History or Her Story (Part 1)

Many years ago, when this publication was named “Hills TV Magazine”, I often wrote of the “Dragon Lady”. The “Dragon Lady” was my late mother-in-law who took this good heartedly. This proved that she was not really a “Dragon Lady” but she did have a speech defect – she would have to stop talking to take a breath every now and then. Being a talker, she was well versed in story telling and over the next few issues of this magazine I will relate some of her tales that she wrote in the 1990s.

My mother-in-law wrote about her mother’s experiences in life and that of herself. Here is part of what she wrote :

“Mum and her sister both worked as housemaids in Parkes as they grew up. Evelyn worked for a Bank Manager and his family, Mr & Mrs Stuart. Mum worked for Mr McIntosh, who was a Solicitor, and his wife. They were very kind to Mum and would not let their children be cheeky or impose on Mum, but she also spoke of their frugal lifestyle. She said they were socialites in town, but she would put patch upon patch on their sheets. They used a shabby cracked china set on newspaper for a cloth and when they entertained, out came the silverware and fine china and glassware set on fine linen. As a child I found it incredible that anyone would eat off newspaper, but around 1955 a friend who cleaned the Bank of NSW in Auburn, asked me to help out for several weeks so she could have a holiday. I used to go to the residence attached to the Bank for the key. One morning it was raining heavily and the Manager invited me in and said that he would let me through an interior door. To my horror the family were having breakfast at a table covered in newspaper. I’ve never forgotten it, we’ve all heard of “putting on a front”.

The house Mum lived in at Balderogery was called a “straw and daub”. Daub is a mixture of mud and clay mixed with straw and smeared on lathes for form walls. These walls were then whitewashed and the floor was compacted dirt which became so hard it was shiny.

Mum spoke of the lovely silver and china which had come out from England as wedding gifts and of the way Tot (my grand aunt who reared Mum and her three siblings after they were orphaned), Evelyn and herself had to regularly wash and polish it. She also said they used to change from work clothes to starched and ironed stiff peticoats and frocks for evening and Sunday lunch meals, and the men into starched shirts, collars and ties.”

To be continued next issue. 

Don’t forget to contribute your memories and also any old photographs that you would like to see published in this magazine’s “AS WE WERE” section.

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