Last week browsing through the Inbox I came across one of my favourites, ‘Phrase of the Week’ which was exploring the origins of the word ‘Abracadabra’. The email included this image:
Obviously an iconic image from my perspective as the character was immediately recognisable (can you recall the name of the puppet?) and brought back memorabilic images from my misspent youngness in the 50’s and early 60’s.
I recalled those first days of TV (black and white then), going to the grandparents to watch it (we initially couldn’t afford such a device). Shari Lewis and ‘Lambchop’, Annette Funicello from the Mousketeers, although I suspect that my interests in Shari and Annette were driven more by emerging hormones rather than the quality of the shows. There were programs on the world at war, competitions like Bob Dyer’s ‘Pick a Box’ etc and some of the most atrocious ads one could wish to see. I suspect that the quality of the ABC’s programs and the lack of ads drove me away from commercial stations (except for ‘really interesting’ programs) even at this early stage.
Back came thoughts of the night fishing for bream in the Swan River (Western Australia) with John and Bob (childhood friends all the more missed as time and life parted our ways), that first swim across the river, the canoes, the all too convenient fruit trees, the sailboat and the motor boat, catching prawns by hand. Bob had the unfortunate appellation of ‘Robert Charles Xxxxxx’ which naturally created his nickname ‘RC’. The
cracker rifle made of water pipe, the ‘fourpenny’ bomb mortar that sent golf balls a very long way indeed. The development of the art of dropping firecrackers from your thumb and forefinger at just the right moment so that they didn’t explode in your hand and behaved like a depth charge when they exploded under water. Start with ‘Double Happies’ and advance to ‘Penny Bombs’ so that your hand remained intact while you learnt the art. The ‘shangai’s’ and ‘kylie’s’. ‘Gardies’ cooked in a crappy frypan over an open fire near the river, the hidey holes, bike rides to Kalamunda just to come back down the hill flat out, lots and lots of walking, talking, exploring and swimming in and around Guildford and Bassendean. Model aircraft (with engines), Airfix plastic models, the beauty of doping tissue paper over balsa frames and watching the transformation.
School? Didn’t really feature as a memorabilic feature and was something that was endured (except for play times and warm milk) and 3.20 pm signalled release from ho-hum and into fun time. A few teachers stood out: Mrs Crocker remembered for turning my (then) very good writing (done left-handed and overhand) into left-handed up-and down spider squiggles. Her ruler on the knuckles demanded obedience. Mr Pyvis, could land a very battered metal globe of the world (or a piece of chalk) on any desk in the room
from the front. Mr Ryles, kind, considerate, imposing, when he spoke you listened (and learnt) – there is always quality to be found amongst the mediocre, angry and frustrated
The late 60’s and 70’s saw a growing interest in why the female was interestingly different to your mates, high-school, work, surfboards and making FJ Holden’s (and other vehicles) more noisy and go faster – but that’s another memory set.
We had fun, we had a high degree of freedom and a low level of parental restriction on our activities. We could explore our world pretty much free from paranoia, there was a moral code (often tweaked a bit but never actually broken irreparably), we knew about stranger danger but it wasn’t a big issue. It seems that we spent most of our time out in the big wide world and the best we had was simple technologies compared to today’s electronic and digitised world. I guess we were young, naive and our pleasures were simple and less
demanding of technology than they are now. It makes one wonder whether today’s children would still appreciate such simple pleasures anymore in this high tech world? Given my childhood, they don’t know what they’re missing . . . . . . And that’s food for thought . . . . . .
PS: The name of the character was ‘Sooty’ if you didn’t immediately recognise him.