Doris Dawson’s Childhood Memories (Part 4)

The following is part four of four excerpts from ‘Childhood Memories’ written by Doris Dawson in 1986.

– PART 4 –

My sister and I were never bored — we played many days amongst the rocks on the side of the hill and in the sand in the creek bed where we made our mud pies. Playing school too was a particular past time and I never lost my love of teaching.

Our art consisted of colouring all the fashion catalogs we could get our hands on. The favourite was ‘Hoopers”, and favourite colours pink and green and blue and brown for all the leading fashions. The paints and crayons were birthday or Christmas presents. Water colours just like today’s small tins of a few small blocks and one small brush. My love of art is still my only hobby and I still do a few small water colours. No abstract works at all. I only like reality in pictures.

Sunday was always kept as a day of worship. Thanks to my wonderful mother it is stil] my treasured help — faith. She trusted God to help her in all circumstances and he did. She lived a very useful and hard working life and kept all God’s ordinances as well as human nature allows. Our very early Sundays we attending the tiny Methodist church at Yapeen. Where my mother helped the teaches, often being responsible for the anniversary concerts we enjoyed so much every year. These concerts were held in the church where a platform of tiered seats was built up over the pulpit, and where we would perform our action songs etc.

My one performance that I remember is dissolving into tears to let my twin and another small girl to finish the lullaby we were singing.

The annual tea meeting preceded by the concert. It was held in the little wooden Sunday school with the trestle tables and long forms for seats. We had to take our own mugs for “raspberry vinegar’, as we called it then. Sandwiches and cakes were quickly enjoyed, then games in the church grounds before the concert.

It was there we were baptised and there we signed a pledge at 7 years of age, I still have the certificate, and I would like to say I have not broken that promise very many times.

Sunday nights when very young before bedtime we all gathered around the table to read “the chapter’. Mother selected one to read — a verse each. Songs were not allowed to be sung on Sundays — only hymns which we joined in singing around the organ.

We had no electricity or gas, and were unable to obtain ice in those days so never had many jellies that were cooled in the cellar. However, I can still remember tasting red jelly at one of the very few birthday parties I went to at Yapeen.

As we got older and able to attend church at Campbell’s Creek we rode our bicycles to Holy Trinity. Mother walked. Later we taught her to ride a bike too. She became Superintendent when Miss Bennett moved away to Melbourne. ~

Another profitable past time was “blackberrying”. Nothing suited us better than to get up early and pick blackberries which grew along the creek and along the fences in the lane along side our paddocks. At 4 pence a pound at was hard work and we didn’t’t make a lot of money but I liked the few pence extra and they were easy to sell at that price.

Along the hedges that my father kept trimmed we could soon fill our tins hung around our necks so we could use two hands. We even had ladders to climb up and spread over the tops of the hedges where the best blackberries grew.

Our smocks, you might call them were made of an unbleached calico and dyed blue. These saved our good clothes, we wore old gloves with the fingers cut out and strong stockings. The snakes lurking in the rabbit burrows under the hedges next worried us as we kept up plenty of chatter. My brother set traps for the rabbits which provided us with excellent meat. We often accompanied him on his rounds at night with a lantern and early morning so the animals did not suffer for long. In later years my sister and I became quite efficient at trapping, killing and cooking lovely fresh rabbits. The meat was delicious, the various ways my mother cooked them.

The skins of the rabbits were stretched on wire frames and sold when they were dry for a small amount.

Looking back I just wonder how my mother had all the energy and will to do the work she cheerfully did for the family. She always had time for others, just as adopting the baby of a neighbour who died. My mother went to help a mother of a baby at the Chinese market garden. Other neighbours seemed to resent helping at such a place.

From these lovely childhood days we graduated to high school. My two older sisters went to domestic service in Castlemaine, my third sister won a scholarship which took her to the high school. She later became dux of the school and won many worthy prizes.


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