Thursday, April 1, 2010

Elisabeth reminded me of my childhood. During my primary years we were in Sydney suburbs: a Sydney awash with immigrants. And yes, I certainly heard people grumbling about malts, balts and wogs. I don't think that I took much notice, or that people did anything more than grumble.
But what I saw were the whitest, or palest babies and young children that I had ever seen, so that their blue veins were quite noticeable. Now, I have never seen any of this pallor since: why is this so? It did not look like underprivilege, or neglect, nor was it. I assume that it is how many of us might look like if we were not sun worshippers.

The children were well cared for, and looked treasured, but I regretted the lapse in taste that allowed them to dress their little boys with inappropriately short shorts, just passing the groin, like baby pants. Why couldn't their parents see that these well groomed little boys, with their neat hair and long socks were just...wrong? I knew that even little boys needed to look tough. And, the little girls' dresses were too short also. Both costumes showed long white thighs: not a familiar look.

Similarly, at the beach, women frolicked with curly hair running unabashed from inner thigh to knees. (Admittedly, when I recounted this to Andre, he nearly wept from nostalgia and desire).

My mother took me to visit a nice German family that she had met. As I wandered the room, in boredom, I saw "Mein Kampf" in their bookcase. I didn't mention it to my mother, but years and years later I mentioned this to another post war immigrant, who erupted in a rage. Why shouldn't these people have a book that had been so precious to them? Like a bible? He told me later that his mum had worked very closely with Hitler.

Also quite common at the time were children making their painful way in calipers, a consequence of the polio epidemic. Just another part of life, one judged at the time: thankfully, this was not so.

And, sometimes forgotten: men simply did not wear deodorant. The most aware may have used a useless powder: but no, men did not use such sissy stuff anymore than they used eyeliner. It created quite a different atmosphere, literally.


Elisabeth said...

Maybe Frances, you can write about these memories in more detail. You have pictures in your mind that many others of us would love to share, if only you could delve more into the detail. It is like history coming alive, when you elaborate on these memories. Thank you.

Frances said...

Oh Elizabeth: look at the control in my chosen image.
But you have certainly given me food for thought.