We’re at that time of year when the children have returned to school and no doubt have been subjected by their teachers to write a story about what they did on their holidays, just as we were at their age.
This got me thinking about the type of holidays I had as a child and how we should write/share these memories with the younger generation. Yes, they may think how old fashioned we were and roll their eyes at yet another story but if we write the memories down they will be there for the future when they appreciate what we have to share. Here are some of my memories to give you some ideas.
A day at the beach involved taking some old bath towels (we didn’t have beach towels until later), perhaps a picnic lunch (remember the sand in your sandwiches?), some sunscreen that probably did no good at all - the preferred brand being Coppertone and the toys of the day. By toys I mean polysterene kickboards and later a longer “surfboard”, perhaps plastic flippers and goggles, frisbee, metal bucket and spade later made of plastic and maybe a ball – some kids had inflatable beach balls.
Our beach-wear would usually be cotton tops and shorts with bare feet or jandals perhaps sandals for the adults. Swimming togs/costume in the late 1950s-1960s may have been something of cotton and later thickish bri-nylon (probably not too far removed from the knitted costumes of the 1920s for thickness); which by the 1970s became skimpy bikinis or budgie smugglers for men. I remember having to wear a sunhat and women usually also wore a rubber swimming cap into the water to keep their hair dry. These were rather tight and it often hurt when you tried to get your hair forced under this ugly headpiece – some had a lighter rubber cap similar to what professional swimmers use today.
Trips to the farm would involve old clothing and gumboots. I remember being taught to milk by hand but later a machine came into use. Going around on the back of the tractor to feed hay to the cows; making mash to feed the hens and collecting the eggs and “helping” to bring the cows in for milking. I say “helping” as I’m sure that when we were quite young we were more of a hindrance than a help.
Staying with relatives often involved a long car journey as cars travelled more slowly and roads were not what they are today; many being unsealed and windy. You would fill the car up with comics and books – for a while there were small comics you could buy at the petrol station and it wouldn’t be a real trip unless you got caught with a farmer moving his flock of sheep or herd of cattle. Then you would get stuck behind a caravan (they were towed by cars) that was either plodding down the road or being driven so fast that the caravan was swaying all over the road.
Auckland Libraries have a wide range of books full of illustrations of clothing, past-times, scenes (don’t forget that our surroundings have changed as well), household implements etc and of course, there is the internet as well – maybe there are clips of old favourite TV programmes just warn the children that there is nothing wrong with the computer, the world was black and white in the “olden days”. Something fun you could try is putting together a zine (like a mini magazine of just a few pages) and perhaps the children could help you.