Growing Up in the 1940’s

When I was young in the 1940’s and 50’s – there were no mobile phones, not everyone had a phone in their home. No internet; no DVDs or CDs no TV, and so no remote controls.

            There were very few cars, most people walked to where they were going, No air-conditioning at home or at school; No formal organised after school activities. Children played outside until dark, and they were called for tea / dinner. We built cubby houses with whatever we could find, and Dad helped make a billy-cart from bits of wood and old wheels. We sang around the piano – if we were lucky enough to know someone who owned one, or we played records on a gramophone which we wound up with a handle. There was just one song on each side of the record.

Fish and Chips the only takeaway, and then on really special occasions when we went to a town big enough to have a fish and chip shop. It was served on greaseproof paper wrapped in newspaper, rarely did the shop have white paper.

We lived in a country town, and walked to the local farmer with an enamel billy can for our milk (straight from the cow), the baker delivered the bread daily by horse and cart (the horse knew where to stop and would walk to the next house while the baker took the bread to the home). At Christmas time the baker would wrap the ham in dough and bake it for their customer, and there was nothing like the smell and taste of freshly baked fruit buns straight from the oven.   

Most homes had only an ice chest, and the ice was carried home in a sugar bag and then wrapped in newspaper to slow the rate of melting.  The wood stove was found in most kitchens, with a fountain on the side where the water was heated – no hot water systems – but perhaps a chip heater in the bathroom. (From Wikapedia) The chip heater consisted of a cylindrical unit with a fire box and flue, through which a water pipe was run to the bath. There was often an ash box under the fire box, which allowed air under the fire. The cleanest child, usually the baby was first in, then a couple of others before Mum then Dad who was last. Everyone used the same water, as the only water came from rainwater tanks. No wasting water.

Our groceries were delivered by the storekeeper who had a small truck with a canvas covered back which covered the wooden boxes of dried fruit, bags of flour and sugar which were weighed out into paper bags, the same with tea leaves in the large plywood tea chests.  The housewife was able to buy anything she needed, and if by chance it was not on the truck, the grocer would be sure to have it next time. Most people walked to the butcher shop, but for the elderly he would deliver to the door. The butcher slaughtered his own animals.

There was no mail delivery and the letters were picked up from the post office and the neighbours collected the mail for the older residents of the street and delivered it on the way home. There were no house numbers, but everyone knew who lived where.  Most people had a few hens for eggs, and breed ducks for the Sunday dinner, or maybe a goose for Christmas.  

Dances were held in the local hall on Saturday nights, and each year there was a School Fete and the Christmas Break-up Picnic, which was the highlight of the year for the children. Everyone from Grandparents to the babies attended to watch the games of cricket, and the egg & spoon and three legged races and musical items by the children. This was the only time many children had bucket ice creams, soft drinks, and packets of lollies as well as a great spread of sandwiches and cakes, put together by the mothers and fathers.  Guy Fawkes Bonfires, Easter pageants at Sunday School and  Fancy dress balls for children, debutant balls for teenage girls, Garden Parties to raise money for the C.W.A. (Country Women’s Association), the church or school were all part of country life.

We had jobs to do before and after school, feeding chooks, collecting the eggs and if you lived on a dairy farm, help with the milking and feed the calves.

We either rode or walked to school. Everyone knew who we were and what we were supposed to be doing. Nothing was private. No local was a stranger.

 “What was it like when you were young?”