*take nothing for granted!
Unless otherwise indicated all photos © Richard McKie 2005 - 2015

Who is Online

We have 63 guests and no members online

Translate to another language

The Depression

 

During the Depression almost every man was out of work.  It didn’t matter how educated they were, it made no difference whatsoever.  They were put on what was known then as ‘relief work’;  digging up the streets with a pick and shovel - road works.  They did not always pay them money either.  You had to line up every week for your ration of food for your whole family.  Occasionally they even supplied you with ‘dole boots’ and other things that were necessary for your survival with the exception of accommodation; that was your problem, not like today.  As you can imagine it was very degrading for your pride and self esteem to live like this. 

A lot of men went on the ‘wallaby tramps’, a swag over their back containing two blankets, a cup and a billy, walking almost everywhere, sleeping under bridges and culverts.  Some were called the ‘sundowners’, calling into homesteads in the late evening when the sun went down, asking the lady of the house for any scraps she could spare and then off again to settle down, light a fire and boil their billy.  A lot of them travelled in groups; when they wanted to travel long distance they would sometimes ‘jump a rattler’ (steel a ride on a freight train).

When people cooked sausages and meat a popular additive was dripping; after cooking the residue was not discarded but kept in a small container and placed in the ice-chest and later was spread very liberally onto a piece of bread with a knife and sprinkled with salt and pepper.  Believe it or not this made a very delicious snack (bread and dripping), consumed and enjoyed by almost everybody during the depression.

There were other things made because they were cheap and people could only eat what they could afford.  Jam tarts – you would mix corn flower and water to make the pastry then form it into a tart with the edges turned up into which you would place a liberal amount of apricot jam or similar.  Another thing you would be more or less forced to eat or go without was bread with either golden syrup or treacle spread on (a by-product of molasses), which as you might imagine did wonders for your teeth.  There were many toothy gums with teeth either missing or rotten in the adult fraternity, because people could not afford to buy false ones. 

A very popular dessert was bread and butter custard which was enjoyed by almost everybody.  For breakfast, mum used to give me an Arrowroot biscuit on a small plate with hot milk poured on with a little sugar added.  Also mum would make up a starch with warm milk and sugar.  Of course we did have cornflakes very occasionally. 

The winters in those days were bitterly cold, you could look out across the back paddock in the morning and it was like a big white sheet covered with a heavy frost.  The water tin in the hen house would have ¼ inch of ice on the top.  Every night, sometimes by candlelight and sometimes by kerosene lamp we would all sit around in a semi-circle; mum, me, Beryl and Lucy with our feet in the gas oven.  It was the only lighting and heating mum could afford.  Later mum had a gas light fitted; electricity came much later.

I have always had a ravenous appetite and sometimes I might say to mum when I had finished eating the meal I had been given, “mum I’m still hungry have you got anymore”?  Mum would say “here son, have mine”. I would grab it and wolf it down without so much as a second thought.  If ever an angel came to earth in human form it was my mother. 

Mum had three sisters; Bessie, Mary and Florrie and two brothers; Herb and Jack.  From what I know Jack died at a very early age.  Uncle Herb owned a small gold mine at Nerriga not far from Moss Vale or Braidwood.  He managed to eek out a meagre existence but never ‘struck it rich’ and died a poor man.  Mum originated from Bulli and had relations at Cessnock.  Her mother died at a very early age from cancer and is still buried to this day in a cemetery not far from Bulli.  Kathy Ryan knows the exact location. 

Mum’s second cousin was Les Darcy, a very famous Australian boxer who is of course not known today by most of our younger generation, but will always remind in the history books as a future world champion who was unfortunately denied that privilege by the Americans, who as rumour had it, poisoned him.  In her late teens, mum came to Sydney and seemed to prefer working as a housemaid for rich people in and around the very exclusive area of ‘Roslyn Gardens’. 

 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh


    Have you read this???     -  this content changes with each opening of a menu item


Travel

Denmark

 

 

  

 

 

In the seventies I spent some time travelling around Denmark visiting geographically diverse relatives but in a couple of days there was no time to repeat that, so this was to be a quick trip to two places that I remembered as standing out in 1970's: Copenhagen and Roskilde.

An increasing number of Danes are my progressively distant cousins by virtue of my great aunt marrying a Dane, thus contributing my mother's grandparent's DNA to the extended family in Denmark.  As a result, these Danes are my children's cousins too.

Denmark is a relatively small but wealthy country in which people share a common language and thus similar values, like an enthusiasm for subsidising wind power and shunning nuclear energy, except as an import from Germany, Sweden and France. 

They also like all things cultural and historical and to judge by the museums and cultural activities many take pride in the Danish Vikings who were amongst those who contributed to my aforementioned DNA, way back.  My Danish great uncle liked to listen to Geordies on the buses in Newcastle speaking Tyneside, as he discovered many words in common with Danish thanks to those Danes who had settled in the Tyne valley.

Nevertheless, compared to Australia or the US or even many other European countries, Denmark is remarkably monocultural. A social scientist I listened to last year made the point that the sense of community, that a single language and culture confers, creates a sense of extended family.  This allows the Scandinavian countries to maintain very generous social welfare, supported by some of the highest tax rates in the world, yet to be sufficiently productive and hence consumptive per capita, to maintain among the highest material standards of living in the world. 

Read more ...

Fiction, Recollections & News

The Writer

 

 

The fellow sitting beside me slammed his book closed and sat looking pensive. 

The bus was approaching Cremorne junction.  I like the M30.  It starts where I get on so I’m assured of a seat and it goes all the way to Sydenham in the inner West, past Sydney University.  Part of the trip is particularly scenic, approaching and crossing the Harbour Bridge.  We’d be in The City soon.

My fellow passenger sat there just staring blankly into space.  I was intrigued.   So I asked what he had been reading that evoked such deep thought.  He smiled broadly, aroused from his reverie.  “Oh it’s just Inferno the latest Dan Brown,” he said.   

Read more ...

Opinions and Philosophy

Energy and a ‘good life’

 

 

 

Energy

With the invention of the first practical steam engines at the turn of the seventeenth century, and mechanical energy’s increasing utility to replace the physical labour of humans and animals, human civilisation took a new turn.  

Now when a contemporary human catches public transport to work; drives the car to socialise with friends or family; washes and dries their clothes or the dishes; cooks their food; mows their lawn; uses a power tool; phones a friend or associate; or makes almost anything;  they use power once provided by slaves, servants or animals.

Read more ...

Terms of Use                                           Copyright