Sunday, August 9, 2009

The rainy day that never comes
Let's talk about Gwennie. Firstly, I don't call her Gwennie because of any sort of cheeky disrespect. Her proper name was Gwennie May (same middle name as me), although Mr Baby tells me she wasn't fond of it.
Gwennie passed away at the end of last year at the age of 96. She did well for herself. She lived to a ripe old age in the house where she was born. From what I understand she never would have suffered any financial stress, she travelled, she worked and she shopped.
I imagine having no mortgage or rent, and no children or dependents, her disposable income would have been substantial.
Gwennie worked as a secretary at various offices in Brisbane city including the office of McDonnell and East Department Store in George Street. She worked well into her 60s.
The first room of the house we began to sort was Gwennie's bedroom. I'm not sure why because it is neither at the back, nor the front of the house, it's in the middle.
I discovered things about Gwennie as I delved into each drawer and cupboard. I learnt that she loved clothes, jewellery, bags, hats, shoes and..... golf.
Gwennie was a long time member at Ashgrove Golf Club. I even found the letter in which she regretfully forfeited her membership when she was no longer able to play.
I wondered what a stranger may learn about me if they had to catalogue my possessions. I'm messy, I often buy the same thing over and over. I keep broken things obviously planning to fix them at some stage, but there wouldn't be any evidence of my ever actually having done that.
Going through her things, I felt sad that I had never taken the time or made the effort to get to know Gwennie. The day I had stopped to talk to her, I'd said that I would slip my phone number into her letterbox in case she ever had an emergency, but I'd never gotten around to doing it.
It's not that I had forgotten, but more that I was worried she may call me for every tiny chore she needed doing. I felt worse. I felt that I had missed out on something.
We found many photos of Gwennie. I found large framed baby photos of her, and ones of her playing golf, at the beach and tennis parties. In the most recent photo, she looked much smaller and frailer than when I had met her. Her hair was white and sitting on her lap was oddly, a lamb.
Gwen was a mad keen shopper, no doubt because she had the income to do it, but also because she worked in a department store.
On the couch in the living room we found several plastic shopping bags still with their contents and receipt inside. They looked as though they had only just been placed there by the shopper, while she went to get a drink in the kitchen, after a strenuous afternoon in the city.
I lost count of how many pairs of long white pants I found, all brand new.
There were top and skirt ensembles, purchased in the early 2000s still in their shopping bags. Some priced at over $150, and never worn.
In the sleepout, on a spare bed, I found another pile of shopping bags. They'd been there so long that the bags had actually deteriorated into shreds, so that the contents appeared to be hidden under a pile of feathers. I didn't even know that was possible.
Whenever I buy something new I wear it almost immediately, which may explain why I can be so often inappropriately dressed.

I'd love to ask Gwen, 'why'?

In Doris' room we also found underwear, pyjamas and nightgowns, still boxed with the tag on. Obviously, that 'good' occasion never arose.
Possibly their wardrobes were just so extensive that inevitably, some of it went unworn - like the Paris and Nicki Hiltons of their day!
I'm going to spend the next several blogs taking you through the fashion. I'm not sure how to go about it, whether to just go decade by decade or in categories; hats, shoes, underwear, evening, etc.
I'll work it out.
In the meantime, if you are saving something for a rainy day, for heaven's sake, wear it now. That rainy day may never come.
P.S. I don't have anything on Ebay at the moment, but when I do I'll be sure to let you know.


  1. yes yes yes please let us know your seller id so we can watch, bid or just simply enjoy

  2. How absolutely be able to explore the past through long lost possessions. You are going to find some wonderful treasures! A-M xx

  3. How exciting to be able to 'share' Gwennie's life. We will all feel like old friends of hers as you explore more and share it with us. Thanks for taking the time to chronicle your journey of discovery.