What a journey, 1974 to 2024…

Jan 09, 2024
Source: Getty Images.

Where, in the name of the heavens, have all those years gone since finishing High School in 1973 and beginning my work journey in 1974.

I completed my junior year in 1973, doing quite well, even if I say so myself. The grading system was numeric, with a 7 being the highest mark one could achieve, I did achieve a few of those 7’s. Why, I still ask myself, did I not want to go on to complete senior? Well, a number of factors came into play.

Having two younger brothers who were doted on by my parents and the realisation of girls completing further education was not as important as it is now, I was never encouraged to take my education further, by my parents or peers.

The excitement of having one’s own money, being able to buy the latest fashionable clothing item instead of making it yourself (or hand me downs from cousins, not quite the same size or build as me) the fashionable platform shoes and the ultimate goal…A CAR!

While still at school, I did have a few after-school or Saturday morning jobs. The first as a tea and tidy for a hairdresser at 13. My role on a Saturday morning, involved, firstly not saying a word (unless asked a question or asking if the water was the right temperature when rinsing a client’s hair) placing a black towel then a black cape around the neck of the client. They then sat patiently, while they waited their turn with the hairdresser, who would perform her accomplished art of styling hair.

Trims, style cuts, curlers placed in a precise manner, and quite a while sitting under the massive hairdryer on wheels. They talked and gossiped rather loudly or flicked through the latest edition of The Australian Womans Weekly magazine. Oh yes, the ‘up dos’ which involved a copious amount of teasing and bobby pins…. were they charge extra for 20-30 bobby pins?

My entrusted tasks were few but were important , sweep up the cut hair from the floor, rinse perming solution from clients permed hair (that was a smell one will never forget) The ladies were perched on chairs with their necks stretched to a sink behind them, I would very carefully extract a variety of hair rollers that were fastened by a rubber band and the perm papers from the ladies hair, they themselves perched on chairs with their necks stretched to a sink behind them, and the one time I was allowed to ask a question was spoken “ Is the temperature alright?”

My second position of note, was in a fashionable ladies clothing store called Cassells. I stood in a corner of the store, until I was required to enter the change rooms and remove clothing items left behind, on the hooks, by the women who had tried them on. I would firstly make sure they were rehung correctly, zippers zipped and buttons closed, and then place the item of clothing back on the appropriate rack, two finger spacings apart, and hanging all in the same direction. This store was located in one of the very first, large shopping centres (for its day) in the Brisbane suburb of Indooroopilly.

A lovely neighbour, who lived across the street from us in Paddington, very kindly procured me this position, and would take me with her on a Saturday morning.

She was always very well dressed, makeup immaculate, drove a VW and had Siamese cats. We called her Aunty Eunice, not an Aunty of course, but this was a term she insisted we use, having no children of her own. I loved visiting her, she would sometimes ask me over for morning or afternoon tea, the table laid out just so, a lace table cloth covering a little round table, with fine China tea cups and saucers, white bread sandwiches with the crusts removed, and small cupcakes with pink icing.

Aunty Eunice also taught me how to sew on her treadle sewing machine. This started my love/lust for fashionable clothing. I saved up my wages to buy a machine of my own, a Singer, from a second-hand store in Paddington. The very first blouse I made from a pattern was sleeveless, with a scalloped hem and a button back, in a lemon floral material. My sewing prowess progressed to skirts of all lengths, shirts, trousers, hot pants and blazers.

In 1974 I did enter the full-time workforce, at the ripe old age of 15. My first full time job was not my last, it took a few false starts to find a workplace offering a role that I felt comfortable in.

Years have flown by, learning life’s lessons, relationships, then marriage and a family who now have family of their own.

Bring on the future! Oh, the changes we baby boomers have experienced over the years, how these things have influenced our lives. Now the new challenges I look forward to conquering, and I hope you do too!

Happy 2024.

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