Maisie Al­lan’s story of grow­ing up

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - Memories with Ivor Jones & Friends | Community New -

Mum used to say that when they were young, and were sent on an er­rand, her par­ents timed them and if they were late re­turn­ing, they were pun­ished. My sis­ter Nola, told me that Mum once told her they were taken to the Hawkes­bury River and she was told to go and buy a wa­ter­melon. It was quite heavy so she de­cided to roll it down the hill and run along­side it. Re­sult was a squashed melon and one sore bot­tom.

Wax dolls were the fash­ion when Mum was young. One day her broth­ers took hers out­side and left it in the sun and it melted. How come hor­ri­ble lit­tle boys usu­ally grow into lovely men like our Un­cle Ge­orge and Un­cle Wal. When I was in the “Bubs” at school, I took my cel­lu­loid doll to show the class. One hor­ri­ble lit­tle boy bit its’ nose off. When Dad came home that night I took him to show him the doll. We had gaslights in the house then, a match was needed to light them. One of the boys ran and lit a match, it started to burn his fingers and he dropped the match on the doll and it flared up and burnt to a cin­der.

One of my ear­li­est mem­o­ries must have been be­fore I started school. Mum had dressed me to go shop­ping, and her friend, Mrs Woolff and her daugh­ter Marge came along. We girls sat on the veran­dah edge, pulled our nar­row cot­ton frocks tightly over our knees, and were pulling out legs apart side­ways. My skirt split right down the mid­dle and Mum must have been dev­as­tated, it was my only good dress.

I vividly re­mem­ber Ar­bour Day, when I was in 2nd class. I was cho­sen to plant a tree in the grounds of Auburn Boys School. I was so proud, I watched that tree grow, I used to show it to my chil­dren as we passed and it grew into a huge gum tree. It is still one of a group of trees grow­ing there to­day. The teacher who chose me to plant it then, could not have known how much I love trees and have al­ways re­gret­ted now hav­ing been able to own a large tree cov­ered prop­erty.

I have very vivid mem­o­ries of our house in Gor­don Road. At the side of the house, which was on a cor­ner, was a huge pep­per­corn tree, which our broth­ers spent many an hour climb­ing. Most boys had a sling­shot or cat­a­pult in their pock­ets made of a forked twig with a rub­ber band at­tached, a stone was placed on the band and fired usu­ally at leaves sway­ing in the breeze or tins atop a post etc. But boys will be boys and other tar­gets were of­ten cho­sen. The lo­cal Con­sta­ble used to walk the beat and one day, as the boys saw him com­ing, they fired a stone at him. Mum heard a com­mo­tion and went out to see the Con­sta­ble pulling the boys and their mates one by one out of the tree. Mum never had to worry again. When the boys saw the Con­sta­ble turn into the street, the boys would drop like stones out of the tree and hide.

Mum didn’t go out very of­ten ex­cept to shop. She once told me that once you had six chil­dren, as she did, it was eas­ier to stay home than to get them all dressed. When she did go out, she pushed a large sea­grass pram, it had very large wheels and she usu­ally had a baby in the pram and a tod­dler sit­ting on a seat near the han­dles. We oth­ers strag­gled along, the boys usu­ally ahead, look­ing for a tree to climb and we girls busy pick­ing daisies to make daisy chains when we got home. Some­times we walked to the ceme­tery to put flow­ers on the graves of our two baby sis­ters and baby brother. It was a very long walk, the boys car­ried spades and clip­pers. I used to dis­like the crows fly­ing over­head with their mourn­ful cry.

Most fam­i­lies went to the main shop­ping cen­tre on Fri­day nights, it was a meet­ing place for friends and neigh­bours, a real fam­ily out­ing. The store­keep­ers knew most peo­ple by name and, in many cases, the stores were handed down from one gen­er­a­tion to the next. The lo­cal shoe shop was owned by Mr Strike and he never al­lowed a child to leave his shop wear­ing new shoes un­less he rough­ened up the leather sole on the foot­path out­side.

Don’t for­get to con­trib­ute your mem­o­ries and also any old pho­to­graphs that you would like to see pub­lished in this mag­a­zine’s “AS WE WERE” sec­tion.

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