True Life Story of a Country Bumpkin

In a town called Coonamble in Mid Western New South Wales, I was born on the 31st of January 1916 at my Grandmothers home. When I was born I took convulsions, the Mid Wife who attended my Mum took me home to her house where she put me in a tub of very warm water to which some mustard had been added (a mustard bath), must have been the thing to do in those days.

It worked because 80 years on I am here to tell the tale, I was one of five children. All my brothers and my only sister have passed on.

My father always worked on Stations looking after stock, fixing fences and so on. One day when I was about ten months old he was working on a fence that had been washed down by flood waters when a piece of wire struck him in the eye. He lost his eye. I don’t remember him with anything but one eye. Mum told me everything about it and I have a photo that was taken before the accident.
When I was three years old my brother Jack was born, sometime later we moved to another property.
The house on this property that we moved into had never been finished being built.

The fireplace in the lounge room was only a hole in the floor with a tin chimney around it and there were no ceilings at all which turned out to be a good thing, because there was a mice plague. Mice everywhere and there was no cupboards to put the food in, so Father hung two rails, got some pieces of wire and hung the rails from the rafters, put some pieces of tin across the rails making a loft to put our food on to keep it away from the mice. After some time, I don’t know the reason why, but all the mice just disappeared.

One day my brother and I were playing outside and we got some big rollie pollies (big bushes that used to grow on the plains). When dry they used to blow across the paddocks, rolling over and over so we called them rollie pollies, anyhow we took them inside and put them on the fire in the kitchen, well the flames went up the chimney setting fire to the soot that had built up over the years. However there was no damage done because the chimney was built out of tin, but my poor mum got a great fright and I thought it was the end of everything. I suppose I was the ringleader in the drama as I was the older one.

We had to learn to cope with our loss and get on with our lives and after a few months I had another miscarriage. It was a Sunday morning and when I woke up I didn’t feel well. Arthur had a load of wood to get for the wood yard so Joy rang for the Doctor. When he asked her what the trouble was she couldn’t tell him. I got up and went to the phone and fainted a few minutes later. Doctor arrived and sent me to hospital where I stayed for seven to eight days and three pints of blood later I was allowed to go home.

Now both Joy and Beryl have gone away working. Joy to Sydney and Beryl to Queensland where she worked for about twelve months. Then she came home to go back to work at the hospital where she started nursing. About six months later another little girl has arrived also with a club foot, we were so worried, I asked our Doctor to send her to an infant specialist who gave her a good examination and told me he could find nothing wrong with her.

Of cause we had to take her to Camperdown, this time I was staying with my sister in-law at Bankstown. This time we only had to stay for one month. The Doctor said that I knew how to handle things after having had our little boy to look after, but I would have to take her down for checkup’s every three weeks, this was for about three visits, then it was two months and so on until it was six months. When she was twelve months old the splints were taken off and she started walking, then she had to have special boots, odd sizes because her club foot was shorter than the other one and the boots were worn on the wrong feet then it was a caliper, but she was well otherwise. Her name is Jean, but the boys nicknamed her Jackie and it is still Jackie. When she was four years old we moved out of town as there were only three of the family left at home now. Beryl and Joy were married and Dulcie had moved to Sydney to finish her hair dressing training and the other boys had gone off working elsewhere, so we sold our house and went sharefarming. We were living in a tin shed.
It was a good life, but we worked hard. Lloyd was working on another farm, Ron and Jackie went to a bush school. I used to drive them to school and pick them up in the afternoon. We had about seven miles to travel to and from.

In the busy times such as ploughing or sowing we worked twenty-four hours a day. Arthur would drive all night until 9.30am until I got back from taking the kids to school then I would drive all day until 3pm then he would take over again and I would take his tea to him and drive while he ate his meal.

In the slack time he would work for the Boss doing other things such as fencing and so on. We did this for four years, but Arthur wanted a farm of his own so we started buying the Land News Paper looking for farms for sale. We looked at quite a few places then there was one at Rylstone. Mr Marchent was the agent so over we came and it was a terrible place and a terrible road to get there. Just another disappointment, but on our way back into town Mr Marchent took us to look at Blue Stone that is where we bought our farm we paid the deposit and moved in. The arrangements with the chap where we were sharefarming to go back and do one more year, but after some time they told us they were not doing any more share farming, that was a big let down because we needed that extra crop to help pay for our farm.

Now with installments that needed to be paid and fuel and seed to be bought things were tough and there was only two paddocks fit to farm. We worked hard digging out seedlings clearing more ground and gathering rocks it kept us busy, then Arthur had to find work elsewhere to keep some money coming in and when he got home from his job at the carbon quarry he would do some burning off. We were in debt everywhere.

We also bought some sheep and when they started lambing they started dying. They were full of worms so we had to drench them and dip them so after having them shawn we sold them at a loss, nothing seemed to go right.

In all this time we are still taking Jackie to Sydney to the Doctor and when she was eleven they operated on her foot. She was in Camperdown for three to four weeks then she came home in plaster and on crutches. She missed two months school. Mr Staff was the headmaster of the Primary school in Kandos and when Jackie went back he was very good to her, he worked with her until she caught up that two months and she went into high school just after she turned twelve, that girl owes a lot to Mr Staff and she knows it.

Then the war broke out in Vietnam and Lloyd joined the Army and he went to Vietnam for twelve months, but thank God he came home to us.

When Ron was eighteen he was in a car smash. One night when he and two mates were coming home from Rylstone and a Landrover smashed into them. Ron was thrown out and dragged along the road, all his back was skinned, his clothes were torn to ribbons, his leg was badly broken and his eye was lacerated, so he was sent to Bathurst where he was for five months. His leg did not knit so he had to have a bone graft. When he was home and well enough he went to work at the cement works at Kandos. Then it was a real taxi run for me morning and afternoon taking the men to work and Jackie to catch the bus then picking them all up each afternoon. Ron has only ten percent sight in his eye.
One Christmas the other boys came home they were working at Whyndam Meat Works and around Australia so Ron gave up his job at Kandos and went with them, and we are still not paying any installments off the farm and were fed up trying to so we rang the man we bought it off (Mr B we will call him) asking him to come to see us as we wanted out, but we almost had to beg him to take the place back. He was so good to us he could have kicked us off the place years before if he wasn’t that sort of person. Anyhow Mr B took the farm back and gave us $2000.00 and that is how we were able to buy the house I am in now. We gave the big sum of $2,750.00 for it, so after being farmers for seven years we shifted into town to live and we still owe money everywhere.

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