Memories of a rural childhood – E is for eels, eczema and education



The dam at the bottom of the hill was conveniently located for my brothers to try out their fishing rods. As their big sister, I seemed to mostly spend my time attaching worms and untangling the lines. Not many fish were caught, mainly just eels. These were carried back up the hill for Mum to cook. The whole family had a share, sometimes just a tiny morsel. There were yabbies in the dam too, but these weren’t caught very often!


Imagine having to bandage your young child from head to toe, including a face mask. That’s what my mother had to do when I developed weeping sores due to eczema from the age of 6 months. Whether it was due to a food intolerance or an allergy was never established. I was fortunate in that I was only hospitalised for a couple of weeks and eventually recovered fully. Allergies to pollens and dust have caused me to have hay fever symptoms and itchy eyes from time to time, but I have never had eczema again. One of my brothers was far more severely affected for a much longer time than me. I vaguely remember Mum bathing him in Pinetarsol and then dabbing the sores with cotton wool soaked in Gentian Violet. My sister and I sometimes used the leftovers to anoint our dolls!


Our parents were determined to enable all their children to make the most of their educational opportunities. It must have been quite a challenge to pay for books and uniforms at times. A couple of us winning scholarships must have helped! Mum and Dad definitely succeeded in this aim, as all eight of us started some form of tertiary education and it has become an expectation for the next generation.

10 thoughts on “Memories of a rural childhood – E is for eels, eczema and education”

    1. Thanks for your concern Suzanne. I think the itchiness is probably the worse thing, causing the sufferer to inflict more damage through scratching. Fortunately, I have no actual memory of it.

  1. What an intriguing title for the letter E! My husband has suffered from bad eczema, with the itching eh worst feature. it must have been dreadful to experience this as a child.

    1. I am trying to keep the posts somewhat unpredictable.
      As you find the title intriguing, hopefully I am succeeding!

  2. Eels – ew gross.
    Eczema – also gross. My husband developed a pretty bad case last year. In fact, the doctor thought it was shingles, but after a bit it was obviously not that. A dermatologist came to the rescue but it took quite a while to clear up.

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