A few pictures of our mum, Carol, born in 1921, died 1987.
I decided to reblog this post which I wrote in 2016 because it has been three years now that David has been gone. I like to remember the good times we had.
David at Port Huon 2014
One of the things that David and I enjoyed was going for a drive together. Sometimes we had a plan, where we would go and what we would do, other times we just picked a direction. David always carried a camera in the car, he was old school and still using film cameras long after I’d switched to a digital camera.
After I started this blog I would sometimes ask him if we could go for a drive so I could take photos of something or other. Every year for about five years we would go for a drive along the Channel Highway when the scarecrow competition was being held and David would stop the car every time I spotted one I wanted to photograph. When I said that I wanted to photograph the apple blossoms he happily drove me around the orchards till I…
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I spent a good part of the evening looking through old photos in the hope of finding something in particular. That did not happen but I did find some very old pictures of Vanda and me on one of our first trips to Sydney together. One time we went over on a coach and stayed in a cheap hotel in The Cross. Vanda took this snap of me at a local café. I’m not sure if it is Jeffries or not but I remember they had the best Black Forest cake ever. The photo of Vanda was taken on the ferry going to Birkenhead Point. At one time they had a great little shopping centre where I bought quite a few clothes and stuff. On the way over it was very windy and when I gave my fare money to the young guy it blew out of his hands and into the drink. I still got my change as he said it was his fault which was very kind of him. It was still paper money in those days. Anyway here are some happy holiday snaps.
I found this post that I wrote a couple of years ago so I decided to rewrite it a bit and run it again for those who came in late as they say in the Phantom comics. Feel free to skip it if you have read it before.
Naomi and I went to the Hobart Model Railway Show. It is usually held at the Tasmanian Transport Museum in Glenorchy. It is always a busy day for them and they fired up their M class steam locomotive on the Sunday.
Seeing a live steam engine made us nostalgic. We spent a lot of our teenage years traveling on steam excursions around South Australia. Naomi said that she thought that those were probably the best times we had in our lives. I tend to agree. We were so lucky that we were in the right place at the right time to do that.
It all started when I was about thirteen. We were in Adelaide with mum one day when I saw a big sign advertising a school holiday trip on a steam train. I asked mum if she would take us as my birthday treat. She agreed and we had such a good time we wanted to go again. The next year mum let us go by ourselves and soon we were regularly doing trips on Saturday or Sunday afternoons around the suburbs.
I remember how in 1972 we got a brochure in the mail with the latest trips being run and one of them was a weekend trip to Victor Harbour, a seaside town about 50 miles away from Adelaide. I was fifteen and we didn’t really expect that we would be allowed to go away overnight without an adult but we asked anyway. Much to our surprise mum said we could go if we could get someone older to go with us. We produced a seventeen year old cousin and that was acceptable. We took sleeping bags and slept in the carriages in the station yard. Can you imagine the horror of parents today if three teenage girls did that? Naomi was only thirteen. Rail fans, then and now, were predominantly men a lot older than we were. However, in all the time we went on trips together we never felt unsafe or had any trouble with men. Most were just surprised that two girls would be interested in trains.
After that trip we went as often as we could afford. Once I turned sixteen we were allowed to go without a chaperone although our cousin sometimes came along too. At that time there were still many country towns that could be reached by rail and as we were too young to drive it was an ideal way to see the countryside in safety. We went to country shows and festivals like the Cornish Festival in the “copper triangle” of Moonta, Wallaroo and Kadina and the Orange Festival in the Riverland district visiting towns like Loxton and Berri. We went on evening trips where there were “listening stops” where everyone could get out of the train usually somewhere in the countryside. You stumbled into a dark paddock and waited while the train reversed back down the track a mile or so and then came forward working hard and whistling. Most people said that for recording the conditions were better at night. We enjoyed standing in the night air listening although we never became avid steam sound recorders. Sometimes we’d stay on the train and watch the people instead especially if it was raining.
Sometimes we went on dinner trips where we’d be served a meal in a 1920s Pullman dining car and other times it would be a run round less used suburban lines to factories or to the docks. When we were a little older we visited wineries although we were always more interested in the trains than the wine. We went on other weekend trips too and even joined the Australian Railway Historical Society. Naomi reminded me how at the meeting where we were accepted as members we got a round of applause when our names were read out. We are not sure if that was because we were girls or because we actually turned up at the meeting as most new members never seemed to be there when their names were called.
We enjoyed the meetings which were held once a month on a week night We’d catch a bus, train or tram down to Goodwood where the meetings used to be held in a hall there. There were a lot of reports read out but the one we always looked forward to was the Tour Manager’s Report. This was the one where you would find out what trips were being planned for the future. We always wanted to go on all of them of course. After the business part of the evening there would be an interval when we’d buy a drink and browse in the book sales area. We could buy books and videos or souvenirs like postards, teaspoons, badges and T-shirts. The sales were one way that the society raised money for their restoration projects. After the break we’d have entertainment, usually a slide show or films, sometimes professionally made but more often than not made by members. Many were excellent, occasionally they were terrible but everyone was polite and always applauded anyway. We still laugh over the memory of the awful slides a member brought of his trip to England. There were numerous slides of clouds taken from the plane and a lot of his railway photos were out of focus. We had a really hard time not laughing.
Traditionally the evening ended at the Pie Cart in front of the Adelaide Station where those of us catching public transport home usually ended up buying a hot drink or snack. Occasionally once we got to know people we’d be offered rides back to the city. I have one hazy memory of several of us squashed in to a Volkswagon Beetle with our bags, a picture someone had bought and Naomi somehow squashed onto someone’s knee in the back because she was the smallest.
I can still remember the sheer excitement I felt on the morning of a trip. We’d get to the city early and would run up to the end of the platform to watch the locomotive arriving. We were not the only ones, there was usually a crowd of other rail fans with cameras and families with children doing the same thing. “Look, there’s the smoke.” someone would say. “There’s the whistle, here she comes.” and soon we’d see the engine and tender reversing into the station and backing onto the train.
We’d stand on the end platforms of the old wooden carriages or stick our heads out of the windows risking getting soot in our eyes. Many rail fans wore goggles but we never did. Sometimes we took a packed lunch and a thermos of tea which we frequently seemed to break. Other times we bought box lunches usually consisting of a bit of chicken, a bit of ham, piece of cheese, bread roll and a pickle followed by a slab of fruit cake. We still call that particular light fruit cake “railway cake” when we see it. If we were still hungry we could buy sweets, potato chips and drinks from the baggage car later.
Those were such great days, we met lots of friendly people, saw places, laughed a lot and learned new things. You really could not ask for more than that.
I just finished changing the bed sheets and am reminded again how hard it is to break old habits. I was always very careful when making our bed to make sure that badly fitting sheets were properly pulled into place on David’s side of the bed and that there was enough quilt on his side. He was a restless sleeper and I knew he would end up destroying the bed if I didn’t make sure everything was tucked down.It doesn’t matter now but I still make the bed that way and I still sleep on the other side. I can’t bring myself to lie in the middle of the bed. Of course that is partly because I would not be able to read the clock face or reach my glasses from there.
Last week I moved all my doll and craft books to a shelf in the middle of the bookcase. David found it hard to bend to reach the lower shelves and was too heavy to use our stepladder so all his books were on the middle shelves and mine were at the bottom or right at the top. It’s taken me a year to realise it’s OK to move them now.
The there are still half a dozen rolls of film in my freezer which I can’t yet bring myself to throw out. I don’t need them but I hate wasting them.
I rarely sit in the armchair that he used most often. The one that I placed in front of the disused fireplace because the force of him sitting down always made chairs slide backwards and the brick hearth prevented that from happening. Cindy has no qualms though and she often sleeps in it.
I still find myself saying “we” when I mean “I”.
I suppose these things will change eventually. I’ve bought a new bed, a single, but haven’t started using it yet because I want to paint the bedroom first and I should probably take the films to the Op Shop. I’m moving on but slowly.
I often wonder what will happen to our photos when we are gone. Perhaps some family member will enjoy looking them over before they are consigned to a box forever. It is true though that while everyone takes pictures all the time now not so many people have them on display. A desire to preserve memories was the reason that I and many other people became interested in scrapbooking. Technology comes and goes but a photo album is something you can take out and look at again and again.
They’re everywhere. In your phone, on your tablet, you have your point-n-shoot, and maybe even a DSLR. A few might even own a film camera. You can’t escape the selfies, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. People are deluged with photographs. And today, people are taking more pictures than ever before. It’s been estimated that in the past 5 years, more photos have been taken than all the prior years combined.
The sad part is that few of these photographs will survive beyond a year. To many people, a “picture” is only good for the moment. Moms and Dads want to snap every little movement of that new baby. Grandma wants to see everyone one of those too. When you want to show off the new puppy, you pull out the phone. And in a week, none of them have any real meaning and might even get “deleted” just to make…
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Clothes and toys, recipes and jokes, advice and prejudice: we all have to handle all sorts of hand-me-downs every day. Tell us about some of the meaningful hand-me-downs in your life.
I don’t really like the term Hand Me Downs. It gives the impression of the younger brother or sister who always had to wear older siblings clothing and never received anything new; or of being considered a poor relation and an object of charity. I prefer to think of myself as the guardian or curator of our family history in the form of possessions and memories.
As I am the older of two sisters I didn’t have to wear hand me down clothing often. Occasionally I was given some from a cousin who was a few years older but my sister often complains even now that she had to wear not only my discarded clothing but some from another cousin as well.
I should say that I was not ashamed to wear pre-loved clothes, it’s just more fun to get something new that you have some say in choosing yourself. Pre-loved clothing was not always the colour or style that suited you and was frequently too large.Mum would then utter the dreaded words “You’ll grow into it.” Again, this happened to my sister more often than me as I was solid while she was a slip of thing. As an adult I have worn clothing that was passed on to me by other relatives and have bought clothing at Op Shops. Recycling is great. I just don’t like the term “hand me downs”.
There are other things that have been passed down through both my family and my husband’s family that would only be knick knacks to others but to us are family heirlooms. For me it is a collection of brass ornaments which my grandmother bought while the family was living in Egypt and India in the 1930s. I doubt they are valuable but when I look at them I remember sitting listening to mum telling us stories from her childhood. Even more precious are the old photographs that I am now the custodian of. Pictures of my grandparents as young people, of mum and her brother and sisters as children, a special album of photos taken by the aunt that died in India, mum’s wedding album and the photos she took of us as children. I also have mum’s collection of monkey ornaments. She loved monkeys and people would always give them to her as gifts.
On Hubby’s side we have a ship in a bottle thought to have been made by his great-grandfather who was a sailor and came from Denmark or maybe Norway. We have some pictures that belonged to Hubby’s parents and a couple that came from his grandmother’s house and some ruby glasses that belonged to a favourite aunt. All these things were part of his life for a long time so it feels right to have them here.
Of course there are other things that get passed on too like mum’s recipe for beef stew which my sister and I still both make in winter. There are bad jokes like when one of us says “I’ll go and put the kettle on.” and the other says “I didn’t think it would fit you.” My sister and I remember how mum hated that her in laws referred to cutlery as “tools” so sometimes when we’re together instead of offering to lay the table for dinner I’ll say “I’ll get the tools.” I still have my “lucky” sponge cake pans, they belonged to my grandmother and I used them when I first learned to make cakes and I have a fork she used to use to mix them with. I still use that sometimes although I’m lazy and prefer an electric mixer for most things.
Yes, there is a lot to be said for Hand Me Downs.