Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A jaunt down memory lane.......

Hmmm. This stork stuff is going to take some getting used to.

Now what shall we talk about today? Complacency? Memories? Gardens? Wool? Cupcakes? Pinterest? Dinner? (Sausages and mash tonight. I am reverting to basics today. And fresh beans from the GARDEN, of course.)

I grew up in Africa. South Africa. Where we ran about barefoot as much as possible in the summer. Winter was a different story. There was no central heating in the houses, and I am pretty sure there still isn't. That was a time for a fire in the lounge, and hotwater bottles in the beds. Hot baths and running between the lounge, bath and leaping into bed. To read long past my bedtime by torchlight under the eiderdown. Remember eiderdowns?

There was no TV in the country until the 1970's, because it was a Communist Plot, and the people would be brain-washed. Believe me, I am serious. So we were just about the only nation on earth which did not watch the lunar landings live. We had to line up at cinemas the next day/week/month. The advent of TV coincided with my going to university, and I was far to busy doing things to bother much about it then.

I do remember seeing TV when we came to Europe on the Grand Tour for 3 months in 1966, and being fascinated. I was 11 at the time, and that was the era of the transition in reading matter. The comics - Judy, Bunty, Mandy, Princess and Tina - who remembers those? Well, they were ditched in favour of Jackie. Grown up stuff. My father was appalled. I remember a loud altercation in the lobby of a London hotel when he found out I had bought Jackie. Actually, I think I read my way around Europe. I remember my father flipping out when we were driving through the hop fields in the south screeching that he did not bring me all the way to England to have me spend the whole time with my nose in a book, and what were those fields we just drove past and what do they make??  Hops, Dad. Beer. See? I remember.

I am leaping all over the place here. There is no plan. The words will just come out as they feel like it. Growing up, I lived in the library. That is when I could not persuade my mother to buy me yet more books. In general, she never refused to buy books. However, this was a rule she made before she realised I read super fast and could bankrupt them. So my friend, Cheryl, and I used to haunt the library. In those days, libraries were dark places, and they had a centre counter, and shelves of books. Dark brown shelves. Tall. Maybe a table or two. Nothing bright at all. Cheryl and I read every single book in the children's section, and then we wanted to move on to the adult section, but the librarian was unimpressed. We were under 12. No way. However, she did relent after a while and, if she approved, we could read some adult books.

Cheryl and I are still bookaholics. I still feel uneasy when I go into a home and can't see any books anywhere. And I cannot imagine not having a pile of unread books waiting for me to dip into. When I was dreaming about Kindles, I spent a long time checking out old favourites from when I was a child, and I cannot tell you how excited I was to see that the Bobbsey Twins was available. I had to call Cheryl, and we shrieked with delight. (Yes, I know - it does sound a little odd.) And does anyone remember the Chalet School books? I loved them. I wish they were available cheaply now too.  I was so caught up in them as a child, that I dreamed of having a school in the Alps. I designed the school building plan, timetables, uniforms, rules, the lot. A boarding school. I also dreamed of going to boarding school. Darryl Rivers had a wonderful time at Mallory Towers, after all.  (Enid Blyton.)

Sigh. Fun memories.

I had a floppy doll - one of the very first ones with a material body and plastic head, arms and legs. Victoria Emily. She is still around, although her hair had an unfortunate encounter with something and looks rather odd. My kids played with her. Missy can too. And Barbie. And Skipper. They were new-fangled things, and buying their clothes was SO exciting. Those pink cards or boxes were a delight. In those days, we each had one Barbie. We didn't need dozens. My Skipper had red hair, like me. She also had an unfortunate encounter with a pair of scissors when I was in my "let's practice hairdressing" phase as a child. I was not happy with the resulting hairdo, but tough. I had a scalped Skipper and was not getting another one. I still have her too, you know. Somewhere in the attic. Maybe her hair is in fashion now. Poor thing - she must be at least 46 by now. I know Moregranny was alive when I got her, because she knitted the most beautiful dresses for her on tiny needles. There is NO way I could or would ever do that now.

I loved playing tennis. We all learned tennisette at school, and then I went to Leon Norgarb's Tennis School on a Saturday morning in Rondebosch when we graduated to proper racquets. My friends all went too. I used to dream of tennis fame as I hit the ball on the kitchen wall repeatedly, (and occasionally the kitchen window) at home. Waiting to be discovered. Barefoot, of course. We had a long tarred driveway, and it was ideal for playing tennis. And for riding bikes - my children learned to ride there too. And we had a lovely in ground swimming pool, where I perfected my backflip. For some reason, after a few months, I could not do it without hitting my head on the wall. Strange that. So I stopped. And practiced swimming lengths under water instead.

We made houses out of sun umbrellas, which we lowered to their lowest point, and then pegged towels around the edges. They worked perfectly. I tell you, we were very inventive. I taught myself to play the guitar. My family had to put up with many long anguished hours of Swannee River as I learned. And I still play a little today. I spent years in the church music group here in the middle of England.

Granny taught us card games, which we used to play on a Sunday when we went there for lunch, after she had read us stories from Grimm's Fairytales - which is here behind me in the bookcase, waiting to be read to my own granddaughter too one day. While sucking a Mint Humbug. The sticky kind.

Granny always cooked roast mutton for Sunday lunch, and I remember being in the kitchen after the meal, watching her mince up some of the left over meat, and then shoving the bread down the mincer, fastened to the edge of the table, to clean it out. And cherry jelly with hot custard? My uncle's favourite. I could do a post or 97 about the food from my growing up years.

Record players....... I had a little box one, and the lid came off, and stood up - the speaker, and it played 45s. I graduated to a stereo one which played 33s (LPs) when I went to university. I remember getting the little one for a birthday present, and guess what the first record I got was? It's a Man's World. My father had a sense of humour - well, the poor man lived in a house with a wife and 2 daughters, so he had to try!

I started talking about movies, and theatre and opera, and then decided that that could wait. I think this is enough of the wandering down memory lane for today.

But it has been fun!


Stripeyspots said...

I loved the Bunty comics. And The Chalet school books were fantastic although it took me years to find out what treacle was...

Vee said...

Yes, it has been fun even when I had question marks floating above my head for lack of knowing what you were talking about. Still, there was enough there to connect with that I smiled often. I had a dad something like your own. Hated my reading, reading, reading all the time. Said when I went into teaching that I was making the biggest mistake of my life...said that about my marriage...about everything, in fact. Naturally, he couldn't be wrong all the time.

I recently tried reading a Bobbsey Twin book and couldn't handle it, though as a child, I adored them. Loved Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton and even Ruth Fielding from my Nan's era.

So thanks for the wander. I'll be back for the addendums.

Helen in Switzerland said...

I bought loads of the Chalet school books for my daughters - very dated, but they loved them - and I got them all at £1 each second hand from Amazon. I always had a special affiliation with the Chalet school because the author, Eleanor M. Brent-Dyer went to my school - which surprisingly wasn't a boarding school in the Alps, but a girls' school in Newcastle!!!

Needled Mom said...

What fun memories!!!! I chuckled at your road trip with your dad telling you to look at the scenery. My folks always did that, we did the same thing and now I hear my own children repeating it to their children. It must be a "parent" thing to do.

At least we used to get some exercise when we watched television because there were no remote controls!!!

Crystal said...

You have a very good memory for things from your childhood. You always spark me to think back! I never had a Barbie but I had a record player. I remember my friend in grade 9 wanting to buy me a 45 titled "Bottle of Wine" which was on the hit charts then - and my Mom vetoed it! She had strict ideas about what her firstborn would and would not experience. Thanks for the memories, LInds!

Dawn said...

Such wonderful memories. I'm planning to post some more of mine in the near future - my nieces love it when I do that.

My dad had definite ideas about what was okay to read, too. In fact, he still thinks fiction is a waste of time - what fun he is missing out on!

I have 3 sets of books I bought from my past - Sue Barton (nurse), Anne of Green Gables, and Beany Malone (which few have heard of but I could read over and over - their themes are timeless).

Good stuff!!

Edith said...

Oh what fun...enjoyed your memories. Thanks for sharing. Enid Blyton was one of my absolute all time favorite authors as a child - Secret Seven, Famous Five, the Mallory Towers books as well as the ones with the magic tree, the gnomes and all. I was a bookworm as well - read my way across the states until I started getting carsick. Anyway...thanks for sharing.

The Bookworm said...

I adored the Chalet School, and over the years have collected pretty much the entire set (I think I may be missing one?). If you ever need a Chalet School fix, you are welcome to borrow a pile!