Thursday, 29 November 2007

Flighty conveyances

On one of my recent visits to the Rosewood Scrub Historical Society I picked up a little booklet “Tales of the Rosewood Scrub: Memories of a Barefoot Boyhood” by Digger Schumann. It is fascinating to read Digger’s memories of growing up in this area in the 1930s. Some of his memories are of stories told to him by his grandparents about the very earliest days of scrub settlement and are a great insight into what everyday life was like for farming families.

One story about his grandmother’s weekly Friday shopping trip to Rosewood struck a chord with me as I unpacked my own groceries today. Grandma Martha Mary would drive her horse, Jean hitched up to her sulky. One of the men in the family would take the flighty horse for several rounds of the front paddock first to settle her down before turning her over to Martha Mary. Her path would have followed fairly closely the path one would take today from Two Tree Hill, along the ridges of the Tallegalla hills and down into Rosewood.

Once in Rosewood, Jean would be hitched to the railing behind Sellar’s Store. Grandma would bring along some grain from home in an old sugar bag and empty it into one of the feed bins attached to the fence. Digger writes that:

“Parking achieved, Grandma would perch on one of several high cane-bottomed chairs that stood along the counter to dictate her order which would be packed and loaded onto the tray of the sulky while she attended to other matters; perhaps at the haberdashery counter of Ruhno’s General store around the corner as Sellars dealt only in groceries and hardware.”

In another of “those” conversations the other day someone was bemoaning how dreadfully behaved children were today in supermarkets. A wise older lady pointed out that the experience described above was what shopping with children was like for her. There was no trailing around a store filled with goodies, selecting products while simultaneously trying to entertain children and remove their prehensile grips from easily accessible merchandise. She would take her list to the store, wait at the counter and have everything selected, packed away and delivered for her. Her take on the whole process was that while freedom of choice can be a good thing, that parents of today have very different challenges.

I personally take the pro-active approach of shopping when the older children are at school and taking along a container of biscuits to distract the smallest as we wheel along aisles. We have also been known to make loud car noises and chuck the occasional wheelie – hey whatever it takes! And while my trusty steed Myrtle carries me reliably to and from shopping, she does prefer snacks of the more petroleum-based kind and rarely needs to be settled down before trips.

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