Molly Cullen (nee Timney) Interviewed by Bryan Power on 21 March 2009
I was born in Clydebank in Scotland in 1913. My parents were John and Ann Timney (nee Walsh). Mum’s parents were Irish. Timney is an Irish name also.
Mum and Dad were keen dancers so they probably met at a dance.
Dad was a coppersmith who worked in John Grant’s shipyards. They were married in 1910. Their eldest child died after only two days. I was the next one born in 1914 and two later children also died young. I went to Catholic schools but was not taught by nuns.
Mum’s sister Meg had migrated to Australia and was keen to have us come to join her. Another sister in America also wanted us to go there but there was a quota on immigrants to the US at the time that prevented us going there.
We sailed for Australia from Southampton in 1928 on the SS Benalla and ran into a dreadful storm in the Bay of Biscay.
We arrived in Melbourne on a scorching hot day and stayed with Auntie Meg and her husband in their home in Mount Macedon for only a few weeks before finding a small cottage of our own on the Mount.
In 1930 we moved to Melbourne where I found a job at a mill that made clothing for Foy & Gibson. I was treated poorly by my fellow workers who thought I was a Pom. I’d never heard that word before. I had the chance to work in the shop but I chose to work in the mill instead because Dad was out of work and the shop wage was only 12 shillings a week whereas the mill wage was 19 shillings.
Mum and Dad went to Geelong and lived in Donnelly Ave where Jack was born. We had so little that Jack had to sleep in a suitcase.
I left my job in Melbourne and came to help Mum who was ill after Jack’s birth.
Dad was out of work here. I was walking back from Geelong where I’d been looking for work and as I was walking over the Separation Street bridge I looked back and saw the Federal Mill and thought I’d better go back and try there. The girl told me that there was no work but took my name. A couple of days later I went back and waited almost all day to see the manager who turned out to be a Scot. He said, “You’re a lucky girl,” and I got the job; I was there right up until the time I was married.
Things started to look up when Dad got a job at Fords.
The tradespeople were very good as they allowed people to have food when they didn’t have the money to pay for it. They knew they’d be paid eventually. Mr Beckley was very good and so was Mr Firth, the butcher. He was a Scot and so could understand my Mum when she asked for the various kinds of meat using their Scottish names.
I was in three motor bike accidents. Anyone who had a motor bike in those days was considered to be wealthy. Most people had to walk or ride push bikes and I did that for eight years from North Shore to the mill. So every time I was in an accident it was because I was sitting on the back of a motorbike, happy to be given a ride. The last accident was the worst and when I tried to go back to work I couldn’t manage. The manager made me stay home but assured my mother that he’d hold my position for me until I was better. It took me seven months before I was well enough to go back.
When I returned I was given a job in the staff dining room and I loved that and didn’t want to leave but in those days girls had to give up their jobs once they were married.
We moved to a house in Drumcondra for a short time and then to No 8 Bay Street and while there Jack started school at the state school over the road.
We moved over to a small house in North Shore Rd and then we moved to Myrtle Grove and lived at No 5 opposite the Steeles. The son, Jim, who was older than Sophie, joined the Air Force and went to Britain after training in Canada.
In the first house on our side were the Clarkes, then on the other side were the Caddy’s and then the Campbells, Jim and Morven, Scottish people who later moved to Bay St, North Geelong. Next to Steeles was an English couple. The wife had an unusual way of speaking.
I was there until I was 23. I met my husband, Tom Cullen at the mill where he was an electrician. We were married in 1938 and came to live at 16 Bay street. I have lived here for almost 72 years.
We had two children, Nancy and Robert. Nancy was in the same grade as Jack Power at St John’s. Nancy married a Tuddenham and lives in Morwell. I have six grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Dad got a job at the Distillery and lived in one of the cottages there until he retired at age 65. Then he went to work at Fords and later at Henderson’s Spring works. He didn’t retire finally until he was 75 and they still wanted him to work on as he was an expert in joining conveyor belts with copper bands. He refused so they brought the work to him and he did it in the little shed at the back of their house in St David St, North Geelong.
I got the flu when I was 92 – it was the first time I’d ever had the doctor in the house.
I went to dances with my husband until he died and then I went with his brother until he got cancer. I was 83 then and stopped going because I had no one to take me.
Andersons had a farm where the Norlane Aquatic Centre is now. Mrs Anderson was very kind to us and gave us an iron cot for Jack. Molly Anderson was my great friend and she was my bridesmaid. I’d go to help her with the milking but she’d always squirt me with the milk.
We’d go to the Palais in the Anderson car but sometimes it would run out of petrol and I can remember Molly and I pushing it up the Ford hill.
Molly Anderson has died.
I love the Geelong Football Club and have a reserved seat in the front row of the Hickey Stand at Kardinia Park. I first went to Geelong games at Corio Oval with my friend Olive White. Her brother Leo was a boxer and his boxing name was Kid Young. He died this year (2009).
My favourite player back in those days was Tommy Arkley. I went to the Grand Final in 1937 when Geelong beat Collingwood. My father was not happy about me going, but I went and saw Geelong win the premiership.
North Shore was great place in those days.