#3 Mr and Mrs my parents

Douglass is now married to Ida and they move down from Sydney to Melbourne. By now there are three little darlings: Robin and me and brother David.

That is me on the left and Robin on the right and the little fairheaded lad in the middle is David. We first of all lived in Hampton which is a bayside suburb of Melbourne fifteen kilometres south around the bay. Here it was that I had my first memory – my first detailed and total memory although I was probably a bit younger than I appear in the photo. I had tonsillitis and I am sure that these days the treatment would be less severe than back then. I had to have my tonsils surgically removed. Now the war had just about ended and soldiers were coming home. Many of the men had been in Changi, that most infamous of Japan’s prison camps where thousands died. Almost all required medical care when they came home. Because of this there was no room in hospitals for poor little boys like me and so the doctor came to our house and with the help of Aunty Elsie, who was a nurse, the kitchen table was made into an operating table and they chopped my tonsils out. I remember the bit where I was laid gently on the table and the next thing I remember was being allowed to eat icecream. That is the bit I remember the most.

We didn’t have a car back then and dad, who was handy with the making of things built a cart to carrying us around.

The pretty little dark haired girl at the back is Robin and she is looking after David and me and you aren’t allowed to put your hands over the side or they will get caught in the spokes and you will get your fingers cut off.

Dad accepted a position teaching in Caulfield at the Grammar School. Very soon the family decided – I wasn’t consulted – that we would move to Tyabb on the Mornington peninsula. Here we settled on a small farm of an unknown acreage.

We had cows for milk and calves and we sat on fences and we looked at the world and we cut hay.

Here is our mother teaching a baby calf to drink milk from a bucket. ( you stick your hand in the milk and then you stick you finger in the calf’s mouth and the calf starts to suck on you finger because it feels like its mother’s teat. Gradually you move your hand down into the milk and the calf follows the finger and eventually it gets some milk. In a few days it will stick its head in the bucket without the need for a finger in the mouth. It was a lot of fun as you can tell.)

There are two things to say about hay. My first memory of the hay paddock was walking through the long dry hay with Dad and a quail flew up out of the grass and we found the nest with eggs. I decided then and there to start an egg collection. Take good notice of what comes after. Dad made a knot of grass in four places around the nest – four corners about four paces apart so that we could go away and when we came back we would know where the nest was. I was impatient because I wanted to get the eggs right then but Dad took me back to the house and I went inside and asked Mother for a soup spoon. Why? Because Dad told me to. Then we went back to the paddock and found the nest again with the help of the four knots. “How many eggs are in the nest?” I was asked. Quails lay about six eggs but in this nest there were only four. I wanted all four. “You can take one only.” But I wanted all four. “If you take all of them then there won’t be any baby quails born and if every boy takes all the eggs then sooner or later there will be no quails left”. So I took one and carried it carefully in the soup spoon.

The other thing about hay is that it burns.

That’s me up the top.

Quite a way from the haystack there was a fire where Dad was burning rubbish and it looked like a lot of fun but it would be more fun to have my own fire so I went over to the hay and got some loose stalks and set up a fire with the stalks all arrayed like a wigwam. Then I went to daddy’s fire and I got a hot stick with red on the end and I took it back to my wigwam of hay and I blew on the red stick and the red stick got hot and got a flame on the end and I put that on my straw and then I had my own fire.

BUT…….

The fire crawled across the ground on all the little bits of hay that was there and it got to Daddy’s hay stack and it got big and Mummy and Daddy ran around with pitchforks and threw the hay away from the fire and adventully they stopped the fire and only half got burnded. And I got sent to bed without any dinner that night and later Mummy came in with a sandwich and a glass of milk because she was much nicer than Daddy that time.

But the last thing about Tyabb was that Father bought an army disposal motor cycle and at last we had motorised transport.

This was an Indian Model 741 with me in the seat and Robin on the pillion and David on the top of the sidecar and we could all – the five of us – get around on that. And Dad bought another little two stroke Bantam which he rode all the way from Tyabb 50 kilometres to Caulfield every day. And back.

I won’t tell you about when Robin throwed a stone at me and I got blood on my head and I swore and she told Mummy and I got my mouth washed out with soap and water but I forgive her now.

14 thoughts on “#3 Mr and Mrs my parents

  1. I remember bits of this, but I don’t remember the transport cart or living in Hampton which I visited about thirty years back but it had lost that comfortable, safe-looking suburban look in the background of your photo.

  2. Very nice! I was fortunate to live next door to a lady who was born in 1916 in Marrickville, Sydney. And the stories she told me!! I used to say to my husband, I should document Dulcie’s stories for posterity but never did and then she went peacefully at age 101. She was a treasure and I miss her terribly

    • I understand. In the last day or two I have had a number of calls from some of the young members of the family asking about the originals of the photos. They do eventually seem to care.

  3. What fun! I wonder how humans came to the conclusion that sitting within 4 walls of a classroom with 20 other kids and learning (or being taught) History and Geography was better for them?

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