Friday, 22 April 2011

Monday Memories. "Food...shopping"

G'Day,
I am back in here today to add my two Bob's worth to the Monday Memories prompt.
Just an addition to that last sentence," 2 Bob's worth" is an old Aussie saying. It harks back to the time of pre-decimal currency. What is equivalent to todays 20 cent piece was called 2 shillings, or 2 bob. So translate as "my 20 cents worth".
When I was 8 years old we were living in Darwin at the army base there. We lived in Darwin for 2 and a half years. It was called Larrakeyah Barracks, anyway there was a asko shop there that was run inside the camp for the army families. It sold a bit of everything. Groceries, gifts, tools even. We would go there with my Mum and of course ogle over the selection of lollies placed strategically near the check out, just to tempt children and hassle their parents into buying them to shut their children up, get a bit of peace and therefore out of the shop and back home quicker. Ha ha.
On a high shelf in the shop was a bright yellow plastic kick board. It was bigger than the normal size kick boards. The lady at the shop had seen me eyeing it off each time I went in there and one day she got it down for me to look at. It was about the same height as I was, something more like the size or today's boogie boards. Oh how I wanted that board. I wanted it so bad. The lady let me put a deposit of my pocket money on it and I eagerly waited for the day when I had it paid off and could take it into the pool on the barracks and float on it and kick around in the pool with it. I wanted that board so bad! I paid every cent I got into paying it off. In those days you were able to collect 5 cents for each glass soft drink bottle you took back to the shop. So I scavenged at all the cricket games my Dad played at the weekends for them too. That poor lady at the shop, I must have driven her mad taking my collected change in and her having to add up everything until my beloved board was paid in full and I was able to take it home with me. I was so so proud of myself, what a big achievement I had accomplished. Ha ha ha. I kept that board for years. I grew taller than it and I think by memory I eventually gave it to some other little kid who loved it, or....I hope they did.
The other memory that came straight to mind from this prompt was when I was 11 years old and living in Sydney. My Dad was in Vietnam at the time and my job was to do the grocery shopping. We lived probably 3 blocks from the local shops at Bondi road and Mum would give me $20 to go down there. She used to say that I got more for her $20 that the shop keepers gave her. We had a butcher shop on the corner and a small general store there too. We bought our meat at the butchers and other basics from the corner shop but the bigger choice and better prices were to be found elsewhere.
So proudly I would trot off down the road and do my duty. First stop was the fruit and vegetable shop on the corner, run by a Greek family. They knew me well and I would carefully choose my goods, checking them off my list and adding a few extra bits along the way.
Laden heavily, I would then struggle up the road about a block and a half into the grocery shop. It was a funny little shop, an old fashioned, dull overly cluttered version of today's big bright supermarkets. Probably a quarter the size of them, but everything was there.
My treat, in those days on the T.V. heavily advertised was a product called "Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs". Ha ha ha. What a name. Each week I was allowed to buy a box of them, if I had change left over, to take home to share. They were popcorn coated with toffee and nuts. They were so yummy. I always made sure there was enough change for a packet. Then I would struggle home like a mini pack horse, back to the flat we were living in. I remember the bags cutting into my hands they were so heavy, my fingers felt like they were about to fall off and turned purple. I often had to stop on the foot path, and put the bags down to relieve my hands for a few minutes. I can also remember being scared if someone walked up behind me. And thinking if I just pretend to go in that house there they will think that is where I live and they won't hurt me. Nothing ever happened to me though. But I was nervous. I would day dream for more change on the way home, I would be rich enough to catch a Taxi who would carry my heavy bags home for me and ease my hurt hands.
I loved that job though. I was proud of my talent at doing the the weekly shop. I was learning and got a sense of having achieved something useful for my mum , sister and I.
Oh and that butcher shop on the corner. Many times, on our tight budget of those days, we would have to buy the very cheapest cuts of meat. Meat that is now back in fashion, like tripe or lamb shanks and sausages, but in those days wasn't. The butcher used to make good old fashioned sausages.
Many meals, and one we loved, were as simple and cheap as pancakes with golden syrup or lemon and sugar. Novelty added by cooking them in the electric frying pan on the lounge room floor with us girls crowded over it, waiting for the next batch to be cooked. I did this myself for my own children when we were broke and had no money to buy much else, but they always were fed. Nothing cheaper than pancakes to feed the kids and make them happy. Flour, milk , a bit of butter, you can even make them without the egg if you haven't got one.
When my Dad came home from Vietnam on leave, he went down the corner to the butcher and ordered a couple of boxes of his sausages. The butcher froze them for him so he could take them back to Vietnam when he went, as you couldn't get Aussie style sausages over there. hahaha. He was very popular with the boys for doing that.
I still enjoy shopping. My Mum lives with me on and off and she spoils my fun because her mind is not working as it used to anymore. She gets annoyed with me and can be quite sarcastic if I try to go the shops without her. She goes into withdrawal to spend her money. When she gets in the super market she goes into sensory over load becoming all excited by the products on offer. She took an hour and a half to go through the Woolworths shop down the road from here the other day. She calls me back and forwards and if I try to hurry her up by walking in front of her she calls me back to ask me if we need her latest wonderful grocery discovery. Her favorite products, which she can't be persuaded to leave the shop without are Cuppa soups, lemonade, lollies , biscuits and cakes. Arrrrrrgh! I am sure by the look on my face when I have to take her to the supermarket, everyone must think I am the meanest most horrible daughter there ever was.
Oh well, one day I will be 89 years old...if I am lucky...or maybe not so lucky.
Bye for now.
Love Linda.

2 comments:

Amanda said...

I'm impressed by the richness and clarity of your memories. Taking care of older people definitely has its own challenges, just as raising kids.

But while many can relate to the latter, few can understand the former.

Josie said...

Ahhh, your shopping on a military base brought back memories! In my mid 20's my then husand was stationed with the army in Germany and we did our shopping at the post exchange much as you describe it here! When we returned to the States and ended up living in New Mexico, I would drive nearly 90 miles once a month to buy our grocery staples at the Air Base because they were much less expensive than at the local stores, as were his cigarettes. Your kickboard much have been doubly loved because you worked so hard to pay for it! I love yur memories of grocery shopping for the family too, and I bet they did give you better bargains. I sure felt sympathy for that little girl trudging home with such a heavy load though. Try to get a child to do that nowdays! :-) Ah yes, shopping with parents, I'm sure my daughter could tell you tales on me, and it will no doubt get worse as we grow older, if we must! :-) Once again, thank you for the delightful trip down memory lane!