‘Reminiscing: The smells and sounds of my childhood’

Sep 20, 2019
Hearing an old record or a song from the past reminds Heather of her father. Source: Getty Images

As I get older I seem to spend more and more time reminiscing about the past. What I find interesting is that the memories never change, but they do seem to get clearer.

A song from the past can stir up so many memories of when my dad used to play his records and sing to my mother. I can still recall his voice as he sang ‘You Are My Sunshine’. I would love it when he would sing ‘Danny Boy’.

Although he was born in India, my father’s parents were from Ireland. My grandfather was a small man born with a wry neck — his head was tilted to one side, a birth defect.

I also remember the smell of the Californian Poppy hair oil my father wore. It made his hair black and shiny and it left a mark wherever he sat. I think you can still buy it in selected barber shops around the place, though I’ve not seen a bottle of it in years!

The smell of freshly mown grass wafting through the open windows around my house is another scent that brings back a flood of memories from my childhood.

One thing I would love to hear the sound of is the song of the Currawong bird. As children we called them ‘rainbirds’ because they would begin their warbling and soon after the rains would come. It’s been so long since we’ve had any decent rain and I know our farmers are desperate for it. As children, it was wonderful to hear the pitter patter of raindrops on our tin roof.

My father was an exceptional gardener. Our backyard flourished with the vegetables he would grow and our family was kept well-fed. We had chickens in the hen house and a large rooster who would chase us when we went to collect the eggs.

We also kept an Angora rabbit, some budgerigars and an excitable little fox terrier. I think our dog was quite common for the time and recall many houses in the neighbourhood having one.

For our birthdays, Dad would offer a sixpence to whoever could catch that pup as she raced around the yard. He told us much later, when we were adults, that he would give the dog a drink of beer to get her going and she loved being chased.

Thinking of our fantastic Christmases as a family where we would make our homemade decorations. When I see Christmas decorations in the shops I feel they look so gaudy and false.

When Sunday rolls around, I’ve often found myself thinking about those Sundays we’d put on our best clothes, hats and gloves and march to church. Dad would pass the plate around and I was so proud to see him in his suit looking so handsome.

Our Sunday lunch roast lamb was cheaper than chickens. We only ate chicken at Christmas as a treat. We would also pick a bucket of mulberries and a wonderful pie would fill the house with a tantalising aroma.

My childhood days were times I can reminisce fondly about. I feel my wonderful parents made thinking about those days with happiness possible.

Of course, it doesn’t stop there. My life has changed so much over the years, as I moved through my teen years, became a wife and mother. Now I’m a grandmother … Where have the years gone? I might look a bit different, but those memories are strong and they keep my youth alive.

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Do you look back on your childhood with fondness?

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