Once There Was A Time: A Birth And Two Deaths
The cover of The Government of Western Australia’s, Department of Public Health’s, Leaflet No. 18, Nurse’s Advice To Mothers; features a small design of
mirrored triangles, separated by two lines. The triangles are formed of line drawn flowers, like a William Morris pattern. My Mother took me to the local health clinic for examinations, there she was provided with the booklet. My weight was noted in the baby record and the clinic nurse wrote instructions and recipes and
suggestions of medicines like, Atkinson’s Corrective Cordial. The booklet advised Mothers;
DON’T let him be kissed, particularly on the mouth the risk of infection is too great.
DON’T praise Baby so that he can hear, because he can understand before he can speak.
DON’T over stimulate his brain by dangling objects in front of him or forcing smiles.
DON’T dawdle over undressing or bathing him.
My Mother gave birth to me in Victoria Park, a suburb of Perth, the capital city of Western Australia, on September the 4th, 1950. When I was a child, bread was
delivered by horse and cart, milk was ladled into billycans left overnight on front steps and porches, food was kept fresh in ice chests and backyard chooks
provided eggs and Christmas dinner. My Mother gave up a career as a fabric
designer to become a housewife. It was rare for married women to work in those days. My Father was a sheet metal factory worker. In the 60s my Father moved from the workshop into sales where he made more money and he stayed with the same firm until he retired. Mum died the 3rd of June 2003 and Dad died 4 days later. After Mum’s death we learnt she had been adopted.
Occasionally my Mother would take me into Town. She would dress me in my best clothes and we would catch the bus from our Kensington, suburban home to the Town’s centre, St Georges Terrace; a street lined with British Colonial and
Provincial American styled architecture. After my Mother paid bills, did her shopping and collected my Brother’s and Sister’s comics, The Phantom, a Disney comic, the British children’s magazine Lion, we would have lunch at the Coles’ or Boans’ cafeteria. A meat pie and mashed potato swimming in gravy. I remember the wrought iron staircases of the department stores, the elevators with their uniformed operators and the sucking sound of the Lamson pneumatic tubes shooting canisters of till receipts and cheques from floor to floor. Through a child’s eyes, our Town of the 1950s was a remarkable place. Although, as I grew older, I realised that what was most remarkable about our Town was that it was one of the most isolated cities in the world. To return home, we would wait for the Metro bus at the busy stop in front of the Treasury building with it’s dusty afternoon light and traffic fumes and leave before the wolves arrived.