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Thursday, 8 June 2017

Not just playing

This week's Sepia Saturday image features a man with a box. It looks like he took his work seriously, whatever it was. Or perhaps that is just the impression we get from his downturned moustache.

My mother Jean was a speech therapist and in her student days in Auckland NZ she worked in a clinic with children who needed help with their speech for various reasons. This photograph from 1945 is captioned 'shopping time' and shows a group of Jean's students using what looks like an old packing case as a shop counter top while they pretend to buy and sell goods from the shopkeeper. While having fun playing shops, they would at the same time have been unselfconsciously practicing their speech skills, while Jean observed and prompted when needed. Like the man in the prompt above, they don't look too happy at having to stop for a photograph. 

Of course in these days of supermarkets and self serve checkouts, you can go shopping without needing to say boo to a goose, as my father would have said. You only need to call for assistance if you make a mistake using the machine, although that happens quite often, in my case at least!

Jean with fellow staff members celebrating her retirement in 1987, after 30 years of working with children in a special school in Canberra, and a lifetime spent helping children communicate, ever since those early days in the clinic pictured above.

For more posts prompted by the man and his packing box, moustache, bowler hat and sorrowful expression, pack up and go to Sepia Saturday #371


  1. Pretend play is such a great way to practice lots of skills, not just speech. Speech problems can be so traumatic so these kids were lucky to have a compassionate therapist in your mom.

    My husband hates self checkout because he never gets it right the first time. HA!

  2. "Boo to a goose"...great expression. We loved self checkout at our market but they've discontinued it! i
    guess the "shrinkage" was high. It's not often anymore that you see a wooden box or crate. When you do
    it's usually been incorporated in some kind of craft. Hope you're enjoying Fiji!

  3. I took 2 years of French in high school, but all I remember of the language to speak it is from my first year of "Conversational French" where our learning consisted of just such situations as you describe with students playing at shopping. We had fun putting on plays in French, or immersing ourselves in various situations - speaking only in French. My 2nd year French class was all about conjugating verbs. Ugh. I remember next to nothing from that class! Kudos to your mother for knowing how best to help those kids!

  4. A classic photo. It his a shame that we don't need to speak to people anymore..

  5. A lovely memory of your mother. I remember playing at shops and always wanted a toy till. My little granddaughter has great fun playing with hers.

  6. Good for your mother working early on with speech therapy. It is such a well needed technique, and saves so many people's lives of embarrassment. Yes, playing store was always fun for us when we were children, but when I have to sell my pottery these days to the public, I am not so thrilled!

  7. Imaginative play is a wonderful way to develop children’s language. It’s a pity that playing shop is not the same as when I was at school sixty years ago. We had pretend bars of chocolate and sixpenny bits!

    1. I imagine Mum had props like that too. I still have a container full of miniature grocery product boxes and plastic fresh food items, saved from when our children played shops.

  8. Well done! I was hoping someone would have a match for the box theme. Sadly today's shop keepers don't offer much chance for practicing conversation. Self scanning checkout means even less personal contacts in the 21st century.

  9. I've always thought that speech therapy must be a rewarding and fascinating career. Your photos are great and a perfect match for the theme.