“Chrissie Pud” …

Every year mum would make the Christmas Pudding. All four of us would have a stir, make a wish, chuck in the coins and lick the bowl. Come Christmas Day we’d stuff ourselves full to get more “dosh”, then line the coins up for mum to count.  They’d be exchanged for “clean” money and the “Christmas Coins” would soak in a bowl ready for next year.

That came to an end and the fun went out of it when, on 14 Feb 1966, Australia changed to Decimal Currency.  No longer able to use the coins and finding the replacement charms not charming, at all, we began to lose interest in the rituals of the “Chrissie Pud”.

Yesterday, to my delight, I came across mum’s stash of the Christmas Pudding threepenny pieces.  They were disguised in an old Redheads Matchstick Box upon which mum had written “Thumb Tacks“.  Mmmm … did it once contain “Thumb Tacks” or was it my lovely mum’s way of keeping little children’s fingers at bay? …

Then the memories began to flow:
–  Grandpa’s pronunciation of “thruppence” …
–  The year mum made the “pud” in a cloth, instead of the basin, and “the boys” (my brothers) teasing her about it getting fly blown …
–  The year Grandpa must have swallowed his coins because mum and I put heaps in his serve …
–  My brother’s ideas for recovering Grandpa’s coins …
–  Mum actually starting to wonder if the “pud” might get flyblown hanging there in the lobby …

Some of our “Chrissie” threepenny pieces

Happy times… Happy memories… all conjured up by the sight of that old battered box, labelled “Thumb Tacks”.

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(c) Copyright 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel. Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family

Green “Depression” Glass

My first foray into the world of EBay came today…  Winning  “the bid” I’m now the proud owner of a “Green’ Depression glass Cake Stand.  

Four small, simple items which bring great pleasure. 

The first, a Butter Container, I chanced upon when browsing the wonderful secondhand shops of Strathalbyn, South Australia, over two decades ago. Stopping off on a visit to mum and dad (Kathleen Mary Allan & Harry Scarborough Crout), at their retirement home in Goolwa, I acquired not only the butter dish but an aged/antique double bed.

Then came the vase, which had resided in the rear of our Staff Room cupboard, “since Adam was a boy”.  Some bright spark decided it needed to be binned.  Catherine to the rescue!  

Browsing for books in the local Salvation Army “Op Shop” there sat the beautiful Sandwich Tray willing to be noticed and acquired.  I obliged.

Looking at, touching and using everyday items in Green Depression glass flips me right back to my childhood.  To comforting memories of meals around the kitchen table, mum’s yummy cooking, grandpa’s antics, dad’s bursts of anger, food likes and dislikes and brother John’s sunburn which, much to mum’s horror, covered his entire body… not to mention the lidless tomato sauce bottle spraying its contents hither and thither.  The list is endless.   Throughout it all were those beautiful green glass containers, reflecting the beauty that was my childhood … my family.

Mum and Nana

Most likely they belonged to Nana (Elizabeth Mary Murray Evans Allan) and sat on my own mum’s kitchen table when she was young    for she was a child of “the Great Depression.”


(c) Copyright 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel. Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family

Tiny Red Roses …

Feelings of sadness wash over me whenever another tiny baby shows up, in the family history, as stillborn or dying at any early age.

So many little children who didn’t make it to adulthood …

So many mothers with grieving hearts and empty arms …

My own great grandmother, Eliza Jane (Rowan) Murray buried her first baby boy and then some 12 months later, after burying her  second baby boy, went back to her empty childless home. However, the thought of that endless rain pelting down on his fresh tiny grave sent her running back to the cemetery to cover his final resting place with his new baby blanket.

No one can tell me that mothers of yester-year were more accustomed to baby deaths and were therefore less affected than the mothers of today.

So, alongside each early death, in my family chart, I place a tiny red rose in love and remembrance.  

May these little souls forever Rest in Peace and may their mothers know that their babes are always remembered.  

Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW: 1888-1954), Sat 18 Jan 1890, pg 3.

In Memory of:  Peter MURRAY 1887 – 23 Jan 1889 and Walter MURRAY 1889 – 14 Jan 1890 – Broken Hill Cemetery, Old Catholic Section: Row 3, Grave 5.

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SOURCE:  TROVE:  National Library of Australia   
                    http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article44045990

(c) Copyright 2012.  Catherine Crout-Habel. Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family

Dad, fencing and Nana

My first “snippet” jumped into my brain when watching “Midsomer Murders” last night and just won’t go away. 

There was a scene with two people fencing.   Yep, that kind of fencing not the sort you use to keep the cows from straying. Well, I was flipped right back to my childhood and mum laughing hysterically when recalling the story of dad’s determination to learn to fence.  A rather unusual sport in Port Adelaide and towards the end of the Great Depression, I would have thought.

Dad was a lodger with her parents, at the time of his fencing sojourn, and mum was 13 years younger so her remembering was always told through the eyes of the child she was.  Why the hilarity?

Well dad, for whatever reason, was determined to dress as appropriately as possible in his daily practice with her mum, my Nana, Elizabeth Mary Allan.  For his facial protection he trawled through the kitchen cupboards and found the appropriate article – a colander which he strapped to his face. Mum’s laughter increased as she described the positioning of the handles over dad’s forehead and below his chin.

Never can I see a picture, or a film, of people dressed for “fencing” without hearing mum’s shrieks of childhood laughter.  A precious memory.