Take me or leave me…

David Grayson describes beautifully the realisation that freed me, some 40 years ago, from all those doubts, insecurities and worries of childhood. The time when my motto became… “To Thine Own Self be True” which I had engraved on a bracelet. For many years this bracelet never came off my wrist and helped with the remembering, and gave courage, to always be myself and to love the person that I am.    


The sense of wishing to be known only for what one really is is like putting on and old, easy, comfortable garment. You are no longer afraid of anybody or anything. You say to yourself, ‘Here I am — just so ugly, dull, poor, beautiful, rich, interesting, amusing, ridiculous — take me or leave me.’ And how absolutely beautiful it is to be doing only what lies within your own capabilities and is part of your own nature. It is like a great burden rolled off a man’s back when he comes to want to appear nothing that he is not, to take out of his life only what is truly his own.

 David Grayson, journalist and author. (1870-1946) 


Copyright © 2012. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel.

Dd – is for Delightful, Delicious & Delectable


Researching and writing about the lives of family can sometimes make me sad. When this happens, there are a number of useful strategies which soon have me bouncing back. My “Weird, Wild & Wonderful” blog is aways a happy place to play. Trawling “You Tube” for fun, ridiculous and romantic songs is another favourite and sometimes writing about amusing incidents from childhood like “Dad, fencing and Nana”, which are passed on to my descendants through this blog, soon get the chuckles going again.

Needing comforting and cheering up after my latest two posts to “Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge”, one about “Baby Crout” and the other “Cousin Lizzie”, I mused over the letter Dd and immediately “Delightful, Delicious & Delectable” jumped into my head. It’s just a little story from childhood which brings back fond memories. Maybe it will trigger some happy thoughts for you too…


It’s 1950 in the working class suburb of Queenstown, South Australia, and just a couple of miles “up the track” from Port Adelaide where dad and grandpa worked “on the wharf”. Picture a large family kitchen with four hungry “tykes” sitting around the table, waiting for breakfast, and amazed to see their dad busy at the task. Why dad? … I have no idea. Maybe I do, but don’t want to think about it as it may bring back the sadness…

The four of us – 1950. (c) 2012 C.Crout-Habel

Anyway, dad put four bowls in front of us announcing They’re POBS – Mam used to make them for me.” Well, I’d never tasted anything so delicious and delectable in all of my four years. Sixty two years later, and still a feeling of calm envelopes me with the very thought. So, what were these magical “POBS” and what made them special? The breakfast dad put before us that day was simply a bowl filled with cubes of white bread, sprinkled with sugar and moistened with warm milk but oh so so delicious. Over the years, and on rare occasions, dad served us POBS but mum never did. Right from the start mum’s POBS were rejected… they just didn’t taste the same.

This South Australian girl knew no other person who ate POBS, or even knew what they were. I figured it was just a fun name that my Yorkshire born dad and his “mam” used for a bowl of bread, sugar and milk until, in 1995, I visited his home town of Windhill, Shipley, Yorkshire, England. Seeking the whereabouts of dad’s childhood home I met up with a delightful group of elderly people at the Windhill Community Centre, Church Street, Windhill. They named themselves the “Windhill Memories Group”, were amazed that Harry Crout’s daughter had come visiting, all the way from Australia, and happily shared their memories. Lillian Moorhouse was one who maintained contact and would sometimes send copies of her pencil drawings of  “Windhill of Yesteryear”. One day a booklet arrived titled “HOMECURES OF YESTERYEAR” and there on page 5, to my amazement, was a description for POBS – not a made up family name at all!…

HOMECURES OF YESTERYEAR by Lillian Moorhouse, page 5.

Years later, with a “search” on Wikipedia, I discovered that POBS are a traditional Lancashire dish. The internet also has many forums & discussion groups where talk about POBS arises. It was here I learnt that POB stands for “Pieces Of Bread” and also that a crushed up Oxo cube, sprinkled on bread and covered with hot water falls into the same category. What a surprise to discover that POBS were also enjoyed by others.

To ensure that this simple meal lived up to the title of “Delightful, Delicious & Delectable”  it had to be served in the appropriate dish – one of mum’s small, rimmed, white bowls which were dotted with tiny pink flowers and edged with gold.

So … a delightful, delicious, and delectable meal, of bread and milk, needed to be prepared by dad and served in the appropriate dish to make my day.  🙂 … happy memories.


SOURCES: HOMECURES OF YESTERYEAR by Lillian Moorhouse © Lillian Moorhouse Reg. BB/818 No 33371. Published by: Windhill Memories Group. N.E.W.C.A. Church Street, Windhill, Shipley, Yorkshire, England.

Copyright © 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel. Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family

Fun with “The Purple People Eater”

Seems to me that after all the sadness of ANZAC Day, see:

Tribute to our ANZAC Diggers
The Solitary Battlefield
The ANZACS and the Vietnam War 

it’s time for some fun and laughter.

My three brothers and I enjoyed  many of the crazy songs of the 1950’s. Sharing one of my favourites and remembering that my brother John did a real cool drawing of “The Purple Peope Eater”. Until seeing John’s drawing I thought this crazy “people eater” only ate purple people so I was safe 🙂   Enjoy…

Copyright © 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel. Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family

The Singer …

It was the late 1950’s and many thought mum (Kathleen Mary Allan Crout) rather odd. Why was Kathleen selling her sparkling “new fangled” electric sewing machine and replacing it with an old “treadlie”? …

“A method in her madness”, as they say.  Kathleen’s four children were growing and determined that they all learn to sew (including the three boys) a treadle machine was a necessity.  More manageable and far less dangerous, with the possibility of little fingers being pierced by sharp needles greatly reduced. 

Our sewing lessons began with an unthreaded machine and lined writing paper. Steadily following the lines, a smooth continuous movement, starting, stopping, lifting “the foot”, turning and repeating were the skills to be perfected … without drawing blood.

Next step:  filling the bobbin, inserting the spool, threading the machine, threading the needle, slowly lowering the needle and pulling the bottom thread up through the feeding hole, then triumpantly sliding the bottom plate shut … ahhh… such an achievement, such a delight!

The actual sewing almost paled into insignificance compared with the joy of mastering the required skills.

During our teenage years “stovepipe” jeans became the trend and two of my brothers became adept at “pegging” jeans… i.e. running another seam up the inside leg so they wrapped snugly around growing legs. “The boys” soon became famous for their “pegging skills” and it was not surprising, when wandering out through the lobby to the toilet, to come across one, or two, unknown hairy legged youths hanging around the sewing machine whilst one of my “bros” treadled busily away. A sight etched in my memory forever, probably only surpassed by that of my youngest brother lying in the bath, clad in his jeans to shrink them to the required degree of snugness, and dad nearly having an attack of apoplexy.

How I loved that sewing machine with it’s wrought iron treadle, oak cabinet, carving on the six drawers and a central drawer that tipped forward… along with precious memories.

When mum and dad sold the family home, and began getting rid of many of their belongings, I was living interstate and unable to lay claim to that beautiful machine.  My sister in law became the beneficiary and I’ve always had to avert my eyes when visiting.

Fossicking through “bits and bobs” last night I laughed out loud.  Missed out on the Singer, but have the “Instruction Book”.  Story of my life, it would seem … but laughing still, ‘cos just holding that little book in my hand brings all those childhood memories flooding back … far more precious than all the “Singers” in the world.

© Copyright 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel.  Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Familly

Introducing Decimal Currency

Was it really 46 years ago that Australia introduced Decimal Currency? … Yep, it was.  It was 14 Feb 1966 and I was 20 years old.

Remembering all the hooo haaa” that went on with the changeover, I thought it’d be fun to show the PR vid that played on our TV screens, seemingly endlessly. 

Enjoy 🙂 … but don’t laugh too loudly.  It might scare the chickens.

© Copyright 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel. Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family

“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”.


(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

Grandpa & the Teapot

Frederick Alexander ALLAN - 1949

Ahhh, Grandpa …

Growing up with Frederick Alexander Allan provides an endless flow of memories to share… Here’s just one little snippet.

After the death of his beloved Elizabeth Mary (nee Murray) Evans, 7 Jan 1953, Grandpa came to live with us and spent the last 13 years of his life surrounded by four active, noisy, growing children and a multitude of their friends. I realise now that it couldn’t have been easy for him but remember mum saying that his grandchildren kept him alive.

Ahhh, Grandpa … 

Every morning, as I tip my spoon into the condensed milk for that early morning “cuppa”, memories of Grandpa’s tea making and drinking rituals flood my mind.  I can see those arthritic, careworn, knobbly old hands clasped around the pot of freshly made tea, his feigned expression of surprise, the flapping hands, the sucking in of breath and the almost inaudible, “Well I’ll be blowed…”

Sometimes the unkind thought … “well of course it’s hot, you silly old fool” would flash across my young brain. Watching the blood pulsating in dad’s forehead, as he battled to control his anger, and Grandpa’s self satisfied smile was confusing to a small child.  Mum’s refusal to acknowledge her father’s behaviour and husband’s growing anger was even more confusing.  Why didn’t she do something about it?  The adult me understands.

The next step in Grandpa’s ritual was to lift the pot, by it’s black bakelite handle, and see-saw it backwards and forwards until satisfied the brew was to his liking.  Finally he’d pour the steaming hot liquid, from a great height, into his huge white cup embossed with “Father” in gold copperplate lettering.  

In my mind’s eye I can see mum’s aluminium teapot sparkling with loving attention and the use of Steelo, steel wool pads.  How many cups of tea were poured from it’s spout?  How many tears were assuaged with a cup of the rich brown beverage? How many times did Grandpa perform his pantomime? Whatever happened to mum’s beloved old teapot?   

As a youngster Grandpa’s behaviour often annoyed and irritated me, the aggravation increased with the teenage years… now the remembering brings a “smile to m’ dial”.

Ahhh, Grandpa …


(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.