Time to Remember

Frances Stoneham

Remember when the Baker gave you a ride to the corner on the back of his horse-drawn cart and the smell of fresh baked bread drifted up your nose? Home-made wild Blackberry pie, fried scones smothered with Golden Syrup, and toast with fresh cream scooped from the top of the milk.

Saturday afternoons were the highlight in just about every kid’s life. It was the day when Mum gave you sixpence, 5c in today’s money, and you went to the ‘Pictures’ as they were then called. For that sixpence you got into the ‘Pictures’ and you still had a whole threepence to spend. You bought an ice-cream and lollies and you were royalty for the day. Hundreds of kids would boo and cheer loudly at the goodies and baddies, the atmosphere electrifying. And yes, we did roll Jaffa’s down the aisle and if a girl was unlucky enough to have plaits they would be tied together by someone in the row behind.

You could buy a penny’s worth of broken biscuits, get a big bag full, and they were just about the best thing you ever tasted. That penny is equal to 1c today. What can you buy for a cent today? And again, for a penny you could buy an ‘All Day Sucker’, which did indeed, last you all day. It was a swirly red and white candy about the size of a saucer mounted on a stick. You could lick all day and sometimes you would have to leave some for the morrow. Or half a dozen kids could share one and it would still never seem to disappear. Scrumptious!

Cracker night is another thing that the kids of today will never know about. The mounting anticipation as you gathered anything that would burn for your Bonfire and you would spend every penny you earned and saved on crackers storing them for the big night. The Bonfires would reach high into the sky and after their flames died down you toasted bread and it was the best toast you ever tasted. Cracker night filled you with unrivalled enthusiasm every year and all the kids around joined in together to make the biggest Bonfire ever. How wonderful those flames reflecting upon faces young and old, creating a certain bonding which is hard to find today.

Kids could earn pocket money by selling old newspapers and collecting bottles. Your backyard was big enough to have a ‘chook run’ and every day you had fresh laid eggs that had bright yellow yolks and whites that didn’t run all over the pan. You could build a cubby house and neighbours or council didn’t object. You didn’t have to go far to find vacant land big enough for team sport and that is what kids were then, teams, not gangs.

When it was rainy we would use the flowing gutters to have boat races. Our boats were made out of matchboxes or the like. All the kids would join in and egg their boat on with mounting enthusiasm as the finish line got nearer. And who could forget the feel of mud squishing between your toes? It was a very wonderful time for all, just fifty years ago, and such a short measure of time. We also played marbles, cricket, and made kites out of newspaper and twigs; we played skipping and hopscotch. There was a unity among kids then, a comradeship that doesn’t seem to be there today. Is all this modern technology to blame? It was a pollution free world, rivers clean and clear, creeks with flowing water that you could drink, and plenty of open spaces. Remember?

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