Yesterday afternoon I was listening to James Valentine on ABC radio 702. The topic was school holidays, and James asked kids to call in to talk about just how boring their holiday was.
One girl phoned in and said she was bored beyond belief: all she’d done all day was text her friends and eat. A “grown-up” commented that it was the same when he was a kid, except texting hadn’t been invented and he wasn’t allowed to eat between meals.
Immediately I was transported back to 67 Davidson Avenue North Strathfield where I’d spent so much time with my maternal grandparents during school holidays. I was about seven, and the year was around 1954.
It was a small home on a small block of land on a quiet street. I suspect my grandparents had to be careful with their money. There were no signs of affluence, although perhaps that was just the way they were. It may also have been a reflection of the post-war era.
There were never any toys there. However I usually took one or two small model cars (Dinky Toys I recall), and Gran would sit on the floor with me while I played with them. We’d use clothes pegs to mark out imaginary streets for the cars to drive on.
Gran also taught me card games such as fish, cribbage and patience.
But I still must have gone through periods of boredom, because I have memories of two other strategies Gran employed to keep me amused:
- She’d give me the yellow pages telephone directory. I’d spend hours looking through it, particularly the automotive section where there were plenty of advertisements for car yards and accompanying drawings of cars.
- She’s pull out the kitchen “second drawer”. You know the one I mean – it’s the drawer below the knives and forks, and it has all those strange cooking utensils in it. Gran would put it on the floor and let me play with the contents. My favourite device was the multi-blade roller used to cut up parsley or chives. It was the “kitchen-wiz” of the day, and looked like a miniature version of a disc plough pulled behind farm tractors.
Then, just before five o’clock Grandpop would switch on the radiogram, let it warm up for a couple of minutes, and we’d listen to the kids radio programs for half an hour or so while Gran cooked dinner. My favourite program was a school-room comedy called “Yes What”.
They were the nicest grandparents anyone could have.
Here’s one of my favourite episodes of “Yes What”: