Sweet Memories of my Childhood

I’m sitting here remembering some of the lollies we used to have as kids back in the 50s to the 70s.

There were Fags of course, the cigarette lollies that we used to buy in little packets and walk around pretending to smoke, like dad. Fags were renamed Fads back in the 90s and the little red tip was abolished so they were just a long white stick. I think you can still buy them today

Haven’t had a Polly Waffle for years and Violet Crumble is definitely not the same anymore

I remember Columbines that came in a long blue packet and each lolly was individually wrapped in a blue silver paper. Jaffas were made by a company called Sweetacres and came in a cardboard box. They were ideal for rolling down the aisle of the local picture theatre during the Saturday afternoon matinee.

There was gob-stoppers and conversation lollies, all-day suckers and fruit tingles. We used to buy licorice blocks (they were called something else back then), four in a square and from memory they use to cost 1d. There was Hoadley’s Polly Waffle and the original Violet Crumble bars, Minties and Fantales came in boxes not plastic or cellophane bags. There was Wrigleys Juicy Fruit and PK chewing gum in little packs of four pellets and from memory they were tuppence each.

Tex Bars was another favorite of mine and although I’ve searched for Tex Bars online, I don’t think they’re made anymore.

There was sherberts that came in a white packet that had a licorice straw and MacRobertsons made the original Freddo frog, barley sugars, Cherry

Remember conversation lollies, a great favourte from the school tuck shop.

Ripes and Old Gold chocolate. Allens had Tootie Frooty and Steam Rollers in those little cylinder packs and they also made packets of Coconut Quivers

There were Choo Choo Bars and Red Skins, White Knights and Milko, Life Savers came in all sorts of flavours including Musk.

And remember going to the corner shop to buy 6d worth of assorted lollies in a bag? You’d get a big bag, enough to keep you going all afternoon and one massive sugar hit!

Then there were home made lollies too including toffee apples. stickjaw toffees, toffee in patty pans, Russian toffee and coconut ice.

They’re just a few that I can remember, I’m sure there was a lot more. How on earth did we escape with any teeth left in our head?

What was your favourite lollies when growing up?

Share the memories of your own childhood with our other readers by recording your comments in the “Comments” area below. Comments may take up to 24 hours to appear.

If you love nostalgia join me on a trip down memory lane with a copy of my best-selling book Australia Remember When. Almost 250 pages, crammed with photos, memories and stories of growing up in the baby boomer years from the 40s to the 80s and beyond. Join me as we celebrate growing up in what was a very different era, when kids roamed free, parents and teachers were obeyed, discipline was an accepted part of life and the world seemed a simpler place. RRP of the book is $34.99 (plus postage) and can be purchased from Shopify, just to the right of this story.

Remember ‘Tuck’ Day at School?

Remember the brown paper bags for school lunch orders?

When I was at school we never had anything quite as fancy as the printed paper bags, back in the 50s and 60s if we ordered from the school canteen, we wrote on the plain brown paper bag.
When my children went to school in the 70’s and 80’s they would fill out one of these brown paper bags for lunch orders and then the lunch monitor would take them off to the school canteen so they could get it back to the classroom for lunch.

The mum’s all helped out on tuck shop duties and the money raised went to the school. Photo from the book Australia Remember When

 

The canteen would be staffed by volunteer parents (my wife did that quite often as our children grew up) and they’d make sure the kids got their lunch bags filled with whatever they wanted. The children who were the lunch monitors would come in just before lunch to pick them up and they’d all be happily chatting away while they waited for the lunch ladies to get their class’s lunch box for them.

Most of the school canteens actually made money for the school and the profits were used to purchase extra equipment like movie and slide projectors, tape recorders and other teaching aids that helped in the education process. There would also be regular fund raising days when parents would make big batches of toffees, coconut ice, Russian toffees, toffee apples etc, and kids were encouraged to buy the home made treats to raise extra funds for special events.
These days of course its all about healthy eating and there are now strict Government guidelines as to what kids should and shouldn’t be having for lunch. I don’t disagree with that, especially considering that many kids now buy their lunch at school almost every day and are far more exposed to heavily processed foods and soft drink than we were when we were growing up during the baby boomer era.
Remember when sandwiches were wrapped in greaseproof paper and that paper was used over and over again

When we went to school  (we’re talking 50s and 60s here) buying lunch at the tuck shop was a rare exception rather than the rule. At that time in Australia most families survived on one income and buying lunch at school was considered a rare treat, maybe once or twice a month. Most times we took lunch to school, maybe Vegemite sandwiches or jam. On a Monday we would probably have had cold meat and tomato sauce sandwiches, leftovers from the Sunday roast. My mother used to do a great silverside and I can still taste her silverside sandwiches, wrapped in grease-proof paper, placed in a paper bag with a banana or apple for afters.

And we had to bring the paper bag and grease-proof paper home which would be re-used next day and the day after that! On the rare occasions we were able to buy lunch I would have a pasty with sauce and a berliner bun (which were renamed Kitchener buns in South Australia).
What are some of your own memories of ‘tuck shop’ day at school?

Share the memories of your own childhood with our other readers by recording your comments in the “Comments” area below. Comments may take up to 24 hours to appear.

If you love nostalgia join me on a trip down memory lane with a copy of my best-selling book Australia Remember When. Almost 250 pages, crammed with photos, memories and stories of growing up in the baby boomer years from the 40s to the 80s and beyond. Join me as we celebrate growing up in what was a very different era, when kids roamed free, parents and teachers were obeyed, discipline was an accepted part of life and the world seemed a simpler place. RRP of the book is $34.99 (plus postage) and can be purchased from Shopify, just to the right of this story.

Games We Used to Play

What were some of the games we used to play, growing up as a kid in the 50s, 60s, and 70s?

Long before the ‘age of entitlement’, children had far less toys to play with, so we made do with what we had. Today it seems almost every kid is given more toys at Christmas and for their birthday in one single year than I collected over my entire childhood.

But if necessity is indeed the mother of invention then at least we learned to be inventive and came up with games that kept us amused for hours.

Photo from Google Images. A length of thin rope attached to the same cans would turn them into a pair of stilts.

Photo from Google Images. A length of thin rope attached to the same cans would turn them into a pair of stilts.

A couple of tin cans and a piece of string could be turned into a telephone. There was no shortage of tin cans, just had to be sure they didn’t have any jagged edges and there followed hours of fun inventing games that included talking on the ‘telephone.’

After that, a length of thin rope attached to the same cans would turn them into a pair of stilts and more hours of fun having races around the neighbourhood, risking a sprained ankle as we tried to run on the tin can stilts.

A suitable length of rope would provide a skipping rope with all sorts of variations of the game and rhymes to chant.

Mum might collect some of the knuckle bones from the Sunday lunch lamb or hogget roast, and you needed just five of those for an entertaining and very competitive game of knucklebones.

A piece of chalk and a strip of asphalt or cemented footpath was all that was necessary for hopscotch, more popular with the girls in our neighbourhood.

And the girls were more into elastics too. If you could just get your hands on a decent length of elastic (from mum’s sewing basket), two people held the elastic while one person jumped and there were songs to go with the leg actions.

Photo from Google Images. The girls were more into elastics too. If you could just get your hands on a decent length of elastic from mum’s sewing basket,

Photo from Google Images. The girls were more into elastics too.

Boys were more into marbles and these were either bought with hard earned pocket money or won by playing ‘keeps’. There were cats eyes, milkies, clearies, steelies, ‘bloodstones’ and the big ones I think were ‘tombolas’. There were lots of different games to play and it could be a fiercely competitive game.

An outside wall could be used for any number of games. We played ball up against the walls with two balls, and three balls if you were clever. We also used the wall for handstands, and the girls with dresses tucked them into their knickers and we’d spend much of our time upside down!

‘Brandy’ was another ball game that was popular. Only one ball required amongst the whole neighbourhood of kids and the kid who was ‘it’ had to throw the ball and hit one of the other kids.

And don’t forget street cricket. One bat and a ball with an old 44 gallon drum as the wicket. Could develop into a pretty serious game at times.

There was street footy too (if you were lucky enough to own a footy) and don’t forget ‘red rover all over, caught 1-2-3’

No wonder we were all so skinny and scrawny back then, I don’t think we ever stopped!

Share the memories of your own childhood with our other readers by recording your comments in the “Comments” area below. Comments may take up to 24 hours to appear.

Children at play in the school yard back in the 1950s. Photo from Museum Victoria

If you love nostalgia join me on a trip down memory lane with a copy of my best selling book Australia Remember When. Almost 250 pages, crammed with photos, memories and stories of growing up in the baby boomer years from the 40s to the 80s and beyond. Join me as we celebrate growing up in what was a very different era, when kids roamed free, parents and teachers were obeyed, discipline was an accepted part of life and the world seemed a simpler place. RRP of the book is $34.99 (plus postage) and can be purchased from Shopify, just to the right of this story.

Customer Service, (When the Customer was Always Right)

Whatever happened to the personal customer service that was provided by the local shops and businesses in the 1950s and the 1960s?

Can you remember those days when the customer was always right? Boy, that seems like a long time ago now.

I think that the good old fashioned ways of dealing with customers came to an end with the spread of the big supermarkets and shopping centres around Australia from the mid-1960s.

Self-service with products stacked on shelves, shopping trolleys and check-out chicks, meant the end of an era when the customer was served on a one-to-one personal level.

The arrival of the big suburban shopping centres also brought to an end the weekly shopping trip to “town’’ by mum once a week to replenish the kitchen cupboard.

Shopkeepers of the time not only knew their customers by name and looked after them personally, but would also deliver the order to the front door.

I remember my mother dressing in her “Sunday best’’, complete with hat and gloves, to go into town for her weekly shop with a carefully selected list of grocery items, which the grocer would then deliver in large cardboard boxes later in the day.

When you caught the train there was a conductor to punch your ticket and and a younger porter’s assistant to carry your bags

When you caught the tram or bus into town, there was a conductor to sell and punch your ticket, or if you had to catch the train for a longer journey, there was a porter to check and punch your ticket as you boarded the train and a younger porter’s assistant to carry your bags for you and place them in the luggage rack.

In the shops there were shop assistants who stood behind counters and served people individually, wrapping purchases in brown paper and tying it up with string. They would then take the money and ring up the cash register, calculating the change in their head.

Almost every item purchased then was repairable, from electrical to mechanical, and small repair shops were dotted throughout the suburbs offering to fix anything from a broken transistor radio, TV set, kitchen gadgets, toys or bicycles.

In today’s throwaway world, it’s fascinating to recall how if the radio or TV set broke down or if the washing machine needed a new part, it was fixed by a repairman who probably ran a small business and supported his family by fixing things that now would be thrown out in the local hard rubbish collection.

It used to be that the lifeblood of any business was its ability to create and nurture a personal relationship with each and every one of its customers, creating an atmosphere where the customer felt they were valued and appreciated, and they in turn rewarded the business with their loyalty and custom.

Here to serve you. Real personal service like this is dead and gone! Photo from ‘Best Old Fashioned 2017’

Now it appears businesses, especially big corporate companies, have completely lost sight of service in the scramble for profits.

It seems that we’ve adopted the American corporate model, which is to sack staff and screw the customer, make as much money as possible for the shareholders, pay the CEOs millions of dollars and never mind the consequences.

To be fair, there are still some smaller businesses and a few large companies that offer good service, but they are few and far between, and to be honest we, the customers, have brought a lot of this on ourselves. In an effort to keep our own cost of living down we chase the cheaper products and brands which, of course, generally come from a business with lower overheads, fewer staff and very little or no service. It’s a vicious circle: we still want that wonderful customer service we had back in the ’50s and ’60s but we don’t really want to pay anything extra for it.

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Remember ‘Defrosting’ the Fridge?

Remember the first fridge your family ever bought?

Prior to refrigerators we had ice chests. The ice man would come every second day and deliver a big block of ice which he would carry with ice tongs (were they called pliers?) and deliver it into the top of the ice chest.

Photo from Aussie Home Brewer. Lots of old original fridges have survived as the beer fridge

Photo from Aussie Home Brewer. Lots of old original fridges have survived as the beer fridge

Fridges arrived in the 50s and although I can’t remember what brand our first fridge was, I do remember it had a small freezer compartment big enough for just a brick of ice cream and which needed defrosting regularly.

I came across an article just recently in the London Daily Mail about one family that has kept the very first fridge they ever had.

“When Geraldine Rowarth bought her first refrigerator, it was the mod con at the top of every housewife’s wish list.

The year was 1957 and Mrs Rowarth paid 65 guineas for the appliance.

That sum – the equivalent to £1,100 in today’s money – was a month’s wages for her husband Ian, a teacher. But it was money well spent. For half a century later, her British-made Prestcold cooler is still going strong, now sitting in her daughter’s farmhouse kitchen.

Sally Garrod was born a few weeks after her mother bought the fridge, which has outlasted two more modern models and countless other household appliances.

Mrs Rowarth, now 74, was a mother of one, heavily pregnant, living in a council house when she bought the fridge.  Fifty years have done nothing to dull her memories of just how exciting it was to have a refrigerator when the appliances were only just taking off in the UK.

“Not a lot of people had a fridge in those days,” said Mrs Rowarth, a retired nurse.

“They were very popular in America and I really wanted to have one.

“We didn’t have much money, I was expecting my second child and all we had was a food safe in the pantry which was little more than a box with mesh on the front to keep the flies out.

Photo from Google Images. Early fridges had a small freezer compartment big enough for an Amscol brick of ice cream and needed defrosting regularly.

Photo from Google Images. Early fridges had a small freezer compartment big enough for a brick of ice cream and needed defrosting regularly.

“It didn’t keep food fresh very long so I was shopping for bits and pieces almost every day. Milk wouldn’t last much more than a day.”

She and her husband travelled from their home in Blofield to nearby Norwich to buy the Prestcold, chosen in part because of its fashionable colour scheme.

Rapidly installed, and shown to admiring family and neighbours, it made “an enormous difference”.

“I remember thinking I don’t have to dash to the shops every day,” said Mrs Rowarth. “It was such a new concept to keep things so cool. Neither of our parents had fridges.”

She used the fridge to store milk, cheese, meat and bacon.

“I can’t believe it’s still going,” said Mrs Rowarth.

Her daughter added: “The expression ‘they don’t make them like they used to’ can be applied to my fridge. I don’t know what I would do without it now. It’s part of family history.”

Lots of the old fridges have survived the test of time and now live in the garage or spare room as a back-up for storing drinks or bulk food.

And have you noticed how modern refrigerators only seem to last about one month past their ‘guarantee’ date?