....it was a very good year...
Have you got that song in your head now?
Here's another.... Summer of '69 (Bryan Adams)
Sixteen was also good, although it didn't start out so well.
I'd just moved from Port Pirie, where I'd been living with my dad and sister, to Murray Bridge, to live with my mum.
There was no job for me in Port Pirie, but mum said she'd lined one up for me in Murray Bridge.
I was to assist in a hairdressing salon, doing absolutely nothing with customers, just sweeping hair off the floor and hanging out wet towels.
It sounded easy enough and maybe I'd eventually graduate to shampooing or something...
I went along to the interview and as soon as the owner of the salon saw me, she decided I was wrong for the job. Having just come down from a summer on the Port Pirie beach I was quite brown...
When she heard and saw my last name, I was really wrong for the job.
I just wasn't "Australian" enough.
My name is Polish (we're German), it has 9 consonants all in a row and one vowel right at the end, totally unpronounceable to any one just looking at it written down.
I mentioned that I'd been in Australia since I was less than a year old, but she countered with not wanting her customers to feel uncomfortable, which I thought was a little rude. She certainly hadn't been born in Australia!
Heck, I was only going to be sweeping the floor!
I'm sure she wanted somebody pink-skinned, blue-eyed and blonde-haired.
Her loss. I enjoy sweeping floors.
So I went back to the ladies lounge of the local pub where mum was waiting and told her I hadn't got the job.
Mum had another trick up her sleeve.
It was just past knock-off time for several factories and the front bar was full of men enjoying a beer before heading home. In she went and started chatting her way along the bar.
My mum is not a quiet, reticent person like me, (I get that from my dad), she talks the ears off anyone who will listen!
Well she wasn't in there more than half an hour, before coming back to the ladies lounge and telling me I had a job at the cheese making factory down by the river and I was to start on the following Monday at 7am.
Mum bought me a lemonde to celebrate.
So I was driven there on the Monday morning early enough to meet my new boss and be shown what to do. I got to know the girls and even talk to them. They were all very nice. The job was easy once I got the hang of it. We mostly made and wrapped 40lb blocks of cheese for export and took turns on a weekly basis operating the milk bottling machine in the other big shed.
All of us got to know the milk tanker drivers quite well, one of the tankers was driven by two brothers taking turns. In the summer, when we'd get really hot working, we'd wear our swimsuits under our white uniform dresses and at lunchtimes instead of eating we'd jump in the river and swim. Then we'd gulp down a sandwich while on our way back to work.
Kath Lockett, you'd remember the cheese factory down by the reserve, next to the rowing club.
Anyway, the younger, cuter brother would often join us, as would a few of the younger factory workers, R and his brother T; ....L, whose nickname was Walter...and one day he (the cute tanker driver) brought with him one of the old inner tubes from one of the enormous tanker tyres.
Well, that just made summer so much more fun!!
We'd meet at the river on weekends too, the cute tanker driver, a few of his friends, my friends and myself, a couple of times I invited my step sister along. We'd play, eat fish'n'chips, drink cokes...
Imagine a dozen or more young people all splashing around in the river with a giant inner tube!
I had a job, I had a little money for myself, I had no boyfriend, just many friends of both sexes, I had freedom.
It was the best summer of my life!
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