Going Bush.

OK, so this is the house that Dad built. You saw it a couple of earlier posts.

Mary (her blog) commented that there was probably more to the story than I told. I will try to collect it together. But I will need to backtrack a little bit.

I had two Grandfathers but I lost them. Two Grandmothers, also. I never met Mum’s father. Neither did she. He died in France and her mother brought up the family on her own.

Dad’s father was an Anglican parson – I’ve written about him before. Dad’s mother was a Quaker. Those four people are connected by the marriage of the son of the parson to the daughter of the war widow.

Mum and Dad met at university where they were both studying Law. Dad gave up and became a teacher. Mum gave up when she got engaged to Dad. That’s how things worked back then. Both of them were very committed Christians.

Back to Mum’s family. Her father died in the First World War. He was a volunteer, not a conscript. However this did not deter Mum’s eldest brother from volunteering at the start of the Second World War. He died at the first day of the battle of Bardia in Libya on the third of January 1941.

And so it was with perhaps a certain apprehension that Dad went out to Blackburn to ask for mother’s hand in marriage. A handsome, conscientious objector, pacifist asking for the daughter’s hand from a woman who lost a volunteering husband and a volunteering son. Nobody knows just how that went, but I imagine it was not the easiest of discussions. However Grandmother agreed and we got ourselves a mother. I don’t know how the next years went. I only ever saw that Grandmother once that I can remember.

But the two got married.

This is mother with her soon to become Mother-in-law. The very strong Quaker.

This is the husband to be..

But why did they give it all up and go to the bush?

Dad knew the town in South Australia where his father had been the Anglican parson. He had been brought up there. He knew the people. But during the war many of those who were Conscientious Objectors were treated quite badly. With the war raging and casualties mounting some people were sent white feathers in unmarked envelopes. My father received some. The message was clear. “You are a Coward.” This did not stop in the years immediately after the war. In fact it became, in some cases, worse.

Now all that, I know to be true. But I will come back soon. Let’s divert for a minute.

When we were young Dad had a teaching position in Caulfield which is a Southern suburb of Melbourne. But we lived on a small farm in Tyabb. It is now a part of the huge metropolitan area of Melbourne.

Distance from one to the other is 50 kms. And Dad rode that every morning and every night on motorbike.

This was Dad’s bike. It was an Army Surplus Indian. The children weren’t surplus. It was our only transport. David is sitting on the side-car.

Why did we live so far from where Dad worked? Maybe because it was cheap to live outside the metropolitan area. Or maybe because Dad always wanted to live on acres. Wherever we lived there was always a farm that we either lived on or went to every weekend.

In 1948 Dad gave up teaching and bought 1000 acres of totally virgin scrub and turned it into a farm. And we lived there for ten years.

Does any of this explain anything? Not really. Personally I think that we ‘went bush’ because Dad always wanted a farm. I also think he wanted to get away from all the memories of the war years. Not as a ‘running away’ but rather as an excuse to take ten years off from teaching.

Why did he sell the farm after ten years and go back to teaching in Caulfield? Two reasons. Because we, the children were getting older and we needed to go to the city and prepare for further education that wasn’t available where we were, which we all did to some extent. Secondly because the Headmaster of the school dad left in 1947 wrote him a letter and asked him to come back. Which he did.

That’s enough of the story for now.

 

Other posts that are on the same topic.

https://paolsoren.wordpress.com/2017/12/05/a-familys-war/

(https://paolsoren.wordpress.com/2017/08/03/grandfather-and-his-boxing-club/)

https://paolsoren.wordpress.com/2017/12/14/my-uncle-cpl-w-g-johnston-eoe/

 

19 thoughts on “Going Bush.

  1. And for a change this is all true. Thanks for the great memories. I have only one memory of Grandma, the war widow. She gave me a little china sugar bowl with walnuts inside. I must have been about 5. Grandma, the Quaker, came to look after us when Michael, our youngest brother, was born. I was 12.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. That was an engrossing read, a high speed roller-coaster spanning over decades and continents. I loved the humour and irony, and the cute grey-scale and sepia-toned mementos of times gone by, accompanying the crisp chronicle. I will wait for more.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. My granddad got handed a white feather in the street while he was having a walk round outside the hospital where his wounds had been treated.
    I read this book and it opened my eyes. Some people had to be braver to be a conscientious objector than if they had just joined the army:

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for that John. I know my father was able to claim exemption because teachers were a Protected Occupation (I don’t know if that is the right term).
      Maybe that was why he became a teacher. I do remember him telling me about the school oval being dug up for trenches and be had to carry out air raid drills very often. But he never talked about his attitude and he didn’t say anything when I joined the Army just after the end of the Vietnam war.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You are quite right. There is a lot unsaid. And I’m not sure whether it’s because I don’t want to say it all because I don’t mind if you fill in the gaps yourself.

    Like

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