Sepia Saturday – in my back yard

ImageFor me the back yard is safe place, a haven, where children might play without fear, where photographs are taken of special moments with the family and friends, of special outfits or maybe just an event which made up the fabric of daily life, so my photos for this week reflect this. I’ve restricted myself to these occasions which occurred over 50 years ago, and in most you will get a glimpse of a fence too, in others the shrubbery obscures the fence.

The photo of this family would have been taken in 1908 – the family were preparing for Christmas contact with families and it is in the form of a post card which could be mailed. These were very popular and I assume the professional photographers visited the small communities, took the photos and then prepared the cards.

Phil and Ann Craine with their daughter Florence in Minyip, VictoriaCraine 1908Continuing with the theme of special occasion is this other photo of Phil Craine all dressed up for a concert or parade. Phil wrote amusing verse which he delivered at these occasions – always about the local identities.Phil Craine

This young lady probably in the 1930’s liked to go to the Balls – she had bought this gold satin dress by mail order from Myers for about 3 pounds. she told me she didn’t like the clinging skirt – she preferred to dance in a full skirt. But here she has spread the rug so she can be photographed yet keep the dress clean. I think this photo was taken in Chillingollah, near Swan Hill in Victoria

Bettie Simpson

another young girl a dance dress of the 1950’s made by her mother was photographed in CastlemaineDance Dress 1954

Going to church dressed in hat and gloves also was part of the weekly ritual and also in the 193o’s Florence from the first photo has now grown into a young lady and here she was photographed with her future husband Roy Penny.

Florence & Roy

Ten years or so later she was to attend her sister’s wedding and she and Roy were photographed in the back yard of her brother in Melbourne.

Florence & Roy Greeba's weddingChildren growing up in the forties had the simplest of toys – balls, dolls and teddies, tricycles and wooden carts – the next few photos show some of these. The first four were taken in Castlemaine, Victoria, the next three in Minyip, Victoria. Bertie with me in trailer Dolly's Tea party

From memory I think the large copper for boiling the clothes and the toilet were housed behind that open door, and there is a canary in the cage on the wall.Morning tea Prams

Kelvin - stuffed toy Kelvin football

As well children often improvised and used everyday objects to play with or bang.

Kelvin with unknown toyWe had just moved in to a new house, the builders rubble had not been cleared and there was mud everywhere, great fun for a 2 year oldStephen & Toilet

The back yard was the place the family pets were kept. Kelvin and McNab must have thought they could dig to China!

Kelvin dog

In country towns in Australia in those years each back yard would have a clothesline, the water tanks, an out door toilet (or dunny) and in many there would have been a wood heap too – it was always said the wood heap was strategically placed between the back door and the toilet so that those returning from a trip to the toilet could always bring back  a piece or two of wood with them.

but this was not being thought of when the Tew family posed for a multi generation photo beside the wood heap in their back yard.multi generations & woodheapand finally I wonder what my Grandmother would think if she knew her ‘smalls’ hanging on the Hills Hoist were going to decorate the pages of a blog 56  years after this photo was taken in Pascoe Vale South,  VictoriaPascoe Vale 1958


17 thoughts on “Sepia Saturday – in my back yard

  1. So many happy moments are captured in these photos. That someone had the forethought or lucky timing to capture people with interesting objects is fortunate.

  2. The photo complete with your grandmother’s ‘smalls’ is great fun. Never mind the blog, I’m sure she blushed a touch whenever she saw it. How funny – but we’ve all done it, wondering why we didn’t think to remove this or that before we shot a picture. The photo of the girl in the 50s prom dress taken against the backdrop of a blanket hung on a clothesline reminded me of my engagement picture for the local newspaper my Dad took of me with a full sheet of plywood set up as the backdrop behind me. Actually came out pretty well . . . better than using the bed sheet Mom & I hung up on OUR clothesline. And more sedate than the silly pix Mom & I started taking with me clamping a rose between my teeth.

    • The 50’s photo is me, not a prom dress – doesn’t happen in Oz – but a frock to wear to the local Sat night dance. My mother made all my clothes, by necessity really, even my knickers and they had an embroidered cross on the waist at the front so I would know which way to put them on. Today’s photographers with the ability to crop and Photoshop won’t have any where near the detail left that is appearing in these old photos on the blog. A wonderful social commentary of our times

  3. I couldn’t believe it when I saw Minyip mentioned. I have come across it when researching my family tree.

    The final photo reminded me of one I saw on Facebook recently. My cousin had posted a photo of her grandson but didn’t realise that the clothesline showed her underwear and (large) bras!

    • Enjoy every moment. This particular 2 year old left the country in his late 20’s and now has a senior management role in the London office of an American Bank.

  4. Lovely old backyard photographs of your family, with incidental fences. Several of yours are quite similar to some of mine, only a few years earlier.

  5. Great photos and tour thru memory lane. My mother made all of my dresses (and I made all of my daughters clothes) so the photo of you and the dance dress particularly resonated for me. Thanks for the memories.

  6. There is one aspect of Australian back yards that is different from those on other continents, and that is the water tanks. One of your photos has two and I already calculated on another Aussie blog this weekend that they are over 1600 gals each. That’s a lot of water collected if every home had one.

    • In many of these rural areas the tank was the only supply for domestic use so yes big tanks were needed to keep a supply of fresh water over the long dry summers (complete with wrigglers) They went out of fashion for a while especially in urban area where the fear of pollution in the water was considered a hazard. Now the pendulum has swung back the other way as water restrictions have been introduced, and tanks are once again a feature of the back yard – now colour coordinated and with strict regulations as to where they can be sited not to spoil the street appearance.

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