I have at last finalised my answers for the “When I Was Young” Geneameme that Alona Tester put out in at the beginning of the month. Doing this has brought back many memories and I spent too much time on YouTube and my iTunes listening to old music. So here goes…..
- Do you (or your parents) have any memorabilia from when you were a baby? (ie. baby book, lock of hair, first shoes etc.)
When I look at my Family Tree Maker one of the tasks to do is to add the 7/7/2012 images I snapped of an old card from my Mum had kept since I was born. The unforgettable firsts. I was talking before walking. I also have some baby photos.
- Do you know if you were named after anyone?
Best I just say yes, yes, yes, yes, etc – this question needs its own blog post.
- And do you know of any other names your parents might have named you?
As the family saying goes – “Boy, girls or it, I was going to be Frances”. Male or female version Frances sounds the same but if I was a boy the spelling would have been Francis.
- What is your earliest memory?
Is it a memory or just that you think it was a memory? My brother is about 20 months younger than me. I stayed at Aunty Doris and Uncle Bill’s house (in a cemetery – but that is another story) when Mum was in the maternity hospital. I climbed up onto the coal box and played on the lid like it was a slide. All I remember is lying on my stomach while Aunty Doris removed splinters from my bottom.
- Did your parent/s (or older siblings) read, sing or tell stories to you? Do you remember any of these?
Mum sang a song to us most nights before we went to sleep. My two favourites were Over the Rainbow from the Wizard of OZ and True Love by Cole Porter.
- When you were young, do you remember what it was that you wanted to grow up to be?
When I grew up I always knew what I didn’t want to be. I didn’t want to work in a Post Office. Then in New Zealand, the post office was also the major saving bank for non-business entities. The thought of stamping savings passbooks when people banked or selling stamps was horrifying. When I got to high school and teachers asked about “career plans” I found saying you wanted to be a teacher stopped the conversation. And they stopped asking. They did find me out when I never requested an interview for the pending primary school teachers training college intake. One teacher even hunted me out from class as there must have been a mistake as I had not been interviewed. Having been discovered I had to attend a careers meeting. I asked about engineers and she would not give me any material. She suggested typist or nursing as a great career. I am not knocking others career choices here. It was more the restricted choice offered that annoyed and frustrated me – the feminist inside me was becoming more aware.
- Did you have a favourite teacher at school?
My favourite primary school teacher was Mrs MacMaster. She read out loud to the class the first in the series of the Famous Five books by Enid Blyton. I discovered big books had chapters, plots, characters, twists and turns plus suspense! I reread it straight away. All by myself. It took a while. I read the next one and the next in the series. By the time I had finished, I was totally hooked.
My favourite High School Teacher was Mrs Harris. She was the one that widened my horizons. It was not what she said but what she did. Females can go to university, study business, successfully work and have loving families, you can change your path in life, take up learning as an adult, play sport, stand up to change things, even boys can take typing, if they want too, and so much more.
- How did you get to school?
When at primary school we walked to school with some kids from the street. If you are younger you might be thinking it was about safety in numbers but this was not the case. There was just not an issue walking to school. Not like today with people worried about the children being abducted. At high school, I rode my bike rain or shine. In later years, mum would take me in the car on rare occasions. Then I had to walk home. When I started at university I lived on campus so walked to classes. If you lived in the city there was the bus, friends or sometimes hitchhiking. Much safer than you think as most hitchhiking was done from the university to city direction and you selected rides with somebody that you knew.
- What games did playtime involve?
Playtime at primary school we were always outside unless it was raining. We often played games with balls including one called foursquare. Sometimes we had more than four squares so many more of us could be playing. This game was good because anyone was allowed to join. Every time you got kicked out because you made an error you ran to the back of the queue to line up for another turn. It’s great when a game can include all.
- Did you have a cubby house?
No, we didn’t have a cubby house. We played on the in the shed connected to the neighbour’s hen house. Dad built for us back of the garage that was great when it was raining.
- What was something you remember from an early family holiday?
Early family holidays we often stayed at my paternal grandmother’s beach house where she now lived. We played on the beach, swam, climbed the rocks and played in the WW2 bunker that was on the beach.
- What is a memory from one of your childhood birthday’s or Christmas?
When young we had a neighbourhood Christmas party. With no fence between our house and the neighbours, the men put up a big tent, a meeting place for them. The ladies met up at a different house each year for a Christmas drink. Father Christmas drove up and bought presents that he gave out. Little did I know that the Mums & Dads had supplied them. Many kids from around the street would arrive that were not part of the “official” event. Our neighbours always had bags of sweets ready for each one so they did not miss out on a present. The ladies laid out the food on a big table in our neighbour’s garage. We all hoped for sixpence from the Christmas Pudding. Us kids did a concert that the adults had to attend. Some Christmas’s we got a toy instrument like a tin whistle. It must’ve been a cacophony of noise with 10+ children blowing, banging & singing.
- What childhood injuries do you remember?
Two injuries come to mind. One was when I trod on a piece of wood and a large nail stuck into my foot. I struggled to walk on my foot for a few weeks. Next was where I got sideswiped by a car that never noticed so drove on up the street. I brushed myself off and continued. A day later my knees were all swollen and again I hobbled around for ages.
- What was your first pet?
Our first pet was an ordinary tabby cat that we called Tammy. She lived with us for quite a number of years before being hit by a car and did not survive.
- Did your grandparents, or older relatives tell you stories of “when I was young ..?”
Nana told us a few stories about when she was young and living in England. Unfortunately, my paternal grandmother did not share stories that I can remember. What I have learnt about her from my family history research showed a different person from the one I remember as a young child.
- What was entertainment when you were young?
We got a black-and-white TV when I was about six years old. They only broadcast limited hours during the day and it was one channel. We were not allowed to watch adult programs including the first series of Dr Who. I listened through the bedroom wall and made excuses to be out of bed and see glimpses of the program. We also played many board and card games at home. My father taught me how to play chess which I did enjoy at the time.
- Do you remember what it was like when your family got a new-fangled invention? (ie. telephone, TV, VCR, microwave, computer?)
I just mentioned the TV above. The next big thing that came into our family home was a telephone. My fathers family had a phone when he was a child in the 1920s. He made us wait until I was 13. If I went to play at friends places I had to ring the neighbour to tell mum where I was playing. We always said it was because my mother’s sisters lived at a distance where phone calls were timed and expensive. Once the phone call price fell and prior to my mother’s death, she and her sisters enjoyed many a call.
- Did your family have a TV? Was it b&w or colour? And how many channels did you get?
B&W, one channel. This was a time when neighbours kids came to watch programs on your TV if they did not have one. There was a circus program we all enjoyed. Many children in the street came every week to watch. Before we got ours we went once a week to neighbours to watch.
Even when broadcasting started in colour we did not have a 24-hour service. This was the goodnight kiwi that appeared for years at the end of the nights broadcast.
- Did your family move house when you were young? Do you remember it?
Our house was being built when my mother was pregnant with me. We moved in not long after I was born.
- Was your family involved in any natural disasters happening during your childhood (ie. fire, flood, cyclone, earthquake etc)
In wintertime, we had small floods in our street. Once the City Council built the riverbank we didn’t get these anymore. We would play in the water in gumboots. There was never a sense of currents of water coming down the street.
I recently blogged about Wahine Disaster that occurred on 10 April 1968. This was a terrible storm and cause lots of local damage. We were fortunate nothing serious happened to our house.
- Is there any particular music that when you hear it, sparks a childhood memory?
So many pieces of music come to mind. We had a portable record player and a number of old 78s and newer songs on 45s. At age 6 I already had my own sense of being an individual. Helen Shapiro’s – Don’t Treat Me Like A Child was a favourite anthem for me, played over and over again. I did not have had the “teenage” understanding of the song’s meaning. Yet I had a strong sense of being responsible for my actions.
“Gonna be my own adviser
Cause my minds my own
Then I will be much the wiser
My own point of view has got to be known”
Source: Helen Shapiro – Don’t Treat Me Like A Child Lyrics
Recorded in the 78s were children stories backed by classical music. I still love the Sugarplum Fairy from Tchaikovsky and a few others.
Scotland the Brave might be why I do not enjoy bagpipes. Dad liked country music but I do not.
- What is something that an older family member taught you to do?
Mum taught me sewing, knitting, tatting, crocheting, embroidery & smocking. Perhaps other handcrafts that I can’t even remember today. I still have some of her work.
- What are brands that you remember from when you were a kid?
We ate fresh meat, fruit and vegetables so we did not have many branded items in our cupboards. The ones I remember are Marmite, Colman’s mustard, Highlander condensed milk, Edmond’s Baking Powder and Griffin’s biscuits. Other families would get Griffins assorted tins or even larger tins with “broken pieces”. A good buy. If offered one at a neighbours house I would pick the pink wafer. Not sure why, pretty perhaps, as I did not like them that much.
- Did you use to collect anything? (ie. rocks, shells, stickers … etc.)
When I was young I collected stamps, shells from the beach, cards from Gregg’s jellies, postcards and brightly coloured pictures out of magazines like Life magazine and Time magazine. I pinned the postcards and pictures to my bedroom wall.
- Share your favourite childhood memory.
When I look back at memories I would have to say I had a happy childhood. There are really no bad memories and no one outstanding favourite memory. So how do I pick? Playing with my brother and all the kids in the street and then as I got older, school pals and friends from clubs. It was a wonderful adventure. Being free to expand the territory we played from the back yard to include the local bush, the river, swimming baths on the other side of the town, camping out overnight in the bush with friends. Being responsible for ourselves and each other.