Posted in It's all about me

Times Past: In the School Playground

I haven’t taken part in Irene’s Times Past challenge for ages, and I’m scraping in this month by the skin of my teeth.

I am of the Baby Boomer generation, and my schools were located in rural Victoria, Australia.


In total, I attended six primary schools and two secondary schools. My dad was a seasonal labourer and we moved often during my first school years. Dad was away from home a lot – often away picking fruit, shearing, crutching, or carting hay.

So, playgrounds?

My memories of school are vague, at best, but I guess I had to defer to the older kids when it came to using swings, slides, roundabouts, and monkey bars. At home, I was a good climber and loved climbing trees. Scrambling over fixed metal bars held no fear – until I was enticed to have a go at the monkey bars. I was still too small, the ground seemed miles away, and I still recall the fear. I think I did fall, but cannot be sure.

Some parts of the school grounds were asphalted. There, lines marked out little courts for handball games and other school activities.

Like Irene, we were issued with morning milk. I never minded it warm. The best part was taking off the foil cap and licking off the cream that had risen to the top of the 1/3 pint glass bottle.

We used the shelter sheds if it rained – not very pleasant places when full of damp children. The teachers discouraged us from hanging about in them when the weather was fine.

We girls would play skip rope or elastics. Hoppy (hopscotch) was one of my favourites for those all too short snatches of playtime between learning sessions. It was a game you could pick up from where you left off.

With our nimble young fingers, we made cat’s whiskers and prepared cunning traps to capture the fingers of those silly enough to take up our dare to test our string creations.

Or, thrusting folded paper fortune-tellers aka chatterboxes forward, we would invite friends and foes alike to ‘pick a colour’, followed by ‘pick a number’. Laughter and / or scowls would greet the revelations under the flaps. Some of us got quite creative.

I had to use Google to refresh my memory on making this

In grade 5, I played a few games of marbles with the boys. I gave up when I lost my tom bowler, passing my marbles on to one of my brothers.

In grade 6, I had a small stack of swapcards and spent playtime inspecting other girl’s cards and making swaps. Swapcards were a localised fad, it seems, as it depended on there being a variety store like Coles or Woolworths in the area. I was fond of collecting cards with cute kittens – like these ones on eBay –  and birds.

Ordinary playing cards with decent pictures could be swapped, too.  Boys would have swapped sports cards from bubblegum packs and other sources. Interestingly, during the 1980s, schools banned swapping on school premises dues to arguments, theft, and unfair trading!



Yo-yos came in grade 6, too, with the arrival of the Coca-Cola man. We all had to have yo-yos then and none of us were happy until we could ‘walk the dog’.

About then, I received a pack of colourful plastic jacks as a gift. Not many takers at playtime for knucklebones, so don’t think I took them to school much. At home, I preferred my homemade ones – collected from sheep skeletons in the paddocks behind the old farmhouse we rented.
Mongolian_game_(6325695968)By Sarah Joy from United Kingdom (Mongolian game) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I didn’t always indulge in physical play, though. Sometimes I would find a quiet spot in the girl’s shelter shed and read. Or spend one-on-one time with a friend.

On occasion,  play was curtailed by yard duty – picking up rubbish.

And then came High School and serious playtime pursuits such as catching up on homework, or talking about boys. All too soon, swings and monkey-bars were mere props for showing off. But, then again, I supposed they always were.

Thanks for reading!

Do have a great weekend. 🙂

Posted in It's all about me

Box Brownie Photos: A little me

BELOW: This photo was recently given to me by my Auntie Joan. I don’t know how old I am – I will ask mum when I see her, soon. It was taken with a Kodak Box Brownie camera by my aunt at my grandfather’s place. Grandpa trained trotters. That’s why there is a sulky in the background.

Christine, young

FEATURED: This other image is possibly one of us with mum. I think it is me. Auntie Joan was not sure if it was our family. Again, mum will know.

Thanks for looking. Have a good day. 🙂

Posted in It's all about me, Other Stuff

Q & A

In July last year I said …

I also have to declare this an Awards Free Blog, since I have now been awarded two awards – one by raroto over at Duniya Ku and someone else did too, but for the life of me I cannot remember who! Was it you? Own up!  I stumbled across it. I even clicked on it to make sure it was me.  You’re all very welcome to nominate me for Awards. I’ll carry out the associated task and link to your blog. But I wont make myself pick favourites, sorry.  Anyway, I thought I would be getting ahead of myself if I declared myself award-free beforehand. Enough said.

Because I didn’t get around to putting up a permanent notice, I now have two sets of award questions waiting for answers.  Raroto of  Duniya Ku  got another one in practically right away, and recently another set came via Millie Thom. Raroto passed on the Very Inspiring Blogger Award, and asked me to reveal 7 things about myself.  I declined the award but promised to do the task.

Holy Trinity Anglican, Photo: National Trust
Holy Trinity Anglican, Photo: National Trust

1. I first married at the end of March 1973. Since this was during Lent , I wasn’t allowed to have the Wedding March, nor decorate the pews (something I hadn’t even thought of). My Uncle Keith gave me away, though I kept hoping my dad would turn up. I have no idea what music I ended up choosing and wouldn’t know it if I heard it today.

2. I was about two cakeweeks pregnant . I’d been to the doctor to get a script for The Pill, as we didn’t want children right away. She gave me a prescription and a sample packet to begin taking on my next period. Didn’t happen.

3. I’m not the motherly sort. But my kids are so darned gorgeous and easy to love, no matter what.

4. Fast forward to February 1989, I went to New Zealand with my best girlfriend from school. We went on a Footloose bus tour for two weeks and then we hired a little car for the third week to see other parts of NZ . I’ve told you that, I think, but I haven’t told you I didn’t want to come back.

5.  So it will not surprise you to learn that I quit my marriage early the next year, 1990.              I really had no good cause for leaving, but when you find yourself considering pushing your husband off the side of a mountain, you just know it is really, really time to get out. We were on a ‘patch-it-up’ trip to Tasmania but the hole just kept getting deeper.  We got out of the rental car to admire the view over a gorge. He stepped over the guard rail, having a natural wont to do reckless stuff. I distinctly remember thinking how lucky I hadn’t followed through since the car keys were in his pocket. I was unwilling to make the marriage work, even refusing his huge offer of attending marriage guidance.

6. Even when he replaced me, I did not take half his farm or superannuation. Never even thought about being so nasty. I’d forfeited my rights. I kept the car and what I considered mine. And the iron. And the microwave.

7. At the end of 1990, I left town and my job as a doctors’ receptionist-nurse and moved  in with Mr R . We married mid 1992. balloon-bannerNow, Millie’s set of 10 questions.  Blogging Sisterhood Award, I think.

1. What do you like best about blogging? That would be meeting interesting people. I communicate better with my fingers.  😀

St Michael and All Angels Church

2. If you could visit any place in the world, where would that place be and why? The Parish Church, Caldecote, Cambridgeshire, England. Because that is where the ancestor who gave me my maiden surname was baptized on 5 Aug 1792. Smith Parish,  the bastard son of Elizabeth. The original baptism font is still there.

3. If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be? I would never have married at 18, but worked at making my dream of riding a motorbike around Australia happen. cep p

4. List 3 things that you are proud of doing / having done. This is a hard one, and why it has taken me so long to respond to this last award (I had forgotten about the other). I have done so much to demean myself and hurt others in the past, that I find it very hard to drum up any pride at all in my present.  I’m proud that I am basically an honest person – despite becoming a liar, mostly by omission, during  the shameful facets of my past. I’m proud that I was able to stop drinking. I’m not proud of stopping smoking – I had no choice as Mr R simply forbade it. I’m proud of the community work I did in the small rural town in which I lived from 1973 to 1990: mother’s club, school council, single-handedly organizing adult education classes under the Country Education Project for our primary school, and being a founding member of the local art group, volunteer work with the aged, secretary of a rural locality fire brigade, writing millions of letters to politicians to get us a 4 wheel drive firetruck. I blush now to think of those melodramatic letters on file somewhere. Okay, there was a bit there to be proud of.  Phew! Nowadays, I’m just too lazy. My only community input these days consists of using plastic bags to hold my shopping –  the local hospital gets 5 cents for each one. Actually, if I wasn’t deaf, I might go write letters for the old folks, or something.

5. What was your favourite subject at school, and why did it appeal so much? I cannot decide between Art and English. I loved drawing, painting and writing as long as I didn’t have to think up a topic for myself. Left to my own devices, my mind would go blank.

6. Is there any particular environmental issue that causes you concern? I am a global warming skeptic. Data is continually being manipulated to fit agendas. Testing of the atmosphere has not been carried out long enough for anyone to know what is a normal cycle. Say we could lower the carbon – what happens if we lower it too much and we begin to lose our atmosphere? It is the atmosphere that stops us from freezing every time the sun goes down. However, that said, I see no reason to keep shitting in our nest.

By David Corby Edited by: Arad (Image:Kittyplya03042006.JPG) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
7. What is your favourite childhood memory? Meeting cats for the first time! It was a long time before I realised my memory was wrong – they weren’t huge cats at all – I was just small. They were past my knees and head butted me. I could feel, as well as hear, them purring and their fur felt like teddy bear fur. We brought a kitten home. Maybe several kittens, as I think (from what mum said) we were living in some type of shed or an old mud house which had half of it devoted to hay storage. Lots of mice and rats about.

8. Who is your favourite character in a novel or film and why do you like them so much? Childhood: Pollyanna inspired me with her positive attitude. That story warned me that things can change and you have to rise above it. Usually you can’t do that on your own. Okay, maybe it was only the picture of the stained glass in the Little Golden Book. The_Sword_of_Truth_cover_designsNow: Kahlan, The Mother Confessor, in Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series. She remains positive, determined, thinks things through, and knows when she needs to ask for help. But not all the time, because she isn’t perfect.

9. What is your greatest ambition in life? I want to live to 80. I think that might be do-able, as long as I live a healthier life. I’d like more time, but if that is all I can have, so be it.

10. What is the biggest compliment you have ever had? I still remember my surprise when nominated for the spot as President of a Christian Fellowship group (Uniting Church). I’d been persuaded to attend these social meetings by another young mother. I thought these women must like me. It wasn’t something I had considered possible. balloon-banner Too much?

Posted in Bite Size Memoir

Bite Size Memoir: Bad Hair Day

Posted for Lisa’s Bite Size Memoir: Bad Hair Day using the 10 ‘I remember’ statements instead of 150 words.

“Velvet”, 5 blocks of yellow soap in single bar, wrapped in red & blue printed paper… From the Powerhouse Museum Collection, NSW, under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial

I remember when my hair was washed once a week, on Sundays. Mum used yellow Velvet soap as there wasn’t shampoo those days. Velvet (now made by Pental) was sold in Northern Australia as Sunlight soap.  Do you remember how hard soap was, once? Nowadays, I remove the packaging right away, to let it dry  out.

Velvet soap, a later style

I remember my sister usually kept her hair short. One day she told me how she had always felt disgusted, standing behind me on the school bus, looking at the dandruff on the shoulders of my high school blazer.

1969, pigtails

I remember wearing my hair in plaits, a ponytail, or pigtails – kept under control with rubber bands, ribbons, scrunchies, hairclips, or headbands. My aunt fixed it in a bun a few times, and I pestered mum to do it every morning before school until the novelty wore off.

1971, single pigtail

I remember the first time I had my hair styled. It was for my first wedding in 1973. It was lovely and boofy for days.

April Fools Day, 1973
April Fools Day, 1973

I remember how your scalp itches like mad as soon as anyone mentions nits or lice. I don’t recall having them at school, myself, but the pesky little critters swept through my children’s primary school. We took preventative action.

I remember cutting my fringe and trimming my hair for years. I thought I did a pretty good job, too. Nowadays, I still just hack at my fringe when I feel like it. Who takes notice of someone nearly sixty! I intend having a trim for my sixtieth.


I remember putting colour rinses  and permanent colours in my hair, usually chestnut or cherry – never ever blonde. The closest I ever got to blonde was tips in the late 80s. My sister peroxided hers, but the idea just never appealed to me.

1989, with blonde tips

I remember the first time I had a perm, an afro of course, about 1980. The hairdresser commented on how uneven my hair ends were. Not surprising. I began using conditioner for the first time after my perm. I still have my afro comb.

1980, with my Japanese penpal. The afro is half grown out by now.
1980, with my Japanese penpal. The afro is half grown out by now.

In 1990, I remember seeing a barmaid with a glorious head of hair of all shades of brown and grey, and I thought to myself, if I go grey like that, I will be happy. Now, in full sunlight, my hair gleams silver.

2011, with my self inflicted style
2011, with my self inflicted style

I remember my sister’s memorial service, one of my nephews saying: “Oh yes, Christine, of course I recognize you. Still got the mullet, I see.”  I had it cut shortly after that.

2011 - shortest haircut - ever
2011 – a few days later with my shortest haircut – ever