Five things about summer

by Dr Andi
Publish date
18 January 2012
Comments (2)

1. Summer means getting to a century... in cricket, in the old Fahrenheit, and for a beer break.

As a little kid, I remember summer was celebrated by the number 100. It was a big deal when cricketers hit a century (as it still is) and being able to say "it's going to be (or was) 100 today!" to whomever you met that day. I also remember some outdoor workers used to stop work if it got to a hundred.

One hundred degrees Fahrenheit is 38° Celsius; it's marked as 'blood heat' (body temperature) on this old thermometer from our collection. According to Mr Myles Whelan, this advertising thermometer "had hung inside the office of Whelan the Wrecker since the 1920s." He donated the sign to Museum Victoria after the company went into receivership in 1991. I wonder... did they go for beers when it got to 100°F?

Thermometer Sign - 'Stephens Inks', Thermometer, Metal & Enamel, 1920s. (SH 930886)
Source: Museum Victoria

2. Summer means water worship... sun worship is too dangerous.

Mr Hogan from the council pool was a fit muscular chap like the Roman god Neptune; he was god of water, sea and master of the chlorinated pond. For summer after summer, Mr Hogan tried to teach me to swim. He eventually got me to swim half the length of the pool but I was never able to repeat it. Swimming is a skill that still eludes me.

Nevertheless summertime does call for a bit of water worship and don't we all miss the days of wonderful garden sprinkler action.

These floatation aids were used by Margaret Daws at the beach around 1930 when she was about four years old. The Daws family lived in Coburg and rented the same Aspendale house every year for their annual two-month summer holiday at Mordialloc and Aspendale (Long Beach).

floation aids from 1930 Water Wings - Father Neptune's Safe Float, circa 1930 (HT 21431).
Source: Museum Victoria

Here's Gerald Brocklesby jumping over the sprinkler in the back garden of his family home at Blackburn, on 17 January 1953. The Brocklesby children often played in the sprinkler in the backyard for relief from the summer heat.

Photo of boy playing in sprinkler Digital Photograph - Boy Jumping Over Rotating Sprinkler, Backyard, Blackburn, 1953 (MM 110316).
Source: Museum Victoria

3. Summer cool is a short queue at the Gelato van.

When I saw this toy ice-cream truck I thought I could hear the distant sound of a slow paced, slightly off tune - the electronic xylophone version of Für Elise. It is part of the William Boyd Childhood Collection of post-World War II country Victorian toys that belonged to Bill Boyd.

Toy ice cream truck Toy Ice Cream Truck - Metal, circa 1950s (HT 18771)
Source: Museum Victoria

4. Summer is all thanks to 23.5. The answer to the universe and everything is not 42, it is 23.5. The seasons of the year are a consequence of the 23.5° tilt of the Earth's axis and its orbital alignment with the Sun. The summer solstice (longest day) has been celebrated in a myriad of pagan, religious, humanitarian, commercial, and family rituals.

This orrery was made by Benjamin Martin in London, England circa 1770. An orrery is a mechanical model of the Solar System. Generally they were intended to be schematic representations for educational purposes rather than strictly accurate ones. This orrery contains a mechanism that can actually produce elliptical orbits around the Sun and is pictured in the winter position for Australia.

  Orrery circa 1770 Orrery, Tellurium & Lunarium - Benjamin Martin, London, circa 1770. (ST 023770).
Source: Museum Victoria

5. Summer in Melbourne is parasol one day, umbrella the next. When I started writing this blog it was a hot 35°C day. The day I was checking the final draft, it was 19°C and a hailstorm had just subsided. By the time I went for lunch the skies were clear and the sun was out.

Many years ago an overseas friend emailed me and asked me what the weather was like; instead of taking a photo outside my office window I saw this t-shirt in a souvenir shop – so I sent her a photo of that instead.

souvenir t-shirt Photo of a Melbourne 'Four Seasons in One Day' souvenir t-shirt taken many years ago at a city souvenir store.  

Oh by the way... at the moment our award-winning Planetarium at Scienceworks is running a great show about the reasons for the seasons called Tilt.

And...if you visit Melbourne Museum in the next month don't forget to check out the Summer Holiday Snaps display in the foyer. It features 40 images from our image collection depicting summer holidays around 100 years ago. We are so used to looking at people from the early 20th century in austere portraits that it's wonderful to see these relaxed, leisure-time snaps with their candid, smiling faces. Some things haven't changed so much in 100 years, after all.

Summer Holiday Snaps display Summer Holiday Snaps display in the Melbourne Museum foyer.
Image: Andi Horvath
Source: Museum Victoria

Comments (2)

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max owen 19 January, 2012 10:03
I love this stuff-etherial,gritty,quirky Can we have more please!Well done Dr Andi.
Karl 19 January, 2012 15:46
A lovely reminder of childhood days!
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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.