28 June 2010

Attitude of gratitude # 11

My car is in pieces in the garage (again) and I'm feeling a little too 'home bound' at the moment.  It won't be long before my man has it all together again, but it did bring home to me how much we take some things for granted. 

We get into the car, turn the key in the ignition and we're off.  Simple.  It wasn't always like that...

There was a time when only wealthy people had cars and then usually only one per family.  People did almost everything 'locally'. 

My parents both worked, which was rare in those days and they owned a car which my father 'kept on the road'. When I was a little girl my (overly generous) young mother gave away my dad's car.  Seriously.  One of the girls she worked with had a husband who was paralysed in a parachuting accident and they were house bound.  My mother organised driving lessons for the girl and then gave her our car. How else was she to get her kids and her husband around? My dad was not thrilled!  That's putting it mildly. 

The next two years were strained.  My parents caught the bus to work and back.  We walked to the shops and school.  We walked everywhere, or caught the bus into town.  Our milk, juice, eggs, butter, vegetables and meat were delivered once a week by a 'boy' on a bicycle with a big wicker basket up front.  The rest we bought from the local stores 'piece meal'. We had to be able to carry it home and we didn't live that close to the shops. Relatives came to visit us.  We couldn't 'go out' anymore.

The one thing that we truly missed was our weekly family outing to the local drive-in. Yes, we could have walked but we were still quite small and always fell asleep while we were there.  My dad couldn't quite manage carrying two sleeping logs home. I think we tried it once.

My mother's generosity of spirit was rewarded though.  The lady who cooked and cleaned for us, also slept on the premises.  She looked after us during the day too. (Without her my mother couldn't have worked.  There were no day care centres in those days.) We called her our 'nanny' and her husband (his name was Joel) wasn't allowed to sleep on the premises.  It was against the law and my mother could have got into a lot of trouble for allowing him to sleep there every night.

I can remember nights when the dogs would start barking like crazy and we'd know the police were coming around to do 'pass' checks.  If your maid didn't have the right 'pass' she was taken away in their big van and you were fined.  Worse still, if your maid had a 'boy' sleeping in her room you were in really big trouble! So, my mother would open the back door and let Joel into the house and under their big double bed where he'd remain until the dogs were quiet again.  What days those were!

Joel was a good husband and father.  He worked at the brickworks across the road from our house and saved every penny he could. He wanted a car so he could start a business of his own.  Francina, our nanny got my mother to help her buy a sewing machine and made clothes which she sold to her friends.   

Eventually, Joel had enough money to buy a second hand car.  It was fabulous!  He didn't have anywhere safe to keep it and we had an empty garage...  he also knew how much we loved going to the drive in.  So, we were allowed to borrow his car every now and again when we had the money for petrol and the entry fee to the drive in. Wasn't that lovely?

This story doesn't end there, we did eventually save enough to buy another car... and one bright day, my mother's boss gave her the keys to a brand new Alfa!  It was white and had red leather seats.  I will never forget it. Not only was my mother a well paid, working woman, she was also the first person in our circle of acquaintance to have a 'business car'.  Go mom!  

April Blackbird


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