Way back when, Wednesdays

Special times at the Show

What are your special memories of the Royal Adelaide Show? One of our staff members at the Library was reminiscing about the Show. She mused about how she always loved the fairy dolls on sticks that you could buy there. She proudly displayed her doll in her bedroom.  On the front page of the edition dated 12 September 1973, the North East Leader pictured Anne Marie McArthur from Ridgehaven holding a fairy doll at the Show. Lots of little girls would have been envious. Their mothers also loved these dolls!

Fairy doll

The fairies on sticks were actually Kewpie dolls. They came in various sizes and the large ones were more ornate. These dolls had glitter painted on their heads and they were dressed in pretty colours, amid several layers of net skirt. The doll was fixed to a piece of cane shaped like a shepherd’s crook, so you could hold it easily and then hang it up at home.

70s girl at the Royal Adelaide Show

“In the 1970s and 1980s plastic showbags promoting snacks and lollies competed with showbags for rock groups, celebrities, television programmes and movies” http://www.nma.gov.au/kspace/teachers/adelaide/learning/showbags

 

Today Adelaide hosts a myriad of activities for children but in 1973 when your parents took you to the Royal Adelaide Show it really was a special experience. Families were larger so you were fortunate if you could afford to go every year. Children would save up their pocket money for months in advance, in anticipation of purchasing lots of showbags. With the school year having three terms, the Show also fell during the September school holidays.

Some older people might even remember the days when companies gave out free sample bags at the Show to promote their products, which contained mainly food samples. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-31/six-things-you-should-know-about-the-royal-adelaide-show/8859878 This would have been a boon for poorer kids, especially during the hardship of the Great Depression. These bags were the forerunners of our modern showbags.

Some things have remained the same at the Show. It is still primarily an agricultural event. The price, contents and design of showbags have changed over time but there are still so many to choose from. The ferris wheel and dodgem cars have been refitted and showgoers can play games such as the iconic laughing clowns. However on the map of the Wayville showgrounds Sideshow Alley is now called the Carnival. Patrons can purchase many new types of food are now available at the Showground but you can still enjoy Fairy Floss, waffles, hot cinnamon donuts and even the Dagwood dog.

Some things have gone. The art-deco edifice Centennial Hall was built in 1936 and closed in 2005 because it became structurally unsafe. It has been replaced by the modern Goyder Pavilion. I think that the horticultural displays have downsized but there are still competitions for needlecraft and cookery.

The Mad Mouse, which was the original roller coaster at the Royal Adelaide Show, ceased operation in 2007 and Kewpie fairy dolls have been replaced by toys depicting characters from film and television. The days are over where the Commonwealth Bank used to produce plastic elephant money boxes with the slogan “Get with the strength”. You could also get an iron-on transfer of Humphrey B. Bear for your t-shirt in a showbag from the Savings Bank of South Australia. I used to get excited about visiting the RSPCA shop in the Grandstand complex to build up my collection of Britains brand farm animals. And everyone knew that it was worth getting the Golden Eggs showbag from the egg board – not only for the recipes but because inside the bag you would find a cute molded plastic eggcup with shoes and stockings on its legs.

Eggcups final

Eggs with legs

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Way back when, Wednesdays

With strings attached

On page 13 of the edition dated 20 March 1974, the North East Leader Messenger featured a promotion for Ann’s Hobby Shop. Ann’s Hobby Shop used to be situated at the Clovercrest Shopping Centre on Montague Road, Modbury. Ann’s sold craft materials as well as completed projects, such as the work of string art held by Ann Barratt, who is pictured in the photograph.

Hobby gear

During the 1960s, kits and books appeared on the market to help you create string art. It was still a popular pastime for both adults and children in the 1970s. String art was cheap and fun to do.  Basically, you wrap coloured thread, embroidery cotton or wire around a grid of pins or nails in a geometric pattern, to make a picture.   More complex designs feature multiple curves and intersecting circles to produce a kaleidoscopic effect. You can also build up your layers using different colour threads, which is an effective way to draw in the eye of the viewer to your design.

String art has a mathematical origin. At the end of the 19th century, intrepid teacher Mary Everest Boole invented ‘curve stitching’ or string geometry to help get children interested in mathematics, a subject that she loved. Typically designs are modelled on the ‘Bezier’ curve, as the straight lines of strings positioned at slightly different angles intersect. Spirelli stitching, which is another form of string art, is used to decorate cards and other paper crafts.

Today, there is a resurgence of interest in vintage crafts. There are websites devoted to string art design and instruction. Crafters have created a multitude of traditional and new innovative designs and have posted their ideas on Pinterest and YouTube. You can still purchase books and kits or download patterns online.

String art designs

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Way back when, Wednesdays

Retro style at Myer

Did you used to enjoy eating at the restaurant in the Myer store at Tea Tree Plaza, Modbury? On page 22 of the edition dated 15 August 1973, the Leader Messenger promoted the Myer Restaurant in its regular feature Tea Tree Plaza News.

Myer restaurant

The Myer Restaurant was situated on Level 3 of Myer, in the area that is now Ladies Fashion. It offered patrons panoramic views of the Adelaide Hills from a large, rounded rectangular window. You can still see where the restaurant was located if you drive down Smart Road towards Reservoir Road and look for the window above the entrance to level 2 of the store, that faces the car park.

The Myer restaurant was self-service. Self-service was very much in vogue at the time. A customer at the Myer restaurant would line up, take a tray and push it along the guided rails as they proceeded along the servery and selected their meals, paying for their purchases when they reached the cash register.

The advertisement pictured says that the Myer Restaurant would appeal to families but it was a comfortable place for anybody to sit and relax during their time browsing the store. Dining there would transform your shopping trip into a special outing.

You could choose from a range of reasonably priced meals and beverages, including hot food, sandwiches and treats like cakes and colourful jellies. Part of the appeal was looking at the presentation of all of the different foods and choosing what you wanted. The décor was very fashionable for the time, with funky chairs and tables and burnt orange tiles on the walls.

My personal recollection of the Myer Restaurant in the 1990s is enjoying the huge square-cut scones, topped with jam and fresh cream and accompanied by a big mug of hot coffee on an icy winter’s morning. What are some of your memories of dining there?

Myer renovated the restaurant in the years preceding its closure and it introduced table service, which was what customers expected in more modern times.

Some readers might also remember that when the restaurant closed in approximately 2005, Myer donated several large photographic prints depicting our local history to the City of Tea Tree Gully Library. If you know when the Myer Restaurant ceased trading, please let us know.

Everything old is new again. Nowadays we have the IKEA restaurant which is also self-service and offers a range of interesting cuisine, cakes and on occasion that 70’s favourite, chocolate mousse. If it was still in operation, we might view the Myer restaurant as being retro and hip!

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