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Memories of a Melbourne childhood

This is a sneak peek into edition 25 of Traces!

By Lorraine Evans

On special occasions, my extended family would gather together at Gran and Pop’s to celebrate. There was always plenty of laughter and fun, and Aunty Sally was always the loudest in the room. Before she passed away at the age of 83, Sally wrote about growing up in Melbourne in the 1930s and ’40s. This is her story.

I was born in Cheltenham, Victoria, on 25 July 1930 to Minnie and William Evans. I was the youngest of 12 children: three boys and nine girls. My name was Thelma Gwen, but my eldest brother nicknamed me Sally as a baby, and it stuck with me (actually, I prefer it).

Memories of my childhood in Cheltenham are very vague; my elder sisters and brothers told me what it was like. As the youngest child, my cot was in Mum and Dad’s room. The house only had two bedrooms, so beds were made in the lounge and passage every night.

We moved to Northcote in March 1934 to a bigger house with three bedrooms. With friends’ help, an extra room was added for the boys. I still slept in Mum and Dad’s room. Three girls slept in the single beds, and when room became available, I slept in the middle of three of my sisters, sharing a double bed.

My first memory of my mother was walking up the path to the new house. The grass was higher than me, and Mum took me by the hand to the front door.

Elbows were close to our sides at mealtimes, and there was lots of laughter and talking. Meals were boiled or roast meats and lots of vegetables. Soup was first in winter, and there was always a sweet, then bread and jam. There was a hot cup of barley broth or hot cocoa to drink in winter.

Dad always took a cut lunch to work, including a jam sandwich. It would have sat in his Gladstone bag all day, even in summer. When he came in from work, we would ask for any play lunch (as we called it), and out would come this dry jam sandwich and we thought it was great. We always ate it. We saw it as something special Dad had kept for us.

To read more about Lorraine’s Aunty Sally’s memories, check out the latest edition of Traces.

Pictured: The Evans family in 1950.

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