TIMESCAPE – 60 years ago SYDNEY-First day, 21 August to 15th November 1955

TIMESCAPE – 60 years ago SYDNEY-First day, 21 August to 15th November 1955

Brings back memories.

off at a tangent

Remember our first days in Sydney (6months pregnant) as though it was yesterday, however, was surprised at how much I had forgotten, re-reading the diary and journal.  Too long for this blog, “politically incorrect” occasionally (expression unknown to us), will cut the 14 typed pages of our first exciting 3 months living in  Neutral Bay.

Sunday morning, our landlady called Adrian aside, and  he returned  grinning “You want to know what the old girls wanted to see me about? .. she asked me if I knew you were pregnant? .  Giggles subsiding, he said she had suggested they move  to a larger flat near the garden so that when the baby arrived. the rest of the residents  would not be disturbed.  Agreeable to this even though we’d lose our splendid view.  While moving  she introduced us to other couples renting bedsitters in this huge mansion. We made friends with newly…

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1987 – Plane-Yukon to Vancouver,BC. Greyhound Bus to Tacoma,Washington State

1987 – Plane-Yukon to Vancouver,BC. Greyhound Bus to Tacoma,Washington State

off at a tangent

There was no visible difference between day and night in Whitehorse,Yukon.  Stayed up to watch, wonder, take photos and write cards.   Must have dozed off at some time, then off early in  the bus to the airport to catch the CPA flight at 10pm to Vancouver.  A bit dazed from lack of sleep, at Whitehorse Airport, left my luggage with a complete stranger and went to freshen up in the toilet. He was still there watching my luggage when I came out.  As it happened, he had been on the ss Rotterdam and was now on the same plane returning to Boston via Vancouver. We chatted and he asked me if I made a practise of leaving my luggage with unknown people and  before I could answer he warned me never to do it again.  Turns out he was a Detective Sergeant in the Boston Police!  A Texan couple, I…

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Travel 1987 (1)

Travel 1987 (1)

off at a tangent

My long-service leave was due & started planning for it September,1986.  Making complicated plans to travel is almost as much fun as travelling, & now, reading  diary of my plans, (payments, less fun, our Aus.dollar was worth US$0.88)  is an eye-opener.  3 months by plane, ship,ferry, coach, sky train, steamtrain, water taxi, boat, helicopter, floatplane, 4-wheel drive, Greyhound bus, car, tram, fast train, bicycle & shanks pony (walking )    1. British Columbia, Canada.  2. Alaska,USA.  3 Tacoma,Washington State (to visit my cousin). 4. Sierra Vista, Arizona (to visit my niece & family) 5.Toronto,Ontario, Canada.  6. UK -London to visit & the theatre. 7. My old friends in Sittingbourne, Kent.  8. Mum’s friends in Coulsden,Surrey.    9. My cousins in Winchester, Hants.  10. International Summer School, University of Cambridge (3 weeks). 11. Frankfurt, Cologne ,Germany & 4-day Rhine cruise through France to Basle, Switzerland. 12. Train to Zurich 5-day stay…

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Alaska Bound (3) **Mendenhall Glacier by helicopter.. High on high**

Alaska Bound (3) **Mendenhall Glacier by helicopter.. High on high**

off at a tangent

Alaska -5am my cabin on boat deck Rotterdam Inside PassageJuneau Alaska June 1987 ArrivingAlaska-Juneau June 1987Juneau - Rotterdam from land 1987Juneau,Alaska up to Meldenhall Glacier June 1987Alaska on Meldenhall Glacier 1987Juneau Alaska from th helicopter June 1987Meldenhall Glacier- awaiting the helicopter June 1987Alaska,abt to land on Meldenhall Glacier June 1987Juneau-Alaska helicopter above Meldenhall GlacierSailed away from Ketchikan on board s.s. Rotterdam and on to Juneau.  We attended the theatre for a live show called “Be Happy” with 2 girls & 2 boys dressed appropriately for the 1940’s & singing nostalgic songs from that era.  Excellent & well appreciated by the  audience.  There was a farewell dinner & party which was jolly until the ship started rocking & suddenly people disappeared.  Evelyn gave me one of her dramamine pills & took one herself & we went to our cabins.  Had to pack & leave our luggage outside the door by 6 am, struggled through that & fell asleep. Wanted to be okay for my first ever helicopter flight & to walk on a glacier.  5 am woke feeling fine to the sight of snow & ice so close to the ship, could nearly touch it. Dressed & from my cabin & the boat deck…

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Sydney 1956, bread,butter and tears.

Sydney 1956, bread,butter and tears.

Our first  Australian Summer Christmas Day (hot)with our infant son was spent  in the Neutral Bay bed-sitters mansion.  We had the whole place to ourselves, friends, neighbours and even the landlady were spending the holidays in the country with their families.   Tried cooking traditional English fare “cooked my goose” ha,ha,ha! but, luckily, had cold ham and salad and icecream for our Christmas dinner.

New Years Day 1956- we had a surprise visit from the Scottish lady (another 10-Pound POM) who had shared the cabin with me on the ORONSAY and was on holiday from Melbourne. She brought presents for baby son and crossed his palm with silver as token of good fortune. She liked her new life in Melbourne, but was homesick.

The dear landlady was worried about baby’s crying at night and reminded us the business couples needed their sleep.  We took the hint and started looking for another place, very difficult for a young couple with a new baby.  Our friends searched too.

Eventually, at the end of January our young,recently married friends B. and M.offered part of their house in Harbord(near Manly) on share rent and board basis, and helped them move in.  Sad to leave our flat and wonderful friends in Neutral Bay.

For the first two weeks it was delightful living within this family. M’s parents lived opposite and would invite us to eat with them. They had a billiard room, the men enjoyed playing after work.  B. belonged to the local surf club and was a lifesaver. He was only 21 and enjoyed the company of his mates and drinking.

Trouble in Paradise!  M. now pregnant, complained that B. was neglectful,etc. there were arguments, door slamming,etc. waking baby.  Really wanted a place of our own.

Luckily, in February we found a  2- bedroom house almost on the beach in South Curl Curl. Usually for holiday rental, it was temporarily ours.  Joy of joys, there was a tennis court next door.  They moved in with B. and his mates’ help on the weekend.

No time for tennis on Sunday.  Too late- on Monday, the rain poured down. Water leaked into all but one bedroom.  Adrian was at work, I ran with buckets to catch it.

It was February in the Antipodes, but cold, wet, baby was fretful. Turned on the heaters to dry the nappies one by one.  It rained every day, except for 2 hours during which I took baby in the pram along the beach and saw that the tennis court was inundated and would be unplayable for a long time. Wept with disappointment and sheer tiredness.  We had to find somewhere else.  B., a most generous and kind young chap, felt responsible for our plight and made an extra effort to find us a place.

Joyous news, a house was found in North Narrabeen the following Friday.  A new house, partly completed, but the owner/builder, an Englishman, his wife and two sons, wanted to live elsewhere  for the time-being.  He wanted to rent it only to friends of friends (for a year or 2)into  which category we fitted.

We moved in with our few belongings, and B. and his mates help again, still pouring rain to Lot No.1, Powderworks Road, a huge block of land ,  surrounded by bush,at the top of the hill in Nth Narrabeen (bordering Elanora Heights).   A northern beaches suburb overlooking Long Reef and the Pacific.  Peace, tranquility, loved it.

In 1956 North Narrabeen was sparsely inhabited.  The houses were built around a valley and were in the process of being built, hence the Lot numbers.  Next door a large brick house was still being constructed, the new owners came over every weekend to check on progress. A WWII veteran who had served in New Guinea.

On our other side was a Qantas pilot, his wife and 2 little girls. He had served in the Australian Airforce in WWII. Ex.POW. He had sailed around the world on a yacht… He was in the process of building another ship in their front yard.

So there  were the men, the WWII Army, Navy and Airforce veterans all in a row. Could not wish for better neighbours in such an isolated place.  We had no telephone, no car.  The nearest bus stop was on Pittwater Road at the bottom of a steep, winding road. About the same distance as the nearest general store which served as the Post Office, Commonwealth Bank,grocer,greengrocer, baker, butcher, newspaper and book shop.  All of this was run by one man who did everything and knew everybody in the area.

Within an hour of their arrival on a Saturday this EM.(Extraordinary Man) called to find if there was anything they needed, which he would deliver that day.  It was EM. who introduced them to the rest of the small neighbourhood.  To get my shopping done, I only had to phone from a neighbour’s place and EM would deliver.  He also delivered the mail and all the latest news.

We were the youngest and newest residents there, with the youngest infant. The only migrants, the only ones renting and without refrigerator, phone or car.  The kindly neighbours went out of their way to help us every day.  Even got us a good refrigerator at the cheapest possible pric  Gave us fruits and vegetables from their gardens.

The journey to work in Sydney city for Adrian, walk to bus 10 minutes  by bus took 1.1/2 hours. He would leave at 7.30am and return by 7.30pm.  Baby and I alone all day.

Enjoyed every minute of this new life getting into the routine of mothering baby Clive. Wallabies, rabbits, kookaburras, snakes, blue-tongued lizards and wildlife abounded. There was even a wombat in a cave at the back among the gladioli.  Gum trees and flowering bush.  Clive thrived in these beautiful surroundings and so did we.                We had almost completed a full year in Australia and life was good.











TIMESCAPE- 60 years ago SYDNEY mid-November to December 1955.

TIMESCAPE- 60 years ago SYDNEY mid-November to December 1955.

Living in a new land and awaiting fast approaching Motherhood was a mixture of high hope and anxiety.  There was now only one income to support 2+1. Reluctantly, giving up my full-time secretarial job, optimistically, went for a couple of radio auditions  with letters of introduction from John and Deryck (who had also got me an agent). Climbed 8 or 9 flights of steps (the lift was not working) to get to one of these auditions.  Arriving breathless, the receptionist gave me a cup of tea before the audition. Not a good result, gave up for the time-being.

On some weekdays Adrian’s work colleagues’ young wives visited and drove me around beautiful Sydney to the beach, for picnic lunches.  It was Spring, it was hot, the jacarandas,bottlebrush, and native Australian plants were blooming, colourful.  Marge (2 months pregnant) had a veteran Ford car and took me on regular visits to her parent’s place in Harbord. The car had to be re-filled with water every few miles.  Marge would stop at any house and ask if she could use the hose and water.  There appeared to be no shock absorbers to this ancient vehicle.  Towards the end of November,Marge took me on a long,most enjoyable excursion in her bumpy car.   29th November, ironed clothes, listened to our new radiogram, napped, prepared dinner and 5pm, as I straightened my back after putting a “baked dinner” in the oven I was hit by a severe pain which made me stagger and lie down in bed (tiny bedsitter-cum kitchen).  The pains increased and were every 15-minutes.

Luckily, the landlady arrived home, took the situation in at a glance, got my  already packed case down and waited with me until Adrian came home from work.  Dr.Thomas was not surprised about a possible early delivery (25 days early) and, if the contractions continued at  regular 10 minutes, or less intervals up to 7.30pm I was to be taken to the hospital.

By about 6.30pm friends/residents had returned from work and were agog with excitement of an early event.  When the contractions were 8 minutes apart regularly, they walked down the long drive to the  waiting taxi.  The driver grew pale when he saw my “delicate condition”. He confessed to being nervous about “my condition” as a couple of mates had delivered babies in their cabs recently, but he would not know how to cope in such a situation.  Adrian and I agreed on that.

Waverley War Memorial Hospital is far away from Neutral Bay, plus the Harbour Bridge has to be crossed. With every groan the taxi driver pressed harder on the accelerator, the taxi flew across the Bridge and a new speed record was set between Neutral Bay and Waverley/Bondi.  Arrived at the hospital well before 8.30pm, the pains immediately ceased! while forms were being filled.  Adrian hung around for a while, but was despatched home by the Matron.  Husbands were not allowed to stay near their wives or help in any way in those days.

The Matron took me to a 2-bed Intermediate ward.  The other bed was occupied by a young woman(YW) whose baby was 8 days old,due to go home in 2 days. YW was helpful and talked about her life in the country.

At about 9pm the contractions re-started.  The nursing sister put a razor,etc on my bedside table, left.  Alarmed, she whispered to YW “What’s that for?”  YW:”They’re going  to shave you”.  The nurse returned with an enema.  All brisk and smiling she asked me to remove my panties to have my pubic hair shaved.  Shocked, speechless, too scared to cry, the deed was done. Nurse left with a bright smile saying  “that was not so bad after all” adding “I’ll be back to give you an enema”

YW came in and comforted me saying everyone had to go through the same procedure which was hygienic and good for the baby.

Nurse returned with the enema and I protested it was unnecessary as I had not eaten.  She adopted the manner of a “nanny” with a difficult child and I had to submit to another humiliating procedure.

By 10.30pm discomfort -contractions were 2 to 3 minutes apart.  Lucky  to have a kind and sympathetic person,YW (forgotten your name but always remember you) to hold my hand, talk  and comfort me.

11pm Nurse walked me to the delivery room upstairs.  She said Dr.Thomas would be there closer to delivery which might be hours yet.  At the “bearing down” pains the doc. arrived and baby son,(at 2.15am 30/11/1955) don’t remember anything else until I woke in bed at 3-ish given a cup of tea and biscuit and at 4 am allowed to see & hold baby for a very short time.  Slept, had a hearty breakfast at 8 am.  Breast-feeding. Adrian arrived at 9am bearing gifts and flowers, congratulations from our new friends.  He was only allowed to see baby Clive through the glass and not allowed to touch him until 10 days later when I left hospital.

The babies were all wheeled in from the nursery on trolleys every four hours to be breastfed.  Everything timed.  This did not suit baby Clive or me.  He bawled his lungs out and I did a lot of quieter crying too. All this excessive regimentation and hygienic practise did not prevent my getting a severe infection from a “milking machine” which gave me an abcess and breast-feeding problems in December and on-going.

David, from my former office, took us back to Neutral Bay on 10th Dec. The minute the station wagon moved off, baby Clive ceased crying and fell asleep-a miracle!  With this in mind David took us the long way home via French’s Forest.  It was also the Federal Election day and we voted for the first time in Australia. The minute we arrived home Clive started bawling.  This time I put his carry-cot near the radiogram, turned on Fats Waller, and voila off he went to sleep. Music was the answer. Kind friends had donated a cane  pram, a rocker and baby  bath and other essentials.  So helpful and thoughtful, never forget it.

Wrote all this in my journal (this section cover 9 pages and its been a challenge to shorten it and make sense).  My dear mother, who kept all my letters to her, has been a great help in getting the facts right.)

The photos are of houses and buildings in Sydney built before 1955 and taken by me in 1975,1985,1995,2015.  The flowers and trees bloom all over Sydney in November and December of any year and I love them. Marge’s Ford was similar to  this one.DSCN4475Sydney Harbour Bridge from below 1980 Coogee nsw to the sea May 1987 Coogee nsw old house 1990

Ford antique 107, with Tony &No.005 NSW Gov's Open Day 1980Jacarandas from lounge window 1995Sunset ^ jacaranda tree Dec.1995Neutral Bay-5 Bydown St, with Rod,1975

We used to walk past this old Neutral Bay house in 1955.  Bought out the Old Systems Title lease in 1975.  Beautiful inside, loved it.  Fell to developers (after long-fought struggle – another blog?).  This whole street of  Federation houses was knocked down for ugly townhouses.  So sad.