Letter from Mary McKinlay

almost 2 years ago

I am a 6th generation Tasmanian and was brought up at Newlands Avenue, Lenah Valley in the 40’s and 50’s.

Connolly’s the Grocer used to come to the house for the grocery order on Tuesdays and deliver groceries on Thursdays. Rabbit man used to come around on a horse and cart. Rabbits were 6d each or 1/- pairs. Dickie baker the milkman used to bring the milk each morning and pour into our container.

All the children in the street used to play together on the road as there were very few cars around. Hopscotch, riding bikes – all very amicable. We made our own fun together.

During the war years we had blackout blinds as lights in houses were not allowed at night.

We had coupon books which our mothers would swap with friends.

Only a few of us had a refrigerator at first but gradually the whole street procured one. The same with washing machines. At first we had a copper that we lit a wood fire underneath which boiled the clothes, swirling around the washing with a wooden fat stick.  We then wrung out the clothes with a hand wringer before hanging them on the line.

All the mothers in Newlands and Doyle avenue used to get together regularly for morning and afternoon teas and the children would join in after school finished. Wonderful spread of food. Everyone helped everyone else in times of need or fed cats and dogs when someone was away on holiday.

It was an idyllic childhood in Lenah Valley. Blackberries near the Lady Franklin Museum and the creek. Making blackberry jam and pies which were delicious.

We took Food for Britain to school where it was packed and sent to the UK – eggs preserved in dripping, condensed milk and tinned fruit.

Trams finished in Giblin Street in those days. Penny tram ride from the GPO both ways to school. Buying liquorice straps at Connolly’s the Grocer and hitting each other with them before eating them! Bullseyes were very popular too.

No television so we listened to radio programmes each evening which we enjoyed – Life with Dexter, The Golden Boomerang etc. No talking allowed during the 7pm news whilst the war was on. We all thought that once the war was over there would be no more news!! Little did we know!

Forgot Empire night (now Commonwealth Day) on 24th May. We had a big communal bonfire on the spare block on the corner of Newlands and Doyle Avenue with a guy on top. Everyone contributed for weeks and it was huge. All brought fireworks – a wonderful evening and potatoes were roasted in the ashes afterwards.