I grew up in Narraweena in New South Wales. The photos are from about 1956, though for me it feels like just yesterday when I look at them.
The dining room table had drawers underneath in which the cutlery — separate sets for special occasions and the every day — were kept in canteens. A regular job for me and my siblings was to take the cutlery out of the drawers and polish it with Silvo.
Our family would always sit at the table together and eat our meals. We would be there on time too. In fact, bad manners of any kind meant we would be sent to our room immediately, where we would stay until our parents would allow us to come back out. We weren’t allowed a glass of water or a helping of dessert until everything on our plate had been eaten. This prevented us from washing down the food we didn’t like after a couple of chews.
I never went to sleep hungry though. Mum would sneak food into my room when Dad wasn’t paying attention.
I’d love to have a bob for every time I heard: ‘Elbows off the table’; ‘Close your mouth while you’re eating’; ‘Don’t gormandise your food’ (that was Dad’s favourite); ‘Don’t stuff your mouth’; ‘Chew your food, don’t gulp it down’; or ‘Eat it all, there are hundreds of starving children in the world who would be grateful for the food made by your mother that you’re turning your nose up at’. The kids today would probably say that we could wrap it up and send it to them.
We weren’t allowed to leave the table until we had eaten our meal. It was our job — mine and my siblings’ — to clear the table after dinner. It might sound a bit repressive by today’s standards, but it instilled in us manners.
Manners are something that seem to be lacking today. On the occasions I have eaten out I notice very few people push their chairs in after vacating them. They just get up and go. People today also seem to struggle to either take their rubbish with them, or put it in the nearest bin. The world was certainly a tidier place when I was growing up.
Our family lounge room was always immaculate. It was kept in such perfect condition just in case we had unexpected guests call to the house. It may well have been the Queen of England one day, who knows!
Dad would operate the television remotely, in the days long before remote controls were around. He did this with voice command.
“Son, go and turn to Channel 7, slowly,” he’d say.
“Could you adjust the vertical/horizontal hold?”
I remember Dad would also play around with the test pattern before the transmission started, so that things would be ‘just right’.
Oh yes, these were some good old days. Yet, I wonder if the youth of today will look back on the current day with the same fondness?