Maisie Al­lan’s story of grow­ing up

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - History or her story -

Prickly pear grew freely in the bush near our home and Dad and we kids used to col­lect it and Mum would cut it up, boil and strain it. I think she added lemon juice and sugar, it set into a clear jelly and used to ease the cough of whoop­ing cough. Dur­ing the De­pres­sion years, peo­ple would take a large, clean bot­tle to the Health Cen­tre and were given Cod Liver Oil emul­sion, it was foul tast­ing but we were given a spoon­ful each night. It was to ward off Tu­ber­cu­lo­sis which was rife in those days. I was old enough to know many peo­ple died, oth­ers were sent to Sana­to­ri­ums if they caught it, so I didn’t mind swal­low­ing

the emul­sion. Each Satur­day morn­ing, Mum boiled Senna leaves, and added sul­tanas or raisins. We were each given a small cup of Senna tea after break­fast to keep our bow­els work­ing. Again I quite liked it and drank it hap­pily. We had to be con­tent with 1 piece of fruit each day, the roughage of to­day was un­heard of, so in most fam­i­lies the Senna tea was a Satur­day rit­ual.

We were all curly-haired kids, we were lined up in the sun each morn­ing, head lice were freely caught at school and our heads were searched. If nits (lice eggs) were found our heads were wrapped in a cloth soaked in kerosene to kill them. After the search, we four

girls had our hair rolled over Mum’s fin­gers into ringlets.

Peo­ple were of­ten very su­per­sti­tious in those days and were scared of light­ning. They be­lieved steel and mir­rors at­tracted light­ning and it was dan­ger­ous to be hold­ing ei­ther while it was flash­ing. Even dur­ing a meal, our cut­lery, es­pe­cially the knives and all steel ob­jects, scis­sors etc, were dropped be­hind the big side­board in the din­ing room. Mir­rors were cov­ered, blinds dropped and we were not al­lowed near win­dows and door­ways, un­til it cleared.

There were no fly sprays in those days, but fly pa­pers were avail­able. They were

a flat pa­per about the size of an A4 page, I think they came as two stuck to­gether and were pulled apart to use. They had a sticky sub­stance on them and were hung from the ceil­ing or placed on cup­board tops and flies would stick to them. Later they brought out an­other type, these were a tube about 6” long with a string on top to tie them up and on the lower end was a cap which was pulled and a length of sticky pa­per spi­ralled out.

It was not un­usual, be­cause there was a great deal of open land around, to come out in the morn­ing and find the dog’s wa­ter dish frozen and a thick car­pet of frost over ev­ery bit on lawn, fence rails etc. As more homes were built the frost seemed less se­vere and these days we sel­dom have such a heavy one. Just about ev­ery back­yard had at least a peach tree and a lemon tree, of­ten more, but the in­crease in

fruit fly caused many peo­ple to do away with them.

When younger, Dad had half his yard planted with veg­eta­bles, beans were grown over the fences, pump­kins trailed over the wood heap. After any horse drawn ve­hi­cle passed, Mum would grab a spe­cial box and shovel she kept and cleaned up the ma­nure. Dad al­ways had a heap rot­ting in the cor­ner cov­ered in grass clip­pings and used to gather the ma­nure from the dairy on the hill nearby to make liq­uid ma­nure from it. This was ma­nure placed in a drum and cov­ered with wa­ter, a lid was placed on top and left to brew for sev­eral months. It would be di­luted to a suit­able strength for wa­ter­ing his plants. A jam tin was nailed to a long pole and this was used to wa­ter plants, the rea­son for the long pole was to keep the smell away from one’s nose, it sure did pong!, but grew fine plants and veg­eta­bles.

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