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Aussietrekker's memoirs (in many instalments)
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aussietrekker aussietrekker has been starred
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2016 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

March 27, 1965 marked the first year anniversary of our arrival in Australia. And thus far, it had been very happy. We were safe, we were no longer freezing and catching loads of ailments, and economically, we were "getting on our feet". Dad was getting plenty of overtime and double-shifts at the refinery, and gradually, the house was carpeted one room at a time. My parents were very sensible migrants, and never got into debt for anything other than the house we lived in. Although credit cards did not exist, the nearest thing was hire-purchase, also known as "the never-never", but Dad wouldn't touch it. It was either cash, or going without. Finally, we came home from school one day to find that he had bought a TV! I'll never forget the rejoicing- it had been over a year since we'd had one. We didn't care that it was secondhand. Occasionally it would break down , and it was torture having to wait till it was fixed. Dad would call a Dutch bloke from Williamstown to do the deed, but unfortunately he had a reputation of repairing someone's TV, then when he was some distance down the road, the TV would play up again. It happened to ours several times. The TV, like all others, was black and white, and had a twisted-wire antenna that sat on the top. Other sets had "rabbit-ears". Either aerial had to be constantly fiddled with, and moved around to get a decent reception from each channel. There were four channels, more than we'd had in Ireland. Channel 2, the ABC, was similar to the British BBC and showed no commercials. Channel 9 provided Melbourne's first broadcast in 1956, and was by far the most popular. It did a lot of live shows from its studio in Richmond, where I had been to the Tarax Show the year before. Channel 7 was my favourite, and there wasn't a lot worth watching on Channel O, which had only just started up. At first, there were almost no shows that were familiar to us. It would be a couple of years before British shows became a regular inclusion- most broadcasts, both kids' and adults', were either locally produced or were American. I recognised a lot that were shown when we had been on holidays in the south of Ireland, which were inclined to show less British programmes, and more from the U.S. We'd have the after-school regulars like Petticoat Junction, The Munsters, Get Smart and I Dream of Jeannie. Cartoons included Felix the Cat, Deputy Dawg, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Magilla Gorilla and Mr. Magoo. Saturday morning had a Disney marathon of cartoons, and I can still laugh at the Three Stooges till this day. On the weekends, Martin and I were captivated by Lost in Space, and there was always the staple adventure movie on Saturday afternoons. We loved the scary B-Grades, such as THE BLOB, FORBIDDEN PLANET and THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.
In the evenings, having only one TV meant you were stuck with whatever boring stuff your parents were watching, and as we grew older, it was maddening when something better was on another channel. In the age of no repeats, if you missed your favourite TV show, tough! I wished frequently that someone would invent some kind of tape-recorder, that would tape not just music, but TV shows that you could play again and again.
Mum and Dad watched some awful stuff, so bad that we were better off doing homework in our rooms. But it wasn't all bad...there was a great murder show made in Melbourne called "Homicide". I had always loved police dramas, so I watched it faithfully every week, and promptly fell in love with Leonard Teale. So did thousands of other women around Australia apparently- and I still think that at 11 years old, I had good taste.
Some of the quiz shows were OK, and being a nerd, it was a good opportunity to test and improve my general knowledge. I remember Cole's 3,000 Pound Question, (which had to change its title when decimal currency was introduced) and Pick-a Box, which gave the contestant a choice of "The Money or the Box". The money was safer, because there were some ghastly prizes, depending on which box the contestant had the misfortune to pick. The best they could muster up was an ugly Bulova Watch, and from there it went downhill. There was something totally useless called Splayds, and the crowning insult, a boring set of saucepans. One week after another, some woman would light up like a Christmas tree when she won it, and every week I would shriek, still in an Irish accent- "Oul Pots! Call that a prize! I'd be giving them back!". But Mum said they were lovely pots, and she'd be glad of them. The Generation Gap was starting to manifest.
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aussietrekker aussietrekker has been starred
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Things were starting to liven up around Altona, not just with a steady stream of new houses, but with two exciting changes to the shopping centre. The first was-oh bliss!- our own branch of Coles! This was built on the left side of Pier Street heading towards the sea, in between Blyth and Queen Streets. Suddenly, everything from toothpaste to toys became more affordable. Coles' homebrand was called "Embassy", and their exercise books with the familiar logo and map of Australia graced every school desk in the region. The new store was big and very modern, and its interior layout and shopfittings followed the blueprint of every other Coles...long individual timber counters and cabinets around the perimeter, each one its own "department", and the same again in rows down the centre. It was just like the Woolworth's we'd left in the main street of Bangor. There were no self-service facilities or checkouts- every counter was staffed by one or more salesgirls who operated their own "till", and the transactions had to be done literally over the counter. That's how all shops were back then, with the exception of a few grocery stores which were morphing into supermarkets. It certainly made shoplifting more difficult. The only thing the Altona store lacked was the legendary cafeteria, but no drama- there was one not far away in Footscray, and in the city the most magnificent of them all, upstairs in the giant leviathan of a Coles in Bourke Street.
The counters were very high at first but as the months went by, we grew taller and could see more stock to put on our "wish lists", especially around birthdays and Christmas. For the children, it was like Aladdin's Cave, and there were plenty of things that could be bought for only sixpence, or five cents. I remember buying a little plastic boat which floated in my bath till I felt too old for it. I mostly bought 5c packets of stamps (the more lurid the better, of the type that are known in philatelic circles as "jam labels"), and another 5c would buy a fat packet of hinges to mount them into my Cole's stamp album. Later on when I took to growing plants, I'd add a new 5c plastic flowerpot every Saturday to my little territory between the garage and the back fence. Purchases from Coles occurred when my pocket money or lemonade bottle revenue permitted- and then one day, I found a purse!
It was a little green purse, a bit bigger than my hand, and it was lying on the foot path on the way home somewhere between Brook Drive and Pier Street. I opened it and gasped...it contained a fortune- the royal sum of Five Shillings and Ninepence. There was no question of keeping it. A huge amount like that had to be taken to the Police Station, because someone would be missing it. Away I went back into town, to the little brick house in Blyth Street that was the same as so many other suburban Police Stations. Although it definitely wasn't of the grandeur of Russell Street HQ where Homicide was filmed, I still felt like I was having a"piece of the action" just by being there. I was on Official Business, and it was very exciting. There was an old policeman with grey hair (probably in his 40's) behind a counter that was even higher than the one in Coles. I urgently explained my find, and handed over the green treasure. He wrote my name and address in a ledger, together with the date, and the purse's description. Then to my amazement, he told me that if no-one claimed the purse after three months, I got to keep it! I didn't expect to see it again, but exactly three months later to the day, a real police car pulled up outside our house. Out stepped the ancient policeman, carrying the purse, and said it was all mine. Great was the rejoicing, and even greater was the subsequent spending spree in Coles and everywhere else.
As a teenager, I dearly wanted a job in Coles after school and on Saturday mornings, but no matter how much I enquired, there were never any vacancies at the time. A few years later my sister Colette managed to achieve what I never could, but by then, I had bigger fish to fry. I had landed a Saturday job as a Ticket Writer at Woolworths in Footscray, and it was light-years above the status of salesgirl. Coles could SHOVE their jobs!
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aussietrekker aussietrekker has been starred
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Memoirs will continue again soon. Blame two heart attacks and a triple bypass.
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Robert (Bob) Taylor
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 4:52 am    Post subject: Heart Problems Reply with quote

Get well soon Aussie Trekker. Sounds like you were somewhat lucky to come through what you have. We lost our oldest son in July this year..only 45, survived an earlier event and got 5 stents. ...but then dropped dead. Hard to accept. Chin up.🤗🥂
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