When times were simpler and more gracious

At 86 years of age, I find very little that is completely satisfying in this fast-paced, self-absorbed technological age of emails, smart phones and text messages.  I miss old fashioned conversations, eyeball to eyeball, where words and facial expressions were meaningful.

People have changed so much.  They demand more from life and are pressured by the cult of consumerism to reach standards of living that are often unobtainable. 

Reality and lifestyle shows set the standard for living, and cooking shows turn each meal into an art form.  But one need never cook again, if the budget allows. Meals can be delivered to the door.

In the war years, life was simpler and less competitive and centred around the home.  The milkman came by horse and cart in the early morning and filled the enamel container left out for him.  

The butcher, in his horse and cart, called by each day.  Having no refrigerator or ice-chest at the time, meat for the evening meal was bought daily and put in the meat safe, a fine mesh cage hung under the house in the cool. 

As kids, we loved the day the weekly groceries were delivered as the box always included a small bag of boiled lollies.  We cooked our own simple but tasty meals of meat and three veg, followed by dessert, always.

We sat at the table together, mother and father at either end.  It was a special time when we all joined in conversations as a family.

We drank tea made from leaves in a teapot and used only cups and saucers.  People today will pay $50 for a “high tea”, but that was the way my mother served afternoon tea every day, using the beautiful cloths she had embroidered herself and a fine bone china tea set. 

We always had some delicious cake that mother had made or simply pikelets and gem scones with her homemade jam.  Afternoon tea was always accompanied by relaxed and happy family conversation.

My mother was a talented dressmaker and dress designer, well ahead of her time.  In the ’40s, we would go to the local picture theatre to see the latest Jane Powell movie. 

In the dark, mother would sketch Jane Powell’s frocks and later make them for me.  People often said I resembled Jane Powell.

We certainly dressed alike!

In those days, clothes were always handed on to friends or relations who had a daughter ready to step into them.  The clothes my mother made for me were in great demand and highly treasured.

We lived in Brisbane so when my mother needed fabric or sewing thread, my brother and I, dressed in our best clothes, would catch the tram with her into the city. 

After visiting Penney’s, we would walk up Adelaide St to Edwards and Lamb and then catch the lift to the material department, where mother spent what seemed like hours caressing fabrics, absorbed in her creative dreams.  Meanwhile, I sat on a high stool by the counter, expecting to die at any moment from boredom.

My brother was always satisfied just watching the “flying fox” being sent with cash and docket from the counter way up high to an office – and then soon after the change and receipt being shot back to the counter.

Yes, these were good times, gracious times.  The pace of life was slower and there was lots of time for gentle conversation.
Image: Jane Powell ruled the screen.