Tuesday, March 29, 2011


There has been talk by many people who seem to know what they are talking about criticising how folk are building bigger houses on smaller blocks and seem to want EVERYTHING....a home theatre, a swimming pool, a sauna and so it goes on. I really think we have become a world of purchasers...buying sometimes for the sake of buying and then discarding after a short time when something new takes our fancy. I can honestly say that I do not and cannot do that owing partly to lack of funds but I believe in keeping things for as long as possible and not constantly replacing everything, except perhaps my computer.

I then began to think back to 1953 when I married my first husband. My mother-in-law made me a really beautiful wedding gown and slso my going away outfit, including the hat. We managed to afford a honeymoon for a week before returning to live in the only accommodation available in those days. Remember this was only 8 years after the cessation of World War 2 and many items were still scarce, including houses.

When we arrived back in North Perth we had sufficient money to buy a broom and a dustpan and brush and to live until my husband's next payday. He was a very good cabinet maker and had a good job but of course I think his wage was about ten pounds a week ($20) or perhaps even less at that time. I forget how much rent we paid but it was not much and we had two rooms, one above the other built on the back of a house by the owner when his wife was dying of cancer. Her bedroom was upstairs and she had a magnificent view of our city and the suburbs in between. The kitchen was downstairs and we shared the bathroom and laundry.

Dave didn't have a washing machine so I had to boil cotton items in the copper (which had a wood fire underneath it) and then use a washing board in the trough to wash other items. They were then hand rinsed and put through a wringer that was attached between the two troughs. The sunshine was the only means of drying the washing that we had.

We didn't have a car at that time but after a few weeks we were able to buy a 1928 Willys utility. It was green and the two headlights were held in place by clothesline wire to stop them moving. It had running boards which made it easy to get into the cab and it ran quite well. I remember once taking my mum for a drive up to Toodyay (about 60 miles from Perth along what was the Red Hill Road with a gravel surface). All went well and we returned home safely only to find that the wheel nuts on one wheel had come loose and we realised how lucky we were to get to Toodyay and home again without mishap.

Another time we were driving up Beaufort Street and there was an awful clatter and my hubby stopped the car only to find the tail shaft had fallen off and was dragging along the bitumen road.

I often think we had more fun not having things and working for them than people do today that earn such huge salaries and seem able to buy nearly everything they want although very often using their credit cards. There were no such things as credit cards back in the 1950s and anything we were able to save for and buy was so much appreciated when we bought it.

I didn't have a refrigerator but my mother-in-law was buying a fridge so said she would give me her icechest which she eventually did. I think in the meantime we kept our milk etc., in Dave's fridge. It was a very good icechest and kept our food very fresh for days. The iceman would come around with the large block of ice resting on his shoulder on a hessian bag and he would use a large pair of grips to handle the ice with.

It was not until mid-1955 when our daughter was born that we managed to buy a fridge on hire purchase and then we had to ask for special dispensation to delay payments for several months when my hubby cut part of his left ring finger off using a buzzer at work. Fortunately the firm was kind and extended the hire purchase agreement by 3 months so we were able to keep our fridge.

My mother had a very small Hoover washing machine with a little wringer attached to it and she gave me this to make it easier now I had washing to do for a baby. It was a great little machine and in those days were told that washing powder was too strong to wash a baby's clothing and nappies in so we would grate Velvet soap up and use that in the machine instead of washing powder.

It was a very wet winter in 1955 but we were fortunate in the house we were renting that there was a magnificent two oven wood stove above which there was a stand on which newspaper could be spread and the nappies could be well aired. Still no driers then, not would I have bothered with one had they been available.

The only heating in the house was a wood fire in the lounge room but we never seemed to be very cold even though the hose pipes in the garden would sometimes be frozen when we awoke in the mornings. I think houses were better built then and kept warmer in winter and a lot cooler in summer than most modern homes do.

I think I will leave the story there as it is nearly bedtime and we have a fairly early start tomorrow (early for us anyway).

1 comment:

  1. This is great! I loved reading that, keep going. I love all the details too, big fan of the 1950s here!