Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Growing Up in North Queensland

The wickerwork pram - note reversible hood to cater for all sun conditions.

Visiting a local community museum a few weeks ago triggered memories.

What really took me back was a wickerwork pram (see pic) which was exactly the same as one owned by my family in the fifties.

My brother (18 months younger than me) remembers it, but the remaining four siblings don't. That's unsurprising, because it was wrecked by the time they came along, and my eldest sister (whom my brother and I pushed around in it) was too young to be aware of what was going down.

I can recall my mother painting it, so it must have been treasured and used for a while.

After it finally fell to bits, I'm pretty sure my brother and I tried unsuccessfully to turn what was left of it it into a billy cart. It had coil springs, which complicated fixing its wheeled chassis on to a wooden frame.

The coil springs gave it a very smooth ride, but its cornering ability (when pushed by big brothers at foolish velocity) left much to be desired.

Other household items were displayed, most of which I'd completely forgotten.

They included a petrol powered washing machine, many kerosene refrigerators, and all manner of kitchen appliances, many of which looked familiar, but which I could not name or label.

My first ten years of life were bereft of electricity, hence appliances were powered by other means. The petrol powered washing machine was not a success. It was a beast to start (always my dad's job) and I remember him calling it all sorts of unprintable names after many fruitless attempts. I guess the moist environment in the laundry didn't sit well with its rudimentary electrical system. It took a lot to make my dad swear.

The wringer on the top had a quick release which you hit with the hand not caught at the time.

I don't remember mum ever having to use this crude but effective safety system.

Other memories were triggered by the displays. They made me recall rotting mangoes as a consequence of the four trees in the backyard. I was usually tasked with cleaning up the mess, which probably explains why I can't abide mangoes.

We kept chooks, and I developed a very effective way of catching any that escaped the rudimentary henhouse.  It was a simple method. I would lay out a piece of old linoleum, and chase the chook on to it. Said chook would lose its footing on the slippery lino, and was easy pickings.

Initially we had a clothesline made of fencing wire on sticks set at head height before graduating to a Hills hoist. That same hoist came to an inglorious end when a willy willy went through as mum had a load of bedsheets pegged out.

The bedsheets ended up completely tangled in the Hills hoist when it did the Macarena. Mum was not pleased.......

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