There were seven of us. I was fifth. Originally there were eight of us, one died at birth. I had two older sisters. We were raised on a farm, sheep and grain, in Wycheproof, Victoria. I never had a job, always worked on the farm. Before and after school we’d milk cows, and feed the pigs and the chooks. I didn’t spend much time with my parents. My big sisters, Mary in particular, brought me up. There were 10 years between us.
I stayed at boarding school for three years, and I think everyone thought I would become a nun (two of my brothers had become Christian Brothers before me). But when I announced that I wasn’t going to be a nun I essentially left school. I returned to the farm, and was looking forward to it. I became more of a maid in the household than a farm worker. One week I would be doing the cooking, the next the washing, ironing and floors. My mother must have had it pretty easy!
On my return from boarding school I made my debut - I had my coming out ball. We had to step down off the stage onto the dance floor at a big ball. After we were presented we danced around with anyone that asked us. You always had to wait to be asked. I went to a ball every week at that time – in fact on a Wednesday and Saturday night. We made our own ball gowns. There were always pins and needles everywhere when we were doing so. Once, and I was going out with my husband, Brian, by this time, I was preparing for a ball in a nearby town, Quambatook, and I stood on a needle when I was getting dressed.
Mum saw the cotton hanging out so pulled it but it broke off from the needle. The needle was ‘head first’ in my foot. I wasn’t allowed to go to the ball. Poor old Brian got this terrible message from my brother; “Where’s Anne?” “Oh, she’s gone to hospital.” Brian rang up the next day to find out what the story was. Meanwhile the doctor was trying to find the needle in my foot. It wasn’t sore or anything. I had to have an operation. He x-rayed it and saw it. Decided to operate but when he did, he couldn’t find it. Eventually they managed to pin point it in a further x-ray and then remove it.