The stories my mum told me about the 1950’s and 60’s fascinated me as a little girl. It was a time when young couples took to the dance floor of the Savoy Plaza, and danced the night away to big band music. A time when the neighbourhood was more than just a grouping of houses. A time when the majority of houses didn’t have a telephone and the twin tub washing machine was the latest technological invention. A time that was…simple.
The era itself was the inspiration behind Hindsight because even as a kid of the 70s, the 50 & 60s seemed like a totally different time zone. My mum and dad finished secondary school when they both reached year nine. My mother’s parents told her that there was no use educating her further, because she ‘would just get married and have children anyway’. It was just the way things were.
My mum was married and had three sons by the time she was twenty-one. They lived on the wage of a tradesman who worked six days a week, ten hours a day to make ends meet. When my parents renovated their house, they laid linoleum on the floor because a broom was cheaper than a vacuum cleaner. They also couldn’t afford a phone or a car. They grew their own fruit and vegetables because it cut down on the grocery bill.
But on the positive side, the side that drew me in, the neighbourhood was filled with family and friends who celebrated and commiserated together. It was a community – an extended family. When my mother had twins (the second one was a surprise!) the entire street dug deep and provided a second cot and enough clothing/bedding/bottles to save the day. None of these people were wealthy, or even comfortable, but they looked after each other because that’s just the way things were.
New Years Eve always saw a street party with freshly baked goods, music, home brewed beer and honey mead, and firecrackers. Everyone joined in. Kids played under sprinklers and squirted each other with garden hoses to cool off during sweltering summer days. Home time for kids was when the street lights came on, and every night the entire neighbourhood would be filled with the mouth watering aromas of home cooked meals.
The matriarchs of the street had sent fathers, brothers, husbands and sons off to both wars and then weathered the Great Depression in between. They were stoic and brave and carried on regardless of broken hearts from loved ones who either didn’t come home from war, or came back broken.
In Hindsight I wanted to honour that era and the people who lived it. Even though I am very happy to have the luxury of a modern lifestyle and technology, I can’t help but smile when I put my apron on and bake the school week’s worth of morning teas for my kids. It’s my little bit of 1961!
Sarah Belle started her professional life in the hospitality industry, working in some of the roughest hotels in Melbourne in the late Eighties, surrounded by drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, and undercover police. Tiring of the inherent dangers of her working environment, Sarah completed a business degree and went on to work in the recruitment industry and the Department of Defence, where she met and married the man of her dreams: a dashing, romantic Army Blackhawk captain, Jason. They have four young sons and live on the beautiful Queensland coast, where Sarah’s days are spent being a frazzled mum, an admin superstar for Jason, a writer, a Bikram Yoga devotee and the only woman in a house of five males.