Friday, February 20, 2015


Having been forced to leave the farm owing to mum's ill health we now find the pair trying to make a go of it in Perth.

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston (pp 92-94)


Len found us limited accommodation with a Mrs Furze, with whom he also boarded, at the top of Wellington Street, East Perth.  Mrs Furze was extremely kind and we stopped with her for a short time until we found something more suitable.

Peg was quite bewildered by city life and was really afraid of Perth children.  Mrs Furze had a young son a couple of years older than Peg and he took great joy in teasing her.  She came to me one day and told me to come outside quickly as the house was going to burn down.  When I investigated I found Peter Furze had put a bunch of dry twigs against the corner of the house and told Peg he was going to light it and that the house would be burned down.  I made him apologise to Peg and admit he was only teasing, but I often noticed her watching to see if there were any more bunches of twigs which he may be tempted to light.

Earning a living was not going to be easy for Harry because his particular knowledge was not required in any capacity that he could find.  He was quite sure that if he could earn £5.00 a week we would be well off as, in those days, that was quite a good salary.

The only available job seemed to be that of a door to door salesman, and he eventually became very successful at it.  He was eminently suited as he had the gift of the gab and the right approach to the ladies.  He sold pots and pans, photographs and other articles, so we managed to live while I gathered my strength back.

It was while we were with Mrs Furze that I received a cable to say that my mother had died and, later, my sister sent me a copy of a booklet distributed at the funeral service and my mother's wedding ring from heer finger.  I presume Amy received the rest of mother's possessions but I did not receive any details.

Mother had stood by Amy and Ted over all the years while the war was on and they had lived together since I had left and they had cared for her in her illness.  Shortly after mother's death I received a number of parcels from her which she had sent for Christmas presents before she died.  It was really dreadful - receiving something from the dead, and as I was still not feeling very well, I was quite broken up.  She always wrote to me regularly, as I did to her, and several letters arrived after she had gone.  When they stopped I felt entirely alone.

Peg was old enough to be enrolled at one of the local primary schools, and she was accepted at East Perth.  She was not at all happy because they put her in the lowest grade because she had not yet turned 6, and began teaching her the ABC.  She had reached Standard 1 in her correspondence lessons which I had been teaching her, and she could both read and write a little.

She suddenly became very distressed and quite ill so that I was obliged to call a doctor.  He was rather mystified and asked what we had been doing with the child since we left the farm.  There was nothing we could think of except the change of our way of life and her unhappiness at school.  He said that was obviously the cause of the trouble and she had had a mild nervous breakdown.  He said we must either keep her at home until she had forgotten what she had learned by correspondence classes, or find a school which would allow her to continue on at her first standard level.

I enquired at Victoria Square College (now known as Mercedes College) in Goderich Street, and they were quite happy to place her according to her ability.  We had to pay fees and provide a uniform, and it took stringent economy to make this possible. I made her uniform and her blazer.  She had only one white blouse which had to be washed and ironed each night for the next day, but it was worth the effort because she was a very happy child, and always close to the top of her class, although invariably the youngest student. (This is the actual gate through which I entered and left school each day for just over six years.  I loved attending that school so much and was saddened when mum insisted I leave at the end of Standard 6 to attend a C of E college, but that comes later in this story.)

"We were fortunate in finding a small flat opposite the school with a Mr Bail, thus avoiding traffic problems for Peg.  Len also found a self-contained flatette at the same address."  (That was at 198 Goderich Street and many years later the house was pulled down so the Perth Dental Clinic could be extended.  Checking on pictures of the address today I have no idea what the very large building is now. Looking at it closely on the Google map it could well be either a government department or even a large block of units.)

It was while living at 198 Goderich Street that I celebrated my 7th birthday and mum was able to put on a small party.  I still remember all the people that were there that day, some of whom were girls I went to school with; three were the children of family friends.  I notice mum had provided fancy hats and fans for the girls and I know we had some tasty eats as well.  My mum was simply amazing the things she did for me and yet went without herself.

Harry had replied to an advertisement for dealers in Rawleighs goods, run by an American company manufacturing chemist lines, cosmetics, spices and condiments.  They had a district vacant close to the city and, from their various pamphlets, it appeared possible to earn a reasonable living if one was willing to become one of their door to door salesmen.

To join the organisation it was necessary to purchase a quantities of stores, which they would sell us on credit, provided one had a guarantor for their value.  Our old friends, Mr and Mrs Dakin, who were now established in Perth, very kindly became guarantors until Harry was able to finance his own purchases.  The fitted sample bag supplied by Rawleighs was quite heavy and it was essential to buy a bike with a carrier to assist Harry while travelling, a hard task at his age when the weather was hot or wet, and I doubt if he could have done if he had not become accustomed to physical work on the farm."  (At this time dad would have been in his early fifties as he was 46 when I was born).

 Although I was not able to bring in finance in any other way, I started to make up very attractive parcels as birthday and Christmas gifts, using Rawleigh goods, handkerchiefs, ribbon and cellophane.  These boosted sales tremendously and kept me very busy.

As sales improved we managed to save sufficient for a deposit on a small Fiat car, ad we had to find £5.00 to pay it off and petrol to run it.  It was very difficult indeed to pay Peg's school fees, the amount due each week on the car, rent for the flat and the food bill.  There was no money whatever to spend on clothes on luxuries.  It as years before I was able to buy any clothes for myself, and I remember very hot days when I had to wear a warm dress when going out because it was the only respectable thing I had. "  (This is the brand new Fiat 8 Tourer.  The picture was taken in King's Park.  The car was said to have a top speed of 60mph and supposedly could do 60 miles to the gallon.  It had a soft top and no real windows.  In those days many of the cars had 'side curtains' often made of mica which you could see through quite adequately.  You will notice it has a carrier on the back on which dad placed his large Rawleigh sample case).

 Seems a good place to stop once again (trying to keep the episodes short so as not to be boring).  I am afraid city life wasn't quite as exciting as farm life but I will continue on with the story if you are interested in hearing more.  Do please let me know.  I am so enjoying re-reading mum's book and now also re-living it as well.


  1. Yes, please keep going. I love the birthday party photo, the pretty fans and your smiling face is easy to pick out.
    I remember a Rawleigh's man who did the rounds around Murray Bridge when I lived there with Mum. From him one year I bought a very finely serrated tomato knife which lasted me for years, I don't know what happened to it, but several of years ago I bought a new one, a year after that I bought some pretty pendant necklaces as bridesmaids gifts for the girls in my wedding party, and cufflinks for the best man. That must have been his last year because I don't recall seeing a Rawleigh's man since.

    1. I too love that party photo and the differen ages of the guests as well.
      Rawleigh's products were top notch. Watkins products were good but not in the same class. I believe you can still buy Rawleigh's products online. They used to have a liniment (suitable for man or beast was the motto) and I wish I could bu some now as it was wonderful for rheumatics. They had to change the label because of the man/beast thing. Stupid laws.
      I think after dad gave up being a dealer they expanded their list of products somewhat.

  2. Oh I am interested in reading more city or farm life. xo HUg B

    1. Thanks Buttons, I will keep going as long as there are people who still read it. : )

  3. Hari OM
    Oh you must continue Mimsie! What amazing courage and fortitude your mother had... YAM xx

    1. Thanks the story will continue till I run out of readers.
      Yes, mum had a lot of intestinal fortitude right through her life. xx

  4. We had the Rawleigh man in Ontario Canada as well. They must have been an international company. Carry on...can't wait to see what happens next.

    1. I think they were an American company to begin with but not sure where or if they are still manufactured.
      Carry on I will although the story takes a different direction soon.

  5. For you to have your mother's book is such a priceless treasure. I can only imagine how much it must mean to you, and we all appreciate you sharing it with us.Yes, please, carry on!

    1. You are so right Susan. I am enjoying re-reading it again and remembering so much from my chilidhood (and adulthood for that matter).
      I am not sure the story will be so exciting from now on but we can only wait and see. : )