Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Remember Poem


I was sent the following poem by Byter Leo. I don’t know whether the initial comment is Leo’s or from the person who sent it to Leo, or from the person who sent it to the person who sent it to Leo, or from . . . well, you get what I mean.

Nostalgia items harking back to how good the old days were suffer from selective recall – they don’t remember the bad times, only some of the things that with nostalgic hindsight have been magnified in quality, significance and joy. The ghost of childhood past conveniently forgets polio, racism, domestic violence . . . 

Leo’s poem, in harking back to those days, unintentionally highlights some of those negative aspects.

Following is that poem, with a second copy with commentary, sorta like watching the commentary on on the Special Features on the DVD after having watched the movie.

* * * * * * * *

How true is this. An awful lot of you would not even remember our good times.

THE REMEMBER POEM

I remember the cheese of my childhood 
And the bread that we cut with a knife, 
When the children helped with the housework,
And the men went to work not the wife.

The cheese never needed a fridge,
And the bread was so crusty and hot,
The children were seldom unhappy
And the wife was content with her lot.

I remember the milk from the bottle,
With the yummy cream on the top,
Our dinner came hot from the oven,
And not from the fridge or the shop.

The kids were a lot more contented,
They didn't need money for kicks,
Just a game with their mates on the road,
And sometimes the Saturday flicks.

I remember the shop on the corner,
Where a pennies worth of sweets was sold
Do you think I'm a bit too nostalgic?
Or is it ... I'm just getting old?

I remember the 'loo' was the lav,
And the boogy man came in the night,
It wasn't the least bit funny
Going ‘out back’ with no light.

The interesting items we perused,
From the newspapers cut into squares,
And hung on a peg in the loo,
It took little to keep us amused.

The clothes were boiled in the copper,
With plenty of rich foamy suds
But the ironing seemed never ending
As Mum pressed everyone's 'duds'.

I remember the slap on my backside,
And the taste of soap if I swore
Anorexia and diets weren't heard of
And we hadn't much choice what we wore.

Do you think that bruised our ego?
Or our initiative was destroyed?
We ate what was put on the table
And I think life was better enjoyed!

* * * * * * * *

With commentary:


How true is this. An awful lot of you would not even remember our good times.  
An awful lot of the readers would not be familiar with some of the objects, expressions and events mentioned. It is not so much not remembering as never having experienced.

THE REMEMBER POEM

I remember the cheese of my childhood 
And the bread that we cut with a knife,
Bread came unsliced, delivered by the bread man. One of the great delights was to smell the back of the bread man’s van, when he opened the doors and you smelt the freshly baked loaves, soft insides and crusty outsides. Later in time there was a special bread knife with an adjustable guide to cut the bread. My brothers and I fought over who received the middle part where the loaf pulled apart and left two very soft surfaces.


There wasn’t any pre-sliced bread, that came later, giving rise to the expression “The best thing since sliced bread.” You don’t hear that expression much anymore.
When the children helped with the housework,
Children were seconded into the domestic labour force but that was also the time that there was less homework and less labour saving devices.


My brothers and I mowed the grass with one of these. Mowing was one of our chores.
And the men went to work not the wife.
Not just macho male bullshit, this was also a reflection of divinely ordained roles for men and women. Men went to work and earned the money, women had babies and looked after the house. It was one of my father’s proud boasts that his wife had not had to work a single day since the day that they were married.

The cheese never needed a fridge,
And the bread was so crusty and hot,
The children were seldom unhappy
And the wife was content with her lot.
See comments above. The word “lot”, in the sense of “abundance”, is a bit of a misnomer. The “little woman” was usually confined to the home and was defined by her husband. For many years after I became a lawyer, husband and wife were described in legal documents as “John Smith, of 123 Main Street, Anytown, and Mary Smith of the same address, his wife”

I remember the milk from the bottle,
With the yummy cream on the top,
Just as the breadman delivered the bread, so the “milko” delivered the bottled milk each morning. It was delivered early and it was still cold. Once a week he left a bill and you left his money in a tine. It never went missing.
Our dinner came hot from the oven,
And not from the fridge or the shop.
Progress has resulted in things being quicker, cheaper, more streamlined. But it comes at a price. You want home cooked meals? Then either husband or wife should stay home and spend the time shopping and cooking. Give up on the overseas trips, restaurant meals and the second car if the family is travelling on a single income.

The kids were a lot more contented,
Who says so? By what criteria?
They didn't need money for kicks,
Just a game with their mates on the road,
Suicide ally.

And sometimes the Saturday flicks.
Why look back nostalgically at the Saturday flicks when they have luxury movie theatres, itunes, DVD’s, online films . . .

Remember the shop on the corner,
Where a pennies worth of sweets was sold
Do you think I'm a bit too nostalgic?
Or is it ... I'm just getting old?
A mix of the two

I remember the 'loo' was the lav,
And the boogy man came in the night,
It wasn't the least bit funny
Going ‘out back’ with no light.
The heady delight of the outside dunny, no light so going by moonlight if you went at night, stepping on slugs and snails barefoot. It certainly wasn’t the least bit funny. 


And let’s not forget the spiders, giving rise to a great Oz hit at the time:


For the benefit of OS readers, Redbacks are poisonous Oz spiders that next underneath things: sheets of corrugated iron, piles of bricks, toilet seats. Hence we grew up with the advice: “Always turn it over first to check for Redbacks.”

The interesting items we perused,
From the newspapers cut into squares,
And hung on a peg in the loo,
It took little to keep us amused.
Life may have been basic in those days but we at least never used newspaper squares.

The clothes were boiled in the copper,
The copper was a big copper pot set into a brick surround. It had a fire underneath and was used to wash clothes. We didn’t have one, I can’t remember what we did have, but the neighbours still used one.



With plenty of rich foamy suds
But the ironing seemed never ending
As Mum pressed everyone's 'duds'.
“Duds” was slang for clothing

I remember the slap on my backside,
And the taste of soap if I swore
My mother was the house disciplinarian, which including corporal punishment, but we never had our mouths washed out with soap.
Anorexia and diets weren't heard of
And we hadn't much choice what we wore.
Most of the time we wore very little. We went everywhere barefoot and in the summer went shirtless as kids. All around us was bush and creeks in those days, we played in the bush. Made forts and had wars, fished, made canouse and rafts. In the school holidays there was only one rule: be home by dark. 

Do you think that bruised our ego?
Or our initiative was destroyed?
We ate what was put on the table
And I think life was better enjoyed!
Perhaps, or perhaps it is a selective recalling.

Your views?

* * * * * * * * *



2 comments:

  1. Hi Otto,

    Your nostalgic poem made me feel old because I did not need to read your comments to understand any of the terms. However my mother (now 87) use to proudly boast that my father could not stop her having a career, and she worked for many years.

    Your poem also reminded me of a "dirty ditty" we learnt as children which went something like:

    The night was dark,
    The sky was blue,
    Down the alley the turd wagon flew!
    A bump was hit, a scream was heard,
    A man was killed by a flying turd!
    Upon his tomb was plainly writ:
    This Man Was Killed by Flying Shit!

    (Confession: I had to look this up online to recapture all the words.)

    All the best
    Philip

    ReplyDelete
  2. We shall grow old together, Philip, we shall sit on the porch and reminisce about things remembered from our childhoods long ago . . .

    ReplyDelete