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Sunday, September 4, 2011

An old photo...lots of memories...

In my Facebook account, I have lots of photo albums. One album has a lot of the photos that made up the slide show we played at my 60th celebrations. A former pupil (from about 1979) who is a FB friend, left a comment on this photo asking whether it was taken in the Brisbane suburb of Auchenflower. I answered that no, it was taken in the street where I grew up. Another FB friend who went to school with me commented, ' Lots of memories there Maria'. My first thought was to write a flippant response such as 'yeah makes me  remember a time when I was actually reasonably slim'...but the I looked more closely at the photo.

The first house on the left belonged to Mr and Mrs Springer. He was an accountant and they were fairly well off. Apparently I reminded Mrs Springer of her niece who had died in childhood from rhuematic fever. Mrs Springer asked my mother if it was alright to buy me some things. Mum obviously agreed and I was given the most beautiful dress and hat which I wore to Sunday School and birthday parties. She continued to buy me the occasional beautiful dress until well into my teens. By the time this photo was taken, she was widowed and often bedridden. Her house inside was was like an English gentry house at the turn of the century (19th into 20th) was cluttered and filled with antiques and other valuables. They had a dining room, a kitchen with a table in it and a 'breakfast' room on the eastern side of the house...all those places to eat. We had a kitchen table and a dining table, both cluttered with my mum's 'stuff'! lol

The other house in the photo belonged to a school teacher called Miss McCarthy. She used to give me gifts that the children in her class had given her but that she didn't need! lol I used to run errands for both ladies; posting letters or buying things for them from the corner shop. Children don't do that nowadays...too risky!
My house was across the street from Miss McCarthy's and out of view.

Now more memories coming back...the year is 1969 and the car belongs to the nephew of our neighbours. He has driven to Brisbane from his home, a cane farm, near Cairns. Charlie and I were mates having met when I was still in high school. Showing off his new car to me that day I suspect and I have a vague recollection that we had been out for a drive before that photo was taken. Years later Charlie's aunt told me that her BIL (Charlie's dad) considered that I 'wasn't good enough for his son' as they were wealthy landowners who owned large tracts of sugarcane farms and my father had been a shop assistant (and an immigrant) I'm remembering that uncomfortable time in my life when I came face to face with bigotry and discrimation and I guess the concept of 'class'. Talking of class...

The dress I'm wearing, I made to wear to 'classy' 21st birthday. The birthday boy was a mate of a friend of mine who asked me to partner him to the occasion. It was totally a  'private school educated' guest list...except for me! My shoes and bag were those I'd used to attend a ball a few month earlier, and my dress was a remnant of a silky crepe from a lovely little shop in the city called 'Boston's Silks'. If you could sew (or had a mum who sewed), a poor student could dress well just by using Eric Boston's remnants. I wore that dress for years! That lovely shop is long gone like another favourite shop, 'Mimi's'.

In 1969 I was in my first year at Teachers' College and each day I would walk down my street and up the next hill to the main road where I would catch a bus to college. Lectures were from 9-4, Monday to Friday. These days if you talk to students, they go at all odd times, somedays not at all.

The street that I grew up in was basically working class with a few wealthier people in the mix. There were backyard chookyards (hens) and dogs wandered freely around the streets. People had vegie patches and fruit trees, especially citrus, mango and mulberry. Some of the houses were built in the early 1900s (like my place), others like Miss McCarthy's were 1920-30s vintage. Then some houses were built in the 1960s and then after a little old cottage was demolished, 2 houses were built in the early 70s.

Now the area has become so gentrified that DH and I, even if we cashed in our super, sold our house and used all our savings...we couldn't buy back in that street. That's's good to look back occasionally but far better to be 'looking towards the future'....Still I wouldn't mind being a size 12 again! lol


Claud said...

Hi Maria. Thanks for sharing your memories and your photo. I love your recount as it reminds me of my upbringing in some ways. Big hug,

Humble wife said...

Love this post!! I try and share with the children that we are living the best years of our lives every day. We need to look back upon the time as you shared. You gave me~all the way in New Mexico, USA a small window into your neighborhood in 1969. I will never be able to travel there aside from your recollections and for the neighbors~how sweet.

You shared about them in ways as we all live, we hope others see us.

Thank you so much for this lovely window to 1969.


Susan said...

Such a lot of memories from one photo.
I remember the kindness of neighbours too. We received a lot of books which I wouldn't have had the opportunity of reading otherwise.
A lovely post Maria.