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The Last Australian Childhood

Kevin Moloney as written an autobiographical account of his childhood and youth. It is a wonderful resource in that it gives an overview of the 60’s and his personal life in a family of six, an Irish Catholic family living in Mt Waverly in Victoria. This story also includes local and typical customs of the times (Mum always wore a hat and gloves to go shopping), and community values and beliefs (we all looked the same). These stories indeed are so lovely that they are great to read, and will resonate with many older people.

 To begin with Kevin has happy memories of his early childhood. He had a loving relationship with his father, who worked at the local quarry. Some of the author’s earliest memories include going to the quarry with his dad on a Saturday and being able to play in the office with carbon paper, and on one occasion being taken for a drive in one of the quarry trucks. Oh Bliss!  One of the workmen made the lad a billycart which went like the wind, until a mate said he knew a way to make it go faster!

 Kevin’s mother was a happy, loving parent. One of the highlights of Kevin’s week was to go shopping with Mum to the newly opened Chadstone shopping centre which was in the outer suburbs, and could only be reached by car. They had a friend who would pick up Kevin and his Mum and take them there each week. The sights and sounds and smells are still really vivid to the author, and the joy when Mum gave him sixpence to spend on a donut was highly anticipated. Such a far cry from the shopping centre we know today.

 As with many families at that time, the Maloney’s were frugal with money.  Kevin was the youngest of four children and hand me downs were the order of the day. That was a bit unfortunate for Kevin as his three older siblings were girls. Having to wear his sister’s blue, floral dressing gown was considered his greatest unhappiness. The children went to a Catholic School, with grim stories told about the straps and the canes that were frequently used on the children.

 Even though this story is mainly set in the 60’s and 70’s, the social and personal stories are so different from today. Most people smoked, in fact Kevin’s father died at an early age from emphysema, and neighbours’ called in frequently for a drink and a yarn. Families clustered around the radio and the kerosene heater, to listen to the Sunday night shows, before the kids were hurried off to bed with a hot water bottle. Migrants were unheard of, and Government support for families in need was very scarce.

 If you are looking for a book to read and smile at, then this is a wonderful memory jogger for those who were around in that period. I do hope Kevin goes on to write another book of his following years, as this is such an open and honest account of his life and times, that there is great satisfaction in the reading.

AuthorKevin Moloney
PublisherNew Holland Publishers
DistributorNew Holland Publishers
ReleasedSeptember 2017