Every second Thursday I am thrilled to be part of a 3UA Writing for Pleasure Group. We are led by Margaret Hede an amazingly compassionate and supportive lady. Each fortnight we have a topic, write on it and share in the group. I am amazed at how one topic can take so many different twists. It is a delight hearing how others create their stories. We all love stories.
Today I am sharing the stories of Roma Hines and Marjorie Edwards as they reflect back to a life without technology.
Technology is all around us. Transport and Communication are the BIG ONES.
Let’s start with TRANSPORT.
The year was 1944 and my first year at High School. Living in country NSW, just arriving at High School in Newcastle needed a well -constructed plan. Leave our farmhouse at 6.30 am on my pushbike, ride 2 miles to the main road. Park the bike at a nearby house, catch the school bus to Stockton, catch the ferry to Newcastle side of the Hunter River, catch a bus to Newcastle West, then walk another mile to reach high school before 9 am. Country kids are very adaptable and I accepted this as the norm. But when Winter started, my bike ride was not pleasant. In fact, it was freezing when the Westerlies were blowing a tailwind.
My brother to the rescue. Rabbit trapping being his great hobby – and source of income; he tied a rabbit skin over each handlebar with a nice wide opening for handlebar my hands inside on to the warm fluffy fur. The warmest gloves ever. Then he turned the wretched westerly wind to an advantage. He constructed a little sail out of an old chaff bag, held upright with sticks threaded each side and top of the sail. This was attached to the back of my bike rack. Thus, providing me with protection from the cold wind, at the same time, increasing my speed by a couple of knots.
There was not much finesse with this new technology, but as the only ones to gaze suspiciously at the contraption were the cows, it didn’t matter.
And COMMUNICATION: it’s all about getting the message through. Right? Alexander Bell had no idea what he’d started with his invention of the telephone. In rural areas ‘the party line’ was a huge jump in technology. Also the source of breaking boredom associated with living 5 miles from your nearest neighbour. Our call sign was two long rings and one short. We can be excused for picking up the receiver with our hand carefully covering it, so our breathing wasn’t detected, just in case the call wasn’t really for us. And hanging on long enough to hear the conversation between the other two parties, just to make sure. And anyway, if the call was to say that those Uptons were getting another visit from that drunken sod of a brother, it was only right that we should know so we could warn the other families.
Then there was Market Day. Usually a Friday. The farmers and their wives would down tools and head for the village centre. Stocking up with goods, and all the local gossip. Exchanging ideas on new farm developments over a beer in the local. And the ladies swapping recipes at the CWA tea rooms. Communication of facts gleaned with warmth and good cheer.
And remember Cricket in Bradman’s Day? Dad was cricket mad and a great fan of ‘The Don’. When the Test was on between the Aussies and the Poms, we had a pre-arranged signal. As I was the ‘housekeeper’ while Mum worked in the Packing Shed, I had to listen to the wireless; and when Bradman made his century, I would hang a big white bed sheet on the clothes line, then prop the line up as high as I could, so Dad could see it from the paddock up the farm. So, the message got through!
Communication whose process harmed nobody!
No trolls telling you to ‘self -harm’.
No one falling down the steps whilst thumbs were working the iphones.
And best of all. People looked into each other’s faces and SPOKE.