Excerpt from "THE CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston (pp 66-70). (with pictures I have added which I feel may help add to the story)
"The local post office was the news service at Redmond. As is usual in small communities, nothing was private, and we often thought our mail may have been censored before we received it. It seems there is usually somebody who cannot resist acting as broadcaster in such places, and being first with the news. We became quite friendly with a number of the local farmers and their wives, and often spent evenings playing cards with them after sharing dinner at their place or ours. At times, when the weather unexpectedly turned too bad to travel several miles home in the rain in an open cart, we played cards through the night, served breakfast and, depending whether one was the host of the visitor, we or they would then travel home in daylight in time to milk the cows.
One middleaged couple Mr and Mrs Levitzke, living within a mile or two of the siding, had built a tennis court with a clay surface on which we sometimes enjoyed a game.
Having only been used to a piano, I frequently forgot that the organ needed wind. We spent one Christmas Day with this family and, as we reached the outer gate of the farm, we received a welcome from the host who was playing "Christians Awake" on the cornet. He put so much vigour into it that it could be heard for quite some distance.
We had a very pleasant day mostly given over the music. Harry, being the only one not performing, was sent outside to listen to the band and return to tell us what he thought of it. It must have been pretty dreadful at times but he was most diplomatic. Had he told the truth I am afraid a pleasant friendship would have been shattered.
Harry and I used to ride into the bush gathering brown boronia which we had discovered growing a few miles out. We stripped the flowers and sold them in large quantities to a manufacturing chemist's agent to be used for perfume, which was another way of earning a little money." (I think I remember mum telling me they, at one time, also picked boronia and sent it by train to Perth where it would be sold, quite often by street vendors selling it from baskets on the pavements in the city).
"I remember one particular day out in the boronia patch when, as usual, we had the dog with us. Flossie found a racehorse goanna and chased it. In order to escape the dog the goanna went up the leg of Harry's horse, and I have never seen anybody alight from a horse quicker than Harry did then. The dog eventually caught the poor goanna and Harry recovered slowly, while being extremely annoyed with me because I could not help laughing at the incident." (Racehorse goannas are quite large when fully grown).
"The Chief Government Botanist from Perth, Mr Gardner called on us one day and asked to be taken out to our brown boronia patch, where the plants were taller than the horses' heads. He was most impressed and delighted to learn that we stripped them on the spot instead of cutting the plants down and taking them away.
He was also delighted that I could show him pitcher plants growing in the moist part of the district. While he was with us I deplored the fact we had bush fires which destroyed the plants, and was surprised to learn that regular bush fires are essential to crack the hard casing of seeds of many native plants, so that they germinate at the right time. One of nature's safeguards apparently.
As an experiment I put some of the boronia flowers twice through a mincer, mixed in some glue and rolled the mixture into round beads which I strung on knitting needles and left to dry. The result was a most attractive string of rough brown beads which kept their perfume for years. When I wore them people always began to look around to find the boronia, especially when it was out of season.
By this time we both rode quite well and had become familiar with the surrounding country. Harry obtained an option on another block a few miles away by road, but which would be much nearer by taking a route straight through the bush, as the crow flies.
We decided to ride from one block to the other straight through the bush, and took a line by compass and map. Harry marked trees with a tomahawk as we went so that we could find our way back. We were immensely proud when we landed at the corner post of the block we were seeking, especially as we had to cross a small stream where there were a number of fallen trees. After we had finished what we set out to do we started for home, and decided to leave it to the horses to see if they would find the way. It was fascinating to see them go exactly along the line were we had marked the trees. So much for 'green poms'.
Shortly after we rode straight through the bush to Denmark with a number of others so that the men could play at a cricket match. Harry was no cricketer but he had good eyesight, hit out blindly, and managed to make 50 runs before being bowled. We won the match and Harry was the hero of the day!
Speaking of horse riding, I remember one occasion when Harry had gone to Albany to buy a horse and was riding back. Bob McGough, the son of one of our neighbours, was with me when we heard the horse coming along the track, and we went out to meet them. Harry landed at the gate all right, but the horse went on! I am afraid we laughed and Harry was rather cross. Fortunately he was not hurt, and we soon caught the horse.
That beautiful grey, named Bonnie, became a special favourite of mine. He was quite a character and, having been employed in Albany, had acquired union habits. He absolutely refused to work after 5p.m., his usual knock off time, and it took us quite a while to realise why he stopped at the same time each day and definitely would not do any overtime. (I thought I remembered seeing, years ago, a picture of me sitting on Bonnie's back when I was a small child but can no longer find it so perhaps it was lost in that wonderful place 'somewhere'.)
We had been constantly using capital, and the time came when we were obliged to bring Len home as we had no money left to board him in Albany. It grieved me very much to have to do this as, like my father, I believed education to be of major importance, and I had little faith in the local bush school. However, the woman teacher took an interest in Len and encouraged him in his singing, so that by the end of his rather piecemeal school days he had acquired a reasonably amount of knowledge. We encouraged him to read which always stood him in good stead.
We gave him a pony to keep him happy and I remember that he would spend ages chasing it round the paddock trying to catch it, rather than walk one mile to the siding.
I had my own mare, Betty, always rather skittish, but I managed to ride and drive her without difficulty, while Harry rode one of the larger horses.
Len was very fond of our delightful tabby cat, Tommy, which, like the dog, was one of the family. If we walked down to the siding Tommy would go with us until nearly there, when he would dive into the bush and amuse himself until we were on our way home again, when he would rejoin us.
On one occasion when we had gone visiting and been away some hours, Tommy apparently had got tired of waiting for us and had made his own way home. As we neared the house Len rushed up gleefully to stroke him, as he thought he saw him sitting on a gate post, but just as he put his hand out the creature silently took flight and gave Len and all of us a fright - it was a huge owl and very spooky." (You can see how, in the dark, an owl could be taken for a tabby cat.)
Once again I will leave the little family, now numbering three, and continue next time telling of more misfortune overtaking them and how they overcame even more serious problems. Thank you for your patience but it takes me a while to type out the story as my silly hands are not as obedient as they once were.