My parents used to tell me the story of the time they organised to meet for lunch. My father had written a note saying “Meet me at the Rendezvous Cafe”. My mother must have been asking directions because she pronounced it REN-DEZ-VOOS and was very embarrassed when her ignorance was a cause for mirth.
I looked it up and it is still there in Langtree Avenue, Mildura. The website Mildura City Heart says of it.
Since 1934, in its early days as a coffee lounge, the Rendezvous had eventually evolved into a restaurant when the Harding family took ownership in 1950 that started the journey of the Rendezvous being established as one of regional Victoria’s oldest fine dining restaurants.
I have been trying to imagine Mildura of 1950 with the pictures and postcards in my possession. I’ve also been looking at the “Old Mildura” site on Facebook where I found a wonderful Tourist Guide from 1948.
The Ozone Theatre was also in Langtree Avenue so my parents would have gone there often as they were great fans of the “pictures” as they were called then. My mother may have had her permanent wave done at Gibb’s Beauty Salon “for that satisfied look”. The ice for the ice chest would have come from Vergona’s Ice Works but I doubt they would have gone to The Old Mill for the non stop dancing on Saturday night as my father had two left feet. They would have flown with Australian National Airways maybe booking through the Real Estate Agent RH Chaffey and Co.
My mother told me I flew to Sydney on the plane in a special basket. I always imagined it was hung over the wing until I was old enough to realise that was impossible.
When I was born my grandmother flew in from Sydney to help my mother. She was shocked at the primitive conditions my mother was enduring including lighting the copper each day to boil the nappies, so she bought her an electric copper. Unfortunately my grandmother developed gall stones after only staying a week and flew home in great pain to have her operation in Sydney. I think my father was relieved as he didn’t seem to get on with his mother-in-law.
I used to love to hear the story of the grapes. This happened when my mother was pregnant with me. She had a craving for grapes and if you’ve ever been to Mildura you would know that there are thousand of acres of vines. Somehow she persuaded my father to pull over in the truck, crawl under a barbed wire fence and pick her a large, juicy bunch.
Another story often told was of the trip to Swan Hill. Apparently I was partly bottle fed so when the bag of supplies fell off the back of the truck no-one knew until it was my feed time and then I screamed so loudly a fellow traveller disappeared to the other end of the town. My parents found a milk bar and were given some warmed milk which they spooned into me. Fortunately we all survived.
The heat in Mildura would have been almost unbearable in those days before air conditioning. My mother told me how they would run the sprinkler at night and lie on the veranda under wet sheets in order to keep cool. However she said it was a dry heat and during her pregnancy she had never felt better.
Growing up with these stories I imagined Mildura to be a garden paradise in the middle of a desert and a place where my parents were very happy. While my mother was in hospital after giving birth my father came in to visit, full of new plans and new directions. So worried was my mother that she developed “milk fever” (mastitis). Of course the stress may not have been related to her illness but she thought it was. It looked like the peaceful times were over.