Thursday’s Child – Picnic at the Waterfall

January 22, 2018 at 7:30 am | Posted in Australia, Birds, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, household chores, Nature, Promotion, Reading, Writing | 6 Comments
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I am writing a few blog posts to introduce the main character in Thursday’s Child, my new Young Adult novel, which is set in 1960-61 Australia. Victoria Delaney (Tori) is fourteen, in her second year of high school. She wants to become a teacher one day, but events conspire against her.

*         *         *

From Tori’s Diary

Thursday, 8th September 1960

We had such a lovely day today. I am so tired I can hardly write. It’s only a few days until we go back to school for the last term before Christmas, so we wanted to do something special. We got Mam to let us go to the falls for a picnic! The four of us – me, Carol, Mickey & Frankie set off after we’d done our morning chores. Danny’s only a baby, so he stayed home with Mam.

We followed the road, then a track, and after about four miles, we came to the creek. It wasn’t hot, but it was sunny, even through the trees and we were glad to get there. The water was so clear and cold to drink, wash our faces and bathe our bare feet in. Mam had made us promise not to go in swimming, so I had to watch Mickey so he didn’t.

We played around on the rocks and paddled where the water was shallow just out from the falls. How lovely the rock wall is where the water flows over into the waterhole! I’m no good at geology, but I could tell that lots of different layers sat on top of each other. The water had made them smooth and dark, and where the sun shone, the rock glistened and the water sparkled.

Mickey kept his eyes and ears open for birds all the time, and told us each time he heard or saw a different one. There are so many! Honeyeaters, red wattlebirds and a couple of different finches are the ones I remember. Frankie followed Mickey everywhere, as he usually does, and one time he slipped off a rock into the water. Thank goodness it wasn’t deep. He grazed his leg & got wet, but he was dry by the time we got home.

Carol and I wandered around, sometimes together and sometimes in different directions, but we all stayed close to the waterhole. I was hoping to see a platypus, but we must have scared them away. We did see a water dragon, and when we were walking back home, we saw a couple of wallabies – I think its wallabies in the mountains, not kangaroos, as they live in flatter country. Some of the wildflowers were out too and the golden wattles along the roadsides were still in flower.

We ate our jam sandwiches and boiled eggs for lunch and drank from the creek. We loved it so much that we didn’t want to leave, but we’d also promised Mam we’d be back in time to do our evening chores. I have to help with making dinner, and there are the chooks to feed, eggs to collect, Danny to look after, wood to chop for the stove. We got home in time, so Mam was happy, and even with the five-mile walk back, we were too.

 

If you wish to purchase Thursday’s Child on Kindle, click here to pre-order. It will be available for download on the 1st of February.

© Linda Visman

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Household Chores

May 11, 2015 at 12:00 am | Posted in 1960s, Australia, family responsibilities, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, household chores | 12 Comments
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Our childhood days were often anything but fun and games. Both Mum and Dad believed that children should learn early to help around the house. There were no free rides – at least not for the girls. Throughout our childhood and teens, we had our jobs to do and we couldn’t get out of them without good reason.

My sisters and I were expected to help Mum clean the house. We did a lot of the big weekly clean under Mum’s supervision. We didn’t have a vacuum cleaner. Instead, we used a stiff bristled hand (banister) brush to sweep the lounge room carpet on hands and knees. After that it was dusting the furniture, as well as sweeping and dusting the rest of the house.

One of the things I didn’t mind doing was polishing the brassware with Brasso. Among these were three or four round wall plaques pressed with scenes of sailing ships or old villages. Mum had worked in a large munitions factory in Accrington during WWII and, among other things, had filled the shells that the British fired at the Germans. Dad was a fighter pilot in the RAF, one of those who fired those 22mm shells.

20mm shell casing WWIIOn one of his leaves, Dad brought home an empty .22 shell casing; one that had been fired. That casing became one of the brass ornaments that lived in Mum’s china cabinet. I loved polishing that one. Many years later, after Mum had died, I noticed that the shell casing was missing. Despite enquiries, we have never discovered where it went to.

My sisters and I did all the washing up after dinner (we called it tea). We took turns clearing the table, washing up, and drying and putting away the dishes. With no hot water, an electric jug had to be boiled to start washing up the crockery, and another to heat the water up again for the pots and pans. We all hated washing up. There were occasional arguments when one of us ‘forgot’ which task we were supposed to do that night, or was late getting on the job – especially the washing up.

We had to make our beds of course – even my brother did that – and polish our shoes in the evenings for school or work the next day. When we were about nine or ten, we learned how to do our own ironing. The iron, although it was electric, had no heat regulator or steam. We had to turn it on or off at the power point to attain and maintain the correct heat – not easy to do, and easy to forget when distracted. Woe betide us if it got too hot and scorched the item of clothing we were ironing – especially if it was a white school shirt!

A Louvered Glass Window

A Louvered Glass Window

We also had to help clean the windows once we were a bit older. I remember the louvered windows and cleaning each one – each window had 10-12 long narrow panes. We had to wash each pane, on both sides, with wet newspaper then dry it with dry newspaper. You couldn’t press too hard on the glass or the pane could break in two. By the end of the job, our hands were black with newsprint. Sometimes we used Bon Ami, an abrasive paste that had to be spread evenly and thinly onto the glass. When dry we rubbed it off with a dry cloth. Every window in the house, apart from three, had louvres. So we soon got to hate the day that Mum decided it was window-cleaning day!

My older brother didn’t have many jobs to do – I only remember him doing one apart from making his bed and cleaning his shoes. Once we got a mower, he mowed the lawn and the bulrushes down the back. However, he left school to start work in 1960 when he was fifteen and had done his Intermediate Certificate, and he didn’t have to do it then. Other things happened that year too. When Dad contracted polio in October 1961 [that story to come] he could not do physical work for some time. I took over the mowing and loved it.

So, until we left home to marry, pretty well all the chores that Mum didn’t do fell to the three of us girls. My elder sister learned how to cook and I think my younger sister learned a bit of cooking too. They both did Home Economics at school, but I didn’t. I never did learn while I was living at home I wasn’t at all interested in cooking or sewing – I’d much rather do the mowing and other outdoor work.

Old Victa lawn mower

Old Victa lawn mower – except I always wore shoes!

(c) Linda Visman

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