The idea for this post came from two separate encounters with my daughter. Firstly, when we were watching a YouTube clip about the launch of Apollo 11 and the subsequent moon landing. I was recounting my memories from this day and how exciting it was. I told her how my school had to borrow TV’s from a local department store while other classes walked to neighbouring houses to watch this momentous event.
The second conversation arose when I offered her a spare ironing board I happened to have in my garage.
She laughed “Ain’t nobody got time for ironing” she quipped.
It made me think how things have changed in my own lifetime. Changes to how we live our daily lives are not as dramatic as a moon landing but have made a big difference. Here is a list of ten things I remember from childhood that don’t happen anymore.
- The milk man: Many boys had their first part-time job jumping off the back of a milk truck to deliver milk to each house. If your family was well off, you could get exotic things like yogurt delivered too. The milk would come early in the morning and was left at the front gate. (For the most part gates have disappeared too). The cream floated on top in a luscious layer that the magpies enjoyed if you weren’t quick enough. Bread came later in the day. Unsliced white loaves wrapped in plain translucent paper. No plastic, no bread ties. At Easter you could pre-order hot cross buns for Good Friday. (Only Good Friday not from two weeks after Christmas) These days you can get all your groceries delivered by the big chains but their are no longer “milk men”.
- Coppers, mangles and twin tub washing machines. Our laundry was outside in a separate building to our house. It had a bare concrete floor and the weatherboards were not lined on the inside, so it was freezing in winter and hot in summer. It was, however, pure luxury compared to the across-the-road neighbours, the Marshes, who didn’t even have a concrete floor – just swept dirt. We even had electricity! There was a single tub washing machine with a mangle. The mangle being two rollers that squeezed water out of the clothes. I can still hear my mum cursing when the clothes got stuck in the mangle and her warnings to keep our fingers out of the way. In the corner, there was a gas fired copper. The copper – literally a copper tub, was heated with a gas ring. You’d fill it with water and boil your clothes, especially whites. Later, we had a twin tub where the small washing tub was side by side with a separate spin dryer.
- Sawdust on the butcher’s shop floor. That smell still reminds me of fresh meat.
- Fashion for little girls
- the pleated kilt-like skirts with a plain white bodice top worn with hand knitted twin sets.
- wearing an extra pair of knickers over the top of your tights to hold them up
- elastic garters to hold up your socks.
- The hair bobbles that whacked you in the head if mum slipped while trying to put them in
- Having your hair cut short and washed with kerosene when you got nits. (Not me thankfully but a friend if mine!)
- Making bread crumbs and minced meat with the old hand cranked mincer
- Making cordial from flavoured syrup and sugar on Saturdays.
- Hearing (and smelling) mum scrape the toast in the morning because it would always burn as well as the sound of the toaster doors being opened with a squeal,
- Having to turn over a record after 25 minutes and then walk carefully on the wooden floors when it was playing.
- Drinking soured milk in 1/3 pint bottles at school after it had sat in the sun for a couple of hours.
I could easily write another ten. One that pops into mind straight away is taking undeveloped film to the chemist and waiting two weeks to get back 24 pictures of nothing but blur!
I obviously don’t have photos of these things although the images of the beaters is mine. The washing machines are from the Net. I still have a beater like the one in the photos and actually prefer to use it to an electric mixer. It’s quicker!
How have the little things in your life changed since childhood? Add a comment below.
 The fact that yogurt was considered exotic is also an interesting sign of days gone by.