BROWN PAPER PACKAGES TIED UP WITH STRING!!
Sound of Music? No. But it does have an ‘old’ ring to it.
Hey, but sometimes we have to be reminded of the way it was, so that you can appreciate what we have today.
HAVE YOU HEARD ALL THIS BEFORE?
But, you havn’t heard about the parcels that we received, arriving from abroad wrapped in heavy brown paper. They were held together with string and sealing wax; and were always far more exciting than any parcel you get today.
Horrible grey coloured self adhesive plactic bag wrappers with printed labels or boxes covered with brown parcel tape and official looking stamps.
The parcels that lit up our little faces with smiles in Potchefstoom and Pretoria, South Africa came from the British Isles.
Our parcels were always brown and covered with old fashioned beautiful hand written addresses, lots of string, rock hard sealing wax on all the knots and , don’t forget, rows and rows of bright coloured postage stamps.
Our Auntie Nell, Dad’s sister had no children of her own, so once a year at Christmas we would each get something in the BIG parcel! More often than not it was a book; Enid Blyton’s Noddy for the little one’s, Secret Seven, Malory Towers and then the Famous Five.
As the girls grew up, we got Girls Own Annual’s or The School Friend, and any other little items she could buy and squeeze in. Books are heavy, however these parcels would come by what was then known as “surface mail”.
By van, and boat, taking all of four to six weeks before delivery. The journey was long and they did take a bit of a battering.
No containers then to keep parcels unblemished and dry.
Has this one special excitement ever died for a child?
Getting a parcel in the post!
I met our generous Auntie Nell in 1979 in Yorkshire and was able to thank her personally for the gifts that held immeasurable value, and which gave such joy. Our special library, which our big sister Pat managed, was richer for the additions.
(If you wanted a book, to read yourself to sleep with at night, before lights out, she would sign it out for you; but it had to be back the next day.)
Another parcel related story: A cancelled visit to Rhodesia, to our cousins, Irene, Sheelagh and Les Dimond, where we would have spent Christmas together, probably the first time in two years. All the Christmas presents had already been bought so had to be sent to Salsibury by post.
Our mother set aside most of the afternoon to wrap, parcel and complete that job.
It was technical, you understand::- string, fingers, matches and sealing wax were involved. This WAS NOT a one man job!
Mac knew where the sealing wax was, in Dad’s desk drawer, because he was always fiddling with everything interesting that didn’t concern him; (this in case he could take it apart, then say”Daddy fix!”) Charlotte would run along beside him to keep a motherly eye.
Charlotte had to hold the knots tight for Mom, to make sure they didn’t slip, while I held the sealing wax, Pat lit the match and we dripped the hot wax onto the knot.
This was more than likely followed by a three quarter hour walk up the Great North road (towards the borders of Rhodesia),to the post office to post it.
We would have walked past York Store, an African Trading store, where the little black picaninies danced on the verandah to the sound of Quela music. If Charlotte could be sworn to secrecy, I would have gone in and bought us a penny’s worth of Wilson’s toffees to chew along the way.
York Store was banned.
Then we would pass the Sasko Mills where our Dad was on shift.
This parcel would also have gone surface mail, with a delivery time of two weeks the norm.
Rememering the joys we experienced that I have just shared with you, I get to thinking about my little Irish team of Grandsons in Kildare today.
They are experiencing some of the old magic!
This Granny now packs up parcels and sends them over from England without prior announcement.
Their parcels are delivered to the front door by the postman, to gales of
“Open it Mummy, open it!!”
No they have no brown paper, nor sealing wax; but hey, the excitement is the same.
I sometimes wish I could hide myself inside, just to be there.