Graeme Duckett: The memories in our cupboards

Graeme Duckett's mum had homemade chutneys and preserved fruit that made your mouth water.

Graeme Duckett's mum had homemade chutneys and preserved fruit that made your mouth water.

I often think back to how simple life was and how today we live in a stressful, money generated world of mass consumerism which has taken away the life we now look back on with fondness and sadness in some ways.

Sure we've come a long way with technology and all the rest of it, but at a great cost to our relationship with our children and friends.

Consumerism has escalated way out of control in my view, with a huge selection available on nearly every item we use.

Remember back before sliced bread when those lovely brown loaves of bread arrived at the corner dairy, you could smell them as you walked up the street, and of course we all broke the loaves in half and peeled the delicious warm layers of bread off on the slow walk home.

It's funny, but to me it was like the 1950s and early 1960s were in black and white, do you know what I mean?

The products used by Mum and Dad probably hadn't changed much in years, we all had Taniwha soap (yes the big yellow bars of it in the wash house), we all had a copper to boil the clothes up in and the twin concrete tubs to soak the clothes, with Bluo hanging on the taps and the wooden rollers on the wringer which we wound over by hand (look out if it sprung loose!) .

Then came Rinso and Persil washing powder, perhaps the most popular brands for years.

We all did preserves, buying boxes of spotty fruit from the Hawkes Bay. Mum made jam and chutneys, her tomato relish was to die for and my grandmother's orange and lemon peel marmalade was delicious!

My first memories of toothpaste was Ipana and later Signal toothpaste with the red and white stripes and all in lead tubes i might add! Some of you used salt and water!

Popular brands ruled supreme and were used religiously by all. Birds Custard, Greggs Jellies, Maltexo, Sloans Liniment, Bonningtons Irish Moss, cod liver oil, castor oil in the blue bottle (I can see you cringing!), Crushen Salts, Enos Fruit Salts, De Witts Kidney pills and many more.

Flour was brought in bulk as was sugar as most mothers baked their own biscuits and cakes. The wooden bins in the pantry were things we all had.

We all had a Shacklock Coal Range and later on an Atlas Chip Heater

We brought coal and wood for the fire but apart from that we were almost totally self sufficient as far as vegetables went. We had chooks, so fresh eggs and fresh poultry were on hand and pigeon eggs!. Mum also preserved eggs in stone jars.

We did buy meat from the butcher, mostly roasts which ended up as cold meat and shepherds pie with the left overs.

Dad was a horticulturist so our garden was second to none. Rows of corn, peas, turnips, radishes, parsnips, swedes, carrots and beetroot, along with potatoes and the various fruit trees of lemons, oranges, grapefruit, granny smith and red delicious apples plums, tamarillos and golden queen peaches and later on mandarins.

I caught yellow eyed mullet and kahawai at the river which fed the cats and gave me pocket money and extra money for Mum, to help out.

I'm sure we all remember this way of life. We had no TV, we made our own fun, we listened to our favourite serials on the radio, there were dances at the Star Gym, the Bungalow and the Palladium.

When you honestly think about it, were we worse off than today? I think not!

 - Stuff

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