Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mum Part 23

Mum practically galloped to the Dining Room today, my sister tells me. Either the food is fantastic, or mum is keen to impress; to prove to the list of doctors and nurses and specialists that she can do it. She can do it!

She has also stopped taking pain killers at night. She wants to be well - to be able to cope - so she can leave early. Go home. I tell her that she is better to take the Trammel offered; the pain relief will help her body to heal. No need to be in constant, tiresome, exhausting pain.

If she heals faster, she will get home, faster.

It's like leading a horse to water, old age stubbornness sets in. Her jaw locks into position, and that’s that.

June says it’s early Alzheimer’s setting in, she understands the concept, but the reality is different. To accept pain relief is to admit she cannot cope. To accept pain relief is to show weakness, to admit defeat. She wants to go home.

We all want that, but first, she has to cope.


On the weekend Carolyn took her to the gardens, an outing. A beautiful Rockhampton sunny day; a small chilly autumn wind. They sit in the car and watch the ducks. It’s what you do in old age. Watch things.

Observe the world around you, the flutter and stuff of life.

A drive to the barrage, to see the water. Water.

Fish and chips, and back to the Gardens to eat them. Every day is an outing in her mind, her dreams.

They eat, and mum slumps just a little in her seat. Time to go home, back to Rehabilitation. It’s tiring to be out, to sit, and watch. Her legs hurt. Her arms hurt. She grasps the shorter wheelie-walker, and the weight of her body hurts her arms. She still cannot put much weight on her legs. The nurse brings in the taller walker, for comfort. Mobility. Mum sleeps, and dreams of ducks.


A few years ago I sat with mum in front of the computer, and wrote part of her life story.

This is her first job:

My first job was in Sydney, in early 1937, it would have been…. I had just finished the Leaving certificate, as we call it in NSW, and whilst it wasn’t a good pass,it wasn’t a bad one either, and in those days one couldn’t go to teachers training college, until you were 17 years old or over.

I was almost 17!

And anyway, in hindsight, I realize that my parents couldn’t not have afforded to have me on their hands, any longer.

So I saw a job advertised in the Sydney Morning Herald, for an Office Assistant, with a firm called, W.H. Loyce and Co. in York Street, and my mother accompanied me for the interview.

It turned out to be a Chinese Napery Importing company, with 3 Chinese gentleman, Mr Woo, (who was short and tubby) Mr Low, (who was quite tall and young) and Mr Sing. So there I was, I got the job! Shorthand, typing, general duties, that sort of thing. Wrapping and posting many, many parcels of napery, that’s where I learnt to pack properly, ha!

And all of that for the princely sum of 17 shillings and 6pence per week. Bliss!

Out of that I paid, my fares to town, on the bus, occasionally I splurged on a salmon sandwich, I gave my mum 5 shillings a week for my board, dressed myself, and bought the occasional thing for the 'Glory Box'.


Lunchtimes were often spent exploring the shops in Sydney, and sitting in a little green space, near the York Street entrance to Wynyard Station. The park is still there today, now in front of Menzies Hotel.
The afternoons were often very interesting, as the three Chinese men came back from their luncheon, and the office was suddenly full of the overpowering fumes of their garlic!

I was there approximately 12 months.

My uncle Jack (“I can get it for your wholesale!”) heard of a position becoming available at Ku-ring-gai Municipal Council, for a correspondence clerk, and he thought it would be a job which would suit me.

I think he pulled the connections through his Masonry work (wearing the aprons) so my uncle Jack wrote me a very nice reference, as he was an accountant and a JP with the Harbor Board, and to cut a long story short, I got the job.

This meant I had to leave the city, but by then I knew where the little book shops where, it was lovely. I used to go to Dymocks, in the 2nd hand department, and browse there, one could get books for a shilling. One could never afford a new one, of course!

So I left my three perfect Chinese gentlemen, who always behaved impeccably, to work at Gordon on the North Shore train line.

At that time, the Ku-ring-gai Municipality was the largest municipality in NSW.

My job was to register, in a very large book, every letter that came into the Council, that very day. I had to put down the date it was received, to whom it was addressed, the subject matter, and then the boss dragon lady would decide to whom it was to go to. The health inspector, the town clerk, etc, but it was my job to register in my best copperplate writing, all the incoming letters.

After a while, a junior correspondence clerk was also appointed, and it was the one and only Ruth Cracknell, as my assistant. She didn’t get write in the book! It was simply her job to deliver the letters to the various departments. NO book writing!

She was very young, probably around 16, tall, big boned, very plain, gangly, a big nose on a big face, very shy. Yet even at that stage she had made moves towards acting, as she knew then that’s what she wanted to do. She would go to little night groups in Sydney, learning to act. She always knew what she wanted to do. We were friendly, but not too personal with our friendship.


My friend in the office at that time, was a girl called Peggy Warbiton, a girl around the same age as myself. She lived a couple of railway stations away at St Ives. She was very interested in horse riding, and her parents owned a couple of acreages.

She was into the horsey bit, and she used to ride with various people at different times. Some people were Clive Evett, big names in the Australian Labour Party. These people were neighbors, it was a classy suburb, and she also had friends in the ABC, and with Peg, I would go into the ABC studios – seeing things being done, and watching live-readings of stories over the microphone, complete with sound effects man.

Although I had always had an interest in theatre, ballet, and drama, this part of my life gave me the opportunity to actually attend the concerts, go to the ballet, and so on as my wages were higher. By then I was earning one pound, 2 shillings and 6 pence!

We used to go (Peggy and I) to the peanut gallery, to see live theatre and so on. We were good mates.


To be continued…

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