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The Stroud Community Web is an online news and information source for Stroud and surrounding communities. An initiative and ongoing project of Stroud Lions Club.

Roles Defined

A story by Beryl Bowden

Yesterday, as I watched my grandson bathing his baby, I thought how things have changed since I was reared in the 1920’s 30’s and 40’s. The roles of male and female were clearly defined then. The men went out to work and the women tended the house and the children. If the family was at church or a public function and the baby cried, it was the mother who took the child outside to quieten it. Recently, at a christening, I observed a young father leaving the church with his screaming infant.

In many ways it was a man’s world. Even though there was very little money most men had a suit, white shirt, overcoat, hat and black shoes; which they wore for church and funerals. On the other hand, women never had a bought dress. They made their own and their children’s clothes from remnants of material purchased from a Sydney catalogue.

Despite the money shortage many men were smokers and most Saturday afternoons they went to the hotel for a beer or played in the local cricket team. The nearest the women came to sport was to launder the men’s cricket gear or to applaud their performance on the field. The only time a woman socialised was when she went to church, attended a meeting, visited a neighbour or watched a cricket or football match.

The same inequality applied to the children. The girls were expected to help with the housework while the boys roamed the countryside at will. This did not apply to boys who lived on a farm. They milked the cows before going to school and then had to hurry home to do the milking again in the afternoon.

Every town had a midwife who delivered the babies in the home. A doctor was only called in an emergency. My siblings and myself were all born at home. The midwife Mrs. Scudds, lived next door so was readily available to assist when Mum’s six babies arrived.

My three children were born in hospital. When the birth was imminent I was taken by ambulance to hospital. On each occasion my husband Lloyd was at work. He was informed by phone when the baby was born. By the time he visited me I was sitting up in bed with make-up on, wearing my prettiest bed jacket, and the baby sleeping soundly beside me. His generation had no idea what ’having a baby’ was like. Now-a-days most husbands are present at the birth. Famous sportsmen are even prepared to fore-go important career opportunities, rather than miss the birth of their children.

Another social change is the attitude to women and alcohol. The advent of clubs has made it permissible for women to accompany their husbands to drink alcohol in public. Formerly, the presence of a woman in an hotel was very much frowned on. It was not until the European influence of serving wine with meals was adopted that Australian women had ever tasted alcohol in any form. Nowadays, alcohol is readily accepted… one can add a cask of wine to the weekly shopping list at the supermarket without an eyebrow being raised.

To find an example of defining roles, I need look no further than my own relationship with my husband.

When Lloyd died in 2011…he had never written a cheque …and I had never put water in the car.

And we managed very nicely for 60 years!


2 Comments on “Roles Defined”

  1. Beryl Bowden March 9, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

    Nice to hear from you Diana and pleased you like my stories.

  2. diana torracne (nee webster) March 7, 2015 at 11:56 pm #

    Hi Mrs Bowden that was a great story I do love reading your stories about your life in Stroud. I love growing up in Stroud

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