Monday, February 23, 2015


The Rawleighs business is doing well and Len and Jean were married in 1940.   At long last things are definitely looking up for the family.

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston. (pp.96-98)  (Photo 1 is not mine but photo 2 is a family photo).

"By this time I was feeling much better and decided to offer my services to the Red Cross.  I was asked to assist Miss Turton at Royal Perth Hospital, which involved taking the trolley round the wards so the patients could buy a variety of small goods, serving teas and helping with the shop and library.  This was voluntary work and we were rostered for half day periods in the old original part of the hospital to start with and, later, in the new building."  (No, unfortunately this is not mum, but this was the type of volunteer work she was doing).

Red Cross ladies were well known and most helpful to patients, particularly those without regular visitors who needed some help with shopping etc.  This was my first return to welfare work and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

We now felt the need for something better in accommodation and we rented a nice furnished house at 67 Auckland Street in North Perth from a Mr and Mrs Coombs.  They were having difficulties in meeting financial commitments, and only retained for their own use the back verandah and share of bathroom facilities.  It was a very comfortable home and, as there was a piano, Peg was able to practise and I too was able to amuse myself as of old.

The larger building enabled Harry to keep the vast amount of stores then necessary, and the arrangement was a happy one, particularly as Mrs Coombs became very fond of Peg.

They had a dog and we had a nice blue-grey cat called Molly.  We wondered how they would settle down together and were delighted when they became the greatest of friends and even shared the same sleeping quarters.  When Molly had kittens the dog looked after them if Molly was absent.

Molly made herself comfortable on Peg's bed to have her kittens, and the young lass watched the whole thing and was left in no doubt as to how kittens and presumably, other creatures arrived.  The cat had been put out and we were horrified to discover she had sneaked back in.  However, Peg did not turn a hair and with delighted with the kittens.  Mrs Coombs was rather horrified at what had taken place but we assured her no harm had been done and reminded Peg had lived on a farm for nearly six years."  (This is me with Molly and some of her kittens.  Not sure if this photo was taken at Auckland Street or later at Coronation Street).

(I am going to interrupt here as I think mum has her story a little wrong.  I am almost certain Mr Coombs was away in the Air Force (or one of the services) and Mrs Coombs was living in a room at the back of the house and had a job in the city.  I know I was sleeping on the partly closed in back verandah which is how Molly came to have her kittens on my bed and not that she had snuck back in after being put out for the night.  I was about 8 at the time and I remember the birth of the kittens so well.   I sat up in the middle of the night and recall stroking Molly's head while she had her kittens, feeling absolutely intrigued and delighted by the whole event.)

"It was obvious after a while that the Coombs marriage was deteriorating, and we were not altogether surprised when Mrs Coombs told us they had decided to sell the house and go their separate waysThey offered us the furniture and we bought it as it was and moved into another nice house in Coronation Street (also in North Perth), belonging to Mrs Jukes and her son.  The latter was not allowed to look, breath nor speak without his mother's approval and it was sad to see a middle-aged man so dominated.

Sadly my sister had been widowed, her husband having developed cancer of the gullet not too long after my mother's death.  Their son, Edward, was at Oxford University taking dental surgery.  At my father's recommendation Edward joined the army where he could finish his degree without a drain on my sister's resources."  (I have often wondered if the cancer of the gullet was perhaps an aftermath of Ted having been in the army and in the trenches in WW1.  I know certain gases were used by the enemy which I feel would not do one's throat etc., a lot of good.)

Amy and I continued to correspond and I leaned that she had gone to the War Office on war service when the 1939/45 war broke out, and that her son Edward won on active service.

When France collapsed and the little ships were picking up our men from Dunkirk my nephew was helping with the casualities on the beach, for which he was decorated with the M.B.E.  It was on active service that he met a nursing sister, Winifred, who later became his wife.  They have one daughter Margaret.

After the end of the war he was transferred to points aborad, including the Middle East and Singapore, gradually rising in the ranks until his retirement as Colonel."  (I remember Edward always insisted on being addressed as Colonel after his retirement.  When addressing a letter to him it was always to Col. E. Ferguson, M.B.E.  I had the feeling he may have been a bit of a snob!!)

This is quite short episode but the next section may prove to be somewhat longer and I am always conscious of not wanting to become boring.  Back soon.


  1. Oh Mimsie your Mum was amazing. I love your photo you are adorable. Hug B

    1. I am sorry but I missed these comments. My apologies.
      I am not sure adorable is the right word but I guess I passed with a push in a crowd OK.
      Yes, mum went from strength to strength throughout her long life.

  2. Hari OM
    Never boring Mimsie!!! YAM xx

    1. Thanks Yam. Future of the family may become somewhat tedious from now on. Will have to make a big decision soon whether to continue or not. xx

  3. I would say the photo was taken in Auckland Street as the kittens look to be tiny still.
    The volunteer job your mum was doing is exactly what I applied for when I was unemployed from 1999 to 2002, but I wasn't successful. the ladies who do that sort of thing now are called Lavender Ladies here at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, I don't know about our other hospitals.
    How very exciting to be a witness to kitten births.

    1. Molly did go on to have more kittens and looking at this photo I am sure it was taken in Coronation Street.
      I feel perhaps Lavender Ladies is/was the name given to helpers in RPH too but not sure if they continued using it.
      I remember that kitten birth so well and am still glad it witnessed it as a child.