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BORN IN 1945? WHAT ELSE HAPPENED?

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                                                     72nd BIRTHDAY

1945david.jpg

 

CHRISTMAS NEWS

Every time I finish a book, I indulge myself by writing about some of the memories or ideas that the year has brought to mind.  So here I go again, this time pushing my luck fairly hard. You will find that I am a little blunter than normal, and if I get too far away from what you want, please forget it, and go on with the conclusion to this book. 

By Christmas, 1945, I had reached the age of 11. I had two siblings living at home, and a good Mum and a good Dad that I loved dearly. We lived in a small coal-mining town of 2,000 people on the Cessnock coalfields, and 98 per cent of the men there worked in the pits. Many of them could scarcely read, some of them could scrawl their names. They lived in a closed society, travel outside the town was difficult with no cars and no petrol, and beer drinking and fighting in the pubs on Friday and Saturday night was just part of normal behaviour.

At this time, every one in the town was dead broke. Working in the pits paid a reasonable wage, but the miners collectively were always on strike, so often went from one fortnight to the next without any pay, so that living was always hand-to-mouth. This Christmas was particularly bad because they had followed the nearby Newcastle steelworkers out on strike for all November. Then they themselves had struck for most of December.  So, the town was without pay-packets for the six weeks leading up to Christmas.

This raises a question in passing that I will address. Why go out on strike?  If you needed the money, you had a history that said striking was useless, why not work and get paid?

The answer is the Reds, the Communists.  They had control of the mining unions, and were intent on bringing the nation to its knees, and if they could stop the workers from working, they would be closer to bringing in their own idea of perfection.

So they called on the strikes. The rank-and-file miners were given the opportunity at times to vote on them, but they had a problem with this. If they voted against striking, then there were consequences in a closed town where everyone knew everything about everyone else. It turned out that the Reds had some friends who threw bricks through front windows of homes, who stole bikes from outside butchers’ shops, who poisoned pet dogs with glass-baits, who bagged and drowned cats but returned their bodies, who bashed sons on the way to school. The ultimate weapon was to brand a man a “scab”.

When a vote on a union matter was called, most miners stayed at home, and the Reds dictated policy. Thus, by Christmas Day 1945, the whole township was broke. 

This brings me to my own memories of that Day. Mum had obviously been crying, and Dad too was clearly upset.  They clucked us kids together and told us, with tears, that there was no money for presents this year, and all they could give each of us was a 50-pence Canberra-coin that Mum had saved from the Canberra festivities in 1927.

We were all good kids. I suppose we were disappointed, but our main concern was to stop the parental tears. It took a while, not long, and life went on.

As I look back on this, I feel immense sadness that my parents were forced to do this. Those presents meant much, much more to them than they did to us.  I feel sad too that this was just a part of the ongoing poverty that they lived with for most of their lives. It did not affect us kids, because we were loved, living in a happy home, and studying our way out of poverty. But, as I now appreciate, it was a huge burden on them. They would be pleased now to see that we, their children, have all moved well into the middle class and are fat and reasonably prosperous. I just wish that I could somehow share some of that prosperity with them.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS                    

INTRODUCTION TO THE SERIES

OUR LEGACY FROM EARLIER YEARS.

HOW WERE ORDINARY FAMILIES COPING?

DEEPLY ENTRENCHED VALUES

JANUARY NEWS ITEMS

BULLDOGGING AND BUCKJUMPING

SOCIALISM WAS NOT COMMUNISM

WHAT ABOUT THE STRIKES?

FEBRUARY NEWS ITEMS

PREFERENCE FOR SERVICEMEN

LAMENTS

MARCH NEWS ITEMS

WAS OUR ARMY EQUIPPED PROPERLY?

CLERGY IN THE NEWS

APRIL NEWS ITEMS

PROBLEMS WITH GROG

SHOPPING NEWS

MAY NEWS ITEMS

THE WAR IN EUROPE IS OVER

STRIKES IN OZ: A NEW LEVEL

JUNE NEWS ITEMS

SOCIAL ISSUES AT HOME

ATTITUDE TO THE GERMANS

JULY NEWS ITEMS

WERE THE COMMOS BAD GUYS?

JOHN CURTIN’S DEATH

FOOD SHORTAGES IN BRITAIN

AUGUST NEWS ITEMS

DEATH THROES OF JAPAN’S EMPIRE

SHOULD THE BOMB BE USED – EVER?

SEPTEMBER NEWS ITEMS

NOW IT CAN BE TOLD

50 YEARS EARLIER

OCTOBER NEWS ITEMS

WHAT DID WE THINK OF THE JAPS?

SOLDIERS’ LAMENTS

NOVEMBER NEWS ITEMS:

THE WORLD IS STILL GOING ROUND

FOOD FOR BRITAIN

CHRISTMAS NEWS

HIT SONGS FOR 1945

US MOVIES

SOME THOUGHTS ON DE-MOBBING

LIQUOR FOR EX-SERVICEMENS’ CLUBS

WHAT TO GET FOR CHRISTMAS?

SUMMING UP 1945

EXTRA READING --  COMPLETELY OPTIONAL

 

YOU WILL NOT BE EXAMINED ON ANY OF THIS

 ABOUT THIS SERIES   …  But after that, I realized that I really knew very little about these parents  of mine They had been born about the start of the Twentieth Century, and they died in 1970 and 1980. For their last 50 years, I was old enough to speak with a bit of sense.  I could have talked to them a lot about their lives. I could have found out about the times they lived in.  But I did not.  I know almost nothing about them really. Their courtship? Working in the pits? The Lock-out in the Depression? Losing their second child? Being dusted as a miner? The shootings at Rothbury? My uncles killed in the War? Love on the dole? There were hundreds, thousands of questions that I would now like to ask them.  But, alas, I can’t. It’s too late.

 

Thus, prompted by my guilt, I resolved to write these books. They describe happenings that affected people, real people.  The whole series is, to coin a modern phrase, designed to push the reader’s buttons, to make you remember and wonder at things  forgotten. The books might just let nostalgia see the light of day, so that oldies and youngies will talk about the past and re-discover a heritage otherwise forgotten. 

Hopefully, they will spark discussions between generations, and foster the asking and answering of questions that should not remain unanswered.