Tales of Terror: Times Past

The Beaumont Children

Baby Boomer: Suburban Australia

My sister, cousins and I had a reasonably free childhood once we came to Australia. Our home was in Elizabeth, north of Adelaide. We could play in the street in front of our houses or go to a nearby park which didn’t require crossing the main road. We older ones could walk to the local shops for ice cream or comics and sometimes to another park when the “Trampoline Man” came for a few days in the school holidays. Our suburb was pretty quiet except at around 4pm when the local factories let out and all the workers came home.

When I was around twelve my eldest cousin and I were both allowed to go to “the big shops” at Elizabeth Town Centre or the library alone.

Me aged around 14

Even though they allowed us our freedom I’m sure our parents worried about us and we did get into trouble if we went off without telling them where we were going or failed to return at the appointed time.

Naomi and I arrived in Australia with our mum on 23 January 1966. Three days later on 26 January, three young children, Jane, Arnna, and Grant Beaumont disappeared from Glenelg beach not far from Adelaide. They were never heard of again.

Glenelg Beach in summer.jpg
By eguidetravel – https://www.flickr.com/photos/eguidetravel/5399982086/, CC BY 2.0, Link

If ever our parents needed a cautionary tale there was one. They impressed on us that we should not talk to or go off with strangers. It certainly made an impression on me because the eldest girl, Jane was the same age as me. To our parents’ credit, this didn’t stop them from letting us go places on our own but I know that mum always worried until we returned safely and I am sure my aunt and uncle did too although my cousins were not fond of walking so their dad would usually get a call to pick them up from wherever they had gone or  be asked to drive them here or there. Naomi and I usually walked everywhere.


Times Past: The Biggest Change

Ch Ch Ch Changes

Baby Boomer: Australia Suburban

It is hard to pick just one thing that as the biggest change in my lifetime. About the only thing that hasn’t changed is that we still have the same Queen.

One very big change that has occurred in my lifetime is that here in Australia we no longer manufacture goods the way we did when I was a child.

When I was growing up there were numerous factories. In Elizabeth where I lived for several years there were factories making jeans, sewing machines, white goods and of course cars at the Holden plant. I can remember when I was a child that at around four o’clock our normally quiet suburban street would suddenly be full of cars as workers returned home after their shifts at the factory.

An ad from an old Woman’s Day from 1976.

In other suburbs around Adelaide there were more factories, Chrysler, later Mitsubishi with two plants and other factories who supplied them with parts, Actil  made towels and bed linen, Golden Breed made T-shirts and sweatshirts, Perry Engineering, Castalloy, Hills Industries, Simpson, Pope, Kelvinator, Sabco and Clipsal were all names that South Australians knew.

Ford had their factory in Geelong, Victoria and there was another Holden plant at Fisherman’s Bend.  We even had our own toy manufacturers, Cyclops, Metti, Verna to mention a few.

Frigidaire advertisement from an old magazine 1948 so a bit before my day.

Today many of those companies are gone. Cars are no longer manufactured or even assembled in Australia. You can’t buy an Australian made fridge and many other products formerly made here are now made in other countries where labour is cheaper. Even here in Tassie our Blundstone boots are now made overseas.

I think it is very sad. We were proud of our Australian brands and those factories provided employment and a decent wage for many.

Below you can read an article on the closing of the last Holden factory, the one in Elizabeth not far from where I used to live.

Holden made in Australia 1948 – 2017




Conversation Time: Times Past

Conversation Time

Baby Boomer –  Australian City/Suburban

In my family we seem to be kitchen conversationalists. We lived a couple of different places growing up but long conversations generally seemed to happen around the kitchen table.

From the mid sixties to early seventies mum, my sister Naomi and I lived in a Housing Trust rental home in Elizabeth north of Adelaide. It was a semi-detached house and had three bedrooms, living room, kitchen, laundry and bathroom. The kitchen was a large room which incorporated the dining area. It was where we ate all our meals. On schooldays we didn’t linger over breakfast but I do remember mum making toast under the oven grill and that on cold days our dog, Felix, would try to take advantage of the open oven door  by jumping up and sitting on it to keep warm until he was shooed off.

We had a table with a laminated top and metal legs which had four matching red vinyl covered chairs. Actually Naomi still has this table at her house. On weekends when there was no rush mum would cook eggs and bacon in her favourite stainless steel frying pan which Naomi also still has.

Some of Mum’s old pots and pan plus my whistling kettle on the stove. Photo by Naomi

Sometimes we might have boiled eggs with bread “soldiers”,scrambled eggs and toast or maybe porridge. There was always tea, made in a pot and drunk out of mum’s “Weeping Willow” china. Mum liked the Willow pattern china so over the years we had many different variations of it as cups and saucers were broken and needed to be replaced. It ended up that each of us had our own special favourite cup and saucer. As you can see Naomi still has some of this china too.

Weeping Willow dinner set. Photo by Naomi

On those morning we had time to talk. Mum would tell stories about her childhood or about living in England during World War Two. We talked about ghosts and favourite pets and what we would do when we won the lottery. We’d make a second pot of tea and even a third until mum realised that it was eleven o’clock and she had to “get on”.

Sunday lunch was a special meal for us too as we’d always have roast lamb, baked potatoes and veg and Yorkshire pudding. As we played in the kitchen sometimes we were often around when mum was cooking but she didn’t insist that we help with the preparations. We rarely had guests, maybe a little friend of Naomi’s or one of our cousins who lived down the road. That was another meal when we talked a lot.

Later, when mum remarried we moved to another house where the kitchen was much smaller. Although it was a squeeze we often did still sit there to drink tea and talk after a meal.

Even today if I’m visiting Naomi at her house we sometimes sit in the kitchen over a second cup of tea talking after a meal although nowadays we both prefer to move to the living room which is warmer and has more comfortable chairs but the talking continues.

Plastic Toys and Green Shield Stamps

Times Past: Consumerism

Baby Boomer:Town, UK

When I was a child in the early 1960’s mum would often take my sister and I with her to the shops in the Romford town centre. Sometimes that meant a visit to Romford Market which was always interesting but we also visited the department stores. The one I remember best was Woolworth’s. I loved going into Woolworth’s. It had a wooden floor and there were counters divided into compartments that each held different types of cheap  plastic toys.  There would be farm or zoo animals,  cowboys and indians, dolls house dolls  and different types of cars and trucks to mention a few that we could afford to buy with our pocket money. Today these same toys are very collectible. I think that in those days Romford also had Marks & Spencer, C&A , Stones and possibly British Home Stores. I don’t suppose many of those still exist. I do remember being bought a winter coat in one of those stores, it was red with  a furry collar. Mum usually bought our shoes in Romford too so we could try them on but a lot of our other clothes came from catalogues.

Mum liked the catalogues and often ordered dresses for herself and little outfits for my sister and I from them. I think she used them because she could pay for things over time.  I am not sure what stores these catalogues came from however, John Lewis may have been one. She sometimes bought us the same outfit but in different colours. I remember knitted “ski outfits” knitted trousers in a solid colour with a matching striped jumper and maybe there was a hat with a bobble as well. Mine was shades of brown, my sister had royal blue. I liked hers better. I’ve never been a fan of brown clothes but I grew out of mine very quickly. It was fun to look at the pictures in the catalogues with mum.


Green Shield stamp.jpg
By Source, Fair use, Link

Groceries and other every day items were bought locally at the shops in Rush Green near where we lived. My favourite shop there was the newsagent who also had toys in the window. I can remember looking at displays. We had a few cowboys with wagon trains and some Mexicans with sombrero’s and guns but I liked the Indians best, they had cooking fires, totem poles and tee-pees which we called “wig-wams” and there were mothers with babies as well as warriors and chiefs.  I don’t recall seeing any cowgirls or Mexican senoritas ever. We would also buy Matchbox and Husky cars at the  local shop and I think that my first national costume dolls may have come from there. The newsagent had sweets too, chocolates and toffee, liquorice all sorts and sherbet and those fake cigarettes called “Fags”. I also remember pipes made out of chocolate which we sometimes bought. My grandfather smoked a pipe but although I liked chocolate pipes and pretend cigarettes it did not turn me into a smoker. I knew the real ones smelled nasty.

Some of the shops issued their own stamps which you stuck in a book and when you had enough you could cash them in for goods. This is how I got my first Sindy doll. Mum saved up her Green Shield stamps to get her for me. I still have her too.

My original Sindy in Country Walk


Toys I do or wish I still had: Times Past

My Favourite Toys

This post is in answer to Irene’s “Times Past” challenge.

Baby Boomer: England/Australia

Have you kept or still wish you had any childhood toy?

I am lucky enough to still have some of my childhood toys. Many of them were carefully packed and brought over from England when we moved to Australia in 1965. One toy that did not make the journey is my doll’s house which I now know was a Triang dolls house. I don’t think it was new when I got it but I loved it. Mum had made little curtains out of scraps and I had some nice furniture, some wooden and some plastic.  Of the toys that came to Australia with me I still have  my large baby doll Theresa,Christine who is a walking doll, my fashion dolls Sindy, Tammy and Tressy and some smaller dolls.

Some things were given away when I was a teenager and one that I especially regret giving away is James, my old Teddy Bear. I gave James to the local hospital. He was an old bear stuffed with excelsior and he was probably destroyed in short order.

There were some toys that we didn’t have that we’d have loved to have owned. In summer we’d visit relatives and we were allowed to play with our cousins’ toys. One had a toy fort which I admired and I think there was a Noah’s Ark. Another had what in England we called a “Wendy House”, Aussie kids call them cubbies.

One of my childhood dolls
One of my childhood dolls

Did you have a favourite toy as a child?

I had several favourites, the doll’s house and the dolls that lived in it were frequently played with but I also loved my train set and my farm and zoo animals. I also really loved paper dolls.

Did you have a lot of toys or only a few?

My sister and I were lucky, we had lots of toys and although mum never had a lot of money if she knew we really wanted something she would try to get it for us. We were also lucky that she taught us how to use our imaginations and we could play with the same toys all day and not get bored.

Were your toys gender determined?

No, again we were lucky that both our parents did not think that because we were girls we could only play with dolls. We did have toys intended for girls, cooking sets and a toy washing machine to use with our dolls and cuddly toys but we also had Lego and other types of building blocks, we had trucks and Matchbox cars, little plastic soldiers and cowboys and Indians that we bought from the local newsagent. I had an electric train set. I don’t think many little girls in the early sixties had those.

As adults my sister and I have become collectors. I collect dolls, she collects toys and has hunted down and replaced some of our childhood favourites. we are always happy when she locates another one of them.

image toy washing machine
We had a dolls washing machine like this.

Times Past: Grainy Memories

This month I’ve decided to dabble in Irene Water’s Times Past blog challenge. Here is what Irene asks us to do.

Times Past is a monthly prompt challenge that I hope will give us social insights into the way the world has changed between not only generations but also between geographical location. The prompt can be responded to in any form you enjoy – prose, poetry, flash, photographs, sketches or any other form you choose. You may like to use a combination of the two. I will also add a series of questions for those that would like to join in but don’t know where to start.

Heading your response please put what generation you belong to, your country and whether you lived in a rural or city environment at the time of your story.

Prompt No 3. Beach Memories. Did you go for holidays to the seaside? What kind of swimming costume did you wear? What activities did you do? Did you slip slop slap from an early age or did you bake yourself to a crisp? Did you eat ice cream after a swim? If so what kind did you normally have or was your favourite. The first time you went to the beach without your parents who did you go with? Any beach memories you’d care to share – I’d love to read them.

Baby Boomer Memories from Britain and Australia.


Clacton Pier 01 (Piotr Kuczynski).jpg
By PkuczynskiOwn work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6071093

I lived in England until I was eight years old and every summer mum would take us to visit our grandparents in Clacton on Sea for  most of the month of August or to her brother’s home in Brightlingsea while his family vacationed elsewhere. I enjoyed those holidays. Clacton Pier was a fascinating place with a Helter Skelter, carousels, dodgems and many sideshows. Further down the beach was Butlins where we were once taken for a day visit. On the beach itself there was Punch and Judy and my favourite, the donkey rides. As we didn’t have a lot of money in those days these things were a treat and we did not do all of them every year. If you went to the Pier one day it was sandwiches and a flask of tea on the beach the next. I remember bright sticks of “Clacton Rock” which we were allowed to have once a visit for a treat, ice cream “cornets” or a tub (dandy in Australia) or perhaps an iced lolly shaped like a rocket, it was the sixties after all. People sat in front of their “Shally’s”  in deck chairs and read the papers or went to sleep in the sun. I wished we had one as well. I loved going past the little shops that had racks of postcards, buckets and spades and fishing nets spilling out of the doorways. I still have a love of British seaside towns to this day.


Beach huts and lifebelt, Brightlingsea - geograph.org.uk - 1141640.jpg
By Bob Jones, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13852826

In Australia going to the beach was a very different experience. We lived in Elizabeth, South Australia, a long way from the beach so as a child trips to the beach were made with my aunt and uncle and their family.

Imagine; it’s something like ninety degrees fahrenheit and three adults, four children and a baby are packed into a non air-conditioned car for what seemed like hours.  On the way to Semaphore Beach we passed the abbatoirs which stunk and the sewage works which smelled just as bad. My aunt and uncle smoked, my cousins fought over the window seats, mum always wanted the windows closed, everyone else wanted them open. I usually felt like I was going to be sick.

The beaches were longer and more sandy than the stony English beaches I was used to but there was always a lot of smelly seaweed.   At Semaphore there was a fun fair which my cousins always wanted to go to but were not usually allowed so of course my sister and I could not go either. We would buy ice cream though and sit under a striped canvas beach shelter in the shade if we were not paddling or playing in the water.  We’d do the things kids do, bury each other in the sand, dig holes and make sand castles. It was nice and cool in the sea but then you would have to rinse the salt and sand off, get dressed and get back into the hot car with grumpy, smoky adults to go home again.

Middle Beach was different again and in my mind it was not a proper seaside beach.  It had mangrove swamps and to my mind was not a very attractive place in those days. There were no rides, donkeys or ice cream, just sand, swamp and flies. The beach was not my favourite outing I’m afraid.

Middle Beach -South Australia – Public Domain, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12972178

As an adult I rarely went to the beach. I did with my husband when we were first going out together. We decided to spend the  day at Glenelg, went to the fun fair, played mini golf and went in the water but he managed to get himself so sunburned that he was too sore to do anything for a week.  After we were married we moved to the beachside suburb of Hallett Cove. It’s a small rocky beach and we used to enjoy walking there with our dogs when it was quiet. I would walk there most days during the 25 years or so that we lived there but not to swim or sunbathe. I still don’t like the hot sand burning my bare feet or being out in the glaring sun for too long but I do like being beside the seaside.

Beachfront Semaphore South Australia.jpg
Semaphore South Australia – By en:User:Mudkipsblahen:User:Mudkipsblah
Originally uploaded to EN Wikipedia as en:File:Semaphore.jpg.JPG by en:User:Mudkipsblah 26 June 2007., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7885179