Way back when, Wednesdays

Christmas feasts that you may not want to share

In the weeks before Christmas, we seem to inundated with sweet treats like mince pies, cake and chocolates.  We look forward to a splendid meal on Christmas Day, whether that be of turkey, seasoned chicken and ham, or seafood such as prawns, accompanied by an array of salads or vegetables.  This monumental meal is usually followed by desserts such as pavlova and Christmas pudding.  Many of us are fortunate enough to be able to purchase and enjoy a wide range of delicacies.

It seems that tastes have changed.  The curious world of Christmas, celebrating all that is weird, wonderful and festive by Niall Edworthy, gives us an insight into the not so delicious fare which was on offer in times past.

9781446422236 Curious world of christmas

In the Middle Ages, roast peacock meat was served with great pomp and ceremony in the castles and manor houses of the nobility.  Peacock meat was tough and dry but the idea of presenting an exotic, colourful Indian bird to guests must have appealed to the rich of this era.  Sometimes the peacock was made into a huge pie.  Its feathered head with a gilded beak would protrude from one end of the pastry with its tail sticking out of the other end of the crust.  As peacock meat was unappetising, cooks would sometimes substitute chicken or goose meat for the pie filling and attach the head and tail feathers of the peacock.  An awful end for such a beautiful bird!

peacock-vow-featured

Image: ‘The Peacock Vow’ a 15th century illustration from ‘Le Livre des conquetes et faits d’Alexandra.’ Currently held in Paris. muse du Petit-Palais, folio 86 recto. Painter. Anon. https://hforhistory.co.uk/article/roast-peacock-medieval-christmas/

Wealthy people in the Middle Ages would enjoy eating a range of foods over the twelve days of Christmas.  Geese were basted in butter and saffron, which is still the most expensive spice in the world.  Cooks stuffed lemons into the mouths of whole pigs or wild boars.  Sometimes only the boar’s head would be presented on a large serving dish, as a festive symbol.  A medieval Christmas ‘pudding’ was a great treat but the principal ingredients were cracked wheat boiled in animal stock, mixed with egg yolks and threads of saffron.  The mixture was left to set before serving as an accompaniment to roast meats.  As time went by, people replaced the costly saffron with other sweeter spices like cinnamon and nutmeg and added dried fruit to the recipe, such as currents.

So what did the ordinary people, the peasants, eat at Christmas?  Certainly not roast meat.  The average person worked hard every day for their local lord, usually farming his lands or labouring at a trade that benefited the estate.  A peasant would not get to eat a lot of meat, unless they poached an animal off a noble’s estate, a serious offence for which they could be harshly punished.  Peasants ate mostly dark, coarse rye bread and stew.  The stew, known as pottage, was usually made up of onions, peas and beans that people grew in their gardens.  If you lived near the sea or a river, you could catch some fish.  If peasants kept chickens or livestock they would have eggs and milk.  However, you could not afford to kill your animals for meat.  In the Middle Ages it was considered a privilege to eat meat, whereas dairy products and vegetables were viewed as foods suitable for peasants.

Sometimes the rich landowners would give the innards of their venison to their tenants who would make them into pies.  The offal was called ‘umbles’, from which the expression “to eat humble pie” is derived.  Unfortunately for the tenants, Christmas Day was one of four days each year on which they had to pay their lords rent for the hovels in which they lived.

Niall Edworthy also quotes an English saying of page 50 of his book “A dog isn’t just for

Christmas.  It’s jolly nice cold on the 26th as well.”

 

You can reserve The curious world of Christmas, celebrating all that is weird, wonderful

and festive by Niall Edworthy online or enquire at the Library.  Discover many more

interesting traditions and quirky facts about Christmas.  And enjoy your modern

Christmas dinner!

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Way back when, Wednesdays

Finnish librarian takes to the road

At the Tikkurila library, which is situated in the city of Vantaa in southern Finland, customers can sing along to pop tunes or to a selection of Finnish favorites in a custom built soundproofed karaoke booth.

The City of Tea Tree Gully may not have a karaoke booth but we can say that we have had a Finnish librarian employed here! On page 4 of the edition dated 25 November 1965 the North East Leader reported on the appointment of Miss Ulla-Maija Salonen to the City of Tea Tree Gully mobile library service.

IMG_0003 Finnish librarian

Image courtesy of the State Libary of South Australia, North East Leader, page 4, 25 November, 1965

As stated in the newspaper article above, Ulla-Maija Salonen was a highly educated and accomplished young woman. She was also multilingual. The District Council of Tea Tree Gully was fortunate to have her in its employ. Ulla-Maija Salonen was also the first female librarian to work for the Tea Tree Gully Library. Ms Salonen held the equivalent of a Master of Science degree from the University of Helsinki and she had taught science at schools in New South Wales and Finland. She had worked as a medical science technician. Ulla-Maija had also joined the department of Botany at Adelaide University, before taking over from the Mr. Keech, Tea Tree Gully’s first librarian.

The Minister of Education, Mr. R.R. Loveday, officially handed over the mobile library to the Chairman of the District Council of Tea Tree Gully on Saturday 12 June, 1965, in the vicinity of a community centre on Memorial Drive at Tea Tree Gully. The bus began servicing the local community on Tuesday 15 June.

Mobile public library 1965

Image:  North East Leader, page 1, 3 June, 1965

It was the second mobile library service to operate in South Australia, the City of Marion ran the first. The Library was actually a refurbished Department of Health vehicle which had formerly operated as a mobile x-ray unit!

The bus was a gift from the C.M.V. Foundation. Sidney Crawford established the C.M.V group in 1934 in South Australia, selling commercial vehicles to the transport industry. He set up the C.M.V. Group Foundation in 1953 to assist charities and those in need in the wider community. In total, the C.M.V. Foundation contributed 16,000 pounds towards establishing free public library services in the South Australian metropolitan area.

So where did all the books come from? The State Library of South Australia has provided this information about how public libraries were funded. In accordance with the Library (Subsidies) Act of 1955 and a 1958 amendment, the State Treasurer could subsidise local government to meet the costs of a establishing and running a public library, provided that the amount of funding did not exceed what Council spent in any financial year. A substantial amount of the books had to be of an educational or literary nature.  The Annual report of the Libraries Board of South Australia of 1964/65 states on page 11 that “The Libraries Board supplied initial bookstocks new libraries at Millicent, Enfield and Tea Tree Gully.” Councils such as Tea Tree Gully paid money to the Libraries Board to be supplied with books; the amount of which was subsidised by an equal amount from the South Australian State Government.

The Mobile Library’s initial book stock was valued at 5000 pounds, which was a substantial investment in 1965. And the Library was fully air-conditioned, a very modern feature. When it was introduced, the Library service would have 5000 books in its collection. The bus was to hold 2,500 volumes on the shelves (a considerable amount) with the remainder of the books placed in reserve in storage (Page 1, North East Leader, 3 June, 1965). A driver-assistant library was also employed.

People of all ages were able to use the Library for free if they lived in Tea Tree Gully and surrounding areas. This was of great benefit to residents as at this time there were still Institute based libraries in South Australia, where people had to pay a subscription fee to borrow books and use the reading room.

The Mobile Library stopped in many locations around the district, for the convenience of residents:  On streets, at local schools and post offices.

Mobile Library new itinerary

Image:  North East Leader, page 8, 24 March, 1966

In the edition dated 24 March 1966, the North East Leader reported on changes to the mobile service timetable on page 4. This was to accommodate the librarian going to lectures in the city. We can presume that at this time Ulla-Maija commenced her course for the Libraries Board Registration Certificate at the public library in the Adelaide city centre, as referred to in the article from November 1965.

Mobile library changes to to schedule

Note the amount of loans just for February: Members borrowed 1176 books for adults and 1,345 books for children! The new library was obviously very popular with younger readers.

For your interest, here is an article about new books which were purchased for the mobile library, printed on page 8 of the North East Leader from 28 April, 1966. It seems that historical romance was popular at the time.

Mobile library new books

As employment records are confidential, we do not know how long Ulla-Maija Salonen remained working for the Tea Tree Gully Council. However, by 1969 the North East Leader reported that Mr W. Bustelli  was employed in the Library’s new premises, in the former Modbury school house at 561 Montague Road, Modbury.

Perhaps Miss Salonen secured a better job or one which was closer to home in Alberton. If she had married and started a family in the 1960s, Ulla-Maija would also have had to leave the workforce. Or she could have returned to Finland.

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Way back when, Wednesdays

Book drought makes history

The Tea Tree Gully Library service has always been popular! As featured in a previous Way back when, Wednesdays post the official opening of a new public library made front page news in the North East Leader, a Messenger newspaper, on 5 March 1969. The Library, which operated out of a mobile bus, had moved its service into the building which was formerly the Modbury Primary School and headmaster’s cottage, now designated as 561 Montague Road, Modbury. On page 3 of the edition dated 9 April 1969, the North East Leader reported on a possible book shortage after only one month, as the new library service had proved so popular with local residents.

Library fines

As stated in the Messenger article above, since the new library had opened, memberships had soared to over 4000 and nearly 10,000 books were on loan. Unfortunately many of the Library’s avid readers were not particularly conscientious when it came to returning their items and the Library’s book stock had become depleted.  Members had also failed to return 1,600 books which had been issued to them on the old mobile library.  When you think about it, for a building of its size, the Montague Road library actually had quite a substantial book stock.

The Librarian in charge, Mr. W. Bustelli thought that introducing a system of fines would motivate library members to return books on time. We don’t have information about whether library fine were introduced in 1969. We would love to hear about your experiences if you remember using the library on Montague Road!

Fortunately, in 2018 the City of Tea Tree Gully Library has considerably more items available for loan than in 1969. The Library holds approximately 64,000 books for adults, 25000 for children and adolescents, 4,500 magazines and 17,000 audio visual materials (this includes DVDs, CDs and audiobooks). You can now also access audio and e-books and take advantage of approximately 4 million items through the SA Public Libraries One Card Network. In 2017 the Library lent out an average of 73,210 items per month.

 

Boca Chica bar

The old schoolhouse building at 561 Montague Road, Modbury is now the home of Sfera’s ‘Boca Chica’, a Spanish inspired concept restaurant and bar.

 
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Way back when, Wednesdays

Out there on my own

International Women’s Day 8 March 2018

 

It’s the early 1970s. Imagine being thrown out onto the street by your family because you became pregnant – they no longer wanted you. You only had the clothes you were wearing and some loose change in your pocket. You were homeless and you had no way to support yourself. There was no Parenting Benefit in existence at this time.
In the edition dated 25 August 1971, the North East Leader, a Messenger Newspaper told one woman’s story, which highlighted the plight of young unmarried mothers. In a special report, made up of two articles on pages 1 and 3 the Leader sought to raise awareness of the financial issues, condemnation and social isolation single mothers experienced. A new South Australian organisation called ‘The Council for The Single Mother and Her Child’ could offer these girls help.

Unwed mothers

We have all heard the horror stories of young unmarried women being coerced or forced into giving up their babies for adoption during the 1960s. Children were also put in state run institutions such as orphanages. The Commonwealth Department of Social Services was created in 1939 and became fully operative in 1941. However, the Government did not introduce a supporting mother’s benefit for single mother’s pension until 1973. From 1942 in Australia, a single mother could only receive a small pension if she had been married and was widowed, deserted by her husband or divorced. You were also entitled to a benefit if you husband was in prison or a committed to a mental hospital, Seeing the lighter side, A history of the single parent pension in Australia.

“In 1973 supporting mother’s benefit was introduced for single mothers not entitled to widow’s pension. The new benefit was payable after a six-month waiting period, during which time the States remained responsible for the single mother’s income support under the Commonwealth-State cost-sharing arrangements introduced in 1968. The supporting mother’s benefit was extended in 1977 to single fathers, including widowers and divorcees, and renamed supporting parent’s benefit. The six-month waiting period for this benefit was abolished in 1980 when the States withdrew from the Commonwealth-State cost-sharing arrangements.”  Australian Bureau of Statistics

Unfortunately the Australian Bureau of Statistics does not hold data on the number of babies born in South Australia in 1971 but“1500 illegitimate births” does seem quite high for the population of South Australia. So you might think that having a baby ‘out of wedlock’ was not uncommon. However, Society viewed an unmarried pregnant women as having loose morals.

Birthright

A woman seemed to experience most of the shame, rather than the father of the child. It could also be difficult for the mother of an illegitimate child to find a man to marry her and adopt her child as their own. Living together in a de-facto relationship was socially unacceptable. Unless your family were willing to support you financially and emotionally, a single pregnant woman faced some tough choices.

Sometimes a girl’s parents would insist on a young couple getting married as quickly as possible before her pregnancy started to show – what is known as a ‘shotgun wedding’. This was an attempt to not only hide the unplanned pregnancy or at least regain some of the respect that their daughter had lost by getting pregnant. The girl’s boyfriend was basically threatened by her father and told to take responsibility for the baby! Adoption was a common choice. The girl was supposed to move on with her life, when in fact she would always be dealing with the loss of her child. It should be acknowleged that some  fathers also reluctantly lost their children to adoption.

Legal abortions were not readily available. Never an easy decision for the mother, abortion was legalised in South Australia in 1969. Abortion was only legal if performed in a hospital and it was deemed by two medical practitioners that continuing a pregnancy was detrimental to the physical and mental health of the mother or if there was a substantial risk that the child would be seriously physically or mentally handicapped if it was born, Abortion Law in Australia  Frightened women also sought out illegal abortions, putting themselves at risk of infection and death.

Some brave young women did decide to keep their babies. At least ‘The Council for The Single Mother and Her Child’ was in existence in South Australia to help supply them with baby clothing, and support with finding accommodation and employment. A single mother would have received a child endowment payment as the Commonwealth Government’s Child Endowment Act of 1941 had introduced the payment of weekly sums to mothers of children under the age of 16. But it would have been very almost impossible for a single woman to find somewhere to live with a baby and no other income. Day care centres and government subsidised childcare are a modern invention. A woman would have had to leave her child with relatives and friends or pay somebody she knew to look after them while she was at work.

Note also the small article printed on page 3 about the organisation ‘Birthright’ which was trying to establish a branch in Tea Tree Gully to assist widows and their children. Living on a widow’s pension was not easy either.

Most sole parent families still live on low incomes and those on Centrelink payments face a high risk of poverty. “Unemployment among sole parents is generally about twice the rate across the whole workforce. The reasons for this include their responsibility for caring for a child alone, together with low educational qualifications and the need to live in areas where rents are low but jobs are scarce (such as public housing estates). Many of those who do have a job are vulnerable to unemployment because they work in casual and part time jobs.” Fact sheet: sole parent payments

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Way back when, Wednesdays

Girl with a guitar

Some of our readers may remember watching Franci Chamings on the  Adelaide show for children called Young 7.   Young 7 screened at 9am on ADS Channel 7 in the mornings during the 1970s.

Franci Chamings edit symon

 

In the edition dated 17 November 1971, the North East Leader, a Messenger Newspaper reported on a local girl from Dernancourt who had been singing on Adelaide television. As stated in the article, Franci performed on the children’s program The Super Duper Flying Fun Show and The Tonight Show hosted by radio identity and former footballer Barry Ion.

After gaining a following on a children’s television show, Singer/songwriter Franci also performed live on stage such as at her Family with Franci Chamings concert in 1975.

Franci did go on to make recordings. She recorded the 45rpm single For You (B side: Why) with Pussycat Records, Australia.

In 1976 she made the vinyl LP album for young children entitled Favourite Nursery Rhymes and Actions Songs at Slater Sound in Adelaide. The album featured a collection of traditional children’s rhymes. Maybe you have it in your childhood record collection!  http://www.45cat.com/record/nc168385au

Favourite nursery rhymes

Image taken from:  http://www.tvmem.com/OZST/tv/D/DUDLEYDO/DUDLEYDO.html

 

 

Sammy the Seagull

Sammy the Seagull also appeared on Young 7.  He is pictured here with young Gavin Swindler and Suzanne Fox at Christies Beach.  Photograph B 70869/14138.  https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+70869/1413

 

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Way back when, Wednesdays

Come in, the water’s fine at Clovercrest

Did you learn to swim at Clovercrest? It seems that everybody either went to swimming lessons at the Clovercrest swimming school or knows somebody who did. On page 3 of the edition dated 21 February 1968 the North East Leader, a Messenger Newspaper printed a feature about the opening of the new Clovercrest pool. On Sunday 2 February over 200 guests attended that official opening of the 25 metre heated indoor pool, which as the article below states, was reputed to be the most modern facility of its kind in Australia.

 

Opening of Clovercrest swimming centre

Photographs of bikini clad women have not changed since 1968!

 

The Clovercrest Pool is situated at 433 Montague Road, Modbury North. On the 6 March 1968 the North East Leader followed up with a story on page 5 about swimming lessons for pre-school children, which was named the Tadpole class. Today children aged from 6 months to 4 years of age can enrol in the Waterbabies class! The Clovercrest Pool also took out a large advertisement showcasing it services on page 2.

Tadpole class

 

Pool advertisement

A special carnival for amateur swimmers (the first of its kind to be held at Clovercrest) made front page news on 19 April 1968. Money raised from the two day event would go towards helping the Australian Swim Team get to the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. The directors of the Centre donated the use of the pool to the South Australian Amateur Swimming Association. Such a high profile event would have brought many people to the pool. The young people who entered the competition may have felt very special sponsoring the Olympic athletes. Many were named in the article below.

Swimming carnival

Some of our staff members at Tea Tree Gully Library recall going to the Pool during the 1970s and 1980s. “I remember learning to swim after school at Clovercrest, when the different grades were named after sea creatures – you would strive to attain the dolphin and then the kingfisher certificates. If you completed all of the levels of tuition you could join the Centre’s swimming club. I admired these older kids who swam really fast in the lanes devoted to lap swimming.”

“It was steamy and hot inside the pool area and you could see the reflection of the water on the walls. After swimming you were always hungry and it you looked forward to buying something from the pool kiosk. It was the first and the last time I ate a huge Bush biscuit, after my parents urged me to try one!”

The Clovercrest Swim Club was also founded in 1968. It is now affiliated with Swimming SA, and is a member of Swimming Australia. Members have taken part in competitions interstate and overseas (https://clovercrest.swimming.org.au).

1976 was a special year for the Clovercrest Swimming School when David Urry, the former coach of the Australian swimming team at the Christchurch Commonwealth Games purchased the facility. It was at Clovercrest that he developed the State Swim program. Today State Swim has schools at eighteen locations across South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria (https://www.stateswim.com.au).

 

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Clovercrest Swimming School, present day.

 

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Way back when, Wednesdays

The ones that couldn’t get away

Nobody would have gone home empty handed after this fishing trip, when the Dernancourt pool was transformed into a giant fish tank. On page 23 of the edition dated 15 June 1983, the Leader Messenger reported on the upcoming ‘Fish-in’ to be held from 18-19 June at the Dernancourt Swimming Centre, formally situated at Mahogany Drive, Dernancourt, alongside the River Torrens.

Fish in Messenger

Fish-in was held as a fundraiser by the Freemasons of the Thorngate Lodge of Prospect under the leadership of Worshipful Brother G.R. Gray, in conjunction with the City of Tea Tree Gully and local service clubs. The Kersbrook Trout Far stocked the pool with 200 live trout, purchased by Council.

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Fish-in was marketed as a family friendly event and attracted both experienced and amateur anglers. Four sessions of fishing were held over two days. Participants paid $4 each which covered the entry fee and the hire of a fishing rod. An officer from the Fisheries Department was on-site to provide tips on how to improve your fishing technique.

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So what did the anglers use for bait? Bait was provided and it was sweetcorn! You were allowed to take home any fish that you caught, so many local residents would have been eating trout for dinner and possibly stocking up their freezers.

There were prizes awarded in different categories such as for catching the heaviest fish and for the highest number of fish caught by an individual. You also had the chance to win a prize by catching special tagged trout released into the pool. If the kids became bored they could take a break by frequenting the food stalls and sideshows set up especially for Fish-in, around the grounds of the swimming centre.

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More than $2000 was raised from the Fish-in and the funds were used in the restoration of the Grand Lodge Building on North Terrace. Given the success of the initial event another Fish-in was held the following year on the weekend of 5-6 May.

Fish-in

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