TIMES PAST: Elain Lobegeier remembers days gone by in the city of Bundaberg. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
TIMES PAST: Elain Lobegeier remembers days gone by in the city of Bundaberg. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet

We grew our own in the 40s

GROWING vegetables in the backyard to help the family finances was a way of life for Elaine Lobegeier in the mid 1940s after her parents separated.

"When our mother told us our father had left we were without an income," she said.

"So my brother Gordon and I decided to turn our large backyard into a market garden."

Mrs Lobegeier said she was 10 at the time and her brother was 15 months older, and the family lived at 133 Targo St.

The two first had to clear the weeds and make garden beds, but Mrs Lobegeier said the soil was very sandy so it was easy to work.

"Just along the street was Nash's Nursery where we could buy a bundle of seeds for threepence," she said.

"We started by getting cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes and beetroot, and in the cool of the afternoon we planted them, then gave them a good soaking with the hose."

Mrs Lobegeier said she and her brother learned that if they soaked bean and pea seeds overnight before planting they would germinate quicker.

"To see the cabbage and lettuce hearting gave us a real sense of achievement, knowing it wouldn't be too long before we could sell them," she said.

"When the peas and beans were ready to pick we decided it was my job to pick the peas," she said.

"Gordon picked the beans as I could not stand to touch the hairy skin which appeared on beans in those days.

"Just like a typical brother, he would tease me by chasing me around with a bean to rub on my arm."

Mrs Lobegeier said when the vegetables were ready to pick she and her brother loaded them in an old wooden wheelbarrow and go from door to door selling them.

She said they ended up having quite a few permanent customers who looked forward to their fresh produce.

They money they made was handed over to their mother to help pay the rent.

"Another chore was for Gordon to chop the kindling and the wood for our fuel stove, but it was my job to light the fire and get the dinner ready," she said.

"In those days liver and tripe were about threepence for one pound and besides a piece of canned meat now and again, we enjoyed all our meals as we had such lovely fresh vegetables."

Milk in those days was delivered fresh in the early hours of the morning so the tin billy was set on the bottom step of the high-set house.

Mrs Lobegeier said it did not matter how securely the lid was placed on the billy, ants always found a way to get in.

"During the winter months our favourite breakfast was bread and milk as this was a convenient way to use up any stale bread that was not edible otherwise," she said.

"Nothing was wasted, but neither did we go hungry."

Early on a Saturday morning, Mrs Lobegeier's brother would start the fire under a large copper to boil their clothes.

"Our mother would do the ironing in the afternoon then it was time to wash my long hair and we always had a bath on Saturday night," she said.

Mrs Lobegeier said now their garden achievements seem incredible.

Do you have fond memories of times gone by? Email mike.derry@news-mail.com.au

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