Before Pre-Schools

A story by Beryl Bowden

Before our daughter, Lyndell started school, part of her day consisted of visiting the neighbours in turn. Mrs. Avery, Mrs. Cheers and Mrs. Chadban were the ones most favoured. A game she liked to play with me, also involved visiting.

I would hear a knock on the door. On answering it I’d find Lyndell on the doorstep wearing one of my hats, a pair of my high-heeled shoes, a doll under one arm, a school port under the other and a gigantic smile on her face.

‘Good morning’ she would say “I am Auntie Lil, I’ve come to visit you.” Naturally, she would be invited in. We would then sit at her child-size table and chairs and make conversation. After enquiring about my childrens’ health and remarking on the weather, she would produce a toy tea set from her port and we would enjoy a ‘pretend’ cup of tea. Then having exhausted every avenue of conversation, Aunty Lil would glance at her ‘watch’ and exclaim “good gracious is that the time? I must go.” Hurriedly gathering up her possessions she would then make her departure.

A short time later I’d hear another knock on the door.

“Good morning, I am Auntie Lil ……”

Well, I didn’t want to do the ironing, anyway.

Unlike Lyndell, Anne was more of a homebody. She didn’t go visiting but spent her time playing with Tony. They would sit at their little table and chairs for hours playing school. Anne was always the teacher and Tony the pupil. She and Tony became good mates. Whenever one was in trouble the other always took their part. If things didn’t go right for Anne she would leave home. She’d pack her port and announce her intention to leave. I’d wave her off then hide behind the bedroom curtains to see where she was going. (She never went far.) Anne invariably ended up in a young gum tree, which grew in front of Mrs. Cheers’ house across the street. One day she must have been hungry for I saw Tony handing her up a ripe tomato from their father’s garden… it must have been all the food he could find. Anne never stayed away long and we were always glad to welcome her back to the fold. When she went to school, Tony and I both missed her.

As a little chap, Tony spent most of his time inside the house with me. When Anne and Lyndell started school there were no boys his age to play with. If I was ironing or using the sewing machine he would sit at my feet and play with his fleet of toy Match Box cars. The high point of his day was when he heard Ezzie Maytom’s school bus coming up the hill. Wherever he was and whatever he was doing, he would race out the front and wave like mad as it went past. Ezzie must have watched for him too because he never failed to wave back. Tony was the last of our brood to ‘leave home’ for the enriching educational experience that was Mrs Nev’s kindergarten class room. I missed him terribly and found it so hard to adjust to an empty house that, to compensate, I spent a good deal of time drinking copious cups of tea and eating numerous packets of sao biscuits!

Great days, happy days, the best of times… cherish them always.

Family portrait

‘My precious children Anne, Lyndell and Tony’

7 Comments on “Before Pre-Schools”

  1. Leigh Vaughan August 14, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    Always love to read your stories Beryl. Stirred up some memories for me as well!

  2. maree cardiff August 14, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    love your stories. keep them coming

  3. Pauline Ibbetson August 14, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    Nothing wrong with the trusty old Singer treadle sewing machine Anne. I started making dolly’s clothes on my mums from 6 years old and taught all my children (boys and girls) to use it from around the same age. They loved using the treadle.
    My favourite first pattern was to place a plate on the fabric, draw a line around the plate and another one in the middle around an eggcup and adjusted to fit dolly’s waist, cut around the lines, machine edge with a pretty trim, put a popper at the waist and bingo – a circular skirt! I soon progressed to full dresses, trousers etc. and made everyone’s outfits until I moved to Australia 32 years ago!

  4. Tony Bowden August 14, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    What a fine looking bunch…particularly the one on the right! (lol)
    Greetings from K.L. mum.

  5. Anne Frost August 14, 2014 at 8:56 am #

    And I suppose all three immaculate outfits were made by you on your trusty black Singer sewing machine?

    • Beryl Bowden August 14, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

      An improvement on the fashionable facial fuzz .Lol. See you soon Mum

    • Beryl Bowden August 14, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

      Yes Anne. No hand me downs for you three! My old singer treadle did good service. Lol. Mum

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