Ida Densley (nee Holmquest) was born at Ararat in 1938 and moved to Bacchus Marsh in 1939. Initially her family lived at the Merrimu Boarding House in Grant Street for a year and then moved into their home in Gell Street. She was only 2 years old when the Darley Military Camp was being constructed in 1940, but still has some fond memories of the war years to share.
“My mother would push me in the pram, along with a lot of the other mothers and kids, all the way out to the camp.”
“The soldiers would make lemon and sugar ice blocks for us kids that we all loved.” “…occasional as a joke, they would give us ice blocks made out of bitter lemon instead. Not so nice.”
“Mum was looking for my brother one day. She could hear him but not see him. He was standing in the middle of a circle of American soldiers. They were giving him sixpence for every swear word he taught them…”
During the war years the rural farming community of Bacchus Marsh was suddenly exposed to a significant influx of military personnel from various international locations as they trained at the Darley Military Camp. It must have been exciting times as the different cultures were forced together as the nation prepared to defend home soil. The impact was visceral as people forged lifelong friendships, sharing stories and differences in language on common ground. Much like the impact caused by the miners seeking gold almost a century prior, the existing community would have been irreversibly changed forever.
What were the swear words Ida’s brother shared with the American soldiers so far from home and what slang did they introduce to our community? The 1940s and a world war gave many of us patriotism, music, fashion, and the movies. Even, a new language to share! Here is just a taste of some of the slang from that decade. How many of these do you remember and are still in use today?
- Fuddy-Duddy – old-fashioned person
- Gobbledygook – double talk, long speech
- Fat-head – stupid or foolish person
- Chrome-dome – word for a bald-headed man
- Eager beaver – enthusiastic helper
- In cahoots with – conspiring with
- Above my pay grade – don’t ask me
- Cook with gas – to do something right
- Flip your wig – to lose control of yourself
- Grandstand – to show off
- Brainchild – someone’s creative idea
- Pass the buck – pass responsibility for
To read about Ida’s amazing recollections of Bacchus Marsh during WWII and how her grandmother wore a brooch with four stars representing her four sons serving in the Army, check out our Facebook page now.