1968 was the year of change everywhere.
The year I turned 20, was a huge year as I completed my general nursing training and went on the specialty psychiatric training at Hillcrest Hospital with patients referred from all parts of northern South Australia.
Working twelve-hour shifts was hard work but we loved to dress in the latest mini’s before sharing a taxi into the city. Shimmying away at any of the latest disco’s, the cares of our ‘hard day’s night’, working with both acute and chronic psychiatric patients, dispersed.
I loved wearing a black crochet mini dress (with a nude body stocking underneath) or a red felt Mary Quant skirt. I remember asking the other girls to iron my waist length blonde hair straight, before checking my ‘Twiggy-style’ make-up (black-rimmed eyes and a pale mouth), before meeting my date downstairs at Reception.
My radiogram, with a collection of LP’s and 45’s, was ‘the spot’ for friends and me, on ‘day’s off’, as we washed and starched our uniforms and dried our hair. The Beatles’ ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ album with ‘Hey Jude’ was my favourite track, the Rolling Stones’ ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ and local Adelaide group, The Twilights’ hit ‘Cathy Come Home’ were popular with us that year.
The world seemed to be erupting into chaos in 1968, with National Service in Australia continuing to send young men to war in Vietnam, while young people around the nation marched and protested against our government’s involvement in that war. Riots occurred in Paris, the Israelis invaded Palestine; Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated and in Australia, both state and federal politics, were in a state of change and instability.
At the start of the year, another nurse and I decided we’d travel overseas, starting with a six month stint in South Africa, before heading for Britain and Europe, where the demand for Australian-trained nurses was high and the wages were double our Adelaide rate. Gaye and I had a load of brochures for the areas we’d dreamed of as desirable places to nurse, all with easy access to Europe.
But life often diverges down a different path and I met a young lawyer at a party whom I married the following year. My dreams for ‘nursing around the world’ travel soon forgotten in a whirlwind romance, somehow echoing the general feeling of ‘change’ world-wide.