oosterman’s tubbing 1944
The tubbing started with the eldest and then worked itself down to the youngest, all in the same water. The water had to be reasonably hot for it to last for the five of us. This meant that for the eldest brother Frank it would have been too hot which meant jumping around outside the tub and testing with toe till it was safe to go in without scalding. I was next, usually by then the water was getting perfect in temperature and I would linger as much as possible.Of course mother would not tolerate that as the next three still had to have their tubbing. Adrian, the youngest had the worst of worlds, a water temperature close to being cold and a layer of scum from the previous job lots. Not much use being the Benjamin here!
Whatever the history of Oosterman bathing, it is my opinion that the claim by the Van Dijks having their own bathroom in Aussie-land was what finally decided my parents to go to the Australian Embassy to apply for Emigration to Australia. There was going to be an information evening with film and questions and answers type of thing. The event was very nice, informative and the colour film was a knock over if not knock- out as well. The unforgettable freedom of the delivery of the newspaper, thrown from a driving car, all rolled up and smack bang in front of the occupier of a glorious sun kissed house under biscuit coloured roof tiled pergolas, who in morning coat and smiling broadly picked up the paper from front verdant lawn, with one hand and a wave to the deliverer of good tidings with the other hand. A friendly toot on the horn from the 1952 Holden in answer, made it all just perfect.
The house that received the thrown news-paper was bathing in Southern Hemispheric sunlight and a dazzling halo of white painted fence at the front almost replicated the toothy smile of the man in morning coat picking up the Sydney Morning Herald paper. The next bit of film was a slight repeat. This time it was the postman delivering the good tidings, leaping over similar white painted picket fences, friendly chat with a female house owner this time, before his next leap. I remember worrying a little about all this chucking and leaping. Was it a cultural habit in Australia to do things by driving, chucking and leaping so much? Anyway, I decided to do as much practise jumping and running as possible, certainly wanted to make a good impression in case we would be accepted as possible immigrants.
The move to Australia was looked upon with some consternation by my school friends. Why Australia? The opinion uttered by some of my parent’s friends was in the order, that they heard “it is a boring country, no life, ” everything is shut on Sunday”. “There are no cafes where you can get together for a glass of beer”.
Not very helpful comments, hardly made it any easier dealing with a permanent separation from all those friends and family members, uncles, aunties. It installed some trepidation and up till this day, some fifty years later, I must admit there was more than a tinge of truth in what they were telling me at the time. I don’t think I will ever lose the memory of arriving in Australia’s Fremantle WA on a Sunday back in 1956.
To be continued.