mother was ready to die. She was 77. She had said, I have
raised 8 children. I have done my job. This is the story
of my childhood.
mother said I was due to be born on the 1st January but
I came a day early as my father had taken my mother for
a drive; a long drive over a bumpy road. I have returned
to our place, the place of my childhood a few times over
the years and my first impression is always how small
the house now seems. As a child growing up in Herston
I felt it was enormous. Three stories high with high steps.
remember my early childhood as always playing outside.
The days were sunny and we always had games to play. I
don't ever remember any of us complaining that we were
ever bored. Our father had built a see-saw in the back
was always building us something. The see-saw had a bright
orange metal 'witches' hat as the central pivot with a
sturdy plank going across. This see-saw just didn't go
up and down but spun around. It was always a thrill of
pushing it and knowing just the right time to "run
out" and out of harm's way. Quite dangerous really;
but we never had any accidents with it that I could remember.
plaything our father made for us was a "jungle gym"
as we called it. It was an intricate design of metal scaffolding
poles attached together so as to form an amazing climbing
structure. I remember it been huge and very high. The
Dooley children from next door always came over to our
place and we would spend hours playing on this contraption.
the years our father built a block of flats at the back
of our property - on the block on land in the street at
the rear of our home. They are still there strong and
lasting as ever. He did everything from planning, bricklaying,
plumbing, wiring, tiling, putting in the kitchens and
bathrooms. He did employ tradesmen to help him but it
was not unusual for him to work 10 hours a day, 6 days
a week. He also built us a swimming pool which was never
Sunday we always went to Mass dressed in our best clothes.
Dad always drove the car and we would return home for
the Sunday roast. Cold meat and mashed potatoes were Monday's
all went to the local Catholic primary school run by the
Presentation nuns. It was called St Joan of Arc. I made
my first communion in Grade 2. Dressed in my white dress
and veil, I felt very special and the breakfast in the
church hall afterwards was such a banquet of delicious
food prepared by the parents.
mother decided that we would all learn the piano. Our
beautiful piano, inherited from our Nana, stood in the
main entrance of our house in Herston and we all had to
endure Sister Cyprian's piano lessons when we were at
the right age. I think Rosemary was the only musical one
among us who pursued it.
Sister St Mark was very tall and thin. Very stern but spoke in a soft gentle
voice. It was her task to teach us all to read, write
and do arithmetic. She also taught us to sing the scales
- doh-rai-mei-lah-tii-doh. Up and down the scales we went.
learnt the names of all the major towns and rivers in
Queensland. At lunch time when we went out into the yard
to play we ate our lunch under an enormous Moreton Bay
nuns lived next door in a long brick building - the convent.
I never went in there.
dreaded sports day. We had class races and I always came
last. I did enjoy our marching classes. We would march
around the oval to the tune of a marching band. On Saints
Days we also marched to hymns and a chosen "leader"
would carry the religious banner. I was always disappointed
that I was never chosen to carry the banner.
the end of the school year we had a concert. We would
go up to the stage in front of our parents and each class
would sing a couple of songs. Always being the smallest
in the class I was always standing in the front which
I hated. We were under strict instruction from the teachers
not to fiddle.
grade 7, my last year in primary school, I had a teacher
called Sister Gemma. She was the first teacher I liked
and felt she showed an interest in me. I remember I enjoyed
that year at school. I enjoyed primary school but I loved
going home best.
There was always a big build up days before Guy Fawkes
Night. Every year it was held at our Aunty Mona's home
in Clyde Road opposite our primary school. Dad would make
a mountain of wood and sticks and set it alight with a
bit of petrol thrown on it to get it started. It was enormous
and we would run around with penny crackers and pinwheels
and rockets. We always had a huge pile of crackers every
year. There were so many cousins that it was always a
Move to Adelaide
was at the end of the year in 1963 when I was 12 that
we moved from Brisbane to Adelaide. We drove in the family
Holden station wagon. As we all couldn't fit in the car
the 2 younger boys, Greg and Anthony, went to Adelaide
earlier and stayed with Auntie Kay and Uncle Jack until
the remainder of the family arrived. My elder sisters
went my train.
Our parents always instilled into us the importance of
working hard, getting good grades and going onto university.
At least the boys were expected to go to university and
the girls expected to get some sort of qualification too.
religion and schools
up in the 1950's the Catholic religion was part of our
everyday life. Both our parents had a strong faith that
carried over into their everyday life. The Rosary was
said on many evenings - we all had our plastic rosary
beads and we took turns leading the decade. Tuesday nights
was for saying the novena to St Anthony in front of a
lighted candle. We had a strong devotion to St Anthony
who was often called upon to find things lost in the house
or to find a carpark. And, he never failed.
parents had their children sent to Catholic schools -
the girls to Loreto Convent (the third generation) and
the boys went to the Christian Brothers. Our primary school
was St Joan of Arc Herston.
to me as a young child, was for saving lollies in a big
jar for Easter morning. (What about the sacrifice it is
meant to represent?) Giving up lollies for Lent was the
"done thing" and we were so proud of our big
jar of lollies on Easter morning. There was sibling competition
to see who could save the most lollies.
Exhibition (or Ekka as it was to become known as) was
the next big thing in the year to look forward to. We
were paid to "do jobs" around the house. Saving
up for the Ekka was the only time I can remember we did
jobs around the house for Mum. Mum did everything for
me and I guess I just assumed that that what was Mums
did. With birthdays Mum always had a birthday cake baked
and some presents. My brother does remember the gardening
holidays were always spent camping. Dad loved the camping
out and made a camper trailer in 1963 that extended either
side to accommodate double beds. Mum was a good parent
and went along with this camping but it was a bit rough
and ready for her and she only went a few time. Then dad
built a beach house at Broadbeach. (Editor's note: this
sequence is not quite correct - during 1950's the family
spent holidays at Broadbeach, in the late 50's and early
60's it was tenting and the camper trailer built to take
the family to Adelaide). In the '50's there were sand
dunes everywhere. Houses were few and far between. We
still have great photos of Dad building the beachhouse
with his mates.
was always photographing us children with his 16mm movie
camera. It was a hobby he enjoyed. We loved our home movie
nights on the big screen. I remember one of Jenny dancing;
she was such an actress and loved "performing"
her made up acts.
sharing these memories with me. ..... Margie Daly