Its funny living right now where everything we do revolves around the internet, technology, screens, emails, facebook, twitter etc, etc, and everyone is in such a rush that if you cant multi task there must be something wrong with you. Sometimes it’s very easy to forget that I grew up in a different world not so long ago.
A world where there were only 4 channels of TV to choose from, Channel 2 (ABC), 7, 9 and O now better known as Channel 10, no mobile phones stuck to people’s ears or fingers and where people conversed instead of texted. Our home telephone was a landline and there was only one between a family of eight (we did not each have our own) so after 5 minutes of talking you were told to hang up. And..hang up we did! Our family yearly holiday was travelling to Torquay every year for three weeks while my best friend’s family holidayed at Rye. Because that was such a long time in between chats, I wrote letters on what I had been up to and walked to the post office to send it to tell her my news. If we needed to find out anything or do some research for school projects, it was a trip to the local library to search for what we were wanting to know. Nowdays we dont even need to leave our house with the biggest catalogue at our fingertips, the internet. I still recall when we all went ‘online’ and could search for things over the other side of the world, something we nearly take for granted now.
So many things have changed since I was born nearly 50 years ago that it’s easy to forget there was once upon a time where none of this exsited. With my impending half a century birthday looming, I have had a fun time remembering what my life was like as I turn back the clock to when I entered this earth in the 60’s, became a teenager in the 70’s and left school in the 80’s. I am often reminded of my age at work when I listen to co-workers speaking of being born in the 80’s or 90’s or hearing comments such as ‘I wasn’t born then’ and I realise just how far I have come along in my life.
So, if you are a little bit interested in what life was like back then and how we spent our time without the technology of today, when life wasn’t as crazy and fast paced as it is now then let me take you on a journey…which doesnt really feel all that long ago…but when I look back, Australia and the world have come a long way since I entered this relm…
When I was born, Australia did not even have decimal currency, this was introduced when I was 2 years old. Before that our currency was based on the old British system of 12 pence to a shilling, 20 shillings to a pound. Since then, I have seen the $1 and $2 notes changed to gold coins and the twelve sided 50 cent coin and $50 and $100 note introduced.
I was born into a Catholic family, attended Catholic schools and went to church each Sunday and every morning at 6am during Lent. I was one of 6 children so we did not grow up spoilt with too many toys, in fact we shared everything we did ever get and played in the back yard mostly with games we made up using our imagination. We shared rooms, girls in one, boys in the other as our house was a small 3 bedroom when I came along. We even had an ‘out house’ at the back (toilet).
These were days where our milk was delivered to the front door by the ‘Milkman’ and his horse clip clopping down the street very early each morning. Later on when my sister and the twins arrived there were extentions to the back of the house but for the first 8 years of my life, life was fairly simple. There was still land surrounding the houses in Glenroy in those days and our family did not own a car until I was in grade one or two so we walked everywhere including to school and back home again which was 2 miles away. Not once in my seven years of primary school did I get a lift. We walked in over 40 degrees heat, hail and rainstorms collecting all the neighbours along the way as we made our own games and inventions on how to carry our heavy bags. A vivid childhood memory of those days is all of us along with the neighbour’s children walking to school each day with one poor child having to carry all of the school bags on a big stick, someone found, then the next day it was someone elses turn, the things you agree to when you are that little!
Another early memory of school days was watching John Farnham marry his wife, Jill across the road from where our school was, I think the whole school was out in the playground that day!
As I was one of six children life was never dull. We were not allowed to play out the front and lucky for us had a very large backyard where we would all play quite contently together, with occasional visits from the neighbour’s kids or our best friends who were allowed to stay overnight but always played in the backyard. My mum never worked outside the home so basically she was always there. I do not recall many times where my mum just was not in the house. When she had to walk up to ‘Waltons’ in Glenroy to collect her layby’s of wool to knit our winter jumpers or to ‘Coles New World’ to do the supermarket shopping we would all tag along, holding on to her hands or the pram with the twins in it. On one of these trips, I remember Mum losing my little sister and she was found later at the local policestation. Other trips out would be a visit to our Grandmother’s house for Dad to mow her lawn, and we would meet up often with our cousins and play in Grandma’s back yard then have the most wonderful ‘Spider’ drinks before heading back home. Occasionally Mum would take us into ‘Town’ which I still call it, to collect a cup and saucer she had painstakenly saved up for with her lipton tea coupons.
Vivid childhood memories which will always be with me are the lit up Skipping Girl we used to pass in Richmond each Friday night as my aunts took me and my sister to stay in Belgrave with my Grandparents on my mother’s side to give mum a rest. The black soot from Puffing Billy and the smell of ferns in the rain will forever be etched into my psyche.
So what did we do to spend our time without iphones or electronic gadgets? We played games such as hopscotch, elastic, board games such as monopoly or scrabble, checkers, boggle or Uno or the boy’s favourite Cricket which would keep us entertained for hours on end. Or when our girlfriends were invited to visit out would come the swapcards which we lovingly collected for years, oh did we love those.
My childhood favourite TV shows were, The Brady Bunch, Get Smart, Gilligan’s Island,Gidget, Mr Ed, The Young Talent Time & The wonderful world of Dysney. The Brady Bunch was my favourite and because I also grew up with three boys and three girls, yes you guessed it, we imagined we were the Brady Bunch! I was Marcia, being the eldest sister.
And later on as a teenager, Countdown, The Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, Charlie’s Angels and The Bionic Man. And when I was not watching TV or playing outside you would find me in my room with a book where I could spend the whole afternoon without getting bored.
Favourite reads of that era:
Every Enid Blyton book ever written
Tin Tin comics
Changes I have seen
I have seen TAA (Trans Australian Airlines) turn into Qantas and Ansett Australia fold. I flew on one of the first airbuses in service to London making international flying more comfortable and quicker. I have seen Australia’s population increase from 10.5 million to 23.5 million. I have seen the Melbourne International airport built over time and the roads changing around it. Many new buildings and new roads have gone up and changed the landscape as surburbia in the northern corridor expanded. Broadmeadows, Mickhalem, Mill Park, South Morang and Craigieburn right up to Kilmore were all paddocks when I was a little girl. New roads such as the Eastern Freeway, The Western Ring Road, City Link and the Geelong Freeway have made travel within this city quicker and accessable to many thousands of drivers.
Along with the expansion of a city there has been undeniable pain with natural disasters and dispicable acts expended and of course the two biggest events etched in my childhood mind was the collapse of the West Gate Bridge in 1970 and Cyclone Tracey in 1974. My dad bought ‘The Herald‘ home with him from work so I often glimpsed at pictures from the evening news and as a young girl I remember feeling real pain for the parents of Eloise Worledge who went missing when I was about 12 years old. I also vividly remember the Queen Street Masacre and Hoddle Street shootings which occured in my early twenties. In more recent times and with more television coverage than earlier decades horrors around the world come though our TV’s at night, terrorist attacks such as the Bali Bombings, 9/11, natural disasters such as Ash Wednesday and Black Saturday and the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami, just to name a few.
My Teens began in 1977 where I could listen to my own ’45 records and wear my bell bottom pants. Colour TV had only been around for 2 years at this stage. It was a time of colour. Fashion as we all know in the 70’s was wild and colourful, some of which is making a reappearance (well on my daughter anyway)
The eighties saw the end of my school years and the beginning of driving and working in my first full time job at the local library. My first car was a blue ford escort and I ventured out on my first overseas holiday to Bali.
Music I was listening to around this time was Fleetwood Mac, Blonde, Kim Wilde, Kate Bush, The Cars, Sherbet, Meatloaf, Australian Crawl and Cold Chisel.
Once I began full time work computers were starting to make a presence. In fact they were so big that they would take up a whole floor and you had to go into a cold room to change the tapes at night.
About 10 years later, computers did get smaller and the first emails began to surface. I still recall sending my husband my first email and was so excited to recieve an answer back, something taken for granted now. Mobile phones or what we now describe as ‘bricks’ began surfacing. The first mobile phones we used were huge!
Cars were a lot different too. Most families I knew had big station wagons as most of us grew up in large families. My dad did not get his first car until I was about 7 years old. It was a white HR Holden station wagon and I can still remember the rego JXG692. There were no seatbelts or limits on passengers then, we all just piled in, kids in the front sitting between Dad and his passenger then the rest of us over in the back. Only once do I remember an accident where a few of us were hurt. I do remember a few times though when Dad forgot to put the handbreak on and the car rolled down a few hills, with all of us in it!
Trains were red when I was younger with windows you could open as they were not air conditioned and they rattled a little which is why we called them the ‘red rattlers’. Later on these were replaced by the ‘Blue Trains’.
Golden gaytimes (my favourite icecream)
Choo choo bars
The surfie culture
Toscas (my favourite chocolate bar)
Puffing Billy trainrides
Little blue velvet dress
Dairy Queen icecream
Hot pants and cork heeled high shoes
Despite the changes I have seen in my life, I think the biggest change over the past 50 years are of course on a much larger scale than my little world, the social and human rights and far reaching global issues, too many to mention here and until we all together learn to take responsibility of the world in which we live, accept all individuals and living creatures as equal and coexist in peace, we still have a long, long way to go.
My biggest hope before I depart this word is that I see tolerance and acceptance amongst humanity despite our differences. And for all humans to learn that if we are to move forward on this planet we are visiting, the only answer is peace and love to all. My strongest example is to live each day as a loving person, do what I can, as little as it may seem and live my life with dignity and respect.
It’s been fun remembering the life I have lived to date and it helps to occasionally realise just how far I have come, how my life has evolved with all the changes I have seen and to remember and appreciate the different developments I lived through along with some great memories. I hope you have found some laughs and great memories too, some of which you may have forgotten.
Well, as I celebrate and close the door on the first fifty years of my life, I give thanks to still being here and wonder what might be coming next, may it be as wonderful and memorable as the first fifty yearsl! xx