I remember the night our sister Mae was born, it was 28 April 1929. I was ten years old, having had my birthday on the 21st. There had been much activity most of the afternoon. Mrs McDonald had stayed in the bedroom with Mum and the door was closed. Dad had made sure we were bathed and fed early, he told the boys to stay with Nola, Rae and I, and he went away, returning some time later with a lady. We were put to bed, but for an inquisitive ten year old, there was too much going on for me to sleep. Then I heard Mae’s first cry and called to Dad. He asked me to be quiet and not disturb the younger girls because Mummy had just had another little sister for us, and if I was a good girl, I could see the baby in the morning. Next morning I was allowed to nurse her and told I could choose the names. I called her Mabel Doreen and believed they were Mum and Grandma’s second names. As Mae got older, like me, she disliked her name and shortened it to Mae. She got even with me when she was around ten. While spending a few days on a small farm with friends, Daisy the cow had a calf, you’ve guessed it already, she called in Maisie.
One day I can remember going to an old house at Liverpool. I feel sure Mum was carrying a baby which would have been Mae. In the house was a little old lady Mum called Gran. It would have to have been Granny Dunk, her maternal grandmother. Granny Dunk lived with Mum and Dad when I was born, apparently she was complaining about the food Mum cooked and Mum suggested she may like to cook something for herself. She agreed and went off to the shop, Mum later found her trying to make a stew with devon sausage. Another time, after I had been fed, Mum handed me to Granny who started to rock me on her knee and up came my food. Mum asked her not to rock me so soon after my meal. Next time Mum handed me to her, as Mum walked away she heard her Gran say, “No Granny must not do that, your Mummy thinks I’ll addle your brains”. My brains didn’t have a great chance to develop normally. When I was around two years old I toddled under a tree the boys were chopping down with a tomahawk, I bear the scar to this day.
The day we moved from our old home to the house that Dad built, my friend was very upset. Her name was Pansy Baldwin. I really loved her name and wished I had been called Pansy. We went through our early days together. I also remember going over to say goodbye to Mrs Williamson who lived nearby. She was rearranging her flower vases and I picked out the live ones she had thrown out and carried them all the way to our new home. I’d have been around seven at the time so I have always loved flowers.
In wintertime, the fuel stove was kept going most of the time, it heated the whole house. Very often a pot of soup was simmering away on the hub ready for a quick cup. When we were out at night, Mum left cocoa made up for us in the oven, our boyfriends would walk us home, usually a mile or so from theatre or a dance, drink the cocoa and then, in Jim’s case, walk nearly two miles home. In later years, he rode a push bike and often doubled me. Later still, he had a motor bike. One night Jim sneaked home from camp at Ingleburn. He wasn’t going to come in, but remembered the cocoa. He quickly downed it and we got to the front door we heard his bike being kick-started. By we time we got out the bike was disappearing up the hill. The police found it the next day.
My soldier did not get back to camp on time that night.