My Life in 'Interesting' Times
Dawn of a New Day
When I was born, many people assumed I was an accident. Over the years, many more have come to the same conclusion, but for different reasons. The initial judgement was made because my siblings were all a decade and more older than me. Myself, I believe my parents were just saving up for a rainy day, and it was a very wet March, that year.
I was an extremely active baby, probably impatient to get out & start talking! Consequently, my poor Mum barely slept throughout her pregnancy, and in fact, had to be sedated from time to time to give her some rest.
The doctor believed I must be twins, and surely boys, with all that kicking; and in anticipation, my Dad booked the two of me into the West Torrens Football Club's Senior Colts for the 1960 season. (The Mighty Adelaide Crows Football Club were not even a glimmer in anyone's imagination in those days - unbelievable!)
I know an atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan in August, 1945, but it didn't have the personal repercussions of the bombshell that was dropped at Memorial Hospital, when I was born. Just one baby - and a girl, to boot! Could the bomb and I have inspired the name of ...
Not Quite What the Doctor Ordered!
My Mum desperately wanted a little blonde, blue-eyed boy, after the death of my little brother Dean before he was two years old. And, as it was believed I was twins, it looked a strong possibility her wish would come true...surely? However, when only one of me arrived, her response was -
"throw her out the window, I don't want a girl" -
(retracted as soon as she saw me, or so she always told me) And I have to believe this, as she was fairly strongly anaesthetised at the time. She did, after all, only have half a kidney operating! (Luckily, this would not be known until she was in her later years...thank goodness. Otherwise none of her four surviving children would even have been born.)
My brothers told me I looked like an Indian papoose when I was born because I had thick black silky hair growing right down onto the back of my neck . This black hair gradually turned blonde and then to a really ordinary medium brown, and now has gradually turned silver grey!! Next comes pure white - the closest I'll ever be to blonde again.
Some Medical Mayhem
But going back to the auspicious day I was born, and Mum's initial reaction of telling the Doctor to throw me out the window. I have magnanimously forgiven her for this and have never allowed it to aff-aff-affect me. After all, she was heavily drugged to slow me down from making the fast, dramatic entrance I had planned and rehearsed for months.
No - it's the doctor who remains unforgiven. He was the twit who couldn't tell the difference between one baby and two; who was running late and nearly missed delivering meat all; and worst of all, nearly did throw me out the window - he was so embarrassed by the error of his ways.
Luckily, being an Aries, i was able to dig my toes into his Adam's apple, give him a decent head butt, and bellow my disapproval, whilst going so red I looked like a killer tomato! He hastily handed me over to the Sister, which was also lucky, as I had a few more defensive tactics in my arsenal at the time!
Blissfully, on the first day of my 'outside' life, I was unaware of just how 'Hippocratic" (or something similar) his oath was. So, on this day, I was soon snug in my Mum's arms, and she, now recovering, decided I was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Just as well, or I still could have ended up as just another little rosebud in Memorial Hospital's garden-beds.
... didn't do It!
So, I was definitely no accident. And whatever colour or sex, my family were happy to have reason to laugh again after their tragedy. Nice thought that - who could stay miserable with such a lusty but cheerful new addition to the family?
I went through childhood deeply cherished and cosseted by parents and siblings alike... spoiled, I'm sure many would say - and, to be perfectly honest, I would have to agree. Not in monetary ways - oh no - my Dad was your average suburban Butcher - but most certainly in love and attention. How incredibly blessed.
I think I probably got away with 'blue murder' sometimes - like this photo indicates -
"Get grubby? Who? - me? No-o-o - see that dirt down there - it just jumped up on my face all by itself!"
(Don't you just love the Indignant face - and the pointing finger?)
Born to Cuddle
... and Love All Creatures Great and Small?
My Mum used to despair of my surviving without severe dermatitis or other nasty skin type yukkies - and/or some lung disorder from inhaling all the animal dander. Mainly because, as this photo demonstrates - everything I loved had to be nuzzled.
Maybe some latent Eskimo genes buried deep within somewhere? Now there's a thought - remember how my brothers suspected Indian papoose ancestry - wel-l-l-l.
An ironic postscript to this story is that we have chooks to this day - and despite my husband's best efforts to 'end it all' for them as they become aged and relatively unproductive - on my insistence they enjoy their twilight years on full 'working bird' status. As I like to point out - "Would you have gotten rid of your Mother because she got old?" - and - "What about me? Are my days numbered, too?" That usually works a treat.
Here's Dad's Butcher Shop
... and me pre-Ted Bear Esq. days!
... when I still played with dolls.
Or you would find me standing on the gas meter-box out the front of our house, leaning over the fence, telling everyone Mum was getting a little baby brother for me (not). Mum used to help out, serving, in Dad's butcher shop on Fridays - always a really long & busy day - & people would come in to the shop & congratulate her - & probably not really believe her when she denied it - imagining she was just being coy! (I have visions of them watching her shape carefully for some months after!!)
Standing on meter-box again (daily, if the weather was right) talking to 'Bill the Painter' - I don't think I ever knew his surname, just always said his name like that, as if it was his surname. He was always in his work clothes of white overalls spattered all over with paint spots, and he really loved me and our talks and would always continue on into Dad's butcher shop to get his meat, and have great chats about "that little Christine....she's a trimmer - do you know what she's talking about today?" and then proceed to tell Dad all about me.
I also remember 'Bill the Painter' kalsomining our Lounge room - Kalsomine was used before and during the early days of paint, and had a really distinctive smell and was kind of powdery if you rubbed it with your finger, even lightly (in a spot where no-one would notice!!)
People used to put pennies inside the deep hems of curtains to make them hang down really nicely, and keep out creases, and probably to stop them blowing too much in the breeze. One day, left to my own devices, I decided to collect all the money I thought someone had hidden in the curtains, and painstakingly removed them all from every curtain in every room. Mum wasn't very amused, for some inexplicable reason!
Wannabe Topless Model
However, Some Wannabes - ...are going to end up Farmers.
Is this a 'prophetic' photo of possibilities ahead?
They REALLY DO...grow up, that is, - ...and become Farmers, too
Same Christine... a tad older, but it's questionable how much wiser - at this age! (25, I do believe).
And the machine this time is called a Header - designed to cut off the tops (and heads of grain) from the several thousands of acres of crop our friend/boss harvested each year.
Don't you love the 'mod cons' like shelter from sun &/or rain? Did I say rain? Well, yes there was some, but not at 'harvesting' time, we pray!
And how about the air-conditioning? Quite an advanced shade of 'green', I would say!
Our neighbour across the road from us these days, has to agree that his monster Case models have all the same attributes - maybe just a tad improved!
Did I Tell You
...about My Scottish Ancestry?
Och yes! It's a braw wee lass I be back then. (See, I'm multi-lingual - Scottish and 'Strine - and I can swear in Danish, too)
I cannot however 'swear' to it that the tartan scarf I'm draped in is in fact the 'Graham' tartan - old black and white photos make positive ID difficult.
But I'm sure it was all authentic enough to my family and the photographer (obviously not my Dad. He was an excellent photographer, almost always chopping off everyone's heads, whilst showing feet and a lot of Earth below.
Maybe this was simply a matter of a heavy-handed butcher finding difficulty in developing the delicate touch required for his Brownie camera not to dip and sway at the crucial 'click' moment?
Or perhaps he saw his dearly beloved family all as angels, with our heads somewhere in the clouds?
Or - just maybe - our 'Graham' ancestors had some relationship to King Henry VIII - who just loved to chop off the heads of his wives? ("Oh no, not possible!" - and I shudder hideously at the thought - "...because 'our Grahams' helped the famous Scot, Rob Roy to escape the English! We simply could NOT have been related to him/them.. the Royals!")
'Wannabe' Little Red Riding Hood
I simply cannot resist adding this -
LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AND THE WOLF - by Roald Dahl
As soon as Wolf began to feel
That he would like a decent meal,
He went and knocked on Grandma's door.
When Grandma opened it, she saw
The sharp white teeth, the horrid grin,
And Wolfie said, "May I come in?"
Poor Grandmamma was terrified,
"He's going to eat me up!" she cried.
And she was absolutely right.
He ate her up in one big bite.
But Grandmamma was small and tough,
And Wolfie wailed, "That's not enough!
I haven't yet begun to feel
That I have had a decent meal!"
He ran around the kitchen yelping,
"I've got to have another helping!"
Then added with a frightful leer,
"I'm therefore going to wait right here
Till Miss Red Riding Hood
Comes home from walking in the wood."
He quickly put on Grandma's clothes
(Of course he hadn't eaten those.)
He dressed himself in coat and hat.
He put on shoes and after that
He even brushed and curled his hair,
Then sat himself in Grandma's chair.
In came the little girl in red.
She stopped. She stared. And then she said,
"What great big ears you have, Grandma."
"All the better to hear you with," the Wolf replied.
"What great big eyes you have, Grandma," said Little Red Riding Hood.
"All the better to see you with," the Wolf replied.
He sat there watching her and smiled.
He thought, I'm going to eat this child.
Compared with her old Grandmamma
She's going to taste like caviare.
Then Little Red Riding Hood said,
"But Grandma, what a lovely great big furry coat you have on.!"
"That's wrong!" cried Wolf. "Have you forgot
To tell me what BIG TEETH I've got?
Ah well, no matter what you say,
I'm going to eat you anyway."
The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers.
She whips a pistol from her knickers.
She aims it at the creature's head
And bang bang bang, she shoots him dead.
A few weeks later, in the wood,
I came across Miss Riding Hood.
But what a change! No cloak of red,
No silly hood upon her head.
She said, "Hello, and do please note
My lovely furry WOLFSKIN COAT."
Every single time I read this, I create a heap more lines on my face - but at least they are the 'laughter' variety - all 'upwardly mobile'.
And Birthdays - ...and Balloons...and Parties!Click thumbnail to view full-size
Jenny (my sister) and I shared a bedroom (that's our bedroom window right behind us in the photo). She was always an 'early to bed' person, so she used to come to bed when I did, and hop into my bed with me and read me a story. Only trouble was, Jenny was never a 'real' reader like me, and so she would doze off fairly soon, and I had to constantly wake her up to finish the story! These were dark days indeed, before I could read myself!
Isn't it strange though, how sisters from the same parents can be so opposite about so many things,.and yet love each other very much. We were as 'chalk and cheese' as you could possibly get. Our only commonly shared trait in maturity has been our love of craft.
And by the way - she NEVER became a reader - and I NEVER stopped reading. And I am an insomniac, and she has always slept well and long. (Maybe she's doing both our shares?)
A Few Good Men
...Barry, Dad and Bob
How I loved these fellows - despite they look a little 'Mafia-ish' in this photo. (Do you imagine, too, that you can hear the photographer saying, 'Now stand tall, fellows - strong serious faces now - hold it' - and click?)
Barry was the sailor...the one who bequeathed his dog Kim to me...the animal lover...the merciless 'teaser'...the sibling I felt closest to all of his life, now over. Wonderful later memories of Mum and Dad and I driving to Melbourne to meet him 'coming home' on leave from his various ships and 'tours of duty'. (How about the 'Elvis Presley' hairdo?)
And Dad - a gentleman, and a 'gentle' man. He doesn't look it in the photo, and somehow you don't think of a Butcher having a great big 'marshmallow' heart - but he surely did. His life was lived for his family.
Bob is the eldest of the family...and the inherited genes we share include our love of reading, music, striving and succeeding. Another 'teaser' - another big brother to love.
Various Visions of '45
Just Have to Look at this Lovely Family again - ...up Close and Personal
I particularly love Mum's hat - John Wayne eat your heart out!
And also love the strong 'widow's peak' hairline of my Dad - inherited totally by my brother Barry. (Mum had one too, but not as pronounced). Barry was also the only one who got dark hair, just like Mum and Dad - all the rest of us were blonde/brown.
(Don't get excited about questionable parentage - we all look SO alike)
In case you don't know what a 'widow's peak' is - here is one definition -
It is a distinct point in the hairline in the center of the forehead...and -
is a dominant inherited trait,and typically does not skip generations...and -
the term is from the belief that hair growing to a point on the forehead is an omen of early widowhood...and -
that wasn't true for my family - all had long marriages of around 40 years - so it appears that is just another old wives' tale.
(and we will celebrate our 49th this year - and yes, I have a widow's peak, too)