Egotistical and uncaring: FloHum on 1960s mothers

First female councillor at the City of Perth. Awarded an OBE. Had a kiosk on the Esplanade named after her. And a tiny little park on the corner of St George’s Terrace and Mount Street.

Surely, Florence Hummerston must have been a wonderful lady. After all, look at the gentle love beaming from Cedric Baxter’s caricature above.

Let’s continue our series of excerpts from The Gap, with Auntie Flo’s observations on women who want careers. I’m sure they will be heart-warming.

Today we find so many mothers setting their children aside and going out to work because they believe it is more interesting and because it satisfies their egotistical desire for admission to society.

Okay. So Flo isn’t exactly Germaine Greer. But let’s read on, maybe she’ll soften up a bit.

The price of this, the loss of love and respect of their children is no concern.
They know they are neglected. They pretend to love the mother because they are afraid.

Quick date check. Nope. Definitely written 1962, not 1862. Anyway, Councillor Hummerston, do continue.

The argument that a mother can properly care for her children, her husband and her home and undertake a job which requires her daily absence from the home is unsound.

Do tell us why…

There is no time to cut lunches so the children go off with a few pence to spend at the tuck shop and the children’s lunch is usually chips, sweets and a bottle of fizz, as they call it.

Oh FloHum, you are so hip and up-to-date with what the young folk are saying. No wonder they all love you.

And what happens to children of those evil homes where the mother (perish the thought!) has a job?

With revenge they rejoice in their ‘day of reckoning’ and set out on a crime spree.
They are the delinquents, the problem we hear so much about.

So, if you were at school in the late 1950s or early 1960s, had a working mother and ever partook in a disgusting bottle of ‘fizz’ (as I believe the cool cats say), take a good look in the mirror. Auntie Flo did not approve of you, and there was no hope for your future.

Bodgies and widgies, leatheries and teddy boys

Helena has kindly lent me The Gap: A Book to Bridge the Dangerous Years.

A terrifying account of how in 1962, Perth’s parents had caused teenage delinquency to spiral out of control, and how the world would probably end because mothers were working and fathers were enjoying a pint in the pub.

Firstly, just admire Paul Rigby’s fine portrayal of the Narrows and Perth skyline.

Then, to whet your appetite for a short series of how people born in the 1940s were never going to grow up to be responsible adults (are you listening mum?), a quick taster:

In the office of Inspector C. E. Lamb at CIB headquarters, Perth, is a big box which could well be labelled “Remember.”

For in a mute, concentrated form it represents the highwater mark of juvenile delinquency as it loomed in this city three years ago.

That box and its contents are kept as a constant reminder of what was, and what could be again.

It is packed with a firm collection of in-fighting weapons.

Zip guns, flick knives, knuckle dusters, slashing dress rings, honed bicycle chains, timing chains, coshes… they are all there.

They were taken from bodgies and widgies, from leatheries and teddy boys, from plain larrikins.