Deb’s School Daze – Bennettswood State School Part 5

Deb finally got her Primary School memories to me and here it is –

So the challenge this time is all about our Primary school years which were spent at Bennettswood primary school. Bennettswood primary school ran off Station Street and Burwood Highway and we skirted directly into it via numerous windy roads and side streets.
I must admit my memories of primary school are fairly dim but I will try to recall as much detail as possible here.

I actually don’t ever remember Mum taking me to school. However, that would seem strange, particularly as I started at the age of 5 – I would imagine she had some time where she did so. Although having said that, I guess life was a lot simpler back then and seemingly there weren’t as many crimes or criminals to worry about. I do vaguely recall the episode that Karen spoke about taking Karen, me, Annette & Joanne to school (I think) one day, in Mum’s car and we turned from Eley Road left into Station Street and Annette went flying out the back door. There were no seat belts in those days and obviously the door wasn’t locked and she went flying out. I recall the laughter and the subsequent embarrassment from Annette – but I’m guessing she was absolutely fine or there would have been more problems.

As Karen and Laurie were much older than me, I actually spent nearly, or all of my primary school years walking to and from school. It was actually a fair hike to go in those days. I remember getting home around 4.00pm of an afternoon, so I’m guessing it was about a ½ hour – 45 minute walk. I do remember that I didn’t like doing it on my own, and would hang around outside the corridors after the bell went to see who I could walk home with. My favourite people were Sally Whitcher and Susan although I can’t remember her surname at the top of my head. The only problem with both of them was also that they didn’t have to go the whole way and Sally’s place was out of the way a bit, but at least it gave me some company.
Again I’m guessing, but I think there was probably around 500 – 600 kids that went to our school. It was a friendly school, well mostly. I do recall one incident with a young girl; I think we were in about Grade 3 who got teased a lot. This was simply because she was Italian decent and her name was Giovanni – which was of course a hard name to have in an evidently typical Anglo Saxon school. The kids were teasing and teasing her and eventually it upset me and I made friends with her and told them to back off.   We did of course have other kids from other descents as well, but mostly we were all white Anglo Saxon and you got away with having other unusual names if you were part of the “popular kids”.
We wore uniforms – they were green and white striped dresses and we had jumpers as well. I can’t remember what we did in Winter time, although I’m guessing that let us wear pants. I was certainly happy that by the time I got to Bennettswood I at least didn’t have to wear the silly hat that my sister wore and I was allowed to wear my hair long – again unlike Karen who had to have the short boys hair cut. I usually wore my hair tied up in pigtails and would put a green ribbon in them.
Winter time – I remember going to the school canteen at lunchtime and ordering a tomato soup which cost about 10c and certainly did help to warm us up. For Summer, the order of the day was a Frosted Sunny Boy and again it was only about 10c. In the very early days of my primary school life the school provided fresh milk for us in a bottle and we had to drink it. That was O.K. in winter time, but in Summer time, when they had been left out in the sunshine, it was bloody horrible, as the top of the milk had turned to cream. We were still forced to drink it.
I also recall an incident with my Grade 4 teacher – who up until that point I had thought a really lovely lady. Something had happened to her overnight and my memories of the actual event she described are really vague. However, she was keeping us in and accusing all of us of doing this “wrong thing”. She kept looking at me throughout the day and was “saying Debra, if you know anything about this, you have to confess”. The day dragged on and it came to the end of the day where she had decided to keep us all in after school. I just remembered that if I ever got detention I was going to be in some serious bother. So after about the 3rd or 4th time that she accused me, I actually “fessed up” and said, it was me. As I’ve said, I have no memory about what it was, although a vague recollection of perhaps some menacing phone calls to her overnight. I don’t know why I would have volunteered that I was guilty about a crime I didn’t commit, except to say that I was really terrified of Mum thinking I had ever been given detention. After that she let us all go home, gave me a very stern warning not to do it again and we were allowed to go home. After that, I never did like her again, and I think she probably felt the same about me!
I recall a terrifying incident one winter’s day while at primary school. It was pouring with rain; it must have rained so hard that I can recall the smell of my woolen jumper being wet. I walked out after the bell went and started to walk home – well really just got past the main buildings and was walking down the driveway. The rain was absolutely pelting down and the wind was howling. I had my umbrella up and was trying to shelter myself from not only the rain but the driving wind that was almost pushing me off my feet. With that I caught a great gust of wind and my umbrella turned inside out. You know when you see someone like that; you have a laugh, only this time it definitely wasn’t funny. As quick as a wink, one of the spikes on the umbrella literally stabbed me in the eye. I knew it was bad, because I couldn’t see out of that eye due to the amount of blood that was pouring out. By the time it had happened, there appeared not to be anyone around and I was getting panicky that I was seriously hurt and couldn’t find anyone. I managed to get myself back up to the school buildings and couldn’t find any teachers. Eventually still with the blood pouring out, I made my way to the office and there was someone still there. They took me inside and got me to sit down and held a cloth to my eye. They phoned Mum – and I had to wait probably around the ½ hour or 45 minutes it took her to drive to school. She flew into the office and got me in the car and off we went to see Doctor Hewitt – our family GP in Box Hill. Doctor Hewitt said I was a really lucky girl that if the spike had have entered 1 mm either side of my pupil I probably would have ended up blind. As it was, it just missed the main spot and I only had to wear a patch for a couple of days. Now when it’s too windy as well as rainy, I don’t bother with the brolly, I’d rather get wet.
I remember getting together with some of my girlfriends and creating dances – mostly to Susie Quatro. We would choreograph a dance and then all get together to make sure we had done it properly. I think I was always secretly annoyed that my sister did Ballet and I was never allowed to. Mum only let me choose “one thing” as an after school activity and for me that was Brownies and then Girl Guides.
I remember Grade 6 where I guess we had the first of the “muck up” days that the kids have now. The only difference being that ours was simply a day of dress up’s – I guess that tradition has carried on. I can’t remember what I dressed up as, but I do know that I have some photographs of my friends. A vague recollection is that I might have been one of the band “Kiss” members, but I’m not sure if I’m remembering me or my friends.
My favourite classes at Bennettswood were cooking – funny that I definitely didn’t like that tradition, once I grew up! I loved bringing home the bits that I cooked during the day and asking Mum and Dad to taste them. I don’t remember them going back for seconds, so I guess I wasn’t very good at it even then.
The other classes I loved were Art, Art, and more Art. Like my brother and sister before me, I was of the “arty” type. Although unlike Laurie, I couldn’t actually draw from my imagination – I became a really good copier and you could put a picture in front of me and generally I was able to replicate it. As I grew older and became better at my construction of the human body, mostly in pencil, I lost my natural ability to do a face, so replicated many poses of males and females all without faces. Maybe I should have obscured them a bit more and had a shot at becoming the next Picasso.
I was also a pretty good runner while I was at Bennettswood – I entered most running competitions and was known to win a lot of the sprints. Not much of a long distance runner, but had a good stride on me. I did also do Little Athletics (so I guess I did two after school activities at one stage) maybe that helped me. Or perhaps it was Dad who did run in the Stawell Gift one year. I also entered all of the hurdle competitions and the high jump. In primary school in the high jump I got through to the inter school sports and won and then got selected to go into the interstate sports. Unfortunately at that point, I was disqualified because I used to actually hurdle the high jump – I had no idea how to do the scissor jump, but could get just as far as anyone else by hurdling, so at that stage none of my teachers had picked me up on technique. I was bitterly disappointed to get no further.
Primary school was O.K. for me – I passed everything at that stage although began my dislike for subjects such as Math at this early stage. It really was just the stepping stone for me to move into high school and I couldn’t wait to be the big girl.

Deb’s Home

So the challenge this week is about Richardson Street and where we grew up in Box Hill South. I’d like to firstly talk about the irony of that. When I married in 1987 to Andrew I became a “Richardson” and now we live in Richard Drive. People always comment on that – when I fill in an application form or put down a layby as if I have never heard the comments before and it is always a first! I always comment back that is was lucky I never called any of my 3 sons Richard.
So, where to begin? Richardson Street Box Hill South was a lovely neighbourhood to grow up in. Mum and Dad always mentioned that when they moved out there it was considered in “the sticks” and Nana and Grandad and Nana and Pa said that they would need a cut lunch to get there. Funny how in later years when I married and moved to Cranbourne, they gave the same comment to me and that they had used places like Cranbourne to visit and share a picnic.
We lived on a corner in Richardson Street, right next door to Massey Street. As Laurie has commented on previous blogs, our neighbors were our “Aunties and Uncles” and that was both sides, both Richardson Street and Massey Street.

Our house was a modest brick veneer and timber house. It had a lovely timber low fence but one of the outside features I loved the most, was the entry into the house, which was a small gate next to the letterbox that had two hedges growing either side of it that had grown over the top and formed a canopy. We had a little pathway then that wound its way up to the front porch. Our front porch was concreted in later years with a lovely verandah and we spent many hours on the front porch playing with Barbie dolls, talking or just sitting there with Mum and Dad. In years to come, our kids often sat out and played there with us. It did frighten me though when my kids came along as there were no posts or fences to stop them from falling over the porch. It was just a steep climb up and had two sets of stairs going down either side of it. I remember Karen & Laurie and Mum & Dad talking about when it was built and the rats that went running across the porch in their disturbance. Luckily, I’m pretty sure I don’t actually have the memories of seeing them.
Our garden had a couple of special things that formed part of it that I also loved. We had a magnificent tree in the front yard that Dad attached tyres to that we were able to swing in. It provided a beautiful amount of shade in the hot summers that we could sit under and that’s when we ventured off the porch onto the garden chairs of that tree.  It was also one of Dad’s bug bears as it dropped a lot of its leaves and Dad was always raking them up and then setting fire to the pile once he had enough to do so. We also had a gorgeous purple magnolia tree that sat to the side of the front porch; it was always one of my favourite flowers even though it was nude in winter. And then, right up the back of the garden was another of my favourite plants and still is today, an enormous Bird Of Paradise. I always thought that I’d take some of that plant when we left Richardson Street, but we were unable to do so.
The other part of my memories of the outside of our house was the vents at the top of the brick veneer right under the roof line. They lined the whole side of the house and we always had birds nesting in there. I often found baby birds that had fallen out of their nests. Some of them I was able to bring to a healthy age where they could fly away, others didn’t last the distance. But I often remember the shoe box, and the eye dripper that I would feed it from after digging up some worms in the garden as well. The shoe boxes were kept in the outside laundry that was attached to the back of the house as Mum wouldn’t let me keep them inside. She did however let me attempt to raise them, so I can be grateful of that. When it was Winter Time I would rug up the cold laundry and keep the door shut in an attempt to keep out the wind from getting to my creatures. I guess this is where I started my love affair with animals and birds.
So into the house we go. When you walked into the front door, after knocking (no such thing as door bells for us) you immediately entered the dining room to the left and the lounge to the right. A big open plan space. We had terrible brown swirled carpet that was there for as long as I can remember. I was told that Mum & Dad covered up the beautiful timber floor boards and I assume that is probably the first thing that the new owners ripped up in the house. We had white venetian blinds throughout the house. In later years they were covered by very bright, bright orange lace like curtains that sat over the front of the Venetians. It was a very 70’s style house and we were right up there in fashion. We had a gorgeous old brown leather lounge suite that consisted of two armchairs and a couch. They had timber arms, but it was really comfy and I think it would suite my house today if we still had it. The biggest expensive in the loungeroom was the “Parker” brand furniture. Mum was really proud of her Parker furniture and her and Dad gave me the bar when they moved out of Richardson Street. Even though she was dismayed to see that I had stripped it back and painted it (several times) I think she was happy that I had it. They had two bar stools in front of it that matched the orange curtains with orange cushions. Dad would spend many an hour sitting on those bar stools, drinking his VB at the bar. So much so, that for a joke one year he was given a horse riding helmet for the times that he would fall asleep and fall off the bar stools. This was so he wouldn’t hit his head, being that he was such a small skinny man. The Parker furniture continued into the TV cabinet that also was our crystal cabinet and we now have to decide what to do with that now Mum has passed away. We were very up to date with the Joneses and our new furniture.
One of the features of the loungeroom was our gas heater that replaced the old open fire. Again, I’m pretty sure the gas heater would have been pulled out by the new neighbours and returned to its former glory. Beside that we had an open cavity that we used to put all of our newspapers in that in olden days would have held the timber for the open fire. But above the fireplace was a beautiful timber shelf that ran the length of that wall. This was where we would show all of our cards for each occasion, birthdays, Christmas’s etc. And above the fire timber mantle was a painting that Laurie bought for Mum & Dad of an ocean scene. From memory he bought it out of his first pay packet as a special present for Mum & Dad. I remember it having a really heavy gaudy gold frame, but it was a richly painted scene of some waves splashing across rocks. I loved that painting.
Into the dining room and we had a gorgeous antique table that seated 6 of us, so plenty of room for all of us. This was surrounded by some gorgeous high backed chairs covered in an antique furnishing that was later given to Laurie. Also in the Dining Room we had my pride and joy – my Nana Joyce’s piano. Nana Joyce gave it to me on my 12th birthday, on the proviso that I learnt to play the piano. I did and learnt for around 5 years before I gave it up. Unfortunately I think mostly because my teacher was this old fuddy duddy lady living in a house full of antiques (and Toby Jugs that scared me) and if she ever heard me playing anything other than what she wanted me to learn, it was a quick wrap across the fingers and a stern warning to stop “jingling”. The piano is German, French polished, with matching antique brass candelabras. Unfortunately Mum thought it was a great place to hold all of her indoor plants of which there were many. This consequently lifted the French polishing and is still yet to be restored today.
From the Dining Room we had a servery into the kitchen. Underneath that window, we had a cute little hall stand that held our telephone – the old black, turn dial phone and underneath it held the phone books. It had a little stool on it that we could sit when talking to someone on the phone. This certainly wasn’t a time of mobile phones or hands free one’s. if you were having a conversation, you just had to put up with everyone else listening. Mum & Dad would always be spread out on the dining table doing their bets. They loved to have “a flutter” (their words) on the horses, so much so that every Saturday, Dad would be up with the sparrows, having had his breakfast at the head of the table, and then Mum would race up to East Burwood to put their bets on. I often went with her because I would go into the newsagency and buy a magazine.

The kitchen was quite tiny and awkward. It continued the terrible brown swirl carpet into there. I was never quite sure why we did that as the carpet was always filthy from the kitchen cooking. It had laminated cupboards that Mum painted several times over. I think they started out a green colour and then eventually were painted a light brown. There were a few overheads so we did seem to have plenty of storage space. We had an upright fridge, I think it might have been a Westinghouse, and it was black. A very groovy colour that again, I wish we had today. The oven was a standing oven, electric with electric hot plates and I always hated bending over to get things out of the oven. I strongly recall Christmas days where Karen, Shirley and I would be in the kitchen using the mix master to mix up cream for the desserts. I can’t tell you how many times the cream got curdled because we talked too much.

The kitchen had a small verandah off it going out the backdoor and again down a set of (timber this time) stairs into the back yard. When we had our birds, they would always hang outside the kitchen door during the day and then be bought in to live on top of the fridge of a night time.
After leaving the dining/lounge room, we had a door that entered the hallway. Off the hallway was Mum & Dads room to the right, with Laurie’s room to the left. Next to Laurie’s room was the toilet (a separate one) and then the bathroom. Opposite the bathroom was the room I shared with Karen until she got married and then I was old enough to buy my first double bed and have a room to myself. Again each room had venation blinds in them with a lace type curtain over the top. I find I’m struggling to remember the colour in our bedroom, but I think it was green. Karen and I had matching single “Queen Ann” beds – very pretty timber old fashioned style. We also had a matching Queen Ann dressing table that sat in between us with a mirror and two drawers, one for each of us. We had matching green coloured quilts that sat over the top of our beds. In later years Mum bought me a whole new set of linen that was Laura Ashley, pink, frilly with lots of flowers and cushions that I fell in love with. I remember thinking our green quilts were pretty daggy. Our bedroom had floral wallpaper as a feature wall. It had large pink flowers on it. It was a very girly bedroom. When we would spend our childhood years going to the show every year, I would always come home with a doll on a stick and I would hang them from the venation blinds for show. We both had a double wardrobe each, which was pretty roomy, although again I’ll mention I probably spent more time in Karen’s than mine.
Bamby our gorgeous poodle would sleep on my bed every night with me. I had a sliding door to my bedroom to save space and he would “bail up” anyone that tried to pass the door of a nighttime in protection for me. Mum told me he wouldn’t let Grandad Smith go to the toilet one night as he was almost passing my door.
From our bedroom we would go out the back door to the outside laundry and down another set of timber stairs and into the backyard. I won’t mention too much about the backyard as I think Karen and Laurie have already talked about the famous BBQ that Dad would always cook. But aside from that, we had a shed a Hills Hoist clothes line and every Summer an above ground pool for our entertainment. We also had an outdoor fold up table and umbrella and we would venture out there and spend our days in the sunshine. Especially Dad, who would again, enjoy his VB in the sun, and fall asleep in his white singlet (funny they have made a come back hey kids) and with a tied up in the corner handkerchief covering his bald head so he wouldn’t get sun stroke. He did however also have a spot of Savlon on his adams apple placed on almost every day as he was convinced he had skin cancer. Probably as a result of falling asleep too many times outside.
Our friends were always welcome in Richardson Street. They were allowed to have sleep overs and visit whenever they wanted and I think Mum & Dad enjoyed a house full. Christmas was always at our house, with our spindly little Christmas tree, filled with buckets of presents underneath it and always with the spare one’s “in case” we had extra visitors we didn’t know about.
At the same time, growing up also had its fair share of some sad moments. Mum and Dad were notorious for arguing. Big, loud, strong arguments that would send me to bed with a pillow over my head as they would yell so much. Mostly it was about Dad drinking too much. I was always scared that I would wake up and find that Mum had murdered Dad over night over one of their arguments. She certainly ruled the house.
Then when boyfriends came along, they would go to bed reasonably early to ensure we had some privacy. But it was only a matter of time, before Mum would decide that they had been there long enough, and we had been on our own long enough, that would start the knocking on the loungeroom/her bedroom wall. We would have to excuse ourselves and go down and see what she wanted. Inevitably we were told “that’s enough now, it’s time for so and so to go home”.
Mum was a very strict Mum in Richardson Street. We had curfews even though I ignored most of them, particularly when I became a policewoman and tried to tell her I had grown up enough. Dad however, would always ensure I had money. He would follow me out to my car, whenever I was going out and put his hand out and hold mine and slip in a $10 or $20 note. He would tell me that he had “had a win love, here’s some petrol money!” These were the wins that he wouldn’t tell Mum about.
By the time Mum & Dad were moving out of Richardson Street, the place was falling around their ears.  It was hard to believe that a lifetime of smoking had seriously changed the colour of the walls and ceiling. They were cream when they should have been white. Again, days of smoking inside were totally acceptable.
As pensioners they had no money to do the much needed renovations, rewiring should have been doing, plumbing fixed, a bathroom and kitchen renovation that was never going to happen whilst they still lived there. So they sold up and moved into Karen & Gerry’s. Little did we all know that instead of the $110,000 they got for the sale of Richardson Street, would have turned into nearly a million dollars had we have waited and held onto it. Who knew Box Hill would have graduated that far?

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.

Deb’s early years

Well the challenge went out to my sisters to start telling their story and what they remember and it’s interesting for me to see what Deb has been prompted to write about.  So I’ll post hers first, Karen’s will come at some time and me, being the oldest will try and fill in some of the gaps as we work through this exercise.   This is for our kids, so we can give them the echoes of our childhoods before they fade as echoes do.

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Debra Richardson

The first 5 years

So the challenge is about the things I remember in my first 5 years of life!
Well, that’s a hard one to remember back over 40 years.


The first thing that comes into my head is remembering sharing a bedroom with my big sister. I loved that. Although I’m sure she didn’t! as I go older I did such things as going through her wardrobe and borrowing her clothes and trying to make out that I didn’t. I’m sure that didn’t endear me to her.

I remember living in Box Hill and sharing the house with Mum & Dad and my brother Laurie and my sister Karen.
Our house was quite modest, had been painted and wall papered by Mum – which is I guess where I get that talent from.

I remember having our dogs although I can’t remember how old I was when we got our miniature poodle Bamby who I loved desperately. I do recall being told about Noddy, our golden Labrador and how he would sit under my pram and mind me every time I was placed outside. I’m not sure though that I have actual memories of that.

I remember being ill several times in the first part of my life. I remember vaguely being minded by my cousin Cheryl and getting really sick and taken to Fairfield Infectious Diseases hospital. I asked Mum only about a year ago why did I go to an infectious diseases hospital. She simply replied that I was really sick running a temperature etc and I was taken there. I asked her but why infectious diseases and she said “just because!”. I still find that weird for instance why wouldn’t I have been taken to simply another hospital like the Royal Children’s hospital?

I clearly remember going to hospital to have my tonsils taken out. I was about 3 years of age and Mum took me to hospital, I think it was Box Hill Hospital where I was born. I remember Mum sewing me a new nighty and dressing gown it was blue with pretty flowers on it and lace around the collars and hem and she also made one to match for my white teddy bear which I took everywhere with me. I remember the Doctors holding a mask to my face and telling me it was fairy medicine and I would go to sleep and dream of fairies, which I’m pretty sure I did. I remember Mum picking me up and driving me home in the old car and stopping at a milk bar somewhere and she went in and bought me banana flavoured toothpaste and a new toothbrush.

I went to Bennettswood Primary school, but don’t have a lot of memories of my first year. I do remember some of my primary years and some of my friends there. One notable memory was of a girl there Giovanni who no-one liked and everyone was teasing her because she was a “wog” – I took her under my wing and made sure she had people to talk to and play with. Even then, kids were cruel. I also remember one day down at the oval playing sport, when suddenly the teachers yelled at all of us to “get down, lie down, lie down” – we were getting swooped by magpies, it must have been breading season. Unfortunately one of the boys, Kevin Bond got swooped and pecked in the back of his head. He was bleeding everywhere and had a fairly large hole in the back of his head. I am still very wary of magpies now as an adult and it must have been due to that incident. Kevin Bond was a kid who’s great-grandfather (?) was the captain of the Titanic. I remember Kevin had a locket with his grandfather’s photo in it.
I remember walking to school, although I’m not sure if I did when I was that young. In later years I certainly did. I remember two things about that, one was that I had to walk down a lane way to get to Eley Road and it frightened me all of the time. So much so, that I imagined people jumping out and getting me and often ran the length of that laneway to get to the road. The other thing I recall when I was in primary school was walking home one day and seeing some UFO’s. I was with other children and there were quite a few flashing objects in the sky – from my recollection about 6 or 7 of them. They definitely weren’t planes and they appeared for several minutes. Many of us just stopped I the street and stared at them. In my excitement, I couldn’t wait to get home and tell Mum and Dad that night. It was in the papers the next day – I don’t know what they said, but I obviously wasn’t the only one that saw them.
I remember getting home from school and making myself a snack of Vegemite on toast and being excited about Mum getting home from work. I always met her at the front door or on the porch when I heard her car. She would always say “let me get in first”. She would then take off her coat, put her bag down, start dinner and then have the time to ask me about my day. I wondered why she seemed flustered by my greeting, but realize as an adult, my kids did the same thing and I often heard myself saying “let me get in first”.

I don’t remember much about TV in my early years, other than the fact that we had a black and white telly and it used to be fuzzy a lot. I also recall the “test page” appearing on TV after dark, when the telly stopped of a night time. I do remember one of my favourite shows being “Treasure Island” – but I don’t know how old I was. Mum entered me into a competition and as a prize I was sent out postcard/photos of the crew and they had all signed it. I thought that was fantastic. I wish I still had them.

We lived opposite our “aunty & uncle” Aunty Hazel & Uncle Andy. I always thought they had a beautiful house – a little white one that was always immaculate. We always walked through the back door, to get into their house which took us through the kitchen. I don’t remember why we never went through the front door of their house. I was friends with one of their Daughters Judith and we had several trips away over the years with Mum and Aunty Hazel. Most notable were the trips to Bonnie Doon and the Star Glen ranch where Mum and Aunty Hazel would stay inside all day by the open fire and Judith and I would go trail riding on the horses. I rode a beautiful ex-racehorse Madam a big black girl, who would play up on everyone except me when she took riders out. Uncle Andy worked for a lolly place and every time I went over there he would give us bags of lollies to take home. I loved that! Judith loved horses and I have a memory of her running outside to cuddle a horse one day who was riding down the middle of our street. She was hurt as she cuddled its backside and it kicked her in the head. That didn’t stop her from still loving them. I also remember Judith unintentionally hurting me too one day. Again I don’t remember the age I was, but we were playing in our backyard on the swing set when I stopped to go inside and get us a snack. As I was walking back to the swings, I was telling Judith to stop swinging whilst I was walking up and she didn’t. I was consequently struck in the back of the head by one of the steel posts that you put your feet on. I needed stitches in the back of my head.
The other “aunties and uncles” that lived next door to us where “Aunty Claire and Uncle Bill”. They also had two daughters – one closer to Karen – Annette and Joanne was closer to my age. They had a lovely house in Massey Street and I was jealous that they had their own rooms. I remember Aunty Claire did a lot of cooking, there was always something cooking every time I went there. Especially at Christmas where they made many things. The thing about Christmas that I loved a their house was that they used to hang chocolate decorations to their tree and every time I came across I was allowed to “take one” home with me.
I remember Summer time with friends and family – always in the immaculate outdoor above ground pools that Dad kept immaculately clean. He spent many hours outside cleaning and would then encourage us to get in and create “whirlpools” so that he could scoop up any leaves etc.  I remember outdoor BBQ’s – again Dad’s domain as he was the “outdoor king” firing up the Barbie, cooking the snags and sunning himself in his white singlet and handkerchief hat.
Birthdays – I definitely couldn’t say I remember any from under 5 years. I have however seen photos so am a little unsure as to whether my memories are real or those perceived from looking at photos. I do however, think that I was given my first “walking doll” – she was a beautiful doll with black hair, a bride, and you held her hands and she walked. Nana gave her to me and it was either for my birthday or Christmas. In later years I remember thinking she wasn’t as beautiful as I had thought when I first got her. Her hair was very wiry and I guess they simply improved the production of dolls over the years.

Kaz

In December last year my first little sister turned 50 which makes me feel old.  My other sister and I decided that we would do a photo book for her and it ended up taking much longer than I thought it would.  However, it was done, arrived a couple of weeks ago and we gave it to her the following weekend, late but I hope worth the wait.

My sister Deb and I both wrote a foreword and I am publishing that below.   First from Deb and then from me.

Dear Kaz,

Happy 50th birthday! Wow – where has the time gone! I remember when I was a little girl, how I always wanted to tag along with you and how I looked up to you and everything you did.

I remember being dressed up by Mum as “twins” and thinking that was the best thing in the world. (even though she says she didn’t!!) I remember watching you in your dancing costumes and wanting desperately to do that, even though I was a Brownie and not allowed to do 2 things. I remember watching you get ready for a night out and thinking how beautiful you were. I remember you teaching me how to pluck my eyebrows
 when I started to develop the mono brow and how terrible I thought it was.

I remember you teaching me about the facts of life, because Mum wouldn’t and taught how to use “women’s stuff”. I remember raiding your cupboard when I could and then emphatically denying it to you. I remember you always going out with boys, and being terribly lonely when it appeared I didn’t have as many as you did! I remember you and Shirley and our days at Corowa each year, and again, being really jealous because you were surrounded by boys.

I remember you kissing that boy in the swimming pool at Corowa and then “bribing you” to take me out or “I would tell Mum!” I then remember how you did take me to the movies at Corowa, but wouldn’t sit with me! I remember using that bribe over and over and you falling for it! I remember you coming back from America, so brown and tanned and wearing a gorgeous slender blue dress, with your green eyes peeping out at me, and I remember thinking, that’s just what I would do! And I did!

I remember your wedding and how gorgeous you looked. I also remembered that I caused  a real fuss over not wanting a flower on my waist! (And winning again!) I remember you & Gerry moving into your house – the church – and remember how horrified Mum & Dad were!

I remember thinking how lucky you were that “you had escaped!” I remember you giving me my 2nd nephew and how proud I was and how I didn’t think it would ever happen to me! I remember the first Christmas we had with Luke & Jacob – and how I spoilt both of them, with their own Christmas sacks – even though Santa had already bought them one!

I remember wondering whether you were proud of me when I joined the Police Force and that you couldn’t make it to my graduation being a sense of sadness, even though you had just given birth. I remember you having your subsequent babies and what a joy it was to have Jacob, Myles, Clayton (oh boy!) and then Shez. I remember thinking how incredibly lucky you were to have your 3 boys and then a beautiful daughter! I remember when Nana died and how sad we all were!

And I remember when Dad passed away and you weren’t there with us and how I wanted to hold you and cry with you! We did just that when you returned!  

I remember our family picnics. I remember our family holidays. I remember our family.  But most of all, I remember how lucky I am to have such a beautiful, caring, loving  BIG sister and how lucky I am to be younger than you! No seriously, how lucky I am,  just to have YOU!

Happy 50th Birthday Kaz, from the bottom of our hearts,
Deb, Andrew, Brody, Chase & Laine. xxxx

And from Me –
This photo book is not a record of my sister Karen’s life, it is however, a record of the life that Deb and I and our family and friends have shared with her.  Each photo is a snapshot of a point in time and collectively they paint a picture of that shared part of the first 50 years of her life.  And there is a lot revealed.

The photos are in no particular order and that is my fault because it was difficult to sort everything in a strictly chronological order but I also think in the end that it is a strength of the album because in turning each page there is a surprise to be had.

If you look closely you will see the simpler times spent growing up at Richardson Street, the bikes we got for Christmas one year, the swimming pool that Dad kept shifting around the yard and remember the times we’d spend going round and round in circles to form a whirlpool.  You’ll see the go-kart and some of the dress ups – Karen as Annie Oakley and me as the Sheriff, the two of us with the Hoogens wearing plastic buckets on our heads playing Zig and Zag.  There are first days at school, christenings, family days with our cousins and the barbecues and day trips with the Browns.    There are the birthday parties, one with Uncle Arthur walking around a circle of kids playing drop the hankie, and others where we blow out the candles.

There are some of Christmas and Easter holidays – Corowa, Koondrook, Eden and Narooma, wonderful times we all shared and have continued to share as our own families have grown up.

Study the black and white photos and you’ll see that old divan we lay on recovering from measles and mumps, the black and white Admiral TV set and the convaire briquette heater that cheered and warmed our winters.   There are the venetian blinds and later the orange curtains and the wall paper.   In the driveway are the many cars we’ve had, Dad’s old van, Mum’s Vauxhall, the Mini Minor that all five of us went to Adelaide in [I still don’t know how we fitted] and the Holden that I did 100 mph in on the road from Corowa to Howlong.

And as you watch the faces grow older through the pages, take note of the clothes.  See how Mum dressed us for a visit to Father Christmas in the City, Karen with Hat and gloves, me with bow tie and fedora.   Look at the photos of the 70’s as our hair  grew longer and trouser legs wider, and remember how even I wore the platform shoes.  Watch how Deb mimics her big sister through the years.   Look at some of the very bad paisley shirts and have a laugh at Karen’s short hair.

I wish I could include the smells and sounds of those times as well.    The Sunday roast dinners, the scones at Nana Joyce’s, the petrol Dad tipped down the open drains, the smell of cut grass and the fermenting apples as they fell from the trees in the front yard.    I remember Mum playing old records like the Ballad of Davey
Crockett and the Indian Love Call, the choruses of the Browns and Joyces singing that song about getting drunk, 3AK where no wrinklies fly, the XYZoo, Rick Melbourne and his wakeup calls on 3DB.

You’ll see the introduction of our partners to the family and the growth of the 11 grandkids we collectively gave Mum and Dad.  You can watch the parade of hairstyles that Karen and Deb have had over the years and note the disappearance of Gerry’s and latterly my own receding hairline.

There are also photos of those who we shared parts of our lives with who have either  passed away or moved onto other things and that is a reminder that each snapshot is a precious moment to be remembered and enjoyed for that reason alone.  It is a reminder that the future is not writ, that innocence, happiness and the sad times will sometimes creep upon us and at other times leap out and grab us by the jugular.   That hopes and dreams all change over time and what makes the future worth anticipating is not it’s predictability but the unknown factor, not fate, but the ability to choose for ourselves.


And not only people come and go in our lives.  We shared a lot of time with furkids over the years – Noddy, Bamby and Billy Jack, Chai, Spike, Bessie and Tuppy.    Pets  who were friends who did not judge us but always welcomed us home with wagging  tails.

I could write a story about every one of the photos contained in this book but that would make it the longest book ever written and don’t they say that every picture is worth a thousand words anyway?  And if I did that, it would become more my story than that of Karen @ 50.


Siblings have a special bond, more than friends, there are the shared experiences that make the relationship unique.  I am privileged to have two pretty good sisters [I don’t want your heads swelling too much] and to have been raised in a loving family.  We don’t pretend that everything was always perfect because in the end life isn’t really a fairy tale.  It’s the unexpected that keeps things interesting and the memories that provide the anchor which allows us to steady the ship in hard times and move forward knowing that family is the shelter we can turn to.

Thank you for being my sister Kaz.   Sorry I got you into trouble at times when we were growing up, but it was your fault that you climbed into the pram I was pushing down the hill.

There are of course many more years to come and many more photos to take, snapshots of lives we’ve been sharing for more than 50 years now.   I hope I’m around to do the second 50 years.

Love
Loz

Kaz

In December last year my first little sister turned 50 which makes me feel old.  My other sister and I decided that we would do a photo book for her and it ended up taking much longer than I thought it would.  However, it was done, arrived a couple of weeks ago and we gave it to her the following weekend, late but I hope worth the wait.

My sister Deb and I both wrote a foreword and I am publishing that below.   First from Deb and then from me.


Dear Kaz,

Happy 50th birthday! Wow – where has the time gone! I remember when I was a little girl, how I always wanted to tag along with you and how I looked up to you and everything you did.

I remember being dressed up by Mum as “twins” and thinking that was the best thing in the world. (even though she says she didn’t!!) I remember watching you in your dancing costumes and wanting desperately to do that, even though I was a Brownie and not allowed to do 2 things. I remember watching you get ready for a night out and thinking how beautiful you were. I remember you teaching me how to pluck my eyebrows
 when I started to develop the mono brow and how terrible I thought it was.

I remember you teaching me about the facts of life, because Mum wouldn’t and taught how to use “women’s stuff”. I remember raiding your cupboard when I could and then emphatically denying it to you. I remember you always going out with boys, and being terribly lonely when it appeared I didn’t have as many as you did! I remember you and Shirley and our days at Corowa each year, and again, being really jealous because you were surrounded by boys.

I remember you kissing that boy in the swimming pool at Corowa and then “bribing you” to take me out or “I would tell Mum!” I then remember how you did take me to the movies at Corowa, but wouldn’t sit with me! I remember using that bribe over and over and you falling for it! I remember you coming back from America, so brown and tanned and wearing a gorgeous slender blue dress, with your green eyes peeping out at me, and I remember thinking, that’s just what I would do! And I did!

I remember your wedding and how gorgeous you looked. I also remembered that I caused  a real fuss over not wanting a flower on my waist! (And winning again!) I remember you & Gerry moving into your house – the church – and remember how horrified Mum & Dad were!

I remember thinking how lucky you were that “you had escaped!” I remember you giving me my 2nd nephew and how proud I was and how I didn’t think it would ever happen to me! I remember the first Christmas we had with Luke & Jacob – and how I spoilt both of them, with their own Christmas sacks – even though Santa had already bought them one!

I remember wondering whether you were proud of me when I joined the Police Force and that you couldn’t make it to my graduation being a sense of sadness, even though you had just given birth. I remember you having your subsequent babies and what a joy it was to have Jacob, Myles, Clayton (oh boy!) and then Shez. I remember thinking how incredibly lucky you were to have your 3 boys and then a beautiful daughter! I remember when Nana died and how sad we all were!

And I remember when Dad passed away and you weren’t there with us and how I wanted to hold you and cry with you! We did just that when you returned!  

I remember our family picnics. I remember our family holidays. I remember our family.  But most of all, I remember how lucky I am to have such a beautiful, caring, loving  BIG sister and how lucky I am to be younger than you! No seriously, how lucky I am,  just to have YOU!

Happy 50th Birthday Kaz, from the bottom of our hearts,
Deb, Andrew, Brody, Chase & Laine. xxxx


And from Me –
This photo book is not a record of my sister Karen’s life, it is however, a record of the life that Deb and I and our family and friends have shared with her.  Each photo is a snapshot of a point in time and collectively they paint a picture of that shared part of the first 50 years of her life.  And there is a lot revealed.

The photos are in no particular order and that is my fault because it was difficult to sort everything in a strictly chronological order but I also think in the end that it is a strength of the album because in turning each page there is a surprise to be had.

If you look closely you will see the simpler times spent growing up at Richardson Street, the bikes we got for Christmas one year, the swimming pool that Dad kept shifting around the yard and remember the times we’d spend going round and round in circles to form a whirlpool.  You’ll see the go-kart and some of the dress ups – Karen as Annie Oakley and me as the Sheriff, the two of us with the Hoogens wearing plastic buckets on our heads playing Zig and Zag.  There are first days at school, christenings, family days with our cousins and the barbecues and day trips with the Browns.    There are the birthday parties, one with Uncle Arthur walking around a circle of kids playing drop the hankie, and others where we blow out the candles.

There are some of Christmas and Easter holidays – Corowa, Koondrook, Eden and Narooma, wonderful times we all shared and have continued to share as our own families have grown up.

Study the black and white photos and you’ll see that old divan we lay on recovering from measles and mumps, the black and white Admiral TV set and the convaire briquette heater that cheered and warmed our winters.   There are the venetian blinds and later the orange curtains and the wall paper.   In the driveway are the many cars we’ve had, Dad’s old van, Mum’s Vauxhall, the Mini Minor that all five of us went to Adelaide in [I still don’t know how we fitted] and the Holden that I did 100 mph in on the road from Corowa to Howlong.

And as you watch the faces grow older through the pages, take note of the clothes.  See how Mum dressed us for a visit to Father Christmas in the City, Karen with Hat and gloves, me with bow tie and fedora.   Look at the photos of the 70’s as our hair  grew longer and trouser legs wider, and remember how even I wore the platform shoes.  Watch how Deb mimics her big sister through the years.   Look at some of the very bad paisley shirts and have a laugh at Karen’s short hair.



I wish I could include the smells and sounds of those times as well.    The Sunday roast dinners, the scones at Nana Joyce’s, the petrol Dad tipped down the open drains, the smell of cut grass and the fermenting apples as they fell from the trees in the front yard.    I remember Mum playing old records like the Ballad of Davey
Crockett and the Indian Love Call, the choruses of the Browns and Joyces singing that song about getting drunk, 3AK where no wrinklies fly, the XYZoo, Rick Melbourne and his wakeup calls on 3DB.

You’ll see the introduction of our partners to the family and the growth of the 11 grandkids we collectively gave Mum and Dad.  You can watch the parade of hairstyles that Karen and Deb have had over the years and note the disappearance of Gerry’s and latterly my own receding hairline.

There are also photos of those who we shared parts of our lives with who have either  passed away or moved onto other things and that is a reminder that each snapshot is a precious moment to be remembered and enjoyed for that reason alone.  It is a reminder that the future is not writ, that innocence, happiness and the sad times will sometimes creep upon us and at other times leap out and grab us by the jugular.   That hopes and dreams all change over time and what makes the future worth anticipating is not it’s predictability but the unknown factor, not fate, but the ability to choose for ourselves.


And not only people come and go in our lives.  We shared a lot of time with furkids over the years – Noddy, Bamby and Billy Jack, Chai, Spike, Bessie and Tuppy.    Pets  who were friends who did not judge us but always welcomed us home with wagging  tails.

I could write a story about every one of the photos contained in this book but that would make it the longest book ever written and don’t they say that every picture is worth a thousand words anyway?  And if I did that, it would become more my story than that of Karen @ 50.


Siblings have a special bond, more than friends, there are the shared experiences that make the relationship unique.  I am privileged to have two pretty good sisters [I don’t want your heads swelling too much] and to have been raised in a loving family.  We don’t pretend that everything was always perfect because in the end life isn’t really a fairy tale.  It’s the unexpected that keeps things interesting and the memories that provide the anchor which allows us to steady the ship in hard times and move forward knowing that family is the shelter we can turn to.

Thank you for being my sister Kaz.   Sorry I got you into trouble at times when we were growing up, but it was your fault that you climbed into the pram I was pushing down the hill.

There are of course many more years to come and many more photos to take, snapshots of lives we’ve been sharing for more than 50 years now.   I hope I’m around to do the second 50 years.

Love
Loz

The episodes of Life

I must admit I had been dreading Christmas Day mainly because last year sucked so bad when I had Christmas lunch alone and for the first time I didn’t awaken in the same house as my kids. The lesson I learnt yesterday is that Christmas does change through time and that the phases whilst frightening in anticipation are perhaps simply a way of marking the episodes of life.

My earliest memories of Christmas are of days spent at my Grandparents houses. Like most kids, my sisters and I would be up early creeping up to the loungeroom to see if Father Christmas had come. We would then run down to Mum and Dads bedroom to awaken them, not knowing that they were already awake and waiting for us. After exchanging presents there would be the visits to the neighbours to wish them Merry Christmas and to exchange even more gifts and then sometime in the late morning we’d jump in the car and head off to Merlynston for Christmas lunch with my Dad’s family. I’ve written before about how many of Dad’s Aunts, Uncles and cousins, as well as his brothers and sister all lived within about five blocks of each other in that mostly unknown suburb in Melbourne’s north, so after lunch there would be a lot of quick visits to half a dozen other houses in the area.

My memories of those lunches are of the smell of roasts taken from the wood fired oven mingling with that of freshly baked scones which I enjoyed with lashings of butter and vegemite. I know for those of you who like your scones with jam and cream that makes me a bit of a philistine, but that’s the way I like it.

From lunch with the Joyce’s we’d go to tea with the Smith’s and there was a fair contrast from the gentility of Nana Joyce to the loudness of Nana Smith and the teeming masses of Brunswick. The house was full of cousins and aunts and uncles

But those days changed when my cousins got older and got married then spending time with their in laws families. Mum decided that it was time that Christmases were held at our place and my grandparents then used to travel to our place each year until they passed away. The aunts and uncles then also chose to stay away so those large family Christmases with the extended family passed with my childhood into memory.

Things changed again when my sisters and I got married and had our own children. We still come together on Christmas night at one of my sisters houses and all of the kids still come but in the next few years will no doubt have their own family obligations that will intervene.

Yesterday I waited for my daughter’s phone call telling me it was now time for me to go around to their house and exchange presents – this year was also the first year they had moved out of the family home. So it was 8 am when I got the call went around, had a cup of tea, sat for a while and then came home to my own house. This year rather than eating alone, the lady I live with and I had a roast lamb dinner, then took the dog for a walk in a local park, before going our separate ways to family dinners. One day when the pain of separation eases we may be able to spend time with each others family on Christmas Day but till then I guess what we had will do. This year was not as bad as last year and I’m sure will get better as we all move forward.

And thus another episode of life moves from anticipation, or apprehension into memory never to be experienced again.

The episodes of Life

I must admit I had been dreading Christmas Day mainly because last year sucked so bad when I had Christmas lunch alone and for the first time I didn’t awaken in the same house as my kids. The lesson I learnt yesterday is that Christmas does change through time and that the phases whilst frightening in anticipation are perhaps simply a way of marking the episodes of life.

My earliest memories of Christmas are of days spent at my Grandparents houses. Like most kids, my sisters and I would be up early creeping up to the loungeroom to see if Father Christmas had come. We would then run down to Mum and Dads bedroom to awaken them, not knowing that they were already awake and waiting for us. After exchanging presents there would be the visits to the neighbours to wish them Merry Christmas and to exchange even more gifts and then sometime in the late morning we’d jump in the car and head off to Merlynston for Christmas lunch with my Dad’s family. I’ve written before about how many of Dad’s Aunts, Uncles and cousins, as well as his brothers and sister all lived within about five blocks of each other in that mostly unknown suburb in Melbourne’s north, so after lunch there would be a lot of quick visits to half a dozen other houses in the area.

My memories of those lunches are of the smell of roasts taken from the wood fired oven mingling with that of freshly baked scones which I enjoyed with lashings of butter and vegemite. I know for those of you who like your scones with jam and cream that makes me a bit of a philistine, but that’s the way I like it.

From lunch with the Joyce’s we’d go to tea with the Smith’s and there was a fair contrast from the gentility of Nana Joyce to the loudness of Nana Smith and the teeming masses of Brunswick. The house was full of cousins and aunts and uncles

But those days changed when my cousins got older and got married then spending time with their in laws families. Mum decided that it was time that Christmases were held at our place and my grandparents then used to travel to our place each year until they passed away. The aunts and uncles then also chose to stay away so those large family Christmases with the extended family passed with my childhood into memory.

Things changed again when my sisters and I got married and had our own children. We still come together on Christmas night at one of my sisters houses and all of the kids still come but in the next few years will no doubt have their own family obligations that will intervene.

Yesterday I waited for my daughter’s phone call telling me it was now time for me to go around to their house and exchange presents – this year was also the first year they had moved out of the family home. So it was 8 am when I got the call went around, had a cup of tea, sat for a while and then came home to my own house. This year rather than eating alone, the lady I live with and I had a roast lamb dinner, then took the dog for a walk in a local park, before going our separate ways to family dinners. One day when the pain of separation eases we may be able to spend time with each others family on Christmas Day but till then I guess what we had will do. This year was not as bad as last year and I’m sure will get better as we all move forward.

And thus another episode of life moves from anticipation, or apprehension into memory never to be experienced again.

From my sister


My sisters had organized for some portraits of my kids to be done for my birthday but when they found out they wouldn’t be ready in time decided to do a scrapbook photo album for me. This was written on one of the pages –

The Boy and Girl in Blue
I was so proud of you when you joined ht ePolice Force. It had been such a struggle for you to find work. Even after graduating from uni with degrees in everything, you had an enormous folder filled with applications. They were the days when they told you you were too qualified.

So into a life of crime (on the right side of the law) you went. I loved coming out every Wednesday to visit you at the Academy with Mum. For me it was more about having a good perve on the other police! Soon much to your disgust I was dating one of your Squad mates. You joined and said to me “Why don’t you join?” my answer was a defininte no at that stage.

Then only some 2 years later, I was also to enter the Police Academy. My graduation was one of my proudest days – not just because I had achieved it, but because finally I was smart enough to do something kjust like my big brother. The girl that failed Year 11 – against all odds had finally achieved a good result!

When you turned up in your police uniform you made me the proudest sister that there could have been. Even though we had to stand and have our photos taken with our old aunts in their fur coats.

Thanks for everything Loz. You were my inspiration back in 1983 – the day I graduated.

And you still are today!

I love you
Deb

From my sister


My sisters had organized for some portraits of my kids to be done for my birthday but when they found out they wouldn’t be ready in time decided to do a scrapbook photo album for me. This was written on one of the pages –

The Boy and Girl in Blue
I was so proud of you when you joined the Police Force. It had been such a struggle for you to find work. Even after graduating from uni with degrees in everything, you had an enormous folder filled with applications. They were the days when they told you you were too qualified.

So into a life of crime (on the right side of the law) you went. I loved coming out every Wednesday to visit you at the Academy with Mum. For me it was more about having a good perve on the other police! Soon much to your disgust I was dating one of your Squad mates. You joined and said to me “Why don’t you join?” my answer was a defininte no at that stage.

Then only some 2 years later, I was also to enter the Police Academy. My graduation was one of my proudest days – not just because I had achieved it, but because finally I was smart enough to do something kjust like my big brother. The girl that failed Year 11 – against all odds had finally achieved a good result!

When you turned up in your police uniform you made me the proudest sister that there could have been. Even though we had to stand and have our photos taken with our old aunts in their fur coats.

Thanks for everything Loz. You were my inspiration back in 1983 – the day I graduated.

And you still are today!

I love you
Deb

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