Sunday, March 16

Memeory Lane.

Thought I would do a nostalgia post this morning. I was reading around the blogs & read a post at 'Days Go By' that swept me right back to my childhood.

Though my experiences would have been almost 6o years ago, I could still see & hear the excitement & the playing out of those activities. I remember the gangs of boys, the 'goodies & the baddies'. The almost hysterical pent up excitement & the thrill of a boy asking you to dance. Sometimes I am not sure if a good memory is a curse or a blessing.

When we were at school, there would be a dance, or party at the end of the year. We would dress up, in costumes, 'fancy dress' as we called it. Mostly our mothers made the costumes, or some of them were hired I suppose. It was so exciting, waiting while the costume got made, but the fittings were hated, as I inevitably got stuck with pins, somewhere among the folds. "Stand still!" "Don't grizzle!" "Do you want this or not?"

My mother was talented with sewing, & she made all my clothes when I was young. The costumes for these end of year dances/parties were usually made of crepe paper, which was cheap & could be sewn & evolve into wonderful creations. I tried to find some photos on the internet but couldnt. I seem to remember once being dressed as a daffodil. I think flowers were quite a popular costume choice, & the crepe paper skirts would be stitched together with perhaps a cheap taffeta lining for a bodice.

The parties would be held in a hall, which I think from memory was the local picture theatre with the seats all taken down. I remember the heat & the horrible sickly food, & the nasty bright coloured soft drinks. To me they didn't taste nice at all. I remember seeing one boy being spectacularly sick, all down the front of his fancy dress & the little girl standing next to him. The colours in the crepe paper ran hideously when wet, & so there was this giant stinking multicoloured mess to be dealt with by some hapless mother & teachers.

Of course the smell of vomit mingled with the excitement & hot air, prompted further vomitting for other children, & the evening ended most unpleasantly.

Another year, my mother dedided that all the skill & energy she put into these costumes was rather wasted for one night's doubtful fun. She decided to make my costume as Miss Muffet. She made me a lovely new frock, & then she made an apron with a huge spider on the skirt, & a Miss Muffet Cap. It was a great success, & she used sequins on the spider's body to make it shine. I copied her idea when it was my daughter's turn to have a fancy dress occasion at school, but I don't think my spider held a candle to the one my mother had made.

I dont seem to have any photos of any of my costumes, from when I was young. My brother was the Toy Man once, & our mother made his lovely costume, complete with top hat. He does have a photo of that somewhere, but I dont seem to have a copy.

This is an old photo of our son & daughter dressed for a book character at school. Son was Badjelly the Witch, & Daughter was Miss Muffet.

I remember my mother hated going to those parties. She was always such a private person, & she would stand or sit alone, & was never one to chat in idle gossip. Small talk drove her silly, & prying made her very uncomfortable.

I was more of a 'joiner', seemed to know a lot more people at my children's schools, & I would attend quite happily. I did tend to keep to myself, not liking gossip, either, but I did know some of the parents, & got along well enough to spend time talking. I watch my daughter now, & she is just like my mother. She hates the clutch of mothers all chattering nonsense, & she can't be bothered with gossip or small talk. We used to go together to her daughter's events. Now she takes her daughter to her son's if she can, or his father, if he is not working.

Small Grandson has had a spate of Birthday parties to attend, & our Daughter just hates them. A whole bunch of screaming kids is not her idea of fun... nor mine! As she says, they go so far overboard, with gifts & more gifts for the attendees, & lollies galore. Small Granson is not really fussed. He would probably be just as happy not going.

My trip into the past included memories of old books, which I still have. My Christmas was not complete unless I got books, it was all I desired. These are from various years. The Surprise Doll was a gift from my father. How I loved & treasured that book! It was about a little girl whose father went to 'sea'. From each country he visited, he brought her home a special doll. I used to wish I was that little girl, & wish I had all those dolls.

I often wrote the year in the book, so I know some of them were around 1954, 55. Of course the Enid Blyton books were endlessly exciting. Famous Five, & Secret Seven. I see an Aunt gave me Bright Island in 1955.

If I ever get through my To Be Read pile of books, I would like to read some of these old ones again. My Granddaughter had some fun reading some of them. She loved Scoring for the School. I thought she would find it too old fashioned!

Connie Francis, Among My Souvinirs.


daysgoby said...


I never thought of crepe paper...hmm...

This may be the answer to my annual Hallow'een woes!

And I love the old books.

What great memories you have!

bluemountainsmary said...

The books are wonderful.

And I think you must have been quite talented yourself at sewing judging by the costumes on your own children.

Gina E. said...

Hi Meggie, I have been browsing through Isabelle's list of blog friends, and stopped to read your blog. This post about kids' parties brought back vivid memories of one I went to as a child, where the kid next to me was sick, and as you described, with nasty food and a hot day, a chain reaction set in...eewww!!!

Mike said...

I just love going down memory lane and that is one of the most fun things about blogs. We finally have a place to put down these fond old memories.

Great post Meggie.

Granny J said...

But, oh Meggie -- where are the OZ books? I don't recall how many times I read them over the years!

meggie said...

Hi Memories of our childhoods will always fascinate I think.

I was so delighted to read your post Jess, it gave me the memories.
Crepe paper comes in such great colours, & is really quite strong for a one-off occasion.

Mary, My son designed the owl, cat, & bat on that old dress, & I made them out of felt. I had a lot of fun making the hat! He wore a rubber mask, which I hated!

Nice to meet you Gina e.

Granny, I didn't grow up in OZ, & dont remember having any Oz books when I was young, in spite of my Australian Grandfather.

Tanya said...

No such fun for Japanese kids and mothers those costumes to make and wear. Nor dances for the teenagers either for that matter.

I recognized Alice and Gulliver. I might have had those very same books. The covers look familiar (though I think the illustrations from Alice are Mr. Carroll's.)

smilnsigh said...

Crepe paper!!! Do they still make it? Does anyone else, but you and me, still remember it?

Remember how you "could" make ruffles on the edge, if you "squiggled" it right with your fingers? Nahh, I don't think I was that good a "squiggler." ,-)


Q said...

Dear Meggie,
Thank you for sharing your childhood memories. I enjoyed reading about your end of year parties.
Love your old books too.
I once collected children's books.
I enjoy reading them too.

Lucy said...

Crepe paper still seems to be a primary school staple here!
My sister who lives in Northland NZ makes her liveing from making and hiring fancy dress costumes, has a shop full of wonders. She always loved making things and has never been so happy. It seems to be quite abig thing for adults and children alike there.
I feel for your daughter; one of the reasons I fell quite relieved I never became a mother was the certainty that I wouldn't be able to stand noisy kids' parties and the school gate gossip. I see my friends who seem to love all that and I think it's just as well for their children, but I'm glad I don't have to do it!

Bren said...

Memory lane was fun!! The books are wonderful and that you have kept them is a gift for your grands. That new grand nephew is GORGEOUS!!!

Kitty said...

That's a lovely post Meggie - such evocative memories. I'd never thought of stitching crepe paper before - I know where I can get some, so might try that!

I find I cope with the 'school gate social life' by just switching into a sort of 'detached' mode, otherwise it'd drive me nuts!

Oh and on the subject of the Famous Five - if you click on the link in my sidebar to the blogger named Bertie - you'll find he's written some fabulous modern versions of Famous Five stories!


Anonymous said...

I still have all my old Famous Five books and my children have read them and I hope my grandchildren will one day. The old versions of Enid Blyton books are so much nicer - wonderful pictures and the names haven't been tinkered with - who needs Fanny changing to Franny?

Children's birthday parties are awful. I loathe them. I never stay at them. If my children want to go it is on the understanding that they stay on their own. It always amazes me that parents stay (just to gossip I guess and nibble the snacks) even when their children are 7 or 8.

I have never found the school gates a problem - but that is probably because I am invariably late!!!

Linds said...

I was the ultimate book worm too as a child. I would have been happy if i had only been given gifts of books, and my collection was vast. In fact today it is just the same....books...I can't read enough!

Anonymous said...

Hi Meggie,
I loved reading about your end of year parties and your books. I also loved The Famous Five and Secret Seven. I used to get books for my birthday every year. I was usually in bed with tonsillitis on my birthday, so a book was great for me. In those days we were made to stay in bed if we were sick and that could be anything up to 2 weeks.
Also love the new header. My snowman is still hanging on. He just won't go away. LOL
Cheers for now,

leslie said...

Gosh, I'm busy for a few days and come back to see a slew of posts by you! First off, congratulations on the new little man in your life. Is that your daughter? She looks very happy.

You took me back to my childhood here, but we didn't have that sort of celebration at the end of our school years. Must be an Aussie thing. But we dressed up for Halloween and had parties for it along with Valentines, Christmas, and Easter parties.

Those old books are something else! I don't have any left but every Christmas we'd receive at least 2 books each. Bobbsey Twins, then moved up to Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and "real" novels deemed appropriate. When I was 14, I remember reading "Peyton Place" secretly because I'd heard my mother mention it wasn't "appropriate" for teens. It would seem very tame by today's standards!

It was fun reading this and I hope you're staying cool in that heat. Of course, I'm DYING for some heat, but it'll soon come and I'll be dying for some cool. lol

Sheila said...

I vaguely recall school class parties at end of term and at Christmas, but no details.
Except for one, when I was made to wear a very expensive, but hideous dress that had been handed down to me.
My best memories are of the books, and Enid blyton was a favourite, starting with Noddy when I was very young and later the Famous Five, I adored them. I have loved mystery stories all my life and I think she started it for me..

Emma said...

Your daughter and I have a lot in common!

The Sagittarian said...

I'm not a great one for hanging out with the Mum's at the gate either - mainly due to working full time I seem to be on the "drop and run" end of school!! I also write the dates in books when I get them/got them. My mum has a book that was her morhters. It has 1908 written in it, makes it at least 100 years old!! And it is in very good nick, very thick cardboard-like pages mind you!!

Marja said...

Oh how cute. I loved to dress up when I was young. We had carnaval in Holland were everybody old and yong wa dressed up. My mother was the same as yours and I loved to go out but equally had the same problems with chatting gossiping mums. My daughter can't handle it at all.
How interesting what I find out about you. We have more in common than we realise.

BBC said...

I loved some of my childhood, the hard times when I lived with my grandmother. Not so much at all after I moved back in with my richer parents.

Money isn't everything, it is just an energy that flows around.

Never mind, but my world doesn't revolve around money, I leave that to the greedy.

Valerie said...

I loved the picture and the old books. Thanks for my visit to your blog. I enjoyed it.

Christine Thresh said...

Your Miss Muffet is so cute. I bet you were too.

Once I can get to the bookshelves again I will pull out my childhood favorites. That's a good idea for a blog post.

Anonymous said...

Hi Meggie! What a beautiful post! You are so very lucky to have such nice memories. I too sound alot like your daughter. I drop off and collect my 3 kids with the 3yo in toe and consider it a good day when I don't get cornered. But I have to disagree about the parties ... mind you I never say on at other parties but I do tend to go 'overboard' with my kids parties and they love it - talking about it for months afterwards & the excitement starts building months before the next one with plans and making things. So avoid my place from June to September!

Ali Honey said...

GReat one Meggie. We both grew up in NZ at a similar time. The books are the same, the fancy dress balls and learning all the dances first at school before the event in a country hall or picture theatre, are just what I did too. I do have some photos of that but not sure if I want to share them! I will certainly look out some of my favourite books from way back when. They still appeal to me now.

Rosie said...

I do identify with your mother and daughter and their lack of small talk. I think it is a result of me being an only child. I just cant talk about nothing to people! I wish I could...I love your old pictures of disguised children. I have some good ones of my teenagers when they were small, but they would never forgive me if I showed them to the world..I'll wait till they get a bit older

Ian Lidster said...

A fascinating thing about looking at books from childhood is that it all instantly comes back to one, and it feels like only yesterday the pages were last perused,despite the passage of many years.

ancient one said...

I remember a crepe paper costume my grandmother made for me in first grade. We had a "show" to do for the whole school. I was a snowflake. My grandmother sewed crepe paper strips onto a slip and made strings to come down my arms and tied around my wrist with white crepe paper stips that hung from my arms.. I was timid, but I had a line to say... My teacher could not hear me during practice... so she had the north wind blow and I had to twirl closer to the front of the stage to say my part...LOL

That snowflake costume hung in my grandmother's old wardrobe for years... I wonder what finally became of it...LOL

Thanks for the memories! Books were so special for me as a child, and they still are!!

Tanya Brown said...

Great stuff, Meggie. I loved the puking anecdote (what's childhood without a puking incident?) and the wonderful costumes. I covet your collection of childhood books. They often have some of the most imaginative illustrations, not to mention odd stories.

Fairlie said...

Fancy dress occasions create such vivid childhood memories - and I try to remember that when I swear to myself as I sew the foot to the bill on a platypus costume, or am up to midnight the night before LOTE Day putting together a Carnevale costume!