Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I am recovering from shingles although still some scarring remains and some pain; the antibotics I was on gave me thrush; my back was so bad for a few weeks that I could hardly walk (and certainly not without at least one stick) and now I've developed a damned cold sore.

It is obvious that someone, somewhere, just doesn't like me anymore but despite them I am determined to survive so they can put that in their pipe and smoke it.

I don't like complaining to people but here in my own private little world I can do it...so there!!!

Should anyone bother to read this then just ignore the ravings of this woman who is what you may called a little bit fed up.

One wonderful thing that has come out of this is that MOH has been playing 'mother' a lot of the time and seems to have discovered a love of cooking. He made some really delightful pea soup today and we've just finished a delicious slow cooker stew. I've told him he is wonderful but he takes a lot of convincing..still I think he is.

Friday, August 27, 2010


You may remember I mentioned some weeks back that, while out for a walk, MOH had pulled the muscle in his right calf quite badly, so badly in fact that he couldn't even take a walk round the block.

Eventually I persuaded him to have treatment from my lovely physio Jenny and after several treatments and appropriate exercises he was given to do the leg finally came good. He experimented by going for short walks, first round the block and gradually a little further.

I am so fortunate that he was quite OK in the house as he is such a big help to me and this has been particularly so over the past 4-5 weeks while I have been off colour.

I kept mentioning golf to him and finally on Monday he went to the public course at Fremantle and played 7 holes. He came home a bit stiff but quite pleased to have got that far and today I suggested he go again and he played another 7 holes and was much better this time. He does get a little puffed as he has breathing problems at times but his leg is fine without a hint of trouble in it.

Our family all clubbed together and bought MOH (for his birthday and Christmas in December) one of those motorised buggies which means he doesn't have to pull the clubs along and only really has to walk around the course (and swing the clubs of course). He says he has to be careful the buggy doesn't take off without him but I think he is just pulling my leg.

I am so grateful to the family for buying this buggy as it means, hopefully, that MOH will continue to play golf for some years to come as he enjoys it so much. He is not an expert but I know he just loves to get out in the open air and trees etc. He may even get back to playing with the little club at Point Walter Golf Course as with the buggy the hills there are not a real problem any more.

He has been down in the dumps because of this leg problem but now I think he is on the road to recovery and back to being his old self again....

Thursday, August 26, 2010


A granddaughter of ours is hurting badly, she is terribly sad. A tragedy overtook her that she was not prepared for (nobody even can be) and trying to come to terms with this event is really difficult for her (and her dear husband too).

One wonders what is the best response....I felt it best to stand back and give her time and I was so delighted when she telephone us yesterdy and she and I had quite a long chat but the sadness was there.

She knows how many people love her and that she has their full support but what do you do? You don't want to crowd her and yet you feel you should do something. Unfortunately I am not physically able to do too much but mentally I am strong enough to talk through anything with her should she wish to do that.

If there is anything particular that she would like us to do she only has to ask and we will be there in an instant. If you should read this my dearest one remember we are here and would do anything we could to help lighten the load you bear.

They say time heals all wounds but some wounds do leave scars that stay with us for life. Fortunately they don't' hurt as much as the original wound but they are still there to remind us of what was.

All we can do is say we love you both very much and you must let us know if there is anything a couple of oldies can do to help lighten the load.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


In my last blog I wrote of my very first job and the girls I worked with. In May 1987 I suddenly realised it was 40 years since I had begun working with them and thought it would be great if we could meet up.

Val I had kept in touch with over the years, mainly through birthday and Christmas cards and the odd telephone chat and I had also spasmodically been in touch with Wilma. June I had completely lost touch with and had had no contact since I returned from Melbourne in 1951.

I telephoned Val and Wilma who were keen for us to meet up and then also rang June who was delighted at the idea of the four of us having lunch together. I also tried to reach Greta and Peg but without any luck. I did speak to Greta's father who told me that Greta was stricken with chronic arthritis and he doubted if she would be able to join us so I decided not to bother her.

We arranged to meet at the restaurant in King's Park for lunch and what a wonderful time we had. My mother (who the girls had all known very well) had written her memoirs so I was able to give each of them a copy of her book which I think they were pleased to have. After all they had been around during our teen years and often been to our home and got to know my folks quite well, especially my mum.

We had a photo taken together and this I treasure as two of we four are no longer here. We did go to each other's homes for meals after this lunch date but Wilma became very ill with breast cancer and died when she was only 57 in 1989. Val, who had diabetes rather badly, succumbed to her illness and died in 1998 when she was 65. I was glad that we saw quite a bit of Val and her husband Owen before then.

We have visited June and her husband Doug a couple of times but they live in the far northern suburbs which involves a lot of travelling so it is now down to birthday and Christmas cards being exchanged with the odd note being added now and then.

Looking back I feel so glad I arranged for the four of us to get together after all those years and I think they were glad also. We certainly had lots to talk about.

I often think of girls I went to school with but doubt I am ever likely to meet any of them again. None of them attended the reunion at Mercedes last year and I have never been to a reunion at Perth College. I guess I could put a notice in Can You Help? but I was never as close to those girls as I was to Val, Wilma and June so perhaps not. As I said before you can go back to the place but not the time and too many years have probably elapsed since my school days, even if I do have quite vivid memories of them.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I am writing this more for my sake than anybody who happens to check my blog (not many do which speaks volumes in itself) as it is nice at my age to sit down and reminisce about the past. I am fortunate in having a very good memory altho' at times little things do escape me.

Previously I wrote about my love for Vic Square (Mercedes) College and my dislike of Perth College and how I managed to persuade my folks to allow me to attend a commercial college to learn shorthand typing etc.

I think I was fortunate that they chose City Commercial College (it was situated above Levinsons the jewellers at 713 Hay Street in Perth) as their students were thought of quite highly by the business houses of the day.

The subjects I learned were shorthand, typing, business maths, business English, bookkeeping and business principles (including banking and that type of thing). I didn't really enjoy either of the latter two subjects which carried through into my working life when I avoided clerical work like the plague. I really enjoyed shorthand and typing and when I was 14 I obtained my Commercial Junior Certificate in all six of the above subjects. The usual age for a student to sit for their Junior was 15 but (probably partly because of correspondence lessons when I was living on the farm) I was always up to a year younger than the other girls in my class.

Having passed the Junior I was of course eligible to look for work but my Dad decided that 14 was far too young to begin work and that I should continue at CCC for a further years. Shock horror!! What would I do as I'd learned all I could and mainly practised my shorthand and typing and in particular my shorthand speeds.

One thing that amazed me was when the college asked me if I would contemplate becoming a trainee teacher at their school. I had been very good at shorthand and they felt I would make a good teacher of that subject. Having always been a rather shy person the very thought of teaching students, some of whom may be older than myself, filled me with dread so I declined their offer.

Right at the end of first term the Principal called me to his office and told me he had a very good job come in (a lot of the insurance companies etc would approach CCC looking for staff) and he wondered if my father would perhaps allow me to attend for an interview. I went home that night and using all my female wiles I asked Dad if I could please at least find out about the job. Fortunately he agreed and that was the beginning of my working career.

Friends at CCC had begun work as invoice typists and the like (they were the ones for which shorthand was a difficult subject) on salaries of about 18/6d per week ($1.85) whereas my first week's pay was two pounds five shillings ($2.50) and I received a raise in pay before I got my second pay envelope and was earning the princely sum of two pounds seven shilling and sixpence ($2.75). It was certainly worthwhile being good at shorthand!!

This first job was at the Royal Automobile Club at 228 Adelaide Terrace, Perth but in their insurance section which was known as Club Motor Insurance, an amalgamation of about 53 different insurance companies. After about two weeks in the job we were told by the boss (Norm Stehn) that the RAC had decided to start their own insurance company and that Club Motor Ins would no longer be situated in their office.

We moved to what had been a shop that had been renovated and converted into an office at 48 James Street (opposite Perth Boys' School) and next to the then Police Traffic Office and also the police training school. I met a couple of very nice trainee policemen at that time, a couple of whom I went out with a few times.

In those days all Third Party Insurance was carried by insurance companies and was not part of the car licence as it is today. All TPI policies fell due on 30th June so you can imagine how busy we were at that time of year, sending out invoices and receiving payments. You had to have your TPI receipt before you could renew your car licence.

After about 6 months the insurance companies that comprised Club Motor Insurance decided to dissolve the business and Mr Stehn made the decision to become an insurance assessor. He employed an ex-policeman (Mac) and a motor mechanic (Sid) as assessors and there were at that time 4 or 5 females who ran the office. Apart from myself there was Peg, June, and Greta (she was the head of the office although only about 20 herself). I think actually Wilma joined us a little later on so perhaps only 4 of us to begin with. We all got on really well together and the office ran like clockwork.

Eventually Peg and Greta married and then Val joined the team along with a young girl (also Val) to operate our switchboard. She was in some way related to the bosses wife and took advantage of this fact by being a bit careless in her work and cheeky too. She really got us very cross and instead of complaining to the boss I decided to look for another job. I had an interview with an office in town and was given the job and then had to go and tell Mr Stehn that I was leaving.

I was told the following Monday (by Sid) that the boss had come down into the main office after we'd left for the day on Friday and said "Sid, come down the pub will you?" They went to the hotel on the corner of James and William Streets quite regularly after work and this is where they went that night. Apparently he asked Sid why I was leaving without an explanation and Sid told him straight out that he felt it was because of the younger Val and her behaviour.

The boss called me to his office that Monday and told me he thought he knew the reason for me handing in my notice and that if Val was the reason then he would sack her. I said I could not allow this to happen beause of me so he said he would speak to her if I would agree to stay on. I said I would and he then offered me a one pound a week raise. I was horrified and said it sounded as though he was bribing me. He laughed and said 'You and June are on the same wage and have been here the same length of time so how about I give you both a raise?" This made sense so I agreed to stay. At this time I was only just 18 years of age.

I truly loved my work there and the people with whom I worked and proof of this is that Wilma and Val were my bridesmaid and matron of honour at my first wedding and Wilma, June and I used to stay at each other's homes and go dancing at the various tennis clubs on the weekend.

I actually did leave this wonderful job later that year but more of that in another story.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I spoke previously of my love for Victoria Square (Mercedes) College and the sadness I felt at being forced to leave there before I had a chance to attend the BIG SCHOOL to do my Junior and perhaps even my Leaving certificates.

Events do change the course of our lives and I am convinced that this certainly changed mine to some extent. My mother's choice for my next school was Perth College in Beaufort Street in Mount Lawley.

I was due to begin there in February of 1944 but as chance would have it my appendix decided to burst in the last week of January of that year. I was in hospital until the end of February and following that there was a long period of convalescence and I was unable to attend school until the beginning of second term in May. Mum and Dad tried to keep me doing school work at home but I don't think they ever actually procured any word from Perth College itself which to me now seems a great pity.

Their curriculum was somewhat different to that of Vic Square as some subjects studied in the senior school here had been studied by their students in lower classes. Subjects like algebra, geometry and languages had not been part of our learning at Vic Square and to start school a whole term late made it very difficult to catch up with all the new subjects. My marks at Perth College suffered partly because of this and partly because I was just not happy there. I had no incentive for achievement.

The war had not affected staff numbers at Vic Square because of course the teachers were all nuns but at Perth College there was indeed a shortage of staff because of the war and we even had a man teacher which was most unusual at a girls' school in those days. He was I must admit a bit of a character and took us for geography and science. He had a thing about the Zulus in Africa and we did play on this a bit as one of the girls would innocently put up her hand and mention the word Zulu and off he would go talking about them for quite a long time. Also, when we were supposed to be in the prep room (we would go there when we didn't have a set class) a few of us would find him in the science lab when he wasn't taking a class, and he would show us how to blow glass and all sorts of weird and wonderful things. I even remember that his name was Mr Scobie.

I didn't like Perth College as I felt some of the teachers tended to favour the girls from very wealthy families. I may at age 12 been wrong about this but I have never liked snobbery of any kind and this was how it seemed to be to me. Many of the girls went on to marry into wealthy families and I hope they were very happy.

One thing that amazed me was the fact that at the catholic school nobody went to church during the day except when the catholic girls attended a service at St Mary's Cathedral on Ash Wednesday when they would all arrive at school with little dobs of black on their foreheads. Shirley and I would have fun and tell them they had dirty faces and we would all have a laugh about it. At Perth College however we had to attend chapel every morning before we began our lessons. This was of course a Church of England school and one of the heads was actually a C of E nun (Sister Rosalie). If we got the chance we would hide in one the cupboards so as not to go to chapel which I am sure was very wicked of us.

Although I would have stayed at Vic Square for a further 5 years my only thought was to leave Perth College at the first opportunity. I felt the best way would be to say I would like to do office work as perhaps a shorthand typist. Although I think Mum was a trifle disappointed at this choice she agreed and I was therefore meant to go into the commercial class in my 3rd and 4th years at Perth College. It took two years to do a commercial Junior certificate because you had to study other subjects as well.

When I finished my second year there we were told that the commercial class was booked out for the following year and I'd have to do another year in between. I was horrified at the thought of this and finally persuaded my folks to allow me to attend a commercial college in the city.

One highlight of my time at Perth College was when the war in the Pacific ended which was of course the complete end of World War 2. We were, I remember, allowed to go to the shop on the next corner to buy a special newspaper that had been printed to commemorate the cessation of hostilities. I think we had to queue at the gate (of course wearing our hats) and about 10 girls were allowed out at any one time. As one arrived back another would be allowed to go to the shop. I think I still have that newspaper in my possession but can't guarantee it.

I had 3 special friends at Perth College and their names were Hillary, Pam and Betty. I often think of them and wonder which direction their lives took. I remember a few of the other girls as well and one in particular later became a lifelong friend although we hardly knew each other at Perth College.

I have beeen invited to school reunions but have never felt the inclination to attend. I doubt I would know anyone there and I feel I am a little out of their league or the other way round perhaps.

Soon I will tell of my year and a bit at City Commercial College and my very first job.
It may not be all that interesting to others but I am enjoying reminiscing about the early years of my life so bear with me with patience please.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


My daughter has just talked about her days at primary school in her blog and it made me begin to think about my own school days.

While we still lived on the farm in Narrikup I did correspondence lessons so was able to write and read a little when we came up to Perth several months before I turned 6.

We were renting two rooms in a very large two-storey house at the top of Wellington Street and my parents decided to send me to the nearby state school. I don't remember much about it but apparently I became ill and the doctor said it was a sort of nervous breakdown (what? at age 5? never!!). He must have been a very wise man 'cos he asked lots of questions about what had happened in the past couple of months. He was told about us having to leave the farm because of mum's poor health and also about me beginning school. He asked lots of questions about that in particular.

As it turns out (and I am sure he was correct in his diagnosis) I had been placed in a Bubs class as I was (under state school jurisdiction) too young to be in Standard One. He came up with the idea that my young mind had rebelled at being taught things I already knew and was causing this "illness" I was displaying.

I have no idea how mum and dad afforded to do so but they enquired at Victoria Square College (now Mercedes College) in Goderich Street near St Mary's Cathedral to see if I could be enrolled to attend their school. I was accepted (although a protestant) and they had 3 stages in the Bubs class so I was in Third Bubs and could go on learning new things.

I loved that school so much and although all but one of my school friends were Catholic it made no difference at all. I loved the nuns that taught us (even one who could be a bit cranky at times) and was devastated when my mother, in her infinite wisom, made me leave at the end of Standard 6 because the school insisted that from the following year ALL students in future would have to take religious instruction. She had been bought up a Baptist and although she didn't attend church, back then she definitely didn't want me to become a Catholic. It was so silly as Shirley (she was the other protestant in the class) and I always sat at the back of the classroom when the lesson was Catechism so of course heard all of it anyway. If after six years I'd given no indication of wanting to become a Roman Catholic what on earth made my mother think it would happen if I partook of those classes.

In Standards 1 and 2 (they used to have combined classes) we had Sister Mary Leila and she was as real sweetheart. Of course back then the nuns wore full habits so you only saw their facea and hands which made it difficult to determine their ages but I think Sister Leila was quite young and wonderful with young children.

In Standards 3 and 4 we were taught by Mother Aliquot, a very tall woman and quite strict but a very good teacher. Like my daughter we did sewing and Mother A always used to say my stitches looked like hen's teeth, whatever that meant. She wasn't over keen on my writing either so although I had very good grades there were obviously some things at which I wasn't completely perfect. We of course used dip in pens with inkwells set in the desks.

It was during those years that we also learned to knit and we used to knit articles to send to our soldiers who were away fighting in World War Two. I actually learned how to turn the heel of a sock which held me in good stead in later years when doing serious knitting. We knitted socks, scarves and I think balaclavas as well and it was a lot of fun. I often wonder what the soldiers thought of our efforts.

In Standard 5 we had Sister Mary Ligouri (not sure of spelling) and she could be quite cranky but also lovable as well. She was older (she had lines on her face) and I was fortunate to be an excellent speller as she would give you a smack on the hand with her little wooden ruler for each spelling you got wrong. One girl (Pat) just couldn't spell and poor thing was always getting little sharp smacks with the ruler for her mistakes. She was a bright girl but just not good at spelling.

Apparently I was a bit of a talker and Sister Liquori was say "you could talk the legs of an iron pot my girl" which I thought quite a strange expression but I knew what she meant and tried to keep quiet. The females in our family do have the gift of the gab so guess it is a genetic thing. I tend to write the same way...sort of gabble on a bit.

The war was hotting up and we had this underground air-raid shelter outside our classroom (I am sure there were others as well scattered around the grounds) and I can remember having air-raid practice. The bell (or siren perhaps) would sound and we'd all have to scamper to the shelter and sit in there for some time to get used to doing so. Although northern parts of our state (and Darwin) were bombed by the Japanese we were fortunate that they never made it south to Perth.

Our Standard 6 teacher was Sister Mary Norbert and she was very young and fresh out from Ireland. She was a very devout Catholic and in fact gave Shirley and me some "holy pictures" which none of the other nuns had ever thought of doing. Mum found mine in my school bag and was furious and I often wonder if this was the beginning of the end for me at Vic Square.

I used to gaze at the buildings which housed the classes for Junior and Leaving students and dream of the day when I would be part of it (we littlies were never allowed in that area) but the bubble burst and the dream was no more. I do feel that had I continued at that school I would have gone on to do my Leaving and even university perhaps. How our lives can be changed so significantly.

The memories of my just over six years at Vic Square are so vivid and so happy too. I attended a reunion a couple of years back and actually met Sister Mary Norbert who had taught me in Standard 6 and yes, she did remember me. Maybe because I was not a catholic but I don't think that was it entirely. Teachers do tend to remember students from year back. She of course by this time would have been in her early 80s and was living in a retirement village but it was still nice to meet up with her and we had a really long and interesting chat.

At the reunion I learned that several of the girls I'd known so well at school had died which was sad but as we are all getting much older it is of course inevitable. I am glad I attended the reunion but the school had changed so much that I barely remembered it which was a pity. As they say "You can go back to the place but not the time" which was the case on that occasion.

My sincere thanks go to those 4 nuns who played such a large part in my life for six years, the formative years. I am sure they taught me a lot that was good and I am glad I attended a Catholic school as I think it made me more tolerant of other's beliefs and faiths. You don't have to all believe exactly the same thing but you can still get on well together and respect other people regardless.