‘Knitted swimwear was fine until you entered the water, then it sagged’

Family Fortunes: We spent all our summers playing on the beaches of Co Waterford – tyres used as floats, buckets and metal spades

Marilynn Hearne and her brother David in Waterford.

Marilynn Hearne and her brother David in Waterford.

 

This picture is of me and my younger brother David. We are at a small boat-cove and beach called Dunabrattin in Co Waterford – the photo was taken by my father, who told me to put my arm around David. He had to tell me to do this because we often fought – a year separates us.

I am a head higher but he always wins our battles by catching my wrist and biting it so hard it leaves the imprint of his teeth. He is wearing a pair of knitted bathing togs, I have a pair too – the logo on mine is a crab.

We were allowed to pick the design by my mother before she knitted them – she was a great knitter, reading a book as she worked the stitches, only occasionally looking to see if there was an error. I am wearing a dress, which probably means we are about to go home. My togs will be lying in a sodden, sand-soaked heap nearby – knitted swimwear was fine until you entered the water, then it sagged around the ankles.

This photograph encapsulates the innocent childhood we had. No television, plastic, smartphones or computers. We made our own entertainment

We spent all our summers on the beaches of Co Waterford, me, my brothers and my parents, driving in a Zephyr, a picnic tea in the boot, rugs to sit on, black inner bits of tyres used as floats, buckets and metal spades (we are holding these in the photograph) – they came with a strict parental warning to mind our bare feet as we sliced into the damp sand as easily as a hot knife through butter. We still have all our toes.

I remember banana sandwiches, made in the morning, resulting in a blackened filling by late afternoon, eaten with alacrity along with Thompson’s battenburg chocolate cake, shaped like a roof with thick ridged chocolate on top, the whines for the first and last slice which had the extra chocolate – I think I had more than my fair share, being the only girl I was spoilt – and then the hot, sweet, milky tea to warm us all up.

I have always loved this photograph: it seems to encapsulate the innocent childhood we had. No television, plastic, smartphones or computers. We made our own entertainment.

A few years ago, David gave me a framed copy of the picture for my birthday – it sits pride of place on a table in the sitting room.

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