Six years old again

1962.6 Irene 6thbirthday

Suddenly I was six years old again. I had forgotten how it felt and fifty years later the feeling came flooding back. The unbridled joy followed by the knowledge  an emptiness and longing was to follow. The indecision as to how I would tackle the problem.

Transported back to childhood, I remembered each Monday. Pocket money day. Unlike my brother who banked his, I visited the Popular Cafe. They had the best lolly selection in town. Leaving early for school on these days I ensured that I had enough time to make a really good choice of sweets. Sixpence bought a lot in those days. I had to deliberate on whether to buy one all day sucker for a penny or maybe get six mint leaves, which I didn’t like quite as much. The four for a penny musk sticks were a definite must, as were the milk bottles. The sherbet, with the bit of licorice to suck it through or the Donald Duck sherbets with little spoons, that fizzed on your tongue were also possibilities. Chocolate bullets, jubes, raspberries and cream, licorice all sorts, jelly babies, fruit salad chews, arctic mints, humbugs, bulls eyes, false teeth, wine gums, chocolate eclairs, rosy apples, frogs of the jelly, white and brown chocolate varieties, cigarettes and jaffas were all considered seriously. Freckles weren’t really on the list as already I was a bit of a chocolate connoisseur.

Exhausting my money  I would leave the shop with a white bag full of delicious treats that would be eaten over the day. I would deliberate on the order to eat or suck them. I savoured every mouthful. I sucked the musk sticks revelling in the taste and odour. Cigarettes I would smoke, sucking them to a fine point. The babies I would eat limb by limb. Was I a head person or a bottom person? At six who cared but we always used to pay attention to it. I would eke out each lolly for as long as I could. I would resist chewing as using the teeth would make them go quicker: but it was hard. I’d suck the jaffas until all the red colour had gone and the candy became a cracked white, then, puff, the chocolate would melt in a stream and run down my throat signalling the end of that one. All day suckers were disappointing as they did not last all day although, they did last considerably longer than most of the other sweets. Dissecting the licorice all sorts I’d suck the candy until the sugar totally dissolved and then chew the liquorice. They were better in those days as they would always have at least six layers.

I relished in my gorging. Before the end of the day I would be drawing towards the bottom of my bag and inevitably there would be only one sweet left. What should I do? I had a whole week to go before I would see another lolly. Should I save the last remaining for later in the week? What would make me happiest?  Eating the candy or knowing it was there, constantly battling the urge to eat it. It was an unfair dilemma to place a six year old.

And here I was, feeling just as I did then, only now it was my retirement present from work that was causing the angst. They had asked me what I wanted and told me how much money they had collected. With disbelief  at the esteem in which I was held I decided to forgo the gold watch requested a set of four glasses. They were the finest lead crystal, beautiful not only to look at but also to hold. I insisted on using them and couldn’t understand my friend’s reluctance to do so when I told them each glass cost two hundred dollars. What was the point of having a nice glass if it wasn’t used?

The first had shattered into a thousand pieces when it dropped on the tiles near the barbecue. The second had  a similar fate as a result of a washing up mishap. Now the wagging dog’s tail had collected the third in its happy trajectory, sending it flying across the room, exploding on impact. Now there was one remaining.

I had kept my cool on all three occasions. There were no recriminations or tears; it was fate. Now, however, I was feeling as I did when I was six. Should I continue to use the one glass and inevitably lose it forever? Should I place it reverently in the cupboard, not have the pleasure of my lips on its cool surface, the feel of it in my hands, but at least I would know it was there?

I oscillated backwards and forwards. I had always survived once the lolly was gone. It was a relief when it was gone because then I could stop agonising over what I should do. Perhaps that was the best way. Get it over and done with. I filled my glass with a lovely red and slowly sipped and enjoyed. When it was empty I raised it, taking aim at the fireplace. I couldn’t do it. I decided that I would wait for the inevitable natural attrition.


About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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17 Responses to Six years old again

  1. Reblogged this on Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist) and commented:

    For archive Thursday (as Thursday has become for awhile anyway) is another early post of mine. I found this interesting as I had forgotten about it. This is part memoir, part fiction. I’ll leave it up to you to work out what was the fiction which would have to be classified as fiction. It supports my theory that a lot of fiction has an element of memoir.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a terrific story! Took me back to when I went after church to get the Sunday paper with my Dad. There were lots of candy containers in the store and he would give me a dime to get some.
    Nowhere near the selection you had! But I also had an order in which I ate them, when my pesky brother wasn’t asking me for some after he ate through his. Would love to see a picture of the one glass that’s left.


    • When we had the store I set out to replicate the Popular Cafe and give the children of the day a taste of lollies of a time in the past and the experience of being able to buy them one by one. Of course they didn’t get near as many as I got but we became known as the best lolly shop and kids would force their parents to stop. Roger hated having to serve them as their little minds ticked over but I just loved it. Mind you we didn’t make any money from the lollies as I ate all the profits.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Charli Mills says:

    This is a beautiful piece of writing! I was so captivated by the candy devouring and subsequent lolly dilemma that I excepted seamlessly the retirement crystal situation. A delicious piece of of writing!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Do you still have it? I must know.

    Love the analogy and the transition between the candy-eating dilemma and the crystal. Wonderful piece.

    (Please…I must know. Do you still have the glass?)

    Liked by 2 people

  5. M-R says:

    SUPER story, Irene ! – I remember all those lollies !!!
    I think the only bit that might not be true is the very end, where you’re trying to decide whether or not to heave it into the fireplace.
    But the whole story rings true.


  6. Sherri says:

    Irene, this is a wonderfully written story and I admit, I had to know which was true so I read the other’s comments to find out πŸ˜‰ But…before I did, my thoughts were that if you hadn’t mentioned in your into that it was part memoir, part fiction, I would honestly have believed the entire story was true. Your memories of all those yummy sweets sounds just like mine, every single one of them, and also I was just like you, spending all my pocket money on them πŸ˜‰ My favourites were fruit salads and those penny bubble gums which my mother abhorred – so of course, I wanted them even more πŸ˜› I too wanted to find out if you still had the glass…but I know the answer from reading the comments. Excellent read, loved it πŸ™‚


    • Thanks Sherri. My favourite were probably musk sticks – two for a penny. I liked a lot of things that you received 2 or 4 of for a penny and avoided, on the whole, threepeny items. I would usually buy one of these such as the donald duck sherbert bags with novelty and spoon after swimming. πŸ™‚ I’m glad you had a similar joy with sweets. We have English shops in Australia (mainly in the cities) that import all the traditional produce from England. It takes Roger back to his youth (english marmite and australian marmite are different) and I think you may have had an even larger variety of lollies than us.
      Glad the fiction sucked you in, although will now admit that I know someone who did get glasses worth that much as a retirement present, does use them but Roger and I refuse to have them when we go. She hasn’t broken any…….yet. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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