In our day

During 2004, Liverpool U3A’s Australian and Local History Group published (with the assistance of the Liverpool Regional Museum) a collection of recollections of the past as members of the group have experienced it. It is titled In Our Day, and permission has kindly been given for extracts to be reproduced in Remember When… Here are two of them (More later!)

A Refugee’s Story

by Johanna Haanstra

I was born in Bandung (Dutch East Indies) a few years before World War 11, the youngest of five children. I hardly knew my eldest brother as he joined the Navy just before the war. I only came to know him again in the ‘50’s, when he came to introduce his English-born wife to us. We lived in the Netherlands then.

I never went to school till after the war, as education was only for the natives of Indonesian blood. Chinese and Eurasians had to have private tutors or no education at all.

During the war my Dad just missed out on being picked for the concentration camp. He was old (60) and my Mother begged the Japanese officials to let him stay with us as he was so old and would die if they put him in the concentration camp.

Opposite our house was a big building used by the Jap officers. They loved kids and I often went there with other children to learn to count in Japanese and learn to sing their nursery songs. If we did well we were rewarded with chocolates or other goodies.

In 1946 we moved to the Netherlands as refugees. We had to flee our house in the East Indies late one evening in 1954 – this was when the real fighting began. We lost all our possessions and lived in an evacuation centre until we went to Holland. The voyage lasted five weeks; we went through the Suez Canal. It was a big adventure for me. In Holland, life was so different. I remember the first time it snowed, it was wonderful. But life was not all play, I had to go to school for the first time at the age of eleven. I finished High School six years later.

Games we played

by Jim Hall

Rounders: Ten or more could form a team. You had a home base and three other bases marked by a rock, tree, fence post, the dunny door, block of wood or whatever you had. Everyone joined in; you had a catcher on home base, the hitter, pitcher, people on the three bases and all the rest as fielders. Simple rules: you hit the ball, you ran, you missed three times – you’re out! Next team member in. If the ball was thrown to the base you were running to you were out. It you got all the way around, you scored one point. If you were on a base when the other team came on, you stayed and completed your run for your team. The other way to play rounders was continuous – no teams, you just took your turn. Your bat was any piece of wood that was handy – maybe a cut-down broom handle. If a cricket bat – SUPER!

French cricket: Two to four players. Good to play in a small area. Batter stood with feet together and defended his shins from being hit with a soft (tennis) ball. To start, bowler stood six feet in front and tossed ball aiming to hit shins, batter hits, and fielder fields. From that point the fielder bowls to batter and so on. If caught or hit below the knees, you’re out! Our bats could be Mum’s copper-sticks. For you younger generation a copper-stick is what your grandmothers used to take clothes out of a copper. Any the wiser? No! A copper stick was a piece of broom handle about a yard long. A copper was a large metal container three quarters full of soapy water with soap flakes and dirty clothes added and brought to the boil. A copper-stick was used to take hot clothes out and place them in a tub of cold water to be rinsed, wrung out (by hand) and hung on a clothes line.

Backyard cricket: Wicket was a kero tin, wall of fence, anything that was handy. Rules – you hit the ball, you ran. If someone hit the wicket while you were running, you’re out! If you hit the ball over the neighbour’s fence, you’re out! Caught on the full – out! When you’d scored ten runs, you changed places with someone else. Bat was whatever you could get your hands on.

Skittles: Stand ten shoe tacks on their heads on top of the table and bowl three marbles to see how many tacks you can knock over.

To amuse yourself:
How many times can you catch a tennis ball bouncing off the wall of the chimney?
How many times can you throw a tennis ball up and catch it.
How many stones can you throw into a jam tin?
Catch tadpoles, bring them home and see them turn into frogs. It never worked.

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