Australia, blogging

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge – Look Back to the Future

Over half a century ago this happened:

It’s Friday 13th, one October, in the early seventies and it’s raining hard, in torrents, as it does in summer in a tropical country, like Australia. Construction had started on the Sydney Opera House, (it took 14, instead of the predicted 4 years to complete) and Apollo 16 had launched into space.

Australia in the Seventies

I am young, walking home from school down a very steep road, partly finished with asphalt, wearing an outdated, unfashionable, yellow raincoat. It is a garment made from the kind of thick rubbery plastic that makes one sweat profusely, but fails to thoroughly keep the skin dry – (its sole purpose!). I’m carrying a grey pocked-mark ‘port’, (a school student’s case), with a red handle. I remember feeling pretty lonely, as one is apt to feel when you are of primary school age, alone and have a long walk home from school in the pouring rain.

What was I thinking on this walk home, fifty-odd years ago whilst NASA scanned the universe?

My guess is that I was probably wishing I had more friends to walk home with, so that time would pass more enjoyably. I thought about what life might be like in the future and dreamed of being happy and successful. Something most of us dream of when young.

I remember Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to conquer Everest, had come to visit my school that day and addressed a somewhat bewildered audience of young kids, unsure of the exact significance of this tall stranger. Although I have no memory of his words, I do remember his imposing presence at the microphone as we stood at attention on the parade ground. For him to visit our far-flung school, must have meant that he spent many hours, visiting school children, not only in New Zealand but throughout Australia as well.

Growing up in Australia

What did I do when I arrived home? If the rain had stopped, I’d play with the dog in the backyard, swing on a rusty, ‘Hills Hoist,’ [read: rotary clothesline]. I might visit one or two friends who lived in the same street and ride our bikes, or if my friends and I were feeling creative, we might build cubby houses in the gum trees or make wooden billy carts out of fruit boxes. The splinters in fingers and toes were real!

If the rain continued, we’d build rafts out of anything we could find. As you can see, my brother made a raft out of an old metal panel, presumably laced with tetanus. Later, he confessed sheepishly that it came from the side of a Council depot’s toilet shed! That was the butt of family jokes for a while. (I couldn’t resist the pun!)

Primary kids were never assigned any homework until they reached high school, or if it was allocated, it wasn’t compulsory, so I never thought twice about doing it. And I was one of the more diligent students as you can see by my school report.

Of an evening, I’d read books, sometimes the same ones, over and over again. Titles on loan from the library or A.A. Milne, The *Sue Barton-Student Nurse series, or Two Minute Mysteries. I collected stamps, such a boring hobby when I think about it now, or collect signatures and corny limericks in my autograph book.

Australian Parenting in the Seventies

When I arrived home from school, Mum was usually there relaxing on the lounge and I’d find something to drink: most likely red cordial, [thinking about this now makes my stomach turn], and I’d eat a biscuit or two. I would never dare to eat any more than two biscuits – there was some unwritten house rule about that. I might also follow the biscuit with a banana or apple, perhaps to clean my teeth?

Iced Vo-Vos

Sugar featured strongly in the seventies Aussie diet, as ‘Iced Vo-Vo‘s’ and other biscuits were standard afternoon tea for many Aussie kids. The now infamous ‘Golliwog‘ biscuits, (re-named Scallywags or something more 21st century), were my favourite, in terms of taste. The naming feels so wrong, looking back from the hindsight of our era of political correctness.

Australian Dinners, at my house, consisted of meat, peas and that awful yellow stuff; a mix of mashed potato and pumpkin was my mother’s way of getting us kids to eat two vegetables at once. Little did she know I’d have been more cooperative about finishing my meal if the potato and pumpkin had been served separately, on the plate.

Apparently, this was another of those days where I showed my determined [read: stubborn], streak at rebelling in the face of injustice. I was required to continue sitting at the table for some time after everyone else had left, as I had refused to eat the dreadful yellow potato-pumpkin ‘poison.’ My parents mistakenly thought I would eventually eat it all up, if I sat there long enough; their parenting strategies a strange blend of Depression-era child-rearing tactics and Dr Spock’s now-debunked theories of child psychology.

On evenings like these, my parents recited mantras of sagely advice such as:

“You can sit there, (at the Dining table), until you finish everything on your plate. There are starving children in Africa who’d give anything to have a meal like that.” [referring to the yellow mashed potato].

Parent of the Seventies Child

This humanitarian-cause-mixed-with-guilt-trip styled parenting tactic was completely lost on my logical, young brain, as I would wile away the time sitting at the table contemplating how I would disprove their parental hypothesis by posting yellow, mashed vegies to Africa, in a test shipment.

As I sat there, alone at the dining table, the cold, yellow mound now well-congealed on my plate, I remember older brother gleefully looking up from the adjoining room, smirking during the TV-ad breaks of shows like, ‘Skippy the Bush Kangaroo,’ or ‘Coyote Road Runner,’ with his ‘Neopolitan,’ ice-cream embellished grin: his reward for eating his full allocation of the nightly yellow curse!

As I grew older, this parenting strategy was abandoned. Presumably, at the time of adolescence, but I can’t be sure. My stubbornness may have tipped the balance in my favour, after all.

Road Trips and Bus Tours were popular vacations in the seventies; the most memorable trip for me was seeing snow in Australia’s imaginatively named, ‘Snowy Mountains.’ I loved the sight of ice as tall as the bus and this might just be where I started my love affair with mountains and snow. I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to experience it again.

Road Trip to Snowy Mountains and Swan Hill, Victoria

Expectations of Adult Life

That afternoon in the seventies, whilst walking home in the rain, I wondered what life had in store for me as a ‘grown-up.’ I thought I’d have children, which came to pass, but thought I wouldn’t marry. I was wrong about marriage.

I thought as an adult, I would move location often, as that sounded more exciting than living in one suburban doldrum- I was both right and wrong about that. I thought I’d live interstate or on the other side of the world, unfortunately, the M.o.t.h, my future husband, happened to be Australian and liked to stay put.

I thought my children would be strong and confident. No doubt, everyone hopes for this. They have grown to be wonderful human beings, but I see with sadness the challenges of a modern world have taken a toll on their well-being. They are my world.

Surprisingly, there was a downside to my childhood reading ritual. I think if there is blame to be laid I would blame Helen Dore Boylston, the author of, ‘Sue Barton – Student Nurse,’ for my misguided foray into the world of Student Nursing. The books promised a dream vocation of caring and positivity and as a child, I was bewitched. In part, a mistake.

I must have read this book ten times over

The reality was far different and although I continued to work in the medical field for most of my working life, the long hours of shift-work required of a student nurse frequently made me ill and I was forced to change my career path.

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge Prompt

For this week’s Friendly Friday Challenge, we continue the Flashback theme Sandy posted earlier in the year by taking a Look Back to the Future, from our childhood years.

Here are some questions to get those creative juices flowing:

  • What is your memory of childhood?
  • Was there a significant milestone for you growing up and did it change your direction?
  • If you lived through the sixties and seventies, what stands out for you?
  • What do you recall of your childhood that directed you as an adult? Was there something that was instrumental in your path in life? Did it turn out well for you?
  • Is there an historic event that changed your perspective on life?

I invite you to join in and post a photo or story about your own childhood era.

Don’t forget to tag your post, Friendly Friday and leave a comment below so readers can visit you.

This challenge runs for two weeks after which Sarah will release a fantastic new prompt for the next Friendly Friday Blog Challenge. Check it out at Travel With Me.

104 thoughts on “Friendly Friday Blog Challenge – Look Back to the Future”

  1. What a beautifully written and fascinating memory bank. I won’t answer you question about my memories here, because there are many in my posts and I have recently embarked upon “A Knight’s Tale” which will gather them together.

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            1. Such a great activity for kids. You learn about measures, weights, volumes, math, ratios as well as all the skills in cooking. Knowing when something is done or needs a little more cooking.

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              1. Yes Brian I did. It was a resounding success! Everyone liked it. The thirty something lad thought it was a little tangy for his liking but I added in more lemon juice than you had suggested as most of us like lemon, a lot! Thanks ever so much for the recipe. I made it up much as you suggested.

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              2. That’s excellent Amanda. I probably add more lemon as well but I wasn’t sure how much your family would take to the tangy lemon taste. I am well pleased 👍😁

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  2. It’s so interesting to read your recollections about growing up in Australia, about a decade after my time in Germany. Wouldn’t you know – we watched “Skippy, das Buschkänguruh” on German tv. 😄 Funny that I thought of that the other day – all the tv series we used to watch as kids. This was triggered while driving through some small villages the other day and seeing a Chinese restaurant called “Hop Sing” – I wish I’d taken a photo of it. Do you remember the American series “Bonanza”? It was one of the first series I was allowed to watch on our newly acquired tv. Another favourite was “Flipper” – which I always considered to be Australian, probably because it was seen next to “Skippy” (definitely Australian). Anyway here is what I made with your prompt: https://picturesimperfectblog.wordpress.com/2021/08/13/looking-back-and-looking-ahead/

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    1. Thanks, Knickers. Your post contained some wonderful photos of deer with full antler regalia! Flipper was a series I enjoyed watching too. Lloyd Bridges starred as I recall. I think they may have filmed it in Hawaii so not that far from Australia! I don’t remember Hop Sing though….. My hubby the Moth, loved Bonanza.

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        1. Oh yes, you are correct! Florida keys! Indeed, globalisation started with the television shows. Wow. Hasn’t TV had an immense impact on us all? Our generation has seen huge leaps forward and back in terms of progress.

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    1. The starving African story was over-used in that era, wasn’t it, Alison? I don’t think many kids fell for it, at all.
      Boiled potatoes Aussie style were/are exceedingly bland. The Danes know how to make boiled potatoes taste awesome. They caramelise sugar in a pan and make a wonderful brown sauce with them. Unfortunately that recipe didn’t get passed down in the family. I learnt it as an adult.
      How do you prefer your potatoes these days?

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        1. The Moth makes the most amazing mashed potato. Enough butter to kill an elephant and lashings of milk whipped up with salt and pepper. Marvellous. But I don’t eat a lot of it, as it is not my thing. Roasted potatoes are great too. I throw in some dill, thyme and garlic immersing them in butter – yum.

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  3. What a fascinating post! I chuckled and smirked and rejoiced and ascertained that I too said these same words to my sister much too often (about starving African kids). I’m in the process of returning back to Tuscany after my summer Slovenia, so my post will have to wait a few days but it will come. All well to you. I hope you made your parents eat stuff too when you grew up.

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment, Manja. Alas I did not get to return the favour of serving food that they disliked when I grew up. Then turned their nose up at flavoured tea, which I will never understand! Enjoy your trip back to Tuscany!

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  4. I, too, was an adolescent in the 1970s, and your writing about that time is both familiar and unfamiliar. For example, I had to clean my plate, but Mom never made a potato / pumpkin concoction. I remember “Skippy the Bush Kangeroo.” The theme song is going through my mind right now. 😉

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    1. Skippy is a memorable tune! You were lucky you were saved from the yellow vege curse, Laurie. Although it did come in handy to feed my kids, when they were first trying out solid food!

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  5. Amanda, thanks for the memories of your formative years. I was tickled by your parents’ all to common words on finishing your dinner. Nice progress report, by the way, from school. Thanks, Keith

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    1. You are observant to note the ‘progress’ report, Keith!
      Did your childhood differ radically from mine, in other ways, or are there more similarities than just the words over unfinished dinners?

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      1. Amanda, there are other similarities. We were encouraged to read and did a lot. I think I read every book in our school library of some hero as a boy – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, etc. We also watched TV together while my mother graded papers as a schoolteacher in the same room. So, the shows were family type shows or mysteries. Yet, we were encouraged to be outside. We lived in a cul-de-sac road, so there was no through traffic. During the summer, I remember playing hide-n-seek until dark until the parents started calling us in. I was very fortunate growing up. Keith

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  6. What a wonderful recollection. Amanda. You have a fantastic memory as well! Like you, I was stubborn, especially at the dinner table. And, in Belgium the same strategy was used to get us, kids, to eat our meals. Images of starving children in Africa on the news provided proof. We didn’t have the potato-pumpkin mash, but for me, it was often Brussels sprouts boiled to imperfection that were the culprit…

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  7. Amanda, I had such fun reading your post. I remember Skippy the Kangaroo, Bonanza (Hop Sing too, but more of Horse & Little Joe) and Flipper. What a memory jolt! Your childhood sounds idyllic, even if you were tortured by the yellow mash.

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    1. Looking back, this childhood was safe, secure, predictable but a tad boring. I am thankful for the better parts. I was so keen to leave home, that I left a few weeks after my 17th birthday. The world opened up for me from then on.

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  8. In our house they were called “the starving black babies” and we had to take 1d. to school each day for the relief. I was guilty on one or two occasions of nicking hat 1d. and buying gooseberries for myself on the way to school as I never had anything like 5d. a week pocket money, (remember too, that this was pre-decimalisation). I grew up in Northern Ireland and potatoes played a large part in the diet, my favourite being champ, potatoes mashed with spring onions and lots and lots of butter and full rich, creamy, milk, a hollowed out dip in the centre to hold another ounce or two of butter which you ladled into the rest of the potatoes.

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    1. Oh my goodness, those potatoes sound so decadent but so yummy, Mari! It must be where my husband got his recipe from – his Irish grandparents. Adding spring onions to the mix in a nice twist too; I must try that!
      You mentioned gooseberries. My grandmother had a bush growing and I used to snavel any I could find that were ripe and ready to eat. It seems like aid for Africa was a global phenomenon.

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  9. I enjoyed reading about your childhood. It sounds lovely. I was told about starving children in Africa, too. I’m surprised that you didn’t have homework until high school. Ours started in second grade, and never let up. I’ll ponder on your questions, if not for a blog post but as a way of thinking about my childhood.

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    1. The differences in education system is intriguing. 1960 and 70’s Australia was very casual about curriculum. Noone HAD to go to Uni in order to secure a good job in those days, unless they wanted to be a medical or legal professional. Many girls were shunted into commercial courses destined to be part of a typing pool. My parents, bless their cotton socks refused to let me do that insisting I take an academic course at high school. I am glad they did that although the was little point in me learning algebra, cos, sin and triangle tangents. If you were smart but not diligent you could breeze through school with little work and still get into Uni where some would become forever students, as University tuition was made free for all in 1975. After that, real change and progress began for Australian society and education. Now our third largest industry is education! Can you believe that?

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      1. Very interesting. Thanks for explaining your experiences. I didn’t know any of this about the Australian education system then and now. We all make assumptions in life and one of mine is that every kid was educated the way I was. Wrong-o, eh?

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        1. I should qualify that by stating since around mid 1990, the tertiary education is no longer free. Your education is paid for with an interest free loan, that you pay back when your wage passes a minimum threshold. If you never work in a professional job, you never have to pay back the tuition debt.
          Foreign students have to pay full fees though. We have many Asian studying here – from Malaysia, China, (mostly), Hong Kong etc and funnily enough, Norway.

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  10. Oh Amanda, such a wonderful and poignant post. It brought back a flood of memories, in particular, having to sit at the table until I’d eaten all my dinner, (both mashed potatoes and mushy peas did me in). Coming from NZ I well remember the hero status of Sir Edmund Hillary, but I don’t recall any school visits. And walking home in the rain, well that was just something we did without thought. I doubt if more than 2 kids in any one classroom would have had a car parked in their garage available for a school pick up run.
    By the time I reached 13 (1968), a culinary revolution had begun. Mum experimented with a dish called, ‘international chicken’. Chicken pieces cooked with carrots, cabbage, mushrooms and pineapple – A 60s version of today’s stir fry. It met with such approval that our dinners changed virtually overnight from meat and 2-3 overcooked bland veges to all sorts of wonderful culinary delights. No more did I hear, “you can sit there till you’ve finished”. Joy!

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    1. Your Mum was more progressive and open to culinary experimentation than my mother, Chris. My mother disliked cooking so it was always the easiest thing to prepare.
      The interesting thing about the dish you mention was the inclusion of pineapple. I wonder if this was the arrival of Hawaii influences to Aussie cooking – as in Hawaii pizza and Hawaii casserole (a fav of mine). I thought everyone had pineapple pieces on pizzas until a Danish exchange student commented about Australians penchant for having pineapple on pizza and how she thought it was so strange. I like the sound of the chicken dish but would use chicken strips as in a stir fry.

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  11. We NEVER got bought biscuits. Mum used to bake a huge batch every weekend. Just plain ones though, not with icing or jam. 😦 The highlight of our lives was when our grandmother used to come to visit. She would bring a packet of iced vo vos to share and a packet of chips each. How exciting!

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    1. It was the reverse for me, Carol. My Grandma cooked but Mum hated cooking and chose the packet purchases. I would have loved to cook with my Mother but she just didn’t want to do so. When my daughter came along, I hoped to spend time in the kitchen baking with her, but alas she didn’t like cooking much either! One of my sons did enjoy it, however and even had Jamie Oliver as a role model, choosing Home Ec. at school over subjects like Graphics. However, potato chips were a rarity in our house of convenience, growing up. I am not sure why my parents disliked them so.

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  12. It’s amazing how one’s life events take on new meaning and perspective as you view them from the current vantage point. View them after years of living and experiencing different things; maturing and learning to differentiate what is and what is not important. For me the 1970s were an uncomfortable period of childhood and teenage angst. The 80s were the equivalent, but growth into young adulthood.

    Regardless of what life “back then” bestowed upon us, it brought us to where we are now. We just have to move forward, no matter what happened “back then”.

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    1. “No matter what happened back then.” Such a true sentiment, Alejandro. As I was always a well behaved school student, it was a terrible and lasting shock when as a 4 year old, I was berated loudly by a teacher in front of the class for no real reason. I carried that moment of shame in my memory for years and years, before I realized it was up to me and me alone to let the feeling go and move past that incident in my memory.
      I am sorry to hear that your childhood wasn’t entirely comfortable but good to read that you have reconciled that period as a step along the sometimes rocky journey of life to make you the man who you are now.

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      1. As a child in the 1970s, I attended a Catholic parochial school affiliated with the church my parents and I patronized. When I was about 7 or 8, I told a nun that I’d placed my name on a sheet of paper without looking at my name plate. She chastised me for it and told me never to do that again! I did it anyway, but just didn’t say anything to anyone. I did tell my parents, and they both got upset. But they decided not to say anything to the school about it because I’d had already mentioned I could write my name. I was rather intellectually precocious, but just too shy.

        The shyness carried over into adulthood. I jokingly tell people I was once as pure as the new-driven snow, then I drifted. I always said children and old people just say whatever comes to mind; children because they don’t know any better and older people because they don’t give a damn. I’ve reach the I-don’t-give-a-damn-part-of-my-life. I’m not old! I’m just less reserved now.

        Good for you, Amanda, in that you were able to overcome your childhood insecurities! Yes, those roads are sometimes tough, but ultimately we are all responsible for where we go and how we navigate them.

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  13. It sounds as though you and I could have grown up in the same household Amanda! Even though my parents emigrated from Italy I was born here and remember much of the same aspects of life that you’ve described. Seems that from wherever we come from society has dictated a certain way of life that many of us share. Mind you I don’t remember the yellow mash! Mum made it from just potato “purre” and it was actually pretty good! 😊

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    1. I can’t imagine a good Italian Mum serving up that yellow mash, Miriam! Italians have such a great grasp of good, wholesome and delicious food.
      Yet it surprises me to hear that you relate to much the same childhood as me. I have an overly rather romanticized view of what life might have been like, had I grown up in Europe or Scandinavia, rather than Australia and the comments here has made me realise it would have been remarkably similar in many ways. A good thing that a variety of cultural backgrounds can find many commonalities and shared values.
      Maybe you can try out the yellow mash on your next camping trip, just for fun?

      Only joking – I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, except the M.o.t.h or despite being really fussy about his food, likes a good buttery yellow mash!

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      1. Haha, it’s funny cos my very Aussie hubby makes a pretty mean yellow mash. Not that he’s done it on this camping trip but he’s cooked some salmon tonight that was mighty fine. We don’t do it too rough when we’re camping. Hope you’re doing well Amanda.

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  14. Oh yes, my mother used that ‘children starving in Africa’ line, over and over! I could never work out how me eating my peas (it was always peas) could help them to be less starving 😉 I was surprised to read that you didn’t have to do homework. I was at secondary school by the 70s (as you’ll read in my offering: https://www.toonsarah-travels.blog/my-first-taste-of-adventure-a-1970s-camping-trip/) but certainly I had to do homework at my 60s primary school and I believe it was the norm here.

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    1. It surprises me, Sarah that you and Ally Bean had to do homework as a young child in the same or similar era.
      I really struggle to remember anything that we had to do at home, from school. Perhaps a school project? We had reading, but I feel that most of that was voluntary, I believe. I remember having one set task when I was 11 years old – the year before high school and I was so ill-prepared, I only did half. Once we entered high school though, we did have homework every night. We did have tests through primary school. Some countries do not believe in testing or streaming children. Do you have thoughts on that, Sarah?

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      1. I’m sure primary school homework was the norm here back then and still is. Of course there was less than at secondary school and because it was all set by the same teacher I didn’t have the issue of too much some evenings – also, I don’t remember having it over the weekend as I did in secondary school. But we definitely had some, and not just reading. I remember having to do some sums and learn grammar, for instance.

        In those days we had the 11+ – the exam that primary school children sat to determine if they could go to grammar school. But my school introduced what was then a fairly radical idea – we would be assessed not by one exam at the end of the school year but by a combination of a series of smaller tests and our school work during the course of our final year. The tests were mainly IQ type tests, as I recall, like ‘cat is to kitten as dog is to ____’ 🙂 I passed quite easily and found myself at grammar school, where end of year exams were the norm, mainly to assess our progress and also prepare us for the main fifth and sixth form state exams. I’m not a fan of over-testing of children, and I do think we need to find holistic ways of measuring their achievements as not all respond well to formal exam conditions, but at the same time I don’t think we can expect them to sit exams at the age of 16 that will determine their future without having ever put them in that environment beforehand!

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        1. Hi Sarah, I responded to this message on my phone, but the wifi must have been patchy and I see that it hasn’t gone through so will try to remember what I wrote, days ago!
          I agree we need to find holistic ways of measuring kids abilities and achievements as not all respond well to formal exam conditions! In Australia, we tend to set regular assessments throughout the semesters or terms, but some states still have a large load heavy end of year exam in the final year. I found out that University assessment continues that theme of ongoing semester assessment with assignments/essays and exams, here in Australia when chatting to Norwegian exchange students studying a semester in Australia. They were used to oral end of year exams. Funny though that this was the emphasis given they didn’t like to pressure kids when they were in primary school.
          I totally agree also that it is hard to sit an exam that might always determine your future. Thankfully, we have introduced other pathways to University here in recent decades. You can drop out of school, later decide to attend technical college and graduate with a vocational diploma and then transition to second year uni if you so choose. Wonderful for the kids that mature later in life. Did you change careers at any point? I know I did. A few times.

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  15. Thanks, Alejandro! Fancy being chastised for being a capable and advanced student! I still feel quite irritated when I hear stories like this, of Nuns in education. Very few Nuns were teachers of any acceptable standard, imo. Religious zealots do not make inspiring teachers. Instead, They seem to vent their religious or personal frustrations on the poor students, for no reason. Globally, their despicable punishments range from misplaced negative reinforcement to complete brutality sexual abuse and in some countries, murder! And these damaging acts from women dedicated to virtuous devotion to Christ and God! Did they know what they were doing and were they intending to be malicious? In many cases yes. I think they confused devotion with punishment and pain.
    It seems incomprehensible! My own M.o.t.h. was beaten by Nuns for writing with his left hand (his natural inclination), as it was seen as the work of the Devil, for goodness sake! He was made to write using his right hand, in his tender years, something they have known for many many years, has had huge ramifications for learning! Even in the 60’s this sort of medieval pedagogy only happened where Nuns were teaching. At my school, left handedness was accepted as normal. This fact alone made me insist my children were never going to be taught by Nuns. I try to think about this issue equitably, but the injustice exacted in the name of religion, sticks in my craw.
    I may be able to move past my own small incidents of shame but still feels angry about the hypocrisy and cruelty exacted on others through the years and around the world. Were their inspirational, kindly Nuns present, in your education, Alejandro?

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    1. I’ve heard of the left hand repercussion issue. It’s ridiculous! Yes, I do recall a few inspirational nuns and priests, so I know they weren’t all bad. It’s always the institution that is degenerate and evil. The same goes for governments. The people, however, are different. The image of my home state of Texas, for example, is that we are right-wing extremists who love guns more than people. But, once you come here and get to know individual people, you’ll find that’s just not the case. I don’t know what it is that propels the negative imagery of a place or people to take precedence over reality.

      I feel the same about religion as you do, Amanda. I’m glad we’re kindred spirits in that regard. That experience with the nun rebuking my name-writing skills instilled the beginnings of skepticism about the Catholic Church and organized religion in general.

      But, even into my 20s, I would still defend the Catholic Church and my religious views. After a while, though, I began to see the proverbial light. The Church’s stance on the role of women is really what started to sour my opinion; the pedophile priest scandal merely cemented that judgment.

      That’s why I’m more spiritual now. I don’t subscribe to any religion and feel more free because of it.

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      1. I so enjoy our discussions, Alejandro and even though we come from radically different worlds, our values often align with each other. We would have/do have a great friendship and isn’t it a strange thing that we can have this kindred sense even though we have never met and we live in two different worlds? And we are very different people. I think that is fascinating.
        Yes, I feel more spiritual now rather than religious. I think when kids are young, the religion one is exposed to, via the parents, becomes cemented into their consciousness until they grow up and events in the kids’ lives start to question that blind allegiance. I was a Sunday school teacher in early high school for example, (if you can believe it), yet do not believe or follow, any organized religion and haven’t for many many years. As I said, the hypocrisy finished it for me, amongst other things, some of which you mentioned. One can still be spiritual, kind and altruistic, yet not follow any organized religion, maintaining personal beliefs that align with the more desirable principles of organized religion and live a good life supporting others.
        Interesting that you mention that you feel “more free,” because of it.

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        1. I’m not the only person I know who has divorced themselves from organized religion. I have a number of friends and acquaintances who have had the same conversion. Recent surveys in the U.S. show there’s been a large decrease in the number of people who subscribe to any particular religion from just 20 years ago.

          Back in 1994, a first cousin on my father’s side of the family got married at the Catholic Church that we both used to attend. The church shocked everyone by telling her and her husband-to-be that they needed X amount of money to stage the wedding. If it was a simple ceremony, the cost would be less than a full mass wedding. They also wanted an outrageous amount just to bless the flower vases. Bless the flower vases?! I could have done that with a simple ‘Bless this vase’ and asked for nothing more than a raspberry cheesecake! They were also limited to the number of people they could invite. My cousin and I had grown up together, so I was more like a brother to her. But I wasn’t invited. That upset my parents, so they didn’t attend. One Sunday afternoon, after lunch, my father – still bothered by the events – said about the church, “They should just take down that crucifix and hang up an ‘Open for business’ sign!”

          Yes, Amanda, we’re proof that people from different spheres of the planet can find something in common. In our particular case, it’s intellectual conversations, good food and miniature schnauzers – among other things!

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          1. It is funny how Schnauzers owners are drawn to one another. We are zealots for Schnauzers, but in a good way! You and I have great discussions blogging – our conversations are always interesting and respectful and I do often look forward to reading what you have to say.
            As for the Church selling blessings and asking for money for a number of guests, it sounds a lot like selling medieval indulgences, a lesson the Roman church might yet have to learn!
            It sours the experience when money is continually asked for, particularly by a religious entity. When I married the M.o.t.h, his Mother suggested we have another wedding blessing ceremony at her Catholic Church, at a later date, as the Church of which she was a member, did not recognize our marriage. The reason was because I wasn’t Catholic! I never went ahead with it.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. We’re dog lovers, Amanda, and dog people always seem to gravitate to one another!

              In 1986 a cousin on my mother’s side got married. Her groom had been married at the age of 17 in the Lutheran Church, but had the marriage annulled. In order for him and my cousin to wed in the Catholic Church, the latter said they needed X amount of money to “investigate” him. Investigate him?! He wanted to marry my cousin – not get a security clearance to a nuclear facility.

              Liked by 1 person

  16. What a very wonderful post! It was heartwarming to read about your memories from the 60s and 70s. Wish I got to live in that period. The starving kids in Africa quote seems to be used everywhere 😜 Have seen that a lot in TV shows. The Australian ways fascinate me so much. Australia and New Zealand seem like a world far far away from the rest of the world 😀 They’re on top of my bucket list too!
    Potato and pumpkin would be a child’s nightmare. 😁

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There was a lot of good things about that time period, but I suppose lots of not so good things too. It just depends on how you interpret it.
      Is it the nature, the laid back lifestyle we have here or the sunshine and open spaces that makes you want to visit?
      Whereabouts are you situated in the world?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Everything about Australia seems wonderful! 😀 I’m from Southern India, so not too far. There seems to be great biodiversity and Ofcourse, large open spaces with abundant natural wealth.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think the biggest contrast is with the open space. I recently saw an ad of a large city adjoining the Ganges and could not believe that there did not seem to be any amount of space left. It was packed full of houses and buildings. And very little green space. I suppose land is at a premium in India?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Oh, yes. At a premium if one does not own the land. Many tier 1 cities have become concrete jungles and have developed rapidly. The open space areas are the ones tourists are lucky enough to get to see 😁 There still are large open areas in many parts of the country but well, we’re largely populated so that explains all the buildings in the city side. 😜

            Liked by 1 person

  17. A very interesting reflection on times past. I will say that one thing that I’ve always been grateful for is that my mother taught me to cook and bake. I’ve enjoyed doing both and continue to do so to this day.

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    1. Graham, learning to cook from the basics, rather than re-heating is a fundamental life skill. One that everyone should be able to do, even if they don’t like it. It used to be my thinking that it was a parental fail if the parents/children never learned to cook. Then along came my daughter who is not interested in the slightest at cooking. However, she now sees the point in knowing how to make basic standard kinds of meals. One of my other kids is really keen on cooking and like you, enjoys it. The reward is the meal you get to eat at the end and sharing it with your loved ones! You are fortunate that your Mother was interested in passing on this skill to you. What is your favourite meal to create?

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  18. Sitting exams is a skill that we need to manage at some point in our education, hey Sarah.
    A series of smaller assignments and testing is the norm n in my state. Others still have a large end of semester/year exam which is a lot of pressure. What if you are sick? Bad luck.
    And your initial career depends on it.

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  19. An interrsting post! I had so many comments in mind while reading this that I’ve now forgotten them!
    First of all, what jobs did you have in the medical field? Do I remember you saying it had something to do with psychology or councilling of some sort?
    And Skippy! I remember him. Hey, do you know the name of that kids’ show which had a dragon lizard and some other Aussie animal, and they wore bush hats and just chatted a lot?! I’ve been having flash memories of it but can only remember bits.
    As for parenting strategies, don’t blame your parents, parenting is tough! 😅 I admit to bossing my kids around at the dinner table because they just keep doing circus tricks and not eating, and once I’ve cleared everything up, they cry they are hungry! 😆 But yes, that also rings a bell from my 80’s childhood: my mun telling me that the children in Africa don’t have food so I need to be grateful and eat mine. I always wondered how the two were related: if I ate up, it didn’t mean an African child would suddenly have food! They’d still be hungry. If anything, it made me feel guilty!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Parents underestimate a child’s logic, I think, going by the comments here. You are not the first one to question the eating dinner/save the starving kids in Africa mantra. I don’t think parents use it now. Maybe kids are far too globalised to take notice of that, too.
      Could the show have been the ABC production, called Lift Off?

      Liked by 1 person

        1. hmmm. Can’t say I know that one. Lift off did have puppets but it was interspersed with stories of kids. I will ask my kids if they know it. They rarely watched commercial TV so if it wasn’t on the ABC or SBS they probably didn’t see it.

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