S H I R E O F C O R I O O R A L H I S T O R Y
The following story is reproduced in this website with the kind permission of the Geelong Heritage Centre
whose reference for this story is GRS 1437.
NAME OF INTERVIEWEE: Mrs Flo Parsons
AREA OF SHIRE COVERED IN STORY: NORLANE
Q. When did you come to Norlane?
A. It was in 1940 when we came out here.
Q. What brought you here?
A. Drought. My husband came down here with a younger brother and another chap to find work at Fords. The two young ones got jobs but my husband was too old because all he ever learnt was holding on to horses or driving tractors.
Q. When was it he started at International?
A. That would have been about two months after we came down.
Q. So it was still in 1940?
A. Yes. We were shifted straight into this house, in Donnelly Avenue. I was left on the farm for those two months on my own with the two children.
Q. You had two children at that stage?
A. Yes. Had two girls. Anyway unfortunately Harvester and he didn't get on. He was on the assembly line and he was making knives for a binder. He told the foreman they weren't being made correctly. The foreman said when I want your advice I'll ask for it. They eventually argued and my husband was sacked. Next he went to Fords on the assembly line. He went from the assembly line to making belly tanks by the thousands for aeroplanes. Then he went on from that to be in charge of the big Hamilton Press. Then the last 16 years of the (time at) Fords he was a foreman. So he did 32 years at Fords.
Q. Did you have any more children?
A. Yes. A son and another daughter.
Q. You had four. So you were obviously homebound?
A. Yes. I did special little trips after they got off my hands down at Fords. I used to go in when they had a family day at the end of the year. Any woman or parent who could would come in and help in the kiosk or canteen. They were asking for help so I of ten went and worked that day. Then I got into the kitchen helping the chef, to line up all the dinners. That was the only work I did apart from voluntary work.
Q. So what was this street like when you came here?
A. Shocking. When we got down here I could go to the back door and watch the children come out of school. There was nothing between here and the school. From this street there was one house between here and the station. All vacant paddocks. The Baptist Church at the back of us, we could go through a gate there. They were all vacant to a few houses on Melbourne Road. But the ground was something shocking. This road was unmade for a long time. Mr Beckley was the first ever to do anything to this road. He got a lot of gravel and stones to put into it. It was only big stones in the dirt. You still used to get bogged when it was wet.
Q. Where was your nearest General Store?
A. Mr Walpole, down Melbourne Road. We call it Walpole's till this day. Today it's a milk bar with an empty shop next to it. The pub was on the other side of the road, where a car yard is today. That was Young's pub. The butcher was Dickson from North Geelong, that was the closest butcher. They came out Tuesdays and Thursdays. Thompson's from Moorabool Street would deliver it to the Walpole store if you rang up and ordered it. We would pick it up and pay for it there.
Q. You didn't have the phone on?
A. No. There was a woodyard over here on the other side of Melbourne Road. That was the closest phone. You had to walk over there to use the phone.
Q. Was the nearest doctor in Drumcondra?
A. Doctor Carter, on Telegraph Bridge corner. You had to go to North Shore for the mail to the post office. It is still there now. Well, two boys who used to live on this corner, the Meyrrick boys were delivering mail when we arrived here. Each householder paid them so much a week to bring the mail.
Q. So then the Housing Commission started out in the early 1940s?
A. Yes, round about the end of the war. There was only one commission home in
1950. Mrs Young got that house when she came here in 1950.