Summary

Large, almost life-size, toy cat. Made from a black knitted synthetic fabric, with green glass eyes and frayed red ribbon around its neck Used in Kew, Victoria, circa 1942-1952.

The toy was made for the donor, Peter Roberts, who was born 14 November 1942. His family lived at 11 Childers Street, Kew. He discribes his family as 'lower middle class'; they were never well off. The toy is made of recycled materials, and is similiar to many made during World War II, when new toys were virtually unobtainable.

Physical Description

Large, almost life-size, toy cat. Made from a black knitted synthetic fabric, with green glass eyes, grey embroidered nose and mouth, and frayed red ribbon around its neck. The cat is in a sitting position, with straight front legs; hind legs are merely suggested by a squared shape. There is a long straight tail, 30cm long and tapered at the end. The toy is stuffed with soft material.

Significance

World War II changed life for everyone - including children. While fathers were away fighting 'Mr Hitler', many mothers worked long hours in offices and factories. Food and clothing were rationed, and children helped grow vegetables in backyard 'victory gardens'. After Japan entered the war in 1942 and invasion threatened, the fear of bombing hung in the air. Some city children were evacuated to rural areas. Many families built air-raid shelters in suburban backyards. Trenches were dug across school playgrounds, and air-raid drills were held. Yet wartime could be exciting, too. Military marches through the city streets, fireside games of strategy and battleships, and heroic tales of soldiers in far-off lands - all lit the imagination of many a Melbourne child. But reality hit hard for those children whose loved ones did not come home. (Melbourne Story label, 2008)

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