HIS­TORY or Her Story

Maisie Al­lan’s story of grow­ing up

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - Community News -

Per­ish­able food was kept in a meat safe, a small por­ta­ble metal cup­board which was hung in a cool spot. Later Dad made a drip safe, this was a larger cup­board made of flat gal­vanised iron and cov­ered on three sides and door with Hes­sian, and a tray filled with water on top. Muslin was draped over the sides of it and the water dripped over the Hes­sian and kept the con­tents cool. By the time we were teenagers, Dad had made a large fridge-sized ice chest, again out of flat iron and lac­quered cream iron. The ice­man called ev­ery sec­ond day with a huge block of ice. Dad was a per­fec­tion­ist and very clever with his hands.

When I was young, the butcher came around in what was known as a ‘cut­ting cart’. It was a small dray drawn by a horse. In the dray was a chop­ping block and joints of meat, scales and knives. The ladies gath­ered with their plates and the butcher would slice off the re­quired amount. The dray was cov­ered and each side of the top lifted up. An­other man came with fish and an­other with rab­bits.

When we young, our road was un­formed and a large open drain ran across it, this was later ce­mented and the road sur­faced. When the road was still dirt, hard patches were good for hop­scotch and skip­ping. We played rounders and cricket and were al­lowed to play un­til dark af­ter our evening meal dur­ing the warmer months. All the neigh­bour­hood chil­dren joined in as there were very few cars around to watch out for.

We worked harder man­u­ally with­out all the mod­ern ma­chin­ery of to­day, but life was slower with none of the pres­sures of to­day. Stress was an un­known fac­tor and fam­i­lies stayed to­gether and we lived quite hap­pily on one wage. In school hol­i­days we went on bush walks, for those who know the area we lived in, there were very few houses and plenty of bush. We would walk to the wa­ter­pipe at Re­gents Park and along to a play­ing field with a grand­stand which we would climb to the top and eat our lunch. The ladies made sand­wiches, baked scones, cakes and cook­ies and all were shared around. All the prams would be loaded up with these and home-made lemon and orange juice for drinks and, of course, the old black Billy in which the wel­come cuppa was made. Af­ter he food was eaten and ev­ery bit of mess cleaned up, we kids held our con­cert, watched ador­ingly by our Mums. We then man­aged to get home in time for our Dad’s to re­turn from work, there were usu­ally a num­ber of fam­i­lies in­volved.

As we got older we were taken to Par­ra­matta Park where there was a lit­tle wa­ter­hole on part of the river, called “Lit­tle Coogee”. One day it rained very heav­ily and we has­tened to shel­ter un­der the rail­way bridge. Only the ric h had um­brel­las and we weren’t rich. The ladies wore Cri­no­line hats in those days, a light mesh stiff­ened with a type of glue. Dainty, wide brimmed and colour­ful when dry, a gooey, floppy mess when wet. Mum’s was a lovely rose pink and it wasn’t long be­fore a pink goo was run­ning down her neck. We all came home on the train draped in baby nap­pies, but it was fun and a great day was had by all. Dur­ing the De­pres­sion years, Mr McDonald, who lived close by, had a pro­duce store in Lid­combe. Dur­ing the week­ends he of­ten took his wife and fam­ily of 5 girls and 5 boys and as many other fam­i­lies as he could fit on his lorry on pic­nics. Again the ladies baked and shared their cakes around. Dads came too, we loved those trips, lor­ries were of­ten seen loaded such as this, but when more cars clogged the roads and be­came ca­pa­ble of higher speeds it be­came il­le­gal to carry peo­ple this way.

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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