Sun Days


Way back in the days of my youth, before the hole in the ozone layer appeared, before we thought too much about global warming and the knowledge of my own mortality lay somewhere in the distant future, I was a sun worshipper. I wasn’t alone of course, all of us here in the land downunder spent summers tanning. No such thing as 15 spf in those days, we had things like coppertone and our favourite, coconut oil.

Despite the days spent lying on a footpath turning every fifteeen minutes and slow basting in the sun I can only remember two really serious sunburns. One occurred one summer school holidays when I had a job watering the greens at the local golf course. Out in the sun all day for weeks I ended up badly blistered on my chest from the sunburn. I think I was about 16 then, about the age I was in the photo here.

The second time was an Australia Day weekend in January 1978 when I spent the holiday weekend with mates at Torquay on what is now called the “Surf Coast“. That was a blistering weekend too only that time it was the shoulders that copped it.

Mum would make up a concoction of tomatoes and vinegar and bathe the sunburnt areas with it. I have no idea what that did except disguise the summer smell of sweaty feet. My sister Karen and I used to have a competition each summer to see which one of us would get brownest and on most occasions it was me who won. Maybe she was more sensible than I was, but after the first few weeks of a normal summer I no longer burnt I did just go darker with each passing day in the sun. I hated that my skin was the type that pretty soon returned to normal once we went back to school in February.

Around 8 years ago I had a sqamous cell carcinoma cut from my right collar bone. On Friday I had something that looked pretty similar cut from my left shoulder. I get the results next Friday, but I guess it is the price of those many early Sun Days.

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21 Comments

  1. September 16, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    I hope you get good news on the biopsy.I grew up in the Caribbean, and despite having a mom who made us wear Noxzema on our face, back and shoulders, I still got sunburn from time to time. My mom placed vinegar-soaked cloths on the sunburned parts and it always seemed to relieve the pain. I don’t know how it worked, but it did. I had not heard of tomato being used for that, though.

  2. September 16, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Sorry to hear that, Loz, but glad that you get it taken care of quickly. Skin cancer is definitely not something to fool around with. Seems we are always paying the price for some of our more youthful adventures. If only we knew back then what we know now, huh? But then of course we’d just make different mistakes. I remember frying in coconut oil too, and my mother also used brown vinegar to help heal the sunburn. Stunk to high heavens but it seemed to work. Most of us have given up sun worshipping now. I gotta play vampire and come out at nights only – having lupus, much exposure to the sun makes me really sick. Hope you heal quickly, Loz, we care about you!

  3. Cynthia said,

    September 16, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    I’ll keep you in my prayers that it’s not cancerous. Here in the American South, you still find sun worshippers, and a tan is still considered a summer must. I’ve learned my lessons though. I’ve never been able to tan, despite loving the water, the beach, the lake, the river or poolside, all of that. In about an hour I’ll be lobster red with water blisters. In the seventies, our favorite suntan lotion was straight baby oil. SPF, we scoffed, then. I use 45 now.

  4. HollyGL said,

    September 16, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    Oh, Loz, I hope everything is okay. When I was in the fifth grade, I used to go to the beach every Sunday with my best friend and her family. It was an all day affair, and every Sunday night I would have water blisters on my cheeks and shoulders from sun exposure.Those were my worst sunburns. As I got older I was really aware of sun exposure, and careful about it. Please let us know the results of the test as soon as you do.By the way, if you had gone to my high school, I wouldn’t have known what to do with myself I would have been so head over heels!! 🙂

  5. Loz said,

    September 16, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    Boricua – I think we need to revisit a lot of these old time remedies. Funny I didn’t even remember about the vinegar until I started writing the post.

  6. Loz said,

    September 16, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    Josie – one of my work colleagues used to put vegetable oil on and she too has had a few skin cancers in the past few years. And thank you for caring.

  7. Loz said,

    September 16, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    Cynthia – I don’t think we knew what SPF was in those days. But I also don’t think the sun was as harsh. I could stay out in it most days and not end up with bad burns, particularly after the first two or three weeks of summer.

  8. Loz said,

    September 16, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    Steph – can you see me blushing? I will of course let everyone know and I appreciate all those who care.

  9. Random Magus said,

    September 17, 2007 at 2:10 am

    Hey Loz hope everything is fine. I have darker skin so never suffered from sun burns…PS: Great photo 🙂

  10. Loz said,

    September 17, 2007 at 2:22 am

    Amber – thank you and whatever it is I’ll be fine. :)I was sitting here thinking about those surf coast trips and on the one I mentioned we travelled down there in a mini moke – four of us in a two seater, myself and one of the other guys sitting on a tent in the back tray hanging on the roll bars. No wonder we burnt.If anyone doesn’t know what a moke was let me know and I’ll reveal all.

  11. JaniceNW said,

    September 17, 2007 at 6:45 am

    I hope the biopsy is benign. I had a basal cell area removed from my nose over 10 years ago with no recurrence. Though since I turned 40 weird things have been happening on my skin, little flat bumps, new moles, weird coloration. Aging sucks sometimes!

  12. Finn said,

    September 17, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    Been there, done that myself. Good luck hon. xo

  13. September 17, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    Loz, hope all goes well, my thoughts are with you.I too layed on concrete all day just for a tan – I coated myself in Baby Oil. Stupid Stupd Stupid. I have had 8 removed and I am not 40 yet!

  14. Gypsy said,

    September 19, 2007 at 10:58 am

    I hope you get good results Loz. I’m like just about everyone else. Baked myself to a crisp just to “look good” with a nice brown tan. I’m lucky I don’t look like a leather purse now that I’m well in my 40’s.And woohoo on the pic. Bet you were popular with the fairer sex :)PS At least you won’t have to explain to this Aussie what a moke is. Great fun in the summer. Do they still make them? I haven’t seen one in years.

  15. Loz said,

    September 19, 2007 at 11:15 pm

    Janice – aging does suck but the key word you use is sometimes. I’d still rather grow old, it’s way better than the alternative 🙂

  16. Loz said,

    September 19, 2007 at 11:16 pm

    Thank you Finn.Lady Penelope – my kids still think it’s cool to tan despite what I tell them, but what would us old folk know eh?

  17. Loz said,

    September 19, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    Gypsy – Actually I wasn’t. I was way too shy to be popular.And you’re right now I think of it. I haven’t seen a moke for years either

  18. September 20, 2007 at 12:45 am

    That is scary. I think we all had a bit of naive bliss when it came to suntanning and “playing out in the sun” as I always did as a child. I have had a bizillion sun burns in my time and it’s really quite sad that we never really knew how dangerous that was until the late 80s or so. You know, hubby and I once got a sunburn on an overcast day in California. That definitely shows how scary the sun can be!

  19. Dorothy said,

    September 20, 2007 at 9:45 am

    My two granddaughters 18 and 19 are sun worshipers, I’m going to have them read your post. Good luck with the results.I did the same in my day, gratefully no bad results yet. Dorothy from grammology

  20. meleah said,

    September 20, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    I took spent many a day in coconut oil and even bay oil basking in all my tan-ness… I REALLY hope that you get GOOD news and that it’s nothing serious.

  21. MotherPie said,

    September 21, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    We all were sun worshipers, then. Now the dermatologist is our best friend.Most places are benign.


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