I was born in 1930, in Bruce Rock. Mum was from Scotland and dad was from Lancashire. When my parents first came over they had to go there to farm, it was a government thing. They did it pretty hard. The only thing I remember about my mother from that time was that when she came over, her mother gave her lots of soap to hide in her bloomers.
Dad’s father and brothers were down in Albany and we’d go and see them sometimes. Mum and dad went one year on their own and purchased a café in York Street. We all cried, none of us wanted to leave Bruce Rock. I remember as if it was yesterday; on my 21st birthday I travelled in the back of big wheat truck, owned by a friend of ours, with all of our furniture on a stinking hot day, down to Albany.
In Albany I helped my parents in the shop. It was very busy – full on. I quite enjoyed it because you’d meet a lot of people, regulars. The man I married, Harry, used to come into the shop every lunch time and buy cigarette papers just to see me. The shop sold fish and chips and he’d also come in of a night time and sit and stare at me. He was very handsome, 6”8. My face used to go pink when he walked in the door. I’d get flustered. Eventually we got engaged and married. He’d asked mum and dad unbeknown to me, and my parents loved him. He asked my mother ‘do you want to buy some cigarette papers back off me’.
We moved to Perth when we got married. One of Harry’s friends was renting a sleep out in Victoria Park while his house was being built. There were blocks across the road from where he was renting and we bought one of those blocks. My husband and his father then built the home that I live in today.
Harry had rheumatic fever when he was young. On his way home from Merredin, where he was working at one stage, he had an accident, which stirred things up in his heart again from the rheumatic fever as the steering wheel hit his chest. He carried on for a while after that but the fluid kept building up and up. Later, probably due to the shock of his mother being killed by a tanker in January 1960, he got really sick and passed away. They couldn’t do anything for rheumatic fever then like they can now. That accident was so bad; my mother in law was on the footpath waiting to cross the street. The tanker not only got her, but also the lady who was standing on the veranda of the house behind where my mother in law was standing, putting out her bread money. Our boys were two and four when he died.
When he died I was getting 12 pounds a fortnight. We hadn’t finished building the house and we had borrowed from the bank to do the roof, so six pounds a fortnight went to repay the bank. The house was still a shell at that time, all we had was a fridge, table and chairs and beds, of course. I eventually got a job cleaning offices near the Causeway and would take the kids with me. I made the boys’ clothes and we lived on mince and polony, so they’d say. But we managed. One of Harry’s friends, Phil, would take the boys and me out and looked after us. At first I thought of him as a brother but eventually I learned to love him and we married. I loved both my husbands. I love my two boys, though I only have one left now.