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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’. 

 


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Travel

South Korea & China

March 2016

 

 

South Korea

 

 

I hadn't written up our trip to South Korea (in March 2016) but Google Pictures gratuitously put an album together from my Cloud library so I was motivated to add a few words and put it up on my Website.  Normally I would use selected images to illustrate observations about a place visited.  This is the other way about, with a lot of images that I may not have otherwise chosen.  It requires you to go to the link below if you want to see pictures. You may find some of the images interesting and want to by-pass others quickly. Your choice. In addition to the album, Google generated a short movie in an 8mm style - complete with dust flecks. You can see this by clicking the last frame, at the bottom of the album.

A few days in Seoul were followed by travels around the country, helpfully illustrated in the album by Google generated maps: a picture is worth a thousand words; ending back in Seoul before spending a few days in China on the way home to OZ. 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

A Twisted Pigs Tale

 

This is a little exercise in creative writing.  The brief was to reimagine the Three Pigs from a different perspective.   The original is a parable about the virtues of forward thinking, providence and hard work, so that only the most abstemious pig survives the metaphorical wolf.  I thought it was a bit tough on the middle pig who is just trying to find a balance between work and play.   So here is my version:

 


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Opinions and Philosophy

When did people arrive in Australia?

 

 

 

 

 

We recently returned from a brief holiday in Darwin (follow this link).  Interesting questions raised at the Darwin Museum and by the Warradjan Cultural Centre at Kakadu are where the Aboriginal people came from; how they got to Australia; and when. 

Recent anthropology and archaeology seem to present contradictions and it seems to me that all these questions are controversial.

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