Bite Size Memoir

Bite Size Memoir #6: My first Job

I’m still playing catch-up with Lisa’s Bite Size Memoir challenges from the past. Lisa is back from her short break now, so the prompts have begun again. This time, instead of the 150 words, I am using the option of 10 x ‘I remember’ statements.  I was 17 when I began my twelve month State Enrolled Nurse training at the Mount Gambier Hospital, my birthplace, in South Australia. So, here we go… shame I cannot lay my hands on my certificate and badge, and I haven’t a proper photo of me in uniform.

I remember My First Job.

I remember wearing a bright lime green midi-dress, with a gold chain belt, and white boots to my interview with Matron Odgen.

I remember the embarrassment of being examined by kindly Dr Joske, at Casterton, for the health assessment and chest xray.

I remember that first day going into my own room, on the fourth floor: room 407, and getting in trouble at one regular room inspection, months later, for not using Marveer to polish the wooden fitted furniture.

me nurses home

I remember the amazement I felt, that first time, going to the staff cafeteria – the yummy smells, all that food.

I remember I promptly put on weight because it was the first time in my life I’d ever had access to as much food as I could eat – three courses! every day!me blue lake

I think I remember that my uniforms were laundered (the property of the hospital), but I had to iron them, using Fabulon ironing spray: I shrunk my pink woollen mini dress (you can tell) in the wash and also managed to shrink a yellow woollen jumper (which took me months to knit) in the clothes dryer.

me lift




I remember collecting my first pay from the bank and buying a secondhand lounge suite for my mum: I still have a payslip to show you one day.

I remember being scared in my first lift experience: I still am nervous in them. (That’s a classmate in the photo.)

me nursing

The watch my parents gave me when I left home: it was impractical for reading while counting pulses, so I had to get another.

I remember the first body I prepared for the morgue, but I cannot remember her name: I treated her with respect and I cried.

me hotpants

I remember the first time I had to give an injection – the glass plunger fell out TWICE – and, after signing out the drug for the third time, the Sister came and watched, but she still made me do it to the poor woman patient: Over the border, in Victoria, nursing aides didn’t do injections.


Click on the elephant to see stories by other bloggers.

Bite Size Memoir

Bite Size Memoir 5: Camping

I’m still catching up on the prompts for Lisa’s Bite Sized memoirs.  For compilations of other stories with this theme, click on the elephant under the post.

So Camping is the prompt for this week’s Bite Size Memoir – I’m thinking ‘outdoor recreational activity’

My love of camping comes from Dad: always happiest by water – fishing, drinking, reading – whilst one of us kids watched the rods.

My first memory of camping was living in a tent; most likely we were ‘between’ homes. I think it was at Victor Harbour, South Australia: sand dunes, the ocean, and other children to play with. I don’t know my age. I must have been extremely young. You can judge from what happened.

My calls of nature were usually conducted in the sand dunes. I was amazed one day, whilst taking care of business. I yanked up my panties, rushed along to the tent and burst in, shouting.

“Mum! I did a pee and a poo at the same time!”

These words initiated the first of two smackings I ever received from my father. We had visitors in the tent, and dad was embarrassed by my outburst.

Dad at Blackfellows Caves, South Australia – fooling around with a gummy shark.  January 1971. My last camping trip with my father and two of my brothers. I kissed a boy for the first time on this trip.


As to smacking, there are only two incidents where I remember being chastised by smacking on the bottom by Dad. He might have used his belt, I do not recall.  I would receive the odd biff under the ear, now and then. Earning such a biff, for example, during helping dad in his blacksmithing, when letting the forge fire get too cool because I was busy reading a western, instead of turning the blower handle at the right speed.

Swearing was a no-no, in dad’s hearing, too. If he was too far away to smack you under the ear, you would get the piercing blue eyed look. In a way, that was far worse.

Gee, I’m talking about my dad a lot. One of my new blogging friends has recently lost her father, and I think this has made me think of mine a bit more. He was a bit of a bastard, really, but I loved him. He died before his 50th birthday. Basically, he drank himself to death.

Bite Size Memoir, Other Stuff

Bite Size Memoirs: No 2, 3 and 4.

I’ve joined in Lisa’s Memoir challenge late, but want to catch up with the completed prompts from the past. Lisa is on a break, so that will give me that chance.   Memoir must be no more than 150 words. I could also choose to do 10 x remember statements.

If you would like the see the posts others have posted, just click on the elephant below each post,. It will take you to a compilation.

Bite Size Memoir No.2 “Jinks and Japes”

I’m a spoil sport when it comes to pranks. No doubt, I was mean to my younger sister and four brothers and played tricks on them; as you do.

Mr Ex told me of his favourite prank. He and his friends would place a wallet or handbag on the side of the road, then hide. As a vehicle was pulling up, they’d yank the wallet out of sight using the attached fishing line. Then, they’d stay hidden until the puzzled driver departed.

One day, my flustered daughter came running inside. She owned up that she’d just been caught doing the same thing!

Last year, I saw a wallet upended on the road. I stopped, but not until I’d looked around for the fishing line. There wasn’t enough cover to hide anyone. The wallet belonged to an old bloke nearby, having fallen from the top of a taxi exiting his street.

Bite Size Memoir No.3 “Magic and Fairy Tales”

Mum brought magic alive for us. She encouraged us to believe.

At one home, we had a magic date tree that bore fruit only at night. At another, we would plant a penny in the dirt, marking the spot with a stick. It would turn into two bob overnight. Everyone knew about the tooth-fairy, but this one was our special fairy.

We feared the hobgoblins and hobyahs, and watched out for trolls. Mum fed us ghost stories. When older, we would sit in the dark, around the open fireplace, and scare ourselves silly.

I’ll always remember the time Mum did see a ghost. She came rushing into her bedroom – I was sleeping in the old cot while Dad was away – and told me she’d seen Nana’s feet doing her signature twiddling thing in front of the fire. Nana had given the promised sign. I was sworn to secrecy.

Bite Size Memoir No.4 “Sports Day”

As a child, I wasn’t a very physical person. I struggled with physical education at school. I’d prefer reading a book. The only game I was remotely interested in was softball in third grade. As long as I got to the first base, I did well. I could run, fast.

I reached my peak in Grade 6, at George Street State School, Hamilton. I was taller than almost everyone else so I could run faster, jump higher and longer. I was a star.

I came back to reality in High School when I resumed my place near the back of the pack. Mum would happily write me a note once a month to get out of sport. It didn’t get me out of donning the dreaded bottle green tunic and bloomers. Uggghhhhh! How I hated that sports uniform.

Sport’s days were hot and boring. Swim sports? I won’t go there.



Outside of my 150 words, I want to point out that, as an adult, I did play lawn bowls, basketball and netball – even a game of competition tennis once when the team was desperate!

That was fun! I hope you enjoyed my bite sized memoirs as much as I did writing them.