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 when, Wednesdays

Giving the people what they want

There would have been mayhem when a hoard of local shoppers attended the opening of the new Peoplestores retail outlet in the St. Agnes Shopping Centre in 1971. The North East Leader celebrated the event with several pages of photographs, articles and advertisements for the discount department store, in the edition dated 17 November 1971. Just in time for Christmas shopping.

Peoplestores St. Agnes Mall page 5

Image:  North East Leader, page 5, 17 November 1971

Peoplestores St. Agnes was the eighth store in the retail chain to open in South Australia. In 1971, Peoplestores also traded in Gouger Street in Adelaide City, Modbury (at Clovercrest shopping centre), Para Hills, Rosewater, Elizabeth, Findon and Reynella. There were also six stores in country South Australia.

Peoplestores article page 5

Image:  North East Leader, page 5, 17 November 1971

Ladies wear advertisement

Advertisement for Peoplestores women’s apparel.  Image:  North East Leader, page 9, 17 November 1971

manchester and men and boys clothing department photos with captions

Image:  North East Leader, page 10, 17 November 1971

Library staff who shopped at Peoplestores remember the department stores as being fairly basic, it was better than Kmart but not an upmarket shopping experience. It really was a shop ‘for the people’. Peoplestores was fitted out with large bins, through which you would rummage to find your size or chosen colour. This was possibly an attraction, as shoppers love a treasure hunt to find a bargain.

Peoplestores St. Agnes Interior

Peoplestores interior at St. Agnes with entry through the Mall.  Image:  North East Leader, page 5, 17 November 1971

One staff member recalls that Peoplestores always had lovely window displays. Another remembers shopping with her mother at Peoplestores, as they stocked a quality product. It reminded her of a country store with racks of garments on display, grouped around the shop floor. Peoplestores was especially good for buying wool for crochet, dress materials and habedashery such as buttons. They also bought little girl’s Red Robin socks! It sounds like Peoplestores did not move far from its origins as a drapery.

Fashions for the family

Image:  North East Leader, page 6,  17 November 1971

 

Peoplestores dress materials and crochet

Image:  North East Leader, page 6, 17 November 1971

In a sales cross-promotion, Peoplestores offered the same special prices on goods to shoppers at its Modbury stores as at the new St. Agnes branch. Plus free gifts for children.

Haberdashery with Judy

Image: North East Leader page 7, 17 November, 1971

Peopestores Key Man trousers

Advertisement for menswear at Peoplestores.  Image: North East Leader, page 6, 17 November 1971

Roland suit

Advertisement for womenswear.  Image:  North East Leader, page 6, 17 November 1971

Homewares and outdoor furniture advertisement

Advertisement for homewares, manchester and dress materials at Peoplestores.  Image:  North East Leader, page 11, 17 November 1971

Peoplestores drapery was founded by W.H. Williams in 1905. The cloth merchant was built in 1905 on the corner of Gouger and California Street South near the Adelaide Central Market. Peoplestores expanded several times on the same site in Gouger Street.

1708-a24a-5c46-80ae-5429abd7f376 Peoplestores in the early 1900s Gougher Street

Peoplestores Gouger Street in 1938. Image:  State Library of South Australia, https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+7416

In the past, people used to travel to the city centre to make special purchases as Adelaide did not yet have suburban shopping malls. Peoplestores on Gouger Street was also close to Moores, Adelaide’s iconic department store on Victoria Square. The former Moore’s building now houses the law courts and has been renamed the Sir Samuel Way Building.

In this photograph taken around 1939 the façade of the store has had a smart renovation in the Art Deco style, which was popular in the 1920s and 1930s.  The renovations included large plate glass windows and a wide cantilevered verandah (https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au).

Peoplestores Gouger Street

Peoplestores Gouger Street, circa 1939.  Image:  https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+8175

B-37471.jpeg Peoplestores 1970s

Peoplestores Gouger Street in 1979.  The cars parked outside the building have certainly changed over the years!    Image:  https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+37471

 

Peoplestores Grote Street entrance with cars 1954

Entrance on Grote Street Adelaide to the Gouger Street Peoplestores in 1954.  The Adelaide Central Market is to the right of the photograph.  Image:  https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+12989

The large store in Gouger Street was eventually redeveloped as part of the Adelaide Central Market. This building has now been demolished and is currently the site of several food outlets, including Krispy Kreme donuts.

During the 1980s Peoplestores ceased trading in South Australia, closing its last remaining stores.

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Surprise book of the month

New York Pigeon. Behind the feathers. By Andrew Garn

In our urban landscape, pigeons are scorned as feral, dirty pests. Dedicated pigeon fancier, author and photographer Andrew Garn sets out to destroy this misconception, presenting the noble pigeon as beautiful, intelligent and a friend to the human race. The population of pigeons in New York City exceeds one million. These are their stories…

New York Pigeon 2

This book is something different. Amazing and comprehensive, it is full of superb photographs which highlight the beauty of these birds, the luminosity of their feathers, jewel toned eyes and their majesty in flight.

In the first section of his book Andrew Garn examines the history behind the pigeon and how they have been an integral and valued part of human society – a bird whose remains have been discovered in archaeological digs dating back to the Ancient Egyptian and middle eastern civilisations “It might be surprising that a plump, multi-hued bird that wanders our sidewalks, perches on our buildings, and flutters all about, could have the bloodlines of a dinosaur, and be a gourmet food. Also used in religious sacrifices, this bird has been both a war hero and the focus of Charles Darwin’s experiments on natural selection.” (Page 17, Garn, Andrew, The New York Pigeon. Behind the feathers, 2018).

We have heard stories of homing pigeons carrying coded messages during World War II. But did you know, that using positive reinforcement, pigeons were trained to guide US Navy missiles with an accuracy surpassing human ability? Or that they also have much better sight than us. A pigeon can see five colour spectrums from infrared to ultraviolet.
Garn examines the physiology of the pigeon (Columba livia domestica) to explain how these birds are perfectly efficient flying machines with sustained speeds of around 50mph. They can outperform any other bird in aerial acrobatics and survive in a variety of environments. He also explains how pigeons hatch and grow.

3-pigeon_baby-walks_garn

Baby pigeon takes its first steps.  Image by Andrew Garn

Pigeons flying

In flight.  Image by Andrew Garn

The second section of this book features stories about birds who have been rescued and rehabilitated at the Wild Bird Fund in New York. It is easy to tell how much the author values pigeons, from his stunning portraiture that captures their individual expressions perfectly, to the accompanying captions which relate each bird’s name and courageous journey. Garn’s striking work is reminiscent of a photoshoot in a fashion magazine.

Humans are not left out. Garn volunteers at the shelter. He relates his experiences treating birds and the dangers that they face living among us. You will feel empathy for these creatures. “They are struck by cars and bicycles, attacked by our dogs and cats, removed from the nest when the air conditioner is cleaned, entangled in our litter, sickened by toxins, particularly lead, which we put in the environment, and suffer abuse at our hands,” Rita McMahon, executive director of the Wild Bird Fund. (Page 143, Garn, Andrew, The New York Pigeon. Behind the Feathers 2018).

Pigeon 3

Brooklyn. Image by Andrew Garn

 

Marilyn

Marilyn.  Image by Andrew Garn

pigeons

Apollo. Image by Andrew Garn

Elmer

Elmer.  Image by Andrew Garn

We also read about the dedicated staff and other volunteers who care for the sick or injured pigeons and other city birds. And there are also New Yorkers who keep pigeons as pets, with coops in the city neighbourhoods, even raising them in apartments.
Lastly the book features a series of photographs which centres on the daily lives of pigeons set against the backdrop of the buildings and skyline of New York City.

pigeons

Image by Andrew Garn

You can reserve The New York Pigeon. Behind the Feathers online. Or enquire next time you visit the Library.

Way back when, Wednesdays

The stressless classroom for seniors

Albert Einstein once remarked that “Once you stop learning, you start dying” (http://www.basicknowledge101.com/subjects/educationquotes.html). There is also the proverb that you are never too old to learn. On page 10 of the edition dated Wednesday 18 February 1987, the Leader Messenger reported on the new Tea Tree Gully branch of the University of the Third Age, where retired people could participate in a variety of courses for learning and recreation and share their knowledge and experience with others.

U3A

The Tea Tree Gully branch of the University of the Third Age (U3A) was established in 1987. 31 years later it is still thriving, with members meeting at 22 Golden Grove Road, Modbury North.

We speak of the Third Age as a time of active retirement. It follows the first age of childhood and formal education and the second age of working life. The Third Age precedes the fourth age of dependence (https://www.u3a.org.au/u3a_movement). The University of the Third Age is an international non-profit organisation which advocates that we should have access to life-long learning opportunities and the pursuit of knowledge, in a supportive environment where mutual learning and teaching flourish. So what feels like the end for retirees is often the beginning (https://www.goodmorningquote.com)

The British U3A embraced the philosophy on which the medieval university was founded: A fellowship of equals who met to share and extend knowledge. The British U3A embraces the principles of self-help and self-determination. Acknowledging that older people have accumulated a lifetime of knowledge and experience, members of each branch develop and structures their own programs, based on the strength and interests of their learning community.  Group members plan and develop a syllabus for each course that the offer and those with specialist experience teach on a voluntary basis. Other members assist in the administration of U3A. Each group is autonomous and manages itself.

Logo U3A 2

University of the Third Age logo

The Australian U3A is based on the British model. In 1984 the first Australian U3A opened in Melbourne. Universities of the Third Age in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland and Western Australia have established intrastate networks to support the different branches in each state with a range of resources (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_the_Third_Age).

If you would like more information about the Tea Tree Gully University of the Third Age log on to the website at: http://users.tpg.com.au/u3attg/index.html

TTG University Third Age

The Tea Tree Gully branch of the University of the Third Age situated at 22 Golden Grove Road, Modbury North.

Members pay a membership fee when they enroll in their first course. They can experience the joy of learning for learning’s sake as there are no examinations or certificates to be obtained. No educational qualifications are required. Courses are designed to offer participants a range of educational, creative and leisure activities, with opportunities to socialise and enjoy yourself!

Now there is even a virtual branch of the University of the Third Age at https://www.u3aonline.org.au/  U3A Online is the world-first virtual University of the Third Age to deliver online learning via the Internet. U3A Online is especially suited to older people who may be geographically, physically or socially isolated. The website also provides links for older people to access useful information about different topics, such as news, maintaining good health and staying safe online.  You can also find your local branch of the U3A.

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Way back when, Wednesdays

The gangster of groceries

At one time, almost everybody could say that they had a local Tom the Cheap grocer. On page 7 of the edition dated 11 January, 1967 the North East Leader a Messenger Newspaper reported on grocery specials on sale at the Modbury Tom the Cheap store on the corner of Grand Junction and North East Roads (now the site of Barnacle Bills and IGA).

 

Tom the Cheap advertisement 1967

Note the late opening of Tom the Cheap, Modbury on Friday until 9pm! Usually only delicatessans were open in the evenings in Adelaide during the 1960s. Adelaide had sporadic late night trading before WWII on Fridays (even on Saturdays in the 1920s). Late night shopping was stopped during war time. Trading commenced on Thursday nights in suburban shops and Friday nights in the City in 1977.

 

There really was a ‘Tom’. Thomas Wardle opened his first discount grocery store in North Perth in the 1950s. At this time, Australians mainly shopped at grocery stores which offered over the counter service. There were some ‘Cash and Carry’ stores which relied on self-service but supermarkets were a novelty. On a trip to Sweden with his wife, Wardle was influenced by the European model of shopping where customers could walk down aisles, choosing their purchases (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Wardle).

During the 1950s, it was common practice for manufacturers to fix a resale price for their goods. Retailers then resold the goods to consumers for a healthy profit margin. Today, the Competition and Consumer Act (which replaced the Trade Practices Act of 1974) forbids resale price maintenance. Tom Wardle’s main selling point was that he claimed to only mark up his stock by ten percent, whereas the other supermarket retailers usually charged twenty five to thirty percent when goods were not ‘on special’. Tom the Cheap did not sell products below cost but naturally customers loved the discounts.

In a conservative era, manufacturers and wholesalers were outraged by Wardle’s approach and some refused to supply him with goods. So Wardle took to importing merchandise directly and he established relationships with suppliers interstate to make his purchases. Tom the Cheap became a highly profitable business enterprise in WA and by 1959 fifteen stores were in operation. In 1962 Tom Wardle expanded his chain of stores into South Australia. He eventually established more than 200 stores in four states.

 

Tom-the-Cheap sign

 It was easy to spot a Tom the Cheap supermarket when you saw this road sign.  Photo:  https://australianfoodtimeline.com.au/tom-the-cheap/

 

Tom Wardle cleverly exploited his notoriety with suppliers and other retailers. Australians love a rebel. Wardle advertised his Tom character as a convict in prison garb, ‘the bad boy’ of grocery shopping who was “Australia’s greatest price-cutter”. Wardle also courted publicity. He openly criticised his competitors, accusing them of greed and fleecing the public. It is reported that when Wardle opened one of his stores he employed the services of marching girls, a jazz band, and a belly dancer. Prominent footballers and a radio announcer also made an appearance.
(https://australianfoodtimeline.com.au/tom-the-cheap/)

Australia's greatest price cutter

Tom Wardle was probably guilty of some crookery, as he is reputed to have paid low wages to his mainly female staff. His ‘no frills’ approach to shopping was not limited to pricing. Wardle used cheap advertising and he bought up or rented run down, disused buildings (such as this old theatre on  Anzac Highway at Goodwood pictured below) to set up shop, as they were cheap to fit out (https://australianfoodtimeline.com.au/tom-the-cheap/).

 

 

It should be acknowledged that while Tom Wardle became incredibly wealthy, he was also a philanthropist who made sizeable donations to schools, hospitals, sporting bodies, womens’ organisations and the Arts. Tom Wardle even bought his own island (where he later retired) when the West Australian Government sold Dirk Hartog Island in 1968, which is situated near Shark Bay. Tom Wardle was elected Mayor of Perth in 1967. During his life, he was aslo honoured with many important appointments in the service of the public (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Wardle).

 

Supertom.jpg

Supertom, , The Leader Messenger, page 28, 6 January 1982

 

In the 1980s the character of Tom briefly reinvented himself as a superhero who fought against high grocery prices. These advertisements were probably influenced by the popularity of the Superman movie series, starring Christopher Reeve. ‘Supertom’, the caped crusader appeared on television commercials accompanied by a robotic companion, which resembled a round vacuum cleaner with metallic arms. If you can remember the name of Tom’s sidekick, or would like to share your memories of Tom the Cheap, please let us know!

Tom Wardle had been interested in investing in property development since the 1960s. In 1972 he purchased a majority share in Westhaven Securities Limited, a property investment company. Unfortunately in 1977 the company defaulted on a substantial loan used to finance property purchases which triggered the collapse of The Tom the Cheap family companies. The supermarkets went into receivership in mid-1978 and they were forced to close (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Wardle). Tom Wardle died in 1997.
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Way back when, Wednesdays

Suit up Seventies style

Cord suit

At first glance you might think that the clever lady in the photograph has recycled some bathmats and sewn herself a tailored outfit. This is certainly not the case. In the edition dated 14 July 1971, the North East Leader tells us that Mrs June Cooper is in fact, modelling a stylish suit made from jumbo cord. This photograph on page 19 was taken to promote the Witchery Boutique at Tea Tree Plaza. According to the North East Leader, it was a modish outfit that women would have wanted to wear in the early 1970s.

Corduroy fabric has been used in the manufacture of workwear since the 18th century in Britain and Europe. During the 20th century, factories in many other countries started produced clothing made from corduroy, often for the working classes. In the 1970s garments made from corduroy became incredibly popular. They were easy to launder, soft and warm in winter and affordable. Corduroy garments could also be dressed up or down. Both men and women could wear a corduroy suit to the office or wear the jacket or pants separately on weekends.

Corduroy jeans, jackets and skirts are still worn today. In the cooler weather, corduroy always seems to be a popular choice for jeans.

 

corduroy-fall-2017-2

Corduroy on the catwalk in 2017.  Image:  http://corduroy.in/corduroy-news/

 

If you are not familiar with corduroy, it is a durable cotton or cotton blend cloth, which is basically a ridged form of velvet. Corduroy comes in a multitude of colours and it can be plain or printed. Multiple cords are woven into the base fabric to form ridges or wales, which lie parallel to each other in clear lines. Sometimes you can see channels where the bare fabric between the cords is visible. Corduroy fabric with a standard or wide wale (jumbo cord) is used to upholster furniture, such as sofas, or it is made into trousers. Fabric with medium (midwale) narrow, and fine wale (such as pinwale or pincord) is used in the manufacture in garments worn above the waist. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corduroy (http://www.fashionencyclopedia.com/fashion_costume_culture/Modern-World-Part-II-1961-1979/Corduroy.html).

 

Corduroy Fabric

Different wales of corduroy.  Image:  http://market-research-explore-report.blogspot.com/2018/02/world-corduroy-fabric-market-2018.html

 

The 1970s was revolutionary for women as it was the first time in history in which it was acceptable for women to wear what they wanted. Asian women had worn pants under tunics for many years. Now western women seemed to prefer wearing pants to dresses and skirts (https://www.retrowaste.com/1970s/fashion-in-the-1970s/1970s-fashion-for-women-girls/). Women wore pantsuits to the city, and some could wear them to the office. A trendy or elegant pantsuit was just the thing to wear out to dinner. As the 1970s progressed, pants for both men and women became low rise and firmer on the hips. Legs widened out and were sometimes cuffed. Eventually, flares came into fashion (http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/1971fashions.html).

This issue of the North East Leader also featured an extensive sales promotion for the St. Agnes shopping centre. Take a look at this advertisement for Witchery which was printed on page 11 and the funky bohemian image that this brand was trying to sell. In the 1960s and 1970s Witchery opened retail outlets at many suburban locations such as at the St. Agnes and Ingle Farm shopping centres.

Witchery advertisement
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Recipe: winter warmer veggie soup

 

soup 2

I don’t know about you, but this weather makes me crave soup: packed full of flavour and healthy veggies, served hot with a buttery piece of bread or a savoury scone… yum!

The cafe here at the Library, Bake & Brew, were kind enough to give us their recipe to share with you all. Happy soup-making!

Ingredients:

2 Turnips

2 Swedes

1 Pumpkin

2 Zucchini

1 Celery head

4 Carrots

6 Potatoes

Vegetable stock (the amount of stock will be the amount of soup liquid you get)

(This the Bake & Brew suggested veggie combination, but the great thing about soup is that you can chuck so many different ingredients in! Experiment with different veggies if you like)

Note: The veggie amounts in this recipe is for a big serve of soup, if you are cooking for a small group of people, adjust the recipe for less veggies and less stock.

 

Method:

1: Dice all veggies in even sizes.

2: Take pumpkin, swedes, carrots, potato, celery, turnips. In a large saucepan or pot big enough for your soup, saute off in a little butter.

3: Add stock. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender. Add zucchinis in last few minutes.

4: Season with salt and pepper to taste, and top with fresh chopped parsley. Serve with savoury scone or bread with butter if you like.

5: Enjoy!

Soup 1