Alright nan, let’s get this started. I’m the eldest grandson of Violet Daisy Johnson.
How old am I? I was born in 1934 so I’m 82 in November and I’m a scorpion.
I’m also a scorpion!
I was born in a house in Queens Park. My mother had 10 babies in that house, seven survived. Two were still born. The eldest one – they had an accident with him, someone was mucking around with him and he was dropped onto a cement floor and he died, at about 18 months old. They still lived in Muchea at that time so there were no doctors. And only horse and cart so no one could have helped him. That was just before I was born. My dad never met that baby as he was born when dad was away for the First World War. By the time dad got back the child had died.
After that incident the family moved down to Queens Park. We lived in a tiny wooden house. There were no roads, no bitumen, just gravel. We had no shops close by, but we had a cow and a veggie garden. We used to go door to door selling vegetables; a pound of beans, a pound of carrots. And that’s how we got money. The cows provided the milk and we provided milk to the school. So my oldest brother used to milk the cow, then quickly go and put it in a container and run it to school.
My mum got sick so we had to move house. We ended up closer to the railway line, on Wharf Street. My dad got a job with the Shire (then known as the Road Corp). He had to manually crank the steam roller. He had a heart attack doing it when he was in his 50s. After that he couldn’t work at all. He had heart attacks for 12 years before he died. He had medicine to take for the heart attacks, which he’d put under his tongue. Each time he’d be right again for a while, then have another one. He had to be careful that he didn’t do too much, so even when I was about 15 I used to have to work hard at home; chop the wood, and chop the chicken’s head off, take the feathers off and clean up its insides.
Because both mum and dad were sick, I looked after mum for about 20 years. Both my sisters would occasionally take mum for a few weeks each to give me a break. But they were married. And mum and I got on very well.
I wasn’t allowed to go out and meet boys, I wasn’t allowed to wear lipstick. I was too young to realise, but my parents were dependant on me. Eventually when I did get married to Reg we lived with mum. I met Reg when I was in my teens. I met him at the movies one night; I went with a friend and there was this boy there, on a motor bike. My friend knew him.
So was he a bad boy, nan?
At that stage he probably was. I was told ‘you’re not to get on that motor bike!’ but I got on the motor bike didn’t I.