Thread: Literary Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame
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Old 06-30-2020, 06:41 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sun surfer View Post
...But I was thinking here it was probably a bar for milkshakes, like a soda shop?...
That is exactly correct. The novel was set in the 1940's but written in the 1950's - "milk bar" was certainly a very familiar term used here in the 1950s, familiar due to they being a hangout of the "Teddy Boys" subculture (the same as the British one) started in the early 1950's. I don't know if it was a common term in the 1940s though. As far as I know they don't exist anymore, I certainly haven't heard the term used for a long time, and its use may have been a NZ thing as the "milk bars" in England and Australia are not the same thing.

People are probably far enough along in reading for me to mention the fire. Small town "rubbish dumps" were commonly used to fill small gullies in hilly districts (as in the town I grew up in) or for filling against sloping ground, earth being pushed over the accumulated rubbish once a day, or week, or whenever (farmers did the same or dug pits if ground was not hilly). They were insecure with no one in attendance managing them and usually sported many fires burning in them, sometimes getting well out of hand with the local "fire brigade" having to attend. So while I also thought the accident was covered fleetingly by Frame it did not seem improbable.

It is quite possible she built the story from recall of a real life accident, I recall quite recently a young child getting badly burnt falling into a farm "rubbish pit" which was burning but with adults there to rescue it (it is illegal to burn rubbish in urban areas though). Most city and larger town "rubbish dumps" such as our own town's are well managed and secure with sorting of rubbish, recycling, composting, etc., but I don't know the current situation in small towns. However, a little over only 20 years back we lived for a short time while doing an assignment in a very small town (around 600 pop.) close to Oamaru which is the book's rough setting location (hence "Waimaru"), the small town's "rubbish dump" was still of the insecure type, fires burning most days (I believe set by members of the public), etc.

Last edited by AnotherCat; 06-30-2020 at 06:45 PM.
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