cotton to them with a tiny weight on it, and you hung it over the edge of the table and the little dog (or whatever) walked
along. We were easy to please...
Milk bottles with the aluminium tops -- and at Christmas they were either decorated with a holly pattern or they were golden coloured. We collected
them (after they'd been washed), flattened them out and used them for "gold" in games we'd play, where one of us was a rich merchant and all the
others were robbers.
The bread van used to come along every weekday, and Mum would sometimes send me out to buy a loaf of bread. It cost between 6d and 9d, depending on
the type, and the baker would take the loaf out of a rack in the van and wrap a sheet of tissue paper around it. It didn't cover the whole loaf. It
was more symbolic than anything I think. I loved the aroma of the fresh bread when he opened that van.
Then there was the scissors and knives man. He used to do the rounds of the whole district and when he came around, he'd call out "Bring out your
knives and scissors", and Mum would quickly grab any that needed sharpening and out we'd go and she would would stand and chat with the other ladies
while their implements were being sharpened. The knives and scissors man had a 3-wheeled bike with a small grinding wheel mounted on the handlebars (I
think) and he'd chat to everyone while he did his work. I think he charged a penny or two for knives and 3d for scissors, as they were a bit trickier
I recall a tinker who came around a few times but we never needed his services, it seems. (Dad was quite good at fixing our post and pans if they
needed it.) But I saw a few ladies or their husbands bringing out pots and pans for him to repair.
There are many other things but this post is becoming a small novel so I'll leave it there for now.
edit on 14/11/10 by JustMike because: Typos.