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Monday, June 20, 2011

Being in your twenties in the seventies!

The year I turned 20 was quite an exciting one. For the 4 ½ months of 1971 before officially leaving my teens, I started my job/career and was a bridesmaid twice; once for a friend I made at 12 when we were both in hospital and the second time was a friend I’d made at Red Hill kindergarten before we moved to Newmarket! My kindy friend Donna had had a lot of drama in her life as a youngster and she and her brother Lindsay were eventually made ‘Wards of the State’ and were put into the care of their grandparents Ida and Albert who lived at Newmarket. So we ended up going to school and Sunday school together as well! Donna and her husband are still together but sadly my ‘hospital’ friend Lorraine’s husband died of cancer in 2005.

Donna, with 'us girls' and an old family friend who 'gave her away'.

Lorraine and Chris's wedding
Mid-year of my 20th year my fiancé finished his printing apprenticeship and came to Brisbane. So wedding plans went into full swing. A friend’s mother who bought and sold houses (as a hobby I think!) offered us the opportunity to buy a little house she had recently bought at Newmarket.  There were tenants in the house whose lease had another few months to go but eventually we not only bought the house but my future husband was able to move in. It was a little 50s style house, lowset with 2 bedrooms and cost a whole $9600 making it a medium priced house for that time. It wasn’t our dream house but we realised that it was a good start. On weekends we painted, I sewed curtains and I haunted the local secondhand store for furniture bargains.
January 8 , 1972

In January of the next year we got married on a rainy day which fined up as we left the church. It was a budget wedding as to get the loan for the house I had had to put most of my savings into the deposit. It was still a lovely day and we didn’t go away for our honeymoon because money was tight ; we just stayed in our little house.  So life started to revolve around mortgage payments, work and marriage. Gradually though we started to have a bit of money left over and I realised that I could afford to buy wool for knitting and crochet projects. So I made lots of jumpers, cardigans, rugs etc and even crocheted some tablecloths. I also donated quite a few items to street stalls that the parent group of the school used for fund-raising. On a short holiday to the Northern Rivers District of NSW I discovered a book called ‘Mon Tricot 1100 Stitches Patterns’ in a newsagency. I can remember at the time thinking it was too expensive to justify buying it but the price is $2.50! lol I obviously did buy it and it opened up a whole new world of designing my own knitting projects.

Crocheting a tablecloth

I took up other hobbies during my 20s, golfing (only for a few years) and clarinet

We also started buying tickets to the theatre to see plays and musicals as well as going to concerts at Festival Hall to see such artists as Liberace and Cliff Richard (sigh). Through our respective work places we also went out with other staff to dinners and theatre restaurants. So I guess this was when we discovered ‘eating out’ but it was usually in the city not out in the suburbs.
In the 1970s we wore long dresses for all sorts of occasions

We also had some good holidays in the 1970s. I’ve mentioned Northern Rivers, we also drove to Corowa to see my mum’s family, Melbourne to see my husband’s family as well as a driving holiday to Cairns. In 1975 I saved up so we could both have a week at Brampton Island at the resort. I also did a bus tour of Tassie during the long school holidays at the beginning of 1978.  
In 1975 we investigated the possibility of building an extension on our little house to make a third bedroom. I asked a lot of questions of fellow staff who had been through this process. In those days the council building inspector would come out and draw a rough site plan for you, which I did organise.   We then got some quotes and then I went to the bank where I had had an account since I was 14 and applied for a loan. The bank manager, an older man, smiled at my request and then refused as he said that I needed to bring my husband in to apply for the loan as the bank did not lend to married women...apparently we would go off and have babies and couldn’t repay the loan. (I have told this story over the years and young people nowadays cannot believe it happened!) The reason why I was applying for the loan was, quite simply, that a teacher earned more than a printer.
Feeling a little bit dejected I told my colleagues in the staffroom the next day what had happened. One of them, John, (who also bought and sold properties as a hobby like my friend’s mum did) suggested I try the Teachers’ Credit Union which I did and got my $4000 loan. We had to watch our pennies again and I find that in those situations I have an overwhelming need to be creative. So I made my first patchwork quilt...although I had started it a few years before. It was Suffolk puffs now known as    ‘yo- yos’. A friend gave us an unused double bed so my quilt had a home. We not only got a new bedroom but also a laundry as the old laundry was small and dark. The building plan had a fold-back wall between the 2 rooms so that it was possible to open up the doors and dismantle the bed and have 1 big room for parties and we did do that a lot.

My first patchwork quilt

Not long after we were married my mother’s MS flared up and remission was over. This happened a number of times and she was also having mysterious blackouts and would find herself on the floor. Eventually she was diagnosed as having a form of epilepsy and medication was prescribed. I worried about her a lot as she didn’t always eat very well and there was a lot to ‘going back and forth’ to check on her. The year I turned 28 it was obvious that she was most unwell. The house next door to us came up for sale, so we organised to sell mum’s house and buy that one. Her’s sold straight away but the owners of next door prevaricated and eventually withdrew the house from sale. With hindsight we should have then bought a house with a granny flat but we liked to do things the hard way. We raised our house and built a granny flat underneath. While that was being built, mum and her belongings squeezed into our house.
In 1979 (I was 28) I was on the steering committee which organised the 75th celebrations of my school. We organised so many activities, culminating with a huge fete and open day on the Sunday...but the school had celebrated all week! I crocheted a large quilt/afghan which was made up of octagons and squares. It was a mammoth task but worth it when the raffle made $500. Also I directed and produced a pageant ‘Strolling down the Years’ which was written especially by my friend Kath Filmer. This show involved the Year 7 classes and featured characters, events and music from the 7 decades the school was opened. We did a number of performances.

My colleague Ken and I wore historical dress for the whole week when the school turned 75!

The year I turned 28 I also fell pregnant. Sadly the baby miscarried at 13 weeks in the October. My mother was convinced that it must have been something I had done as she had never had a miscarriage! My husband was not able to handle it at all but in those days no one acknowledged a father’s grief. His behaviour was hurtful to me and it took me a long time to realise that it was his way of grieving. I found that by turning my attention to gardening, I was able to gradually get myself out of the ‘dark place’ that I had found myself. We had started gardening in the first year of buying the house but it became a real passion in the latter part of 1979 and even today there appears to be no waning of that passion.


Tanya said...

Gosh you whipped up those tablecloths and rugs in a jiffy! Projects like that took me years. I loved seeing the fashions in the photos and they also brought back memories for me too. It's amazing now thinking back to the constraints upon working women back then, many were expected to give up work automatically when they got married. Not so long ago really.

Claud said...

I remember my sisters wearing those long maxi dresses to proms and other parties. They surely were popular. By your recount it seems like people were forced to be more responsible in their younger years than young people today. I can certainly relate too since I started working when I was 18 right out of high school. It's amazing what one can endure sometimes. I love your pictures too.

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