Prompt 10 for the Book of Me is Do you have an unexplained memory or memories? Items, Places, People Things and times you can remember, but you are not sure where they fit into your past.
I have no unexplained memories that leap to mind so once again I’m heading in a lateral direction.
Do you have little mental snapshots that stand alone and unaccompanied in your mind? I find that I do, and while some interweave with other stories, like school days, others just insist on hanging out alone. One of the real frustrations of being sibling-less is that you have no one else to bounce your recollections off. Then again you also don’t have anyone telling you “you’re dreaming!”.
Some of my snapshot childhood moments are:
- Playing mud pies with a second cousin from Sydney near the tank stand in my grandparents’ yard. But it’s not every mud pie that is baked with TLC including macadamia nuts, or Queensland nuts as they were known back in the day before marketing took hold. Given the price of Qld nuts you might find that horrifying but at the time we had a huge tree in our back yard so they were in surplus supply. Dad eventually took that tree out, I don’t recall why, and it was replaced with a large Melaleuca viridiflora which flowered spectacularly.
- Cracking Queensland nuts in the vice on my grandfather’s work bench under the house. Or finding a dent in the concrete where the nut would sit still while you whacked it with a hammer.
- Sitting under the stairs to the house, in the shade, reading a book and avoiding the summer heat of the holidays.
- Being sooky because “no one” was ever home during holiday season to come to my birthday parties (boo hoo!)
- Dad repairing the soles of shoes on his work bench (just imagine, how things change)
- Mum washing in the big copper which had to have the water heated, and then the washing being hauled out, all soapy, with a long wooden pole. Back breaking work! A twin tub was an advance but an automatic (many years later) was a miracle.
- The sheer drama and hardwork of Monday washing day with blue, starch etc etc.
- Licking the bowl and the beaters when Mum was baking (every Saturday without fail)
- The kookaburras landing on the railing for a snack of slivered meat -why would they catch snakes?
- Lifting up the fence palings and finding a large snake under it, and seeing them elsewhere around the yard
- Dad’s fierce injunction to never, ever run when confronted with a snake: stand still, don’t scream or yell, then back slowly away (very helpful many decades later when toe to face with a mercifully-sleepy death adder.
- Doing bob-a-job for Guides and collecting money in Queen St for charity through my high school.
- The old Mason jar type stoneware jugs at the back of Grandma’s under-the-house. (For overseas readers, many traditional houses in Queensland are raised up on stilts for better air ventilation and also for protection against termites. I think the area under the house is used for similar things to colder-climate attics or basements: storage, play areas, work areas etc.
- Climbing the mango tree, very high, and bobbing out of the “top” and calling out to Grandma (heart attack material, I’d have said). Then playing at Tarzan and swinging down from the lower branches –it would have been cheating to just climb down.
- Standing up near Kelvin Grove state school and looking across the suburbs at the lights – my mother has a “thing” for lights.
- Riding down the steep hills near KG school for the first time –like setting forth on a roller coast in a push bike.
- Doing my Year 8 (Scholarship) exams at the state school and then coming back to the convent to run through what I’d done with my teacher (have I mentioned my obsessive characteristics?).
- Walking home from school in the gutters when it had been pouring with rain. Yes, I did have my shoes off!
- Being one of a handful of kids at school when there was a cyclone around, not because Mum had to work but because she came from North Queensland and probably thought it would be wimpy to stay home.
- Grandad taking me to school in my first year, because Mum was very sick (and I assume Dad was at work). We went up one hill, he dropped me off, and I went home straight away down a different hill.
- The big old tree, I suppose a Moreton Bay fig, under which we could sit during primary school lunch breaks.
- The influx of students from all sorts of “strange” places in Europe as part of the post-war migration.
- The warm milk we used to get at school courtesy of the government. Not very nice!
- Sandwich lunches of sardines and potato chips (crisps) on Fridays back in the day when Catholics had to eat fish of Friday. Bizarre as it sounds I liked that food combination.
- The class being tested for TB and having an early Salk polio vaccine.
- Fabulous church fetes where I bought handmade doll’s dresses and home-made lollies.
- Walking along the creek bank with a friend to the Guide hut at Newmarket –watched by Mum or Dad from the verandah.
- The smell of the brewery across the road from school, and the smell of baking biscuits from the Arnotts factory off Coronation Drive.
- Dad being “up in arms” when they sold Ballymore Park to the Rugby Union, only to “adopt” the sport with gusto, especially after Mr Cassmob came along
- Waving to Dad as he rode to work on his push bike (no gears!). He would always turn at the corner before heading up the hill.
- The shock on his face when he came home after some bloke had got killed or caught in the buffers of the trains.
- Mum making cakes or biscuits for me to take to school when we had birthday celebrations. This was an All Hallows’ tradition and we would sit in a big group on the terrace for our al fresco party.
- Being violently ill and the boat rolling from side to side almost taking on water, as we made our way to Green Island soon after a cyclone. Mum always says “Green going over, and green coming back”.
- Being scared witless of walking across the old pipe bridge near Gould Rd, leading to Bancroft Park. The timbers were pretty dodgy with gaps and missing boards: I really hated that! When my children were young and visiting from PNG, Dad would take them for walks in the pram over to the same bridge, something of a family tradition, though by then the bridge was in better condition.
- Riding to Eildon Hill with Mum & Dad. Perhaps this is an ambiguous memory. I rather doubt I’d have managed Eildon Hill, where there was a reservoir, which makes me wonder if I was “doubled”.
- Riding with Dad to get fresh bread from the bakery in Butterfield St.
And the only unexplained memory I can bring to mind, is whether there was ever a building at the back corner of my grandparents’ yard farthest from our place. I used to have the idea it was the dunny, but the sewerage maps show that was closer to where the mango tree was positioned. Must ask Mum.
Long term readers will probably remember some of these little snapshots as part of “story albums” on this blog, especially the 52 weeks series. I guess I got a bit carried away…thanks for reading along.