Our next worker’s cottage had me convinced they all came clad in corrugated iron, as this one was the same, except much, much smaller. Three rooms, kitchen, lounge and bedroom, and a lean-to on the side providing a small space for a wash house, toilet and shower. In the bedroom, we were so cramped after fitting in a double bed and baby’s cot, that only a tiny track was left to weave our way around.
Time-payment, just beginning to get popular, enabled us to go out and buy a refrigerator, with monthly payments, to keep our food fresher longer. The old fashioned way was submerging the milk and butter in a concrete washtub filled with cold water. Not very successful in long hot summers down under.
We got worried when our little boy reached his first birthday without producing any teeth and took him to the doctor to find out what the problem was. The doctor, thinking it was a great joke, laughed out loud at us, apparently teeth came in their own good time and there was nothing to do, but wait. I thought afterwards, that must be why the Johnson’s baby care book said nothing about it.
Mun drove with my sister, in the little blue bug, over the big hill for a visit. It had been difficult for mum after I was gone, because the welfare people got on her back when a neighbor dobbed her in for leaving my sister at home, alone. But she had no choice, not going to her night job cleaning at the hotel meant no money for them to live on.
My city girl sister loved getting to ride the farm horse, but got caught out by a trap for new riders. The horse being a cunning old boy knew to puff out his stomach when the saddle’s girth was getting done up, to keep it from getting pulled up tight. And sure enough, trotting out on her ride, the saddle slipped right around and she got dumped off. Following the sounds of her wails, mum and I discovered her flat out on her back at the end of the driveway. Luckily only her pride got really hurt.
We met up with some of the other, milking worker’s families, in Featherston that we socialized with. One couple who were sort of famous for their Rock and Roll dancing liked to put on demos up at the picture theater and teach all the locals. Another family we met invited us to their house for a Saturday night dinner outing. Probably because of a combination of hard work tiredness, and the liquor Geoff drank, he got completely blotto, falling asleep on the floor.
Not knowing how to drive, the little kids and I were forced to sit on their sofa waiting, until nearly sun-up. When he roused from his drunken sleep, I was horrified to see a river of pee spreading out across the bare floor-boards in their lounge. I was too embarrassed to ever go back to their house again. My husband’s father was a drinker and I wondered if he was going to take after him and get like, drunk Mr J, from the flats, who us kids had all ridiculed.
This same family, gave my husband a leather strap for disciplining our now little toddler. I had never heard of such a thing, but his mother who raised him and his brother alone, after their alcoholic father left, had kept them in line with strappings, administered in their bathroom for some reason. I just thought, mum’s biff around the ears and thumpings when she got mad were normal. Soon he started getting carried away, punishing kiddish misdemeanors, like mislaying a piece of his toys with the strap.