Growing up occupied my young mind back then. In one very early episode, we lived beside stop 4 on the tram run from Adelaide to Glenelg at Forestville in South Australia. I stood on a seat in the back yard beside my parents saying, 'Ta I dump?' (Shall I jump?) I must have been about three. My mother told me the story several times over the years, which helped cement it in my mind. I felt proud and adventurous, knowing my effort might go wrong and I'd end up hurting myself. It's only looking back that I see what courage I showed back then. I didn't know that other people could do the same thing without pain. But I faced a twinge in my hips each time. You see, I'd been born with malformed hips, a condition that midwives didn't test back then.
Another scene stands out clearly in my mind because of the pain and trauma. 'The lounge jumped out and bit me.' As I walked by, the settee or sofa scratched me on the thigh. In my mind, the lump of furniture became a monster which could lurch from a seemingly static position and inflict pain. Perhaps that's when I first limped, thrusting one hip to the side, because of my undiagnosed hip condition.
And then there's the time I climbed up to a kitchen cupboard and took a spoonful of mustard instead of what I imagined to be peanut butter.
A careful child from then on, I played like every other youngster in my area, got up to mischief, hung upside down on the monkey bars at the playground and fell, skinning my nose and cheeks.
My sister, born four years after me, arrived to claim part of the attention my parents had devoted to me. I can't remember being jealous, or even interested. Perhaps mothers didn't devote as much time to introducing the new baby as they do now. We moved many times during my early years. In the late 40s, we took a long train trip and arrived in Melbourne with cases. I can't remember my father being with us. My mother found a maisonette (2 joined houses) in Prahran, now known colloquially as 'Pran'. We'd shop at Chapel Street Market, which has run continuously since 1864. I didn't really understand that we were 'poor'. My mother would cook yummy things like apple fritters. I guess the fresh fruit and vegetables built healthy bodies for me and my sisters, the younger one arriving at the turn of the decade. I wrote about my mother's plight on Jan 25th.
When the 40s came to an end, Australia was struggling from the loss of men and a low economy. But the country did much better than England, where the people like my present husband lived on meager rations. My mother had her own struggles after being abandoned to raise three girls on her own. Neither of these conditions affected me much at the time. I was absorbed in growing up. With food in my belly and clothes on my back, what more could I want?
What were your younger days like?