Old photos, probably taken mid-late 1940s.Lower right is my old school! Something that does sit high in my memory of my childhood is the strong community spirit. Oh, sure, there were a few disagreements between people and there were quite a few who hated the place and could hardly wait for a transfer to some other (probably not much different!) town. Remember, too, that the 1930s were the depression years and half of the 1940s were spent at war. The world over, people wanted,needed a new and better life. But with rationing of staples still in force in many places, it was a case of make your own fun. And we did, from picnics to dances. And it was not just the fun and games spirit; all of the farmers and shopkeepers were Returned Servicemen. It was a way to repay some of the fighting men who had come home from the horrors of Europe and the Pacific. Un-worked land was surveyed,divided and made available to interested servicemen who were selected from a ballot. The truck drivers (we’d probably still be building the dams had we not had heavy trucks!) and the store owners were also ex-servicemen. How were men transported daily to work sites some 10 or 15 miles away? By a twentieth century version of the covered wagon!
These canvas shelters could be easily removed once the men had “gone to work” and the trucks then used to cart gravel, timber, whatever throughout the day, then the whole process would be reversed to bring the men home in the evening. Church picnics, miles out of town? Sports matches? Marching girls competitions? We’d travel in the “covered wagons.” Access was via a wooden ladder at the rear. Once you were safely on/off, someone stamped on the floor and the driver moved on. Please, don’t bug me about “Health and Safety ” issues! Dances were held in “the gym” which was also the venue for Junior Gymnastics (6pm Fridays), indoor basketball, boxing, judo and probably other things I’ve forgotten. One event I do remember were the ANZAC DAY concerts. My god! We had some talented people in town! For readers who may not know, in Australia and New Zealand, April 25 is probably more sacred than any other day you care to name. A solemn remembrance of those who died in uniform. Our shopkeepers would decorate their store windows as a token. Sometimes, just a simple wreath and scattered leaves, sometimes elaborate dioramas. And the concerts – admission was by “silver coin” with proceeds going to war veterans’ causes. And a woman who did more than anyone, I think, to keep this going was Alma Braddock http://www.uniquecarsandparts.com.au/trial_mobilgas_1956.htm who ran the pharmacy. Alma also ran a lucky dip every Christmas. And I’m not talking a tuppeny bar of chocolate. One year, I won a gold watch! Far too sophisticated a watch for a child, Alma happily allowed me to choose my own wristwatch. And she was a leader in fashion – I’d never seen a woman in matador pants. Added to that, she drove a zippy little Ladies Nash. I wanted to be like her when I grew up!