Adelphe: We met in Christchurch, Claremont at a bible study meeting. I was partnered with Walter’s daughter, and she was such a lovely girl that when the deacon said ‘This is her father’ I thought ‘He must be nice, too!’ Walter: I also checked up on Adelphe through the deacon, not knowing that she had done the same.
Adelphe: When I married Walter we had a few years in the King house in Nedlands. Then I had to do an assignment on colonial architecture and l discovered York. I dragged him up here to take a look and we both decided it was a great place – and the start of a new life for us. We got to know a few people straight away, partly through the local church. After about two years we bought an open block of land, about 10 acres. We started planting trees and at first planted anything with a green leaf, but then we realised we needed to learn a bit more about local plants. We carried on planting, being more careful with local plants, and stopped counting at 2000, but didn’t stop planting.
We’ve got friends, who for goodness knows what reason, shop in Northam! Why go to Northam?! There has always been a great York-Northam rivalry as a result of the railway decision of 1890. York wanted the railway to start from York, the Northam people from Northam. According to legend they were meeting in parliament about this decision. The rest of the state couldn’t have cared less where the rest of the railway went from. Evidently they said at about 3 o’clock in the morning ‘Why don’t you just toss a coin and abide by that’. Northam won. So Northam became the big railway and electric centre, and York a quieter back water. That meant, from our point of view, that all the lovely buildings here have been preserved whereas in Northam they are harder to see because of all the modern additions. When we first moved here I was determined not to abide by the rivalry, thinking it was absurd. But then I was teaching in York and at Northam and I wanted to bring up an artist from Perth. I told the Northam students that I wanted some of them to join the York class for a lesson with the artist. ‘Go all the way to York?!’ they said. So there is still this thing – a ‘That’s them and that’s us’ – and I couldn’t break it.
Our step grandchild came up to play in one of the York jazz festivals. There was someone called Morrison, who came to the hotel that they were playing in, pushed the kid aside and sat down next to him at the piano and played. And I thought ‘Who’s this character muscling in on the poor kids’ but people adored it because he was a name in jazz – I’d never heard of him myself though.
You had to pay to come into the town while the festival was on. We met one cross local person when we were on duty at one of the entrances to the town during the festival. This guy turned up and he said ‘This is my town, I shouldn’t have to pay to go in, I’m just here to buy my milk’. But most people realised that it was just a happy occasion that need not make one cross.