20 Lifetime changes

My big sister and me © Norah Colvin

My big sister and me © Norah Colvin

When Bec was little she would often say, “Tell me a story of when you were a little girl.” She would listen in wonder (in my dreams!) as I told her about life on a farm, holidays with relatives and funny things that happened in a large family.

One day, with perfect comedic timing, she followed her request with the question, “What were the dinosaurs like?” We laughed at the time, and still do, but I think that question may have signalled the end of her interest in my childhood, for a time at least. Some aspects of my childhood would have been as unrecognisable to her as the world of the dinosaurs. It is even more so for the children of today.

 © Norah Colvin

© Norah Colvin

Learning about the past from parents and grandparents is one way of piquing young children’s interest in history. When I was in primary school we learned a little of history in what was then called Social Studies. Both ancient and modern history were available as discrete subject choices in high school but seemed to be primarily a list of dates, names and wars with little relevance to my teenage experience. Historical fiction brought otherwise remote and unfamiliar situations to life.

I have touched a little on the topic of history in previous posts, I’m new here, Understanding family relationships and Whose story is it anyway? including mention of an early childhood unit Getting to know you, which is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

 © Norah Colvin

© Norah Colvin

It amuses me now when visiting museums, particularly small local historical museums as opposed to large national museums, to see artefacts from my childhood on display. Although I don’t necessarily consider myself “old”, definitely not passed my “use by” or even “best by” date, I do realise that to younger ones I am probably a relic from the past, holding as much interest for them as the objects on display. (I am not too old to remember what it was like to be young.)

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills declares herself a history buff who digs “hanging out in cemeteries where history reads in the names and dates carved in stone.” I confess that I have rarely visited a cemetery other than to farewell a loved one and haven’t taken to reading gravestones to feed an interest in history.

The teaching of history in my early childhood classrooms involved helping children to discover and record their own personal histories and the more recent histories of their families and local environment. Celebration or commemoration of historical events such as Australia Day, ANZAC Day or Remembrance Day required some elaboration, without too much detail, of their significance.

Many of the experiences of children growing up now in the early part of the 21st Century are vastly different from those I experienced growing up in the mid-20th Century. Some of the differences are subtle and others more significant.

Since I grew up in the 20th Century, as part of my historical record I decided to list 20 (random) changes that have occurred during my lifetime:

  1. I listened to music on vinyl records on turntables with manual arms. The records needed to be turned over after each side was played. There were no CDs, iPods, Youtube or streaming
  2. I spent hours in the sun, getting burnt to a crisp, without the protection of sunscreen.
  3. Polio was still a major threat and I knew children who suffered it. Now, thanks to immunisation, it is almost eradicated worldwide.
  4. We could purchase fireworks and set them off in our backyards and parks. I have no memory of huge firework displays such as are now part of most community celebrations.
  5. Shop opening hours were very different with shops closed half day Saturday and all day Sunday. No shops opened on Public Holidays and planning was required to ensure there was enough food in the cupboard to last the four day Easter Weekend.
  6. There were no huge supermarkets selling everything, mainly smaller grocery stores and some “corner” stores that sold a few “essential” items. Air conditioning was not common and chocolate was not readily available as it melted in the heat.
  7. There were no theme parks or water parks; just a few amusement rides such as merry-go-rounds and dodgem cars at local and state shows and fairs, and council swimming pools. Very few people had pools in their backyards.
  8. There were no computers, tablets or smart phones. When I started school I wrote on a slate, a tablet of a different kind.
  9. Fish and chips was the most popular and one of the few take-a-ways. There were no McDonald’s, pizza stores and few Chinese restaurants. There were no eateries in large shopping malls. In fact, there were no large shopping malls!
  10. We had an outside dunny with a pan that was collected and replaced weekly.
  11. Telephones were not in every home. They were attached to the wall and had a circular dial. Calls were manually connected by operators at telephone exchanges.
  12. Televisions first became available in Australia when I was a young child but my family did not own one until after I left home. I used to visit an aunt, who lived close by, to watch on her set after school some days.
  13. Cars ran on leaded petrol. I remember my Dad using a crank handle to start the car. The seats were hard and uncomfortable and there was no air conditioning (unless you count winding down the window).
  14. We would go to beach or the park to swim or play all day, without adult supervision. The only requirement was to be home before dark.
  15. Photographs were taken with a box camera and a roll of film which needed to be sent away to be developed and took weeks to be returned. It could take months to fill the roll and often the occasions were well in the past before the photos were received. It was expensive and multiple shots of the same image were not encouraged.
  16. There was little traffic and cars were slow so children often played in the street, which were sometimes still dirt and mostly without kerbs. It seemed to take forever to get from one place to another.
  17. To keep food cool we had ice boxes for which an ice man would deliver a large block ice daily.
  18. We used imperial standards of measurement including pounds and ounces, inches and feet; and shopped with pounds, shillings and pence before converting to decimal currency in 1966 and other units soon after.
  19. Smacking by parents and corporal punishment in school was the main form of discipline. If children were in trouble at school (I never was!J) then they were usually in more trouble at home.
  20. In school we sat in rows of desks nailed to the floor. We listened to the teacher and learned by rote lists of facts which were often chanted repetitively. There was definitely no talking in school and no group work.

old school room

I add one wish for another change I’d like to see in my lifetime in the 21st Century:

For friendship, understanding, tolerance, empathy and peace to rule a sustainable and equitable world!

I don’t ask for much, do I?

Now back to the cemetery and Charli’s flash fiction challenge to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a final resting place. I have taken Marnie to the place where her parents rest as she discovers more about them and their history than she had before realised.

Graveside

She wasn’t sure why she was here. Miss R., Annette, had suggested she come. So she did. What struck her most, as she read the grave markers, was their ages. She’d never thought of them as young but their life spans were short; both a mere 49 years, going within a year of each other. She worked it out. They were younger than she was now when she’d left home. Who’d have thought? She felt a strange sadness, a familiar hollowness, not for the loss of their lives but for the absence of love, love which had never been.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post or flash fiction.

 

90 thoughts on “20 Lifetime changes

  1. Bec

    A very moving FF – another part of Marnie’s story. I hope it doesn’t lead her to feel guilt when we encounter her in the future. I have to challenge your comment about my loss of interest in your childhood – I don’t remember that happening at all! In fact I remember bothering you and Bob for years asking about childhood stories, but being told the time wasn’t right, or that there were no more stories to share.

    It would be nice to see your additional wish for change to become a reality. I would like to hope, but I don’t see it happening.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I guess the truth is all in our perspectives isn’t it? I was always extremely interested in your childhood! 🙂
      I miss for change seems especially futile at the moment. May things change for the better soon.

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  2. lucciagray

    Sad flash. You captured the moment of realisation of loss of live very well. It’s hard to describe emptyness and sorrow without melodrama. (I say that because I struggle against my own inclinations. I’m too Victorian to ignore my penchant for melodrama!)

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Luccia. It is a sad flash. Sometimes I have to remind myself to write something more hopeful. Your comment has made me realise that, while I try to keep the content of my posts positive, the perspectives of my flash stories are often dismal. I find that interesting (to me) and will have to ponder on it a bit.

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      1. lucciagray

        Sadness happens and we have to cope. I thought your flash was sad, but not pessimistic. There’s hope in the realisation / understanding of loss. Consciousness of our own/and others’ finality is necessary to live life fully and responsibly. Your flash was well done and had a very good point!

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  4. Hugh's Views and News

    I love your list, Norah. I remember just about every single item on it. I was lucky enough to have had a TV in the house from my first ever memory. I don’t think it will be long before shops and stores are open 365 days of the year. When I first started working in a store, half day was always on a Wednesday. I found it strange that some shops closed half day on a Saturday because that was always considered to be the busiest of all all the shopping days. I remember the box camera my father had and having to send the film away. Shortly after we could get the film developed in a store but it was usually more expensive to do so.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your memories Hugh. Shops in my local childhood area, the Redcliffe Peninsula just north of Brisbane, closed Wednesday afternoons and opened all day Saturday. It was great business for Redcliffe on Saturdays when people would head there for the beaches and shopping. I don’t think the 365 days a year shopping is far away. Our smaller population here probably means that we will lag behind a bit with that as well as with late night shopping. So far all shops open only one night a week with supermarkets staying open until nine Monday – Friday. Some tourist areas (like the Gold Coast) may have some shops stay open later, but not many.

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  5. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Great post Norah. As you know I have more than a passing interest in children being fascinated by their parents lives. I believe it is what gives a child their early identity before they start to make their own. Loved Bec’s request.
    Everything on your list would be on mine as well. I also remember the old coppers with the mangler on the side and putting the clothes through it to get the water out. School milk – I don’t know if they still have that but that turned me off milk for life. I ended up with a doctor’s letter giving me an exemption from drinking it. And those dreadful school assemblies every morning out in the heat of the sun – I often used to faint as there was no sun protection at all. We also used to wear knotted handkerchiefs on our head as sun protection and often used the same technique to carry our pennies and if lucky sixpences around. Our relationship with pets has also changed (for most people) as well. No microwaves or many other kitchen gadgetry. Just so much.
    The change I find humorous was when I asked my mother “what was the biggest change she experienced in her lifetime” her answer was “We don’t have afternoon tea any more.” Of course in her day people didn’t have dinner and socialised instead over a cup of tea in the afternoon.
    I too would love to see the change you desire “For friendship, understanding, tolerance, empathy and peace to rule a sustainable and equitable world!”
    Your flash re Marnie visiting her parents is sad – not to have love is a big thing to miss out on.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks so much for sharing your memories Irene. I remember those handkerchiefs with the knots in the corners! I’d forgotten all about that. I’m not sure if I ever did it, but I certainly sucked enough handkerchief corners. Handkerchiefs!! Does anyone still have them any more or have tissues taken over the world?! My mother still used handkerchiefs up until her passing last year but I didn’t know of any one else who did.I sometimes dread to think how many trees are cut down to make all the tissues I use, but then they are made from recycled paper. I’m not really sure that is any better for the environment though.
      Funny you mention the morning milk at school turning you off drinking milk. I mentioned the same thing in a reply to another comment earlier. I’m sure many of our generation were turned off by it, which is a shame as the intention was good. It was out in the sun without refrigeration – like our school lunches. I remember eating hot Vegemite sandwiches with butter that was squishy because it had melted in the heat. Now every child has a cooler bag for their lunches. It must be much healthier for them as well as more palatable.
      I love your Mum’s response to the biggest change. The connection with people is obviously the important thing. Visitors used to drop in for cups of tea and chats. The advent of the telephone changed all that and the necessity of phoning ahead, or indeed chatting on the phone, made visiting less frequent. Who would ever dream of just dropping in these days?
      My Mum had a copper with a mangle on the side for quite a few years when I was young. Then she got an electric (I think) tub with an agitator in the middle and a mangle attached. Although the principle is still the same, they were vastly different from out automatic machines.
      Thanks for helping me dig out a few more memories, and for reading and sharing yours.

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      1. roweeee

        Norah, so many details in your post and the comments which followed. My parents experienced much of what you mentioned. Mum was from Queensland and used a slate. They went barefoot to school and stayed home if it rained. This was in primary school. My Dad, who grew up in Sydney, had the ice man coming round with his horse and cart. I remember the milk being delivered in bottles to the house and the magpies pecking through the metal lid. My husband mentioned the hanky with your lunch money tied in the corner. He tells me they made good weapons and hurt. I think he was on the receiving end.
        Both my husband and I come from very long standing Australian stock and so we’d just need a map of Australia unless we were going back further than 6 generations.

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        1. Norah Post author

          Thanks for adding your memories, and those of your parents, to the mix, Rowena. The different recollections that people have shared have been wonderful. Sometimes changes occur almost imperceptibly or as we adopt new things the past ones are just forgotten. It is sometimes good to stop and think about changes and the passage of time.
          I wonder how many families are like yours with both sides having been in Australia for six generations. My husband is first generation (he’s from Belfast) so my children are second generation even though I’m probably sixth too.

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          1. roweeee

            I have a good dose of Irish blood. That said, I’m quite conscious of losses families had in Belfast. I’ll have to put you onto a brilliant Australian or NZ book which I read where the young girl’s parents came from Belfast. She’s very into Van Gogh. It was a great book.

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              1. roweeee

                Found the book. Indeed, I just reached out and grabbed it, which is a mark of the books I realy enjoyed. It’s called “Dear Vincent” by Mandy Hager. It addresses suicide, Ireland, chronically ill father and has loads of excepts from Van Gogh’s letters. I love Van Gogh and visited the museum in Amsterdam when I was there. It was incredible to see the paintings in person and appreciate the texture etc. That was what attracted me to the book initially.

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                1. Norah Post author

                  Thanks Rowena. That sounds interesting. I’ll check it out. It would have been amazing to visit the Van Gogh museum. I remember feeling very overwhelmed when I was in the presence of Monet’s original waterlily paintings. They are amazing too. I love “Starry Night” and have a print hanging on my wall. I also have a t-shirt with the print and have a lovely picture book called “Once upon a Picture” by Sally Swain which is the imaginings of a child about some famous artworks, including Starry Night. https://goo.gl/hFDcwV

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      2. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        I have to say I still use handkerchiefs. I have always preferred the male variety I think because back in the days when I used to get hay fever I needed a large one and probably numerous of them. These days I use them rarely only because I don’t seem to need to. I always have one with me in case.
        I used to love squishing the melted butter and vegemite through the holes in saos and vita weets when they were invented.
        I enjoyed you taking me back to the things we used to have and do that are no longer. Thanks.

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        1. Norah Post author

          I applaud you for using handkerchiefs. Well done!
          I want to squish the melted butter and Vegemite through the holes of a Sao. Oh, I had forgotten about that pleasure. Squishing it through, licking it off, then taking the two halves apart and licking the rest off before crunching on the biscuit. As you say Vita Weets were the same. What memories. I also loved butter and Vegemite on Wheatmeal biscuits, and butter and honey on Weet-Bix after school. Now you’ve really got me remembering. The joys! Thank you. 🙂

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            1. Norah Post author

              We’ll have to differ on those two items. While I don’t often have Weet-Bix for breakfast any more, I don’t mind the mush. As long as there’s plenty of sugar! 🙂

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  6. ruchira

    First off Norah such a cute pix of you and your sister 🙂
    Times have changed indeed, and I too reflect back on the simple ways we used to get things done in our house then vs now. No doubt time taken now is quicker but the concept of being multi-tasking is just making our memories all clouded.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Ruchira. I like that suggestion about our memories being clouded. Mine are certainly getting a little dust-covered, a bit like much of my house! 🙂
      It’s also very “now” with people saving photos and other memories “to the cloud”. 🙂

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  7. Lisa Reiter

    I love this Norah! How things have changed! I can identify with most of these things but we still don’t have swimming pools in every back yard over here (and probably never will!) Fortunately I grew up in a house with an indoor toilet although the primary school ones were outside and I’m sure I remember them icing over once! No-one hung around them that’s for sure.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you Lisa. I have been thinking of your Bite Size Memoir as people have been joining in with their reminiscences. It is fun sharing stories of our younger years. I hope you don’t ever have pools in every backyard over there, as that might mean that global warming became too much of a reality (I don’t mean it’s not a reality, I just mean the Earth would have heated up so much!)
      I can’t imagine the toilets icing up. Ooh. That would be a bit chilly on the backside. It might be a bit uncomfortable too. Often the need to “go” is more frequent in cooler weather!
      Thanks for joining in the conversation.

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  8. macjam47

    Norah, your list reminds me so much of my childhood. It was a much simpler time than what the children have growing up today. Even my children grew up in a much simpler time.
    I loved that you took Marnie to her parents graves. Everyone deserves to know their parents.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Michelle. I think so much for the younger generations is more complicated than it was in the past. Now there seem to be so many choices and expectations, but many without tangible possibilities or results. I’m pleased you enjoyed this episode for Marnie. I think I liked taking her out of school for a while!

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  9. stuckinscared

    Oh, Norah… what a fabulous post… I read it twice 🙂

    Laughed out-loud on reading your daughters dinosaur comment… and ahhh’ed at the photo of you and your sister… reminded me of me and mine 🙂

    I can relate to many of the things on your list… *shudders at the memory of the outside loo… especially the inhabitants of said loo*, I remember the neck strain of childhood number 1’s & 2’s… head tilted upward, keeping an eye on which ever Boris (spider) happened to be spun around the hanging chain…directly above my head o_O

    I’d add glass milk bottles (warm, or cold depending on time of year) on the door step each morning… Do you remember Humphrey? 🙂

    I remember (and loved) social studies.

    Lovely bit of nostalgia, Norah. Made my day!

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    1. Steven

      I realise you may be talking about a milkman, but now you have reminded me of Humphrey B Bear and his pantless outfit, branded a confusing unic for kids? I use to like watching him and it never disturbed me. You have also reminded me of the Bee and Miss what’s-her-name, I just can’t remember either of their names. Use to like watching that as well. Ozzie Ostrich, Mrs Marsh and her purple inked chalk sticks and Julius Miller with his Cadbury commercials.

      I don’t really remember glass milk bottles but I know they were still around when I was a baby. And of course my parents would always remember having to drink the warm curdled milk when they were at school.

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      1. Norah Post author

        Thanks for popping back with even more memories, Steven. It is nice to share them, isn’t it, reminisce about times when life was perhaps a little less stressful.
        I can almost remember the Bee you mention, but can’t quite get it. Did Miss ? look through a mirror and name the children she could see. I think I remember my son watching something like that. Mrs Marsh was in an ad for toothpaste, wasn’t she? But I did enjoy Julius Sumner Miller and his “Why is it so?” questions. I sometimes think about one of his answers as I add milk to my coffee or tea. He said it will stay warmer longer if the milk is added rather than left to sit without the milk. I can’t remember the science and never did quite understand it, but it intrigued me. 🙂
        Your parents are probably about my age. That warm curdled milk turned me off choosing milk as a drink for life!
        Thanks for sharing. Again. 🙂

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        1. Steven

          Oh, got it… Romper Room with Mr Do-Bee.

          Correct… Mrs Marsh was in the Colgate commercials.

          I believe that there was actually a “Why is it so?” series, which was before my time (black and white) and can still be viewed somewhere on the ABC web site or something like that. Had I been around then, I probably would have enjoyed that show.

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          1. Norah Post author

            Romper Room! That’s it! 🙂
            Here is a link to one of the “Why is it so?” programs on Youtube. You can see some others listed there too. They are showing their age!

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    2. Norah Post author

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Kimmie. Much appreciated.
      I remember those spiders in the outside loo, and hoping they wouldn’t feast on tender exposed bits! There was a great song in my childhood about a redback on the toilet seat! I hope you enjoy it!
      Even when we got flushing loos we used to get frogs living up under the rim! We’d keep an eagle eye out for them too!
      We used to have the glass bottles of milk too, and hot milk at school for morning break, “little lunch”!
      Humphrey was past my time, but I remember my son watching it. He even had a Humphrey toy at one stage and I think Humphrey and Santa arrived in a helicopter for a Christmas party one year we were at Koolynobbing.
      I’m really pleased you enjoyed the post Kimmie and that it brought a little lightness to your day. Thanks for sharing.

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        1. Norah Post author

          Thank you for clearing up my confusion over the Humphreys. I found one of their adverts with Muhammad Ali
          This is the Humphrey I was thinking of.
          Very different!

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          1. stuckinscared

            Very different… I’d never heard of Humphrey bear.

            When I was a child there was a milk thief on our street for a time (most likely a hungry/homless person) anyway, he/she used to sneak around before residents were up to get their milk in and down the milk leaving the empty bottles on the door step… (only ever took one per house, and never more than one or two households each day. The grown ups on the street named the thief Humphrey… “watch out, watch out, there’s a Humphrey about became a standard joke on our street 🙂

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  10. Sarah Brentyn

    I love this!!! So much. I might possibly maybe copy you if that’s okay. Your list is great. I can relate to some of these. And the pictures! Just an all-around great post, Norah. Also, your “Getting to Know You” looks interesting. Will check that out. 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’m pleased you enjoyed it, Sarah. It has got a few people thinking of their younger days. It’s funny – it was really a desperate attempt to get something to fit in response to Charli’s prompt! 🙂 Thank you very much for your enthusiasm and kind words.

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    2. Norah Post author

      Oh. Please go ahead and use the idea of listing. I’d love it if you did. I think it is actually a bit similar to Lisa Reiter’s Bite Size Memoir (https://sharingthestoryblog.wordpress.com/bite-size-memoir/), though I went to 20 (for the 20th Century) rather than the ten that Lisa often suggested. I look forward to reading your list. Your lists of book beginnings got me started on my Australian picture book series. Share and share alike. S.M.A.G.!

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      1. Sarah Brentyn

        S.M.A.G. Yes, indeed. ❤ Thanks, Norah. I'm looking forward to this… Love how we all get ideas from each other. Something sparks a creative flame or a memory. It's wonderful. Yes! The bite-size memoirs. It does remind me of those now that you mention it.

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  11. julespaige

    For the love that had never been… It is difficult when siblings of the same family are treated differently and the one who was treated better doesn’t respect or want to know that the other sibling has a different story to tell. So the sibling with less support has to find encouragement through others. Sometimes there is success.

    Here’s continually hoping that your Marnie can make success where ever she goes.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Jules. My intention for Marnie is that she will reach a certain degree of happiness and success, but it may require a good deal of effort and perhaps therapy. I may have to consult Anne Goodwin about that!

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  12. Annecdotist

    As others have said, there’s so much in this lovely post of reminiscences, and we could go on for ever comparing and contrasting. Bec’s question about the dinosaurs reminds us how hard it is to conceptualise events that happened before our own lifetime. Likewise, hard to contemplate our parents being younger than we are – great choice for developing Marnie’s story, now she’s outlived them will she be free?

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Anne. It is difficult enough to conceptualise the present, never mind the past and I can’t even begin to think that way about the future! I appreciate your comment re the development in Marnie’s story. I don’t think she’ll ever be totally “free”, but she’ll definitely be able to move on and make sense out of her life. That’s my thinking at the moment anyway. 🙂

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  13. Sacha Black

    Oops pressed send too quick!

    Anyway we didn’t really have mobiles or the Internet when I was young I think I was 9 when we got dial up and maybe 11 or 13 when we had broadband but that wasn’t wifi and we didn’t get mobiles till we were 16 and working after school in jobs.

    Lovely piece Norah. 😊💖

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Sacha, for both pieces of your response. Not even 30 yet and you have seen so many changes. The number and rate of changes are only going to increase. Isn’t it wonderful? It is hard to imagine where technology will take us in the future. I know some of the predictions from the past were way off. I wouldn’t even dare hazard a guess. Hopefully some of the timelessness of childhood will be maintained regardless of the advances in technology. Thanks so much for sharing your youthful experiences and memories. 🙂

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  14. Sacha Black

    I liked this post a lot – partly because I saw more of you and your youth that is a lot of big changes, but actually even some of them were around when I was young and I’m not even 30! Like curfew was before dark and we didn’t have mobile we played on the farm and in fields and rivers unacomp

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  15. Sherri

    Oh Norah, I just love this post…I adore the photo of you and your big sister, just darling, and I burst out laughing when I read sweet Bec’s question about the dinosaurs, bless!!! That’s priceless, and how I can relate! It’s so interesting as I have been working on the edits of my memoir and just rewrote the first five chapters into the first, and I wrote about a box of black & white photos Mum kept which I used to love rummaging through as a child, asking her loads of questions about all the relatives and people in the photos. A lot of those photos I have now and have scanned in to the computer. Even then, like Bec, I was fascinated with stories of my mother’s earlier life, which seemed so distant, especially as she remember tales from the war as a girl. I remember when my own daughter asked me what I used to watch on videos, and she was shocked when I told her we didn’t have such things growing up! Now even videos are considered prehistoric 😉 BTW, that computer looks exactly like our first one which we got when our eldest was 14 (he’s 33!) and so much in your list could perfectly describe my childhood. Your dream for a sustainable and equitable world is noble and pure and perhaps we shall attain this in the 21st Century…we can certainly do our best, one person at a time. And your flash struck a chord with me of that same sense of hollowness and sadness that Marnie feels, that rootlessness and wanting to know more yet understanding that nothing can change the past. But there is always hope and there is great hope for Marnie I feel. Great post Norah, I love it!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you so much for the enthusiasm in your comment, Sherri. Those boxes of old photos are great, aren’t they? Only a thing of the past now. No more boxes. They’re all on computers or in the cloud. Before Mum’s 90th birthday party, I used my iPad to photograph a lot of her photographs to put into a slide show. It was a wonderful experience for me to delve into her life. There were some gaps in the years not photographed. Now I fear the ease of photography makes the images less special. We have far too many to ever look at.
      Did you look at the video that Steven linked to? Is that the computer you mean? It was just like our first computer in 1985, an Apple IIE. How we loved it and never complained about the things the children in the video did. It was amazing what we could do – print off pictures using a pattern of x and o, for example! 🙂
      Thanks for your words about my flash and Marnie’s situation. I’m pleased her story is beginning to take shape with some realism.
      Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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      1. Sherri

        The computer was the picture in your post, but I expect it looks similar to the one in Steven’s link, which I didn’t see. But yes, we didn’t complain either. Just so amazed to have such a thing! I know what you mean about too many photos. Making a slideshow for your mother’s 90th is wonderful. I did the the same for my kids’ special birthdays, and plan to do one for my mum’s 80th next February. It’s good to think about preserving life stories in such a way, as well as writing about them…especially with technology changing so darn fast!

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        1. Norah Post author

          Well you’ve got me Sherri. I can’t see a computer in the post. Is it like one of your orbs? Or is it from a different post linked to? 🙂
          I’m sure your children appreciated the slide shows for their birthdays, as your Mum will for hers. What a great celebration it will be.
          I made my children books for their 21st – big scrapbooks of memorabilia, before the “new” scrapbooking craze started, and certainly before the advent of photo books. Well, they were around before Bec’s 21st but I wanted to do something similar to what I had done for her brother, and they weren’t around then! 🙂

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          1. Sherri

            Oh dear…sorry Norah! I’ve got myself confused now an! Haha…yes, perhaps I have orbs on my mind and am seeing ghostly apparitions on your blog! But I see now that is from Steven’s comment here…sorry about that!!! How wonderful to make those scrapbooks of memorabilia for your children, and yes, I remember that scrapbooking craze. I still have all my stuff…and still haven’t finished those scrapbooks I started all those years ago 😉

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            1. Norah Post author

              That’s funny!. When I looked at Steven’s comment in the admin part of the blog, I didn’t see the video, only his link (which I followed). If I’d looked at my blog the way you do, with all the comments, I would have seen it. Doh! Then I wouldn’t have confused you – only myself. 🙂
              For me scrapbooking is a bit like spring cleaning: it’s better to not get started! The job’s always bigger than you (I) think!

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              1. Sherri

                Haha…seems like we were both a bit confused there!!! I really thought I was seeing things for a minute, but then that wouldn’t surprise me, ha 😀 Glad we got to the bottom of that little mystery…see what technology does to us? And yes, that is so very true of scrapbooking…so glad I’m not the only one, I feel better now! Have a great week Norah, look forward to chatting as the days go on… 🙂

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  16. TanGental

    I can relate to all that list apart from the dunny and the slate. I remember the ink wells in the desks with flappy wooden tops that slammed on your fingers. You needed a train ticket between specific stations rather than a pass that takes you everywhere; men and women always wore a hat outside; the air could be gritty with all the coal fired fires; people smoked on trains and in cars and buildings; we didn’t have a fridge, a TV a washing machine or any labour saving appliances, apart from a Singer sewing machine and a vacuum cleaner – and even that was saved for ‘best’ a carpet sweeper used most of the time; every week we went to the library to get out new books; we wrote thank you letters by hand; if you saw a coin, any coin, n the pavement you thought it was your lucky day…. And the flash is nicely pitched, giving us a depth of emotion from Marnie – very conflicted!

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    1. Sherri

      Got that Geoff except we did have TV, a tiny black & white one on which Dad watched his cricket, football and wrestling… and how I remember those desks with the ink wells and writing thank you letters by hand, on Boxing Day…

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      1. Norah Post author

        TV wouldn’t have interested me much if all that was on it was sport!
        Hub and I didn’t get a colour TV until the 80s. We were really behind the times! It’s interesting now when watching something from pre-colour days (for us), I am surprised at the colours. I had never imagined the colour. How unimaginative is that!
        Thanks for sharing, Sherri. Much appreciated. 🙂

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    2. Norah Post author

      Thank you Geoff, for sharing your recollections. You and Steven both have added so many more to my list and sparked a few more memories. Some of yours are unfamiliar e.g. the coal-fired fires due to the differences in climate. Our windows were always open when I was a child (unless it was raining) and the doors were never locked. We had polished timber floors, no carpets or vacuum cleaners or carpet sweepers for us – not until I left home, then flats would have “wall to wall carpet”!
      We had those ink wells and flappy wooden desk tops too. They were a pain when there were books, pencils and rulers on your desk and you had to get something else out! We used to use those “dip the nib in the ink ” pens, before the advent of fountain pens!!!! Then biros. (Now styluses and keyboards!)
      I remember finding 2 shillings one day when I was out with a friend. We bought ourselves so many treats – toys and sweets. What good fun!
      Train tickets and bus tickets – we’re definitely museum material! Thanks for sharing Geoff, and for your encouragement re my flash.

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  17. Steven

    Being somewhat younger, I remember experiencing a portion of your 20 items, or at the very least knew that this is how it was. The only one that I really didn’t know was that school desks were nailed to the floor; education by conformity?

    Now you have stirred my memories…

    I listened to my parents play their vinyls and we even had the odd story book/record combination.
    I remember glowing beetroot from sunburn, with the water sprinkler running hours until the grass had puddles in it.
    I remember firecracker night, including the year that a sealed drum was accidentally tossed/left in the bonfire by a parent (that was a big cracker).
    I also recall the planning situation with weekend shopping and public holidays.
    I do remember theme parks, but they were for special occasions only, like an annual holiday.
    I remember “the” school computer in Primary School.
    I remember when going to a Pizza Hut restaurant was exclusive and expensive.
    Didn’t have an outside dunny, but definitely had a septic tank and outflow.
    I remember the pulse dial rotary phones, and how they would click and groan as they turned.
    I remember the VCR, audio cassette and the art of estimating how much spare time you had on a tape.
    I remember learning that magnets should not go near the cathode television and I also remember my father learning from the repair man that the effect would eventually dissipate by itself (after paying for the service).
    I remember the lovely smell of leaded and how you could get it for AU 35-40 cents per litre. I remember when my parents were served petrol, and the attendant would take your cash from your car window and give you change from their hip-bag. I remember learning how to drive a stick and I know how pathetically weak my arms have gotten now from power steering. I remember when drivers always indicated.
    I remember being allowed to bike ride the country roads without supervision, but only with permission. Protective clothing was shirt, shorts and thongs. I know my father was allowed to roam freely, and that on such roamings, lunch consisted of whatever fruit they could find growing on roadsides or in the bush (or by a “raid” on a farm).
    I remember the 24 frames of film, which was used sparingly and lasted months.
    I also remember the glee of my parents purchasing their first stereo CD player, for something like $2000.
    I remember my fathers yellow pay packet containing the weekly cash payment.
    I remember when keeping the paddock grass short meant tossing a match into it.
    I remember disposing of excess rubbish by burning it in the incinerator.
    I remember that metho smell from the school document duplicators.
    I remember when it seemed there were no roundabouts.
    Oh, I remember when Wagon Wheels were the size of your face.

    Thank you for reviving these dormant memories.

    There is an interesting set of videos on a Youtube channel called “Fine Brothers Entertainment”. The series of interest to your post are the Kids React to Technology series, of which one of my favourites is the Kids React to Old Computers. It is interesting to see the range of reactions… astonishment, awe, disgust, empathy. The series includes other older technologies like Cameras, Typewriters, Walkmans, VCR and Rotary Phones. It also has one on the First-Generation iPod – funny to hear their views on a word they are so familiar with, yet which has progressed so far in such a short period of time.

    By the way, I like how your story is shaping up to span such a long period of time.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Steven,
      Thank you so much for the richness of your comment and sharing so many of your memories. I do appreciate your “somewhat younger” tag! 🙂
      Even in my teaching days, some of the classrooms had desks nailed (or I probably should say “fixed” to the floor) and sometimes in these “modern” days when they weren’t, I wished they still were when children would incessantly move them! (not really)
      Your recollections are wonderful and got me smiling and nodding my head as I remembered so many of them too. The petrol. I remember filling a tank for $2! And I had forgotten about the attendants and the full service “service” stations. It took me a while to become confident in doing it myself. And thank goodness for power steering and automatic gear shifts! Intersections without roundabouts or traffic lights, and the few traffic lights there were having an amber following the red to “get ready”; no seat belts in cars or helmets for motorbikes or bicycles! The list could go on. Thank you for reminding me of so many more. The world is definitely changing rapidly.
      The videos of Kids React are wonderful. I remember watching some of these before. I can see why the computer one, perhaps in particular, would appeal to you, an Apple IIE fan! I loved in the iPod video when the little girl asked if there were dinosaurs in 2001, and if her parents were alive then! Their reactions are delightful and I would agree with them. If we had this technology back then, why would we have wanted that other “old’ “dumb” stuff! 🙂
      Thank you for sending so many smiles my way today.
      Thanks for your encouraging words re Marnie’s story also.
      Oh, and those Wagon Wheels. Weren’t they the greatest? They are so tiny now! 🙂
      Thanks for sharing.

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  18. Charli Mills

    Such a fascinating list, Norah! Some I could relate to. It also makes me think about how many jobs have gone away with modern conveniences — no more dunny workers, milk or ice delivery. In a way, we have left our sustainability behind — no more do we rely on kitchen gardens or milk cows. I wonder if that is part of why we have become disconnected to our impact on the environment? Your post makes me think! And so cute that Bec asked after the dinosaurs in your time! And such a darling picture of you and your sister. What is growing in the background?

    Marnie has come to a place to reflect and perhaps understand her parents better. Yet it doesn’t excuse their abuse and her grief is validation of the love she never had from them. While sad, I think she can move on from this revelation.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks so much for your wonderful comment, Charli. The disconnect from the environment is interesting. While watching TV this morning (briefly in a waiting room) I heard one of the panelists wonder how soon it would be full moon. She had no idea, and I thought how sad it is that we don’t even know what phase the moon is in from one month to the next. I wouldn’t have known either except that I was out on Monday night and a comment was made about the full moon. I love when we go out in the evening in time to see the full moon “rising”, or at other times to contemplate the stars. I’m sure the stars are bright where you are. They are beautiful here too, but sometimes not as bright when they have to compete with the city lights.
      A comment in another waiting room (I did a lot of waiting today) was about the amount of paperwork that was required when we were told that computers were going to reduce the need for paper. It was an interesting comment from an older gentleman (yes, even older than I!) Computers haven’t stopped us cutting down trees for paper, but perhaps we do recycle more. I have certainly reduced my paper use since leaving the classroom.
      The plants in the background of the photo are pineapples. Dad was a small crops farmer for about five years. He grew pineapples, beans and cabbages, that I remember. We had a few chickens for eggs and Mum and Dad attempted to have a cow for milking. I say attempted as one jumped the fence, another knocked it down and escaped. I don’t think they tried after that! Dad had a very green thumb and even after we moved to suburbia, he grew vegetables for our use and the excess we sold to neighbourhood families. My thumb is pretty pale in comparison, but Bec’s is bright green! 🙂
      It was interesting to put Marnie at her parents’ graveside. I hadn’t considered that before, but I thought it gave her a little insight into the tragedy of their lives also and perhaps the sadness will make her all the more resolved to make a difference in her life and to those with whose lives she is able to connect.

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