Monday, August 31, 2020

THE WAY WE WERE…HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED…


Me, on the left...shortly before I left Gympie to live and work in Brisbane
Tin Can Bay


Most of us hold onto fond memories of the towns in which we spent our tender years.  I’ve mentioned it many times previously, so it’s no secret that I was raised in Gympie.

In 1965, the bright city lights of Brisbane beckoned.  Heeding the call, I succumbed, and, I left the “nest” a few months shy of my 21st birthday.  

Earlier, aged around 17 years, I’d come up with a couple of ideas…planned away of escaping to adventures far afield. 

One bright idea I came up with was I’d become a nurse, and enroll at a Brisbane hospital.  Full of excitement, I raced home during my lunch break to break that particular brainwave to my mother, who was readying herself to head off to work.  Sitting in front of her dressing table mirror, applying her make-up, Mum patiently listened to my breathlessly- presented bright idea.

At the completion of my lengthy spiel, not missing a beat, and with a smile, my mother said:  “I think that is a wonderful idea, love.  When do you think you will put it into motion?”

Her positive reaction to my plan immediately smashed it into little pieces.  Not putting up a fight…not pleading with me to stay…did that mean she wanted to get rid of me?  Did she want to get rid of me that easily?  The woman should have been a psychologist!  I didn’t become a nurse.  I remain in Gympie…I remained being a legal secretary.

Hmmm…that one didn’t work. 

A few months later I came up with another inspirational thought.  I would join the Australian Air Force.  The RAAF air bases were, at the time, set across two locations…at Laverton and Point Cook, in Victoria…a long, long way from Gympie.

Upon presenting the my joining the air force scenario to my mother, in a similar excited manner as I did my nursing proposal, Mum’s reaction to my future plan was also similar to her reaction to my previous idea, that had been promptly crushed into oblivion by her eagerness to wave me “Bye! Bye!”

I became neither a nurse, nor a member of the RAAF. 

She was a clever, insightful woman, that mother of mine!  In the ensuing years, Mum and I laughed about my two foiled escape plans.
Times were much simpler when I was a child. 

Locking one’s house was unknown.  It wasn’t done.  There was no need to lock up. 

It was a time when walking everywhere was the norm, even at night…alone, or with others.

It was a time when trolleys aka soap-boxes made by kids, and driven by those same helmet-free kids, careered down streets with barely a car getting in their way.  Cars were few and far between.  I think there probably were more trolleys than cars!  Skinned, gravel-rash knees and elbows weren’t uncommon…nor were they deterrents.

After spring rains, my brother, our Nana and I walked across town to Gympie’s Southside to gather dew-covered field mushrooms.  Our gathering was conducted under the disinterested gaze of nonchalant cattle grazing on the lush green paddocks fringing the banks of the Mary River.
Frequently, with empty jam tins converted into a billy  (a “billy” is an Aussie makeshift “pot” or “kettle” use on campfires”), long strands of string, homemade hand nets, and pieces of raw meat, my brother and I headed off to the nearest waterhole to catch “lobbies” aka freshwater yabbies.
Eagerly, my brother and I would scamper home to cook, and then devour our haul while planning and anticipating our next adventures.
Saturday afternoon matinees, Brownies, Cubs, (and later, Girl Guides and Boy Scouts),  ballet classes, piano lessons, cowboys and Indians in the backyard; my brother and his mates firing arrows at and lynching my dolls on branches of an orange tree; on the sidelines, me, in tears, yelling helplessly; building tree houses and cubby houses, running bare-footed and carefree filled those years.
Sing-a-longs around our piano; Nana relating tales of the “olden days”; window-shopping on Saturday evenings as we strutted in tune to the Scottish Pipe Band, their kilts swaying while they expertly played and marched through the main street to the Town Gates; burning our fingers on hot potato chips, and battered potato scallops wrapped in newspaper from Nick’s Café.   The highlight was discovering that one elusive chip hidden in the wrapping, after all others had been devoured!
Weekends spent at Tin Can Bay where our mother went fishing and mud-crabbing, while Nana, my brother, Graham and I collected oysters off the rocks, filling large glass bottles with the delicious delicacies as we waded through the water played an important role in our childhood.  Feasting at night on our catches by the dim light of hurricane lamps was not unusual.  The places we stayed in during those weekends weren’t flash; they had no electricity.   Their outer walls were made from either galvanized iron or fibro…in some cases, both. Outside, in the unkempt yard, 44-gallon drums filled with cow manure burned to keep the mosquitoes and sand flies at bay, at Tin Can Bay.
Mum and Nana never had a car.  We took a bus to and from The Bay.
Simple pleasures...simple days...but not simple minds....

Mushrooms Rarebit: Remove stalks from 4 large field mushrooms.  Place on baking sheet; drizzle with oil; season; grill, turning, until just tender. Mix together 200g grated cheddar, 1tsp English mustard, 1 lightly-beaten egg, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper (to taste). Fill mushroom cavities with mix. Grill until golden and bubbling. Serve with dressed salad leaves.

Curried Mushrooms: Slice 100g field mushrooms, 1 green capsicum and 1 onion. Place in a bowl; add salt, 1tsp curry powder, 1/4tsp turmeric and 1/4tsp chilli powder. Mix well. Heat oil in pan; add mushroom mix; stir-fry 10mins. If the curry is too dry, add 60ml coconut milk just prior to serving.

Mushroom Lasagne: In large pan heat oil; sauté finely-chopped onion until soft. Add 3-1/2c sliced mushrooms; add 3-1/2c canned, drained, chopped tomatoes and chopped parsley; cook covered, 40mins; add a little wine if sauce is too dry; season. Cook lasagna sheets al dente. Grease deep oven-proof dish; toss freshly-toasted breadcrumbs into dish to coat base and sides. Discard surplus. In bowl combine 225g ricotta and 1 can mushroom soup; add some grated parmesan cheese. Place layer of pasta over base and up sides of oven dish. Spoon in 1/3rd of the sauce; cover with layer of ham slices; sprinkle over grated mozzarella, the ricotta/soup blend and thinly-sliced hard-boiled eggs. Cover with layer of pasta; continue layering as above until last layer is mozzarella. Fold over the top any exposed pasta from the sides. Sprinkle with parmesan; bake 30mins.

Chilled Lobbies: Stick cloves into 2 small, peeled onions; In large pot, combine onions, water, white wine, 2 cinnamon sticks, pickling spice, salt, pepper and 5 garlic cloves. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low; simmer 20mins. Add 30-40 fresh lobbies/marron; bring to boiling; cook 5mins. Bring to room temperature in liquid; drain, chill until ready to serve.

Lobbie Entrée: Sauté 1 diced onion in 3tbls butter; add lobby flesh; cook 3mins; stir in 2tbls flour; cook gently 2mins; pour in 1c fish stock; stir until mixture boils and thickens; Add 1c sour cream; add 1/2c grated cheese; remove from heat; season; pour into 4 individual ramekins.  Mix 1/2c coarsely crumbled cheese crackers and 1/4c melted butter. Sprinkle over dishes; bake 20mins at 180C. 

23 comments:

  1. Life was simpler back then.
    What fun getting oysters. I used to do take them home wash them and put tomato sauce over them and swallow.
    Jobs were easier to find back then and it seems you didn't want to be a nurse of join the forces otherwise you would have.
    Parents surprise us at times with their reaction to what we wanted to do.
    Take care Lee.

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    1. G'day, Margaret...it just took my mother agreeing with my plans to make me not want to go through with them! lol Home sweet home suddenly seemed better!!

      Mum was smarter than I was! :)

      Take good care...thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  2. Life was indeed simpler than.
    I do hope this comment goes through.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hey, EC...As you can see...your comment came through.

      Live was simpler back then...and I'm glad I as part of that era.

      Take good care...thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  3. I don't think there will ever again be the kind of childhood for children that so many of us had back in the 40s and 50s. The simplicity and independence of those days is gone. Children now depend on computers and electronics and often don't know how to entertain themselves. They can't run free where they live because it may not be safe. The world has changed and is changing. I'm grateful we had our chance but I feel bad for today's children.

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    1. Hi, Bonnie. Sadly, what you say is true about those halcyon years of childhood. We had freedoms not longer enjoyed by children of today. I, too, am glad I was able to enjoy those freedoms we had in the 50s etc.

      Take good care...thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  4. It was an idyllic childhood and not so different to mine although yours was more town focused.

    An apartment here has had the keys sitting in the door lock for a couple of weeks. No one intrudes. Until the recent home invasions here, we didn't fuss about locking our door. We are now, but really, should we bother.

    Oh, RAAF superannuation would have been very good.

    I've never heard of lobbies. Always yabbies or crabs.

    In about 1977 I visited Tin Can Bay. Hot, humid and the oh the mosquitoes.

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    1. Hi, Andrew. The word 'lobby' described as a 'yabby' in southern states...was commonly used in Queensland.

      My childhood wasn't always idyllic, but I prefer to dwell on the positives, not the negatives. :)

      I've no idea what an RAAF superannuation would have been...and I'm sure it wouldn't have applied to me way back then.

      Yes...Tin Can Bay had more mosquitoes and sand flies than people...and the pesky little nipping pests loved me!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  5. I kind of miss the good old days. The kids of today will never know the peace and happiness we had.
    Love your recipes.

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    1. Hi Sandie...I think every little girl in my generation at some stage during her childhood wanted to be a nurse! :)

      Things were so much simpler then. Children learned...through discipline...respect for others; consideration for others; good manners...and we learned how to spell correctly! :)

      Thanks for coming by...take good care. :)

      Delete
  6. Ahh, yes, Lee, those were the days, indeed. Those of us who were lucky enough to grow up in those times are truly the lucky ones. Lobbies and go carts. I nearly cried laughing at the mental image of the cowboys lynching your dolls, only I saw it happening on the clothes line. Thanks for a great read.

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    1. Oh! The lynching occurred on the clothes lines, too, Pauline. The clothes lines propped up with wooden props! There was no escape for my helpless, innocent dolls! lol

      I'm glad you enjoyed my reminiscing about fun, childhood times...take good care...thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  7. Those were the days, my friend! You had a wonderful childhood.

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    1. It wasn't all wonderful, I assure you, messymimi. But I prefer dwelling on the good bits...the positive parts..rather than the negative.

      Thanks for coming by. Take care :)

      Delete
  8. Yes, life seemed easier then. There were fewer choices and little fear. Money was needed for food, shelter, and maybe a vacation, but it was not worshiped. We might have been poor but we didn’t know that. Class was about manners and how we treated our neighbors, and a phone was a very small part of our lives.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi, Arleen...we never had a telephone. The few times a call need to be made, off to the phone boxes at the nearest post office we went.

      We didn't have much money...but we did have a roof over our heads and four walls around us...and good food on our plates! :)

      Take good care...thanks for coming by, :)

      Delete
  9. Are those sharks in the water at Tin Can Bay? I love the sound of that: Tin Can Bay, love the sound of Rainbow Beach too.
    Your childhood freedom echoes mine a fair bit, apart from running around with bare feet. Port Pirie in the summer has millions of three-cornered jacks, devilish triangular prickles with spines long and sharp enough to penetrate thongs (flip-flops) if said thongs were a bit on the thin side.

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    1. They are dolphins, River. They're very tame and hang around to be fed. Beautiful, intelligent creatures. :)

      We'd always be stepping on bindi-eyes and other similar prickles...and have splinters in our feet...but the play must go on...and on it went!! Thongs weren't around when I was a little kid. They came later.

      Take care...and thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  10. In many ways my life as a child in Liverpool, England, wasn't all that different. The common factor was that we amused ourselves a lot of the time rather than being amused. Life was very simple in comparison with today in most of the societies in which our Blogland friends inhabit. I see my not-yet-three grandchild with sophisticated toys and more of them than many children have in an entire lifetime. Fortunately his Dad (my son) also has him doing 'ordinary' things but at the age of 2 he could operate a cellphone and many of its apps with no problem. The most sophisticated toy I ever had was Meccano which my Uncle Eric bought me every year.

    It's quite interesting that Gympie comes up so often on your Blog and via Pauline. It's one place I feel I know although I've never been there.

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    1. Hi Graham...well, Gympie was the town in which I spent my childhood and teenage years...and then I lived back there again for four years from 1998 until 2002...when I came here to this mountain. So, old Gympie town has played a huge role in my life...and in the life of my immediate maternal ancestors. :)

      Being children in the era both you and I grew up in, we used our imagination...turned simple things, pleasure, into wild, exciting adventures! :)

      Take good care...thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  11. Life did seem easier back then ...
    I wonder how the children/kids of today will look back at things?

    Thanks for all the recipes.

    All the best Jan

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  12. Ooo...I'll nick the rarebit & lasagna recipes. #3 son is at home at the moment and is a vegetarian. Always on the lookout for things that will appeal across the dietary spectrum!

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  13. Those days Duncan Polley operated the bus company that serviced Tin Can Bay from Gympie. My grandparents owned a fibro cottage - second house on the first street left-hand side as you arrived at Tin Can. This wasn't far from the picture theatre with its canvas seating.

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