Cover of my second novel

December 3, 2017 at 4:29 pm | Posted in Australia, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, Publishing, Reading, Social mores, Writing | 14 Comments
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I am excited!

I will shortly receive a proof copy of my second coming-of-age Young Adult novel, Thursday’s Child, to go through and make sure it is ready for publication.

Here is the cover for the book – back, spine and front.

 

Book Cover Preview on CreateSpace

It is always rather thrilling to get to this stage.

 

 

 

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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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monday-memoir-badge

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

C is for Challenge

April 3, 2014 at 10:47 am | Posted in Family, Family History, Mental Health, Ways of Living | 24 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]

Warning sign -challenges ahead

Dad was always up for a challenge. Tell him he wasn’t up to doing something and he would make sure he did it, just to show he could.

In 1925, Dad turned four. During that year, he contracted pneumonia in both lungs and became gravely ill. He was nursed at home by his mother, there being limited hospital facilities at that time.

Sick child& teddy

One day, two of his aunts visited the bedroom where he lay. When they left, Dad heard one of them say to his mother,

“Oh Hannah, pray for the Lord to take him”.

When they left, his mother returned and knelt beside Dad’s bed. He felt a tear fall on his hand and looked up at his mother.

“Don’t worry, Mother,” he said. “I’m not going to die.”

It took a couple of months, but Dad recovered and became a very active, energetic lad.

In 1954 we came to Australia, where we lived in the Illawarra area of  NSW. In 1961,  almost the last polio epidemic raged through the district. My little brother, then my older sister, then Dad contracted the disease. Dad was the worst affected and doctors wanted to put him in an iron lung so he could keep breathing.

Iron-Lung

He refused to let them and gained their agreement that, if he survived the night, he wouldn’t have to go into one.

“I wasn’t going to live the rest of my life in an iron lung,” he later told me. “What kind of life is that?”

Old wheelchair

He lived. However, a specialist told him he would never walk again and that he was to remain in bed or, at best, in a wheelchair. Dad wouldn’t have that. A friend drove him to an appointment with the specialist one day and Dad walked into his rooms on crutches. The doctor became angry and said, “If you won’t do as you’re told, I wash my hands of you”.

Dad went to another doctor, who organised a body brace and full leg caliper for him (both made of steel and leather) so he could walk more easily. A friend also made him steel crutches.

Dad made an amazing recovery, forcing his muscles to do what he wanted of them. He had been a concreting contractor in the building industry – heavy labour. Within less than two years, still in his steel supports,  he was at work making moulds for  concrete columns, balustrades and stepping stones. As he got stronger, he was making them from concrete. Soon,  could do without braces at all.

Balustrades

In 2008, at the age of 86, Dad suffered a perforated bowel during a colonoscopy. He was operated on, but acquired almost every infection possible, including septicaemia, peritonitis and bi-lateral pneumonia. He became incoherent and suffered at least two heart attacks. He’d never had any heart problems before, but the massive infections were too much.

Medical staff said he wouldn’t make it and our family maintained a bedside vigil day and night. Dad turned 87 during this time. One day, when we were all gathered around his bed – he was virtually comatose, my sister softly told him “You can go now if you like Dad. You can go and be with Mum.”

Somehow, that message got through. However, it didn’t have the effect my sister expected. Over the next week, Dad rallied. He amazed the doctors, one of whom called him “my miracle patient”.

“Nobody’s going to tell me I can go to your mum,” he told me later. “It’s not time for me to die yet. I’ve too much to do.”

Dad in rehab, 2 weeks after leaving Intensive Care.

Dad in rehab, 2 weeks after leaving Intensive Care.

Dad went on to rehab and then home, where he lived alone (with family help) for another five years. He fell one night as he was going to the bathroom and broke his hip. He died six weeks later, just six days before his 92nd birthday. He had tried to rise to this challenge too, positive as  always, but it was the final one, the one he couldn’t win.

He is my inspiration. Ernest Thompson, 1921-2013

 

How do you respond to challenges? Do you quail, or do you step up and meet them with determination? Do you have someone to whom you look up in times of personal challenge?

 

© Linda Visman 03.04.14

 

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