Following Carol Simmons’ nostalgic article about the local area in 50s and 60s in the last issue, we give our readers another trip down memory lane.
First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us and lived in houses made of asbestos. Wrong, but in some cases true – they took aspirin, ate blue cheese, raw egg products, loads of bacon and processed meat, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes or cervical cancer.
Then after that trauma, our baby cots were covered with bright coloured lead-based paints. We did not have childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets or shoes, not to mention, the risks we took hitch-hiking. As children, we would ride in cars without seat belts or air bags. We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle (kids now will only drink Evian). Take-away food was limited to fish and chips, no pizza shops, McDonalds, KFC, Subway or Nandos.
Even though all the shops closed at 6.00pm and didn’t open on the weekends, somehow we didn’t starve to death. We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this. We could collect old drink bottles and cash them in at the corner store and buy toffees, gobstoppers, bubble gum and some bangers to blow up frogs. We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soft drinks with sugar in them, but we weren’t overweight because…… WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING.
We would leave home in the morning and play all day without a mobile phone, as long as we were back when the big streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. And we were OK. We would spend hours building our go-carts out of old prams and then ride down the hill, only to find out we had forgotten the brakes. We built tree houses and dens and played in river beds with Match Box cars. We did not have Playstations, Nintendo Wii, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 999 channels on SKY, no video/dvd films, no mobile phones, no personal computers, or the Internet or Internet chat rooms……….WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them.
We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents. Only girls had pierced ears. We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever. You could only buy Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns at Easter time. We were given air guns and catapults for our 10th birthdays. We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them. Mum didn’t have to go to work to help dad make ends meet.
Football and Cricket had try-outs and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t, had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that. Getting into the team was based on merit. Our teachers used to hit us with canes and gym shoes and other bullies ruled the playground at school. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law. Our parents didn’t invent stupid names for their kids like Apple, Blade, Fifi Tinkerbelle.
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.