Tuesday, February 17, 2015


We had left out two intrepid farmers battling bushfires and endeavouring to build up their stock and once again forge ahead with their plans.

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 85-


For some considerable time we had longed for a daughter and, at long last, our little girl Peggy (*Peg) was born on 2nd January, 1932.  We had both hoped for a baby girl because having a son, Len, we did not want there to be any thought that we could favour one over the other."  (This is one of the 'nearly' new arrival with her parents and half-brother.  Len would have turned 21 on 17th March.  Somewhere there is a tiny photo of dad holding me when I was very small; just wish I could find it.  Do please realise these photos were taken in 1932 so the reproduction on here is not marvellous).

"Peg was a lovely child with glorious curly hair, and she became a favourite with everybody.  All the local girls wanted to mind her wherever I went".  (This was me at 2 years and 8 months.  I was told I was wearing a blue dress and I am positive Mum did have one coloured photo but have no idea where it disappeared to.  This is a better photo as obviously it was taken in a photographic studio.)

Before she was born I went to Perth to see a specialist and decided, while there, to try and trace Len.  We had heard through the grapevine that he had left Nortons (they were farmers in Narrikup) and gone to Bunbury,  Apparently he had bought himself a motor bike and started racing.  Rumour had it that he was very successful and had become "Speed king of Bunbury".  Later it seemed he had financial problems in keeping up with the sport." (I have endeavoured to find some history of motor cycle racing in Bunbury ca 1930/32 but have been unable to do so.  I am not sure how factual this part of mum's story is but I imagine there must be some truth in it.)

"When we heard of him he was working for a photographer in Perth, and one of his duties was to collect orders from the various firms on behalf of his employer.  I enquired at Boan's counter and was told that he was due to call in there.  Luckily he came in and we were able to talk for a few minutes and made arrangements to have dinner together the following night before I returned home.

When I got back to my boarding house I found an urgent telegram from Harry requesting me to return immediately.  I concluded that something had gone wrong and that I must catch the first train home.  I left a message for Len explaining that I had been obliged to go home at once and apologised for being unable to meet him.  By some misfortune he did not receive the note and concluded I had let him down.

When I reached home I was very cross to find that there was nothing wrong at all and I could have easily stayed an extra day in Perth.  Some time later I discovered where Len was working and managed to get father and son to heal the breach.

Len came home for a while and dug potatoes at contract rates like our other diggers at the time.  When Peg was a small baby, I had a difficult job stopping both father and son from utterly spoiling her.  Len became extremely fond of his little sister and there was a close bond between them for many years.

At the time of his twenty first birthday Len was with us at Narrikup.  It was not possible to give him a party as funds were too low, but Harry did manage to give him a few pounds and I made him a modest cake to mark the occasion.

Peg had a birthday party when she was about three or four years old and I invited a few of the local children.  Of course, we had some whistles, balloons etc., and when the children started to blow the whistles and make a noise all the cows rushed up to join the party, and stood under the pines looking over the garden fence.   I imagine they thought it was a new kind of animal making the noise.  We were all very amused and, until the party finished, the cows remained en masse.

I now had one of the local girls to help me.  The Depression was being felt and there were few jobs.  The government sent us a young fellow from Scotland who was without a home and work, and he helped Harry on the farm.  I think we had to pay him £2.00 a week and provide his board and lodging which, at the time. was better than being unemployed, and we could no longer manage the work on our own.

Sunday afternoons became our visiting times, and we frequently had ten or twelve people roll up; they were mostly reasonably young and very pleasant.  However, it meant producing afternoon tea for the crowd and there was no hope of a rest before milking time.

At last, as my health began to suffer, Harry had to ask them to give us a break during busy periods.  Few of them worked as hard as I did and most wives did not work outside at all.  I was very glad they did not take offence an were understanding that ours could not be a 'do drop in' every Sunday.

Some of the neighbouring farmers and their wives came visiting during slack times. and it was possible to spot visitors coming through the top gate.  If I have no scones already made, I would then have some in the oven and almost ready to eat by the time they reached the house.  There were always home made biscuits available.  We used to buy Bushells tea in 6lb tins and, when empty, the tins were wonderful to hold biscuits.

*On my original birth certificate my given name is shown as Peggy and or many years my family, and consequentially my friends and workmates, called me Peg or Peggy.  It was not a name I ever liked and, when I was about 10 or 11, and upon reading a letter my grandfather (PR) had written to my mother wherein he had made the comment that he rather thought my name "sounded like a common household utensil" I disliked the name even more.  I had always loved the name Margaret and asked mum if I could change it.  She agreed and it was changed from Peggy to Margaret by Deed Poll.  It took many, many years before I became known as Margaret and even now there are one or two old friends that still call me Peg.  Phil also does very occasionally, although his name for me 99% of the time is Mimsie, including on birthday cards etc.

I have kept this episode short so as not become boring and will try to do that in future and maybe post them more frequently.


  1. Hari OM
    Interesting that 'Peg(gy)' is a familiar short form of Margaret and that you, in a sense, did the opposite to what most folk do, going back to the origin of the name. So many folk name their boys 'Jack' now, not realising it is actually a familiar for John...

    Loved the vision of mother making scones in seconds - my 'old dear' was a dab hand at the speedy scone too!!! It's amazing how many can be satisfied with just a bit of flour, fat and water and a good deep cuppa!!! YAM xx

    1. When you check the meanings of given names Peggy and Margaret both mean "a pearl" and of course Margaret is also shortened to Meg, Maggie and even Margo. I may have put up with Peg if it hadn't been for mum's father making that comment in his letter. When you are about 10 or 11 you take umbrage very easily.
      Mum didn't enjoy housework but she was always a great scone and pastry cook. It seemed so simple when one watched her do it. Nowadays if I want scones I buy them from Woolies!! xxx

  2. So glad your brother was lured back into the family.

    1. I think mum certainly did the right thing there. Dad was just too proud to take the first steps but he and Len became quite close as they aged which was great for them both.

  3. I was wondering about the Peggy/Margaret name, I assumed at first that your given name was Margaret, but you were called Peggy. I've known a few people, girls at school who were called Peggy when their given name was Margaret. Also a few called Sarah who were always known as Sally.
    I'm glad your Mum was able to have Len back in the family. The Sunday afternoon teas sound like a real imposition, having to feed all those people on next to nothing can't have been easy and of course the time spent socialising is time that could be used otherwise. Glad those times were stopped except for occasional visitors.

    1. Yes, I did it sort of back to front didn't I? I've never regretted it though and still enjoy being known as and called Margaret.
      I often wonder if dad thanked mum for his getting back together with his son. They were strange times back then and men were often too proud to admit they'd made a mistake.
      I think bush life back then was a lot different to these days and community spirit was very high and they helped each other much more than perhaps heppens today, except at times of disaster.
      I think they had to do a certain amount of socialising just so they could take their minds of the constant tedium of farm life, and at times it must have become tedious I feel.

  4. I'm glad that your Mom worked to get Len and your Dad talking again. I've enjoyed reading this.