the time when I decided back in 1987 that it would be nice to try and contact the girls I had first worked with when I began my job in 1947 with Norm Stehn, the Insurance Assessor, girls who had also become close friends during my younger years.
I had maintained some contact with Val Page (nee Edmunds) but had not seen her for years so I first rang her and asked her if she would have lunch with us if I could contact Wilma Dachtler (nee Longwood) and June Prince (nee Wilson). Val agreed it would be a great idea so to the telephone I went.
Both Wilma and June said "yes, let's get together" so arrangements were made to meet for lunch in the restaurant in Kings Park. I also tried to contact Greta (she was a little older than us but had always been great fun). I managed to contact her dad (he must have been a good age by then) but he said best not to bother Greta as she had chronic arthritis and seldom went out. In some ways I regretted afterwards that I had not asked for her phone number, even just to ring her and have a chat. We often in hindsight ask ourselves "Why didn't I do that?" Alas, I didn't know her married name.
The four of us had a most enjoyable lunch and sat for two hours or more chatting away about what each of us had done over the past 40 years. I knew Wilma had not had children and that Val had 3 boys but had no idea about June's family. I think she told us she had 2 boys and a girl but my memory has let me down there.
As these three had all been so much part of my young life and even stayed at our home at times, and I at theirs, they knew my mum very well so I gave each of them a copy of mum's book. They all promised faithfully to read it and do you know I never asked them if they actually did do so. It would have been impolite of me to ask as it would have made it difficult for them to answer "No" if they hadn't. Had they read it they would, of course, have recognized many of the stories mum told about how we all went dancing etc. etc. Oh, what a wonderfully happy youth we all had.
This is a photo Wilma's husband took of us after we'd had lunch. He had come along to collect Wilma which was fortunate as we could then have our photo taken together. From left: yours truly, Wilma, Val and June. (You may remember that Val was my matron of honour and Wilma by bridesmaid when I married Aubrey back in 1953. I had lost touch with June prior to that. )
It was obviously quite a cool day but as usual there I was wearing short sleeves. Until recently I seldom wore winter clothing and, even now, seldom wear long sleeves unless it is very cold.
After this get together, the four of us got together on a few occasions for meals at each other's homes and it was great for our husbands to be part of our reunion as well. Wilma was involved with a begonia club and sent invitations for us to go to their open days but she never did get me hooked on growing begonias. The couple of attempts I made to grow them were dismal failures so decided it not worth the effort.
Unfortunately Wilma was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after our first meeting but she fought a brave fight only to lose her battle in October, 1989. She and her husband called to visit me one afternoon and Wilma gave me a vase on which was painted a black cat. She had done a lot of china painting over the years. She knew my love of cats and this vase was a memento of our friendship. Wilma told me in front of Jim that she had said he must find someone nice and not be on his own once she had gone and two Christmases after that, in his greeting card, Jim wrote that he'd met a lovely English lass with whom he was very happy. Knowing Wilma as I did, I know she would have been so happy for him. We've not heard from Jim since then but there is a J.F. Dachtler living in Mandurah and I imagine that would be he. He was a very nice man, a great yachtsman, and he deserved to be happy after the way he had cared for Wilma during her illness.
Val was a type 2 diabetic. Her mother and 2 uncles also had had diabetes so it was well and truly in the family and in January, 1998 Val also left this mortal call after suffering a sudden heart attack. We had travelled down to their home in Rockingham on two occasions for lunch and after Val's death her husband Owen maintained their home until a few years ago when he moved into a retirement village in Wembley Downs. I am pleased to say that Owen keeps in touch with us at Christmas when we exchange cards. I think he is on his own but seems to be living a quite contented life.
Val and Wilma were two wonderful 'girls' and I am so glad we met again and were able to enjoy each other's company, at least for a time. I have such happy memories of them both.
I am still in touch with June and her her husband Doug but they live in a retirement village in Merriwa which is 58 kilometres north of us up the coast and it's a 50 minute drive on a good day. We did visit them several years ago, but it is a very long drive so we just keep in touch at Christmas and June and I still remember each other's birthdays with a card.
Val, Wilma and I were all born in 1932 but June was born in 1931 and in the month of June, hence her given name.