Mary Leonora Smith is 96 years old and has been writing poetry most of her life.
She grew up on a farm on Seven Hills Rd, Baulkham Hills and after she got married moved down to Old Windsor Rd Old Toongabbie where she and her husband Bill built a house in 1949.
Her dad, Bob Brown, was a stretcher bearer in World War 1 and was in the Battle of the Somme. When he returned home to Cornwall in England he sought a better life for himself and his new wife Mary Zenobia and so they headed to Australia in 1919.
“Mum was always homesick but dad promised that she could go home if she still wasn’t happy after seven years but she had three children so never went back.”
Mary grew up with her older brother Noel and younger brother John on a farm where the Wagon Wheel Nursery and now SummitCare now stand.
“Dad started off with chooks but then had a dairy farm,” she said.
He later ran a fruit and veg business. Writing and poetry were always part of her life. “I used to scribble things down when I was very young.”
She left school, studied stenography and started work at the age of 15. Her secretarial work included a job at radio station 2GB. She met her husband when she was working in Baulkham Hills for the Broadfoot family who ran an irrigation business and a horse stud. Bill was a plumber.
“I was Mary Brown and I became Mary Smith,” she laughs.
She said she started writing again for her children, Debbie, Jeff and Bill and now her three grandchildren and has self-published a book of her life for the family.
She is still writing and has folders of short stories and poems which have won numerous prizes. Her biggest win was in 1999 when she won first prize in the Henry Lawson Festival of Arts, winning a $200. One of her poems was also accepted for the ABC publication: The Year of the Outback.
Her parent’s story is contained in Slices of Lifea book that’s in a time capsule buried by Hills Shire Council in 2003 to be opened in 2056.