Interviewed by Bryan Power on 23 February 2013
My grandparents George Bell Spitty and Lucy Matilda Spitty had a farm down on the waterfront at Corio near the Geelong Grammar School. They had a large family of five boys and three girls. My father was the eldest.
My parents met when Mum and her two sisters worked at the school. Mum was Elaine Way and her sisters were Nellie and Clara. The three of them worked there as maids. Other local women who worked at the Grammar School were Rita Finch and Mary Evans, I think.
My father was Harold George Spitty and my mother was Elaine Mary Way. Mum came from a family of eight children - also with five boys and three girls. She was the third in the family.
Mum’s brothers were Charles Alexander Way (born 1889), Andrew Way (1891), George Samuel Way (1902) and Harry John Way (1905). She had a brother James born in 1906 who died in the following year. Her sisters were Ellen “Nellie” Way (1897 – Mrs Stan Thompson) and Clara Way (1899 – Mrs Alec Dunk). Mum also had a sister named Elaine who had died at the age of two. Mum was born after the little girl’s death and her parents gave Mum the same name.
Dad’s brothers were William John Spitty (born 1902), Eric James Spitty ( 1907), and Ivan Joseph Spitty (1913). There was also an older boy named Clive Provese Spitty who was probably an adopted son. Dad’s sisters were Emma Eileen Spitty (1903), Lucy Spitty (1905) and Sylvia May “Tot” Spitty (1910 - Mrs Bob Cahir),
Mum and Dad were married jn Geelong and they first lived on the farm at Corio. Later on they moved to a house in Bacchus Marsh Road next to Thomson’s abattoirs. They rented the house from Sid Thomson.
I was born on 17 May 1925 so I’ll be 88 next birthday. Jim was born 13 months later.
As little kids we had to play together because we had no neighbours close by.
My cousin John Way used to come over from North Shore and always asked my mother to cook a fruit cake for him.
We went to school at the old brick Corio State School in Henry Street. It had one big room. We walked there and had to cross the railway line both ways. We had to be home by a certain time so there was no chance to play after school. I remember that we had some very good teachers. Mr Hoy and Mr Riggall were two of them.
Jim and I were good runners and one year we won so many races that Corio won the sports against the other local schools.
I have always been very fond of my cousin Marj Thompson, who is eight years younger than me, and spent almost every weekend at her home, looking after her.
Marj lives in Portland and turned 80 recently. Her family took her on a holiday to Fiji to celebrate the event. Marj and I talk on the phone to each other every week.
When I had my 80th birthday the family put on a dinner for me at the Lord of the Isles Hotel in Geelong. It was a great family night.
After school Jim and I both worked for Sid Thomson. Jim did a butchering apprenticeship and later he ran one of the Thomson shops in North Shore Road. I served the customers in a number of Sid’s shops. I started at the one in Skene Street in Newtown but I was moved around to others when somebody was on holidays. So I also worked in the shops in Garden Street in East Geelong, Pakington Street (on the corner with Autumn Street) in West Geelong and the Moorabool Street shop located between Fletcher Jones and Timm’s Pies. Thomsons were a wonderful family and it was good to work for them.
On Saturday nights a whole mob of us would go dancing, usually at the Railways Institute.
We had very good neighbours, the Selwoods, who would take us to dances and balls in their car.
Jim was a good footballer and he played in the North Shore team that won the premiership in 1948.
Most of our socialising was done with the family. My Aunt Clara and her husband Alec Dunk who was a policeman would drive down from Melbourne almost every Sunday to visit us. Mrs Tot Cahir, who was Dad’s sister, came to visit every week. Her sons, Harold and Robert, were another couple of cousins of mine.
Neither Jim nor I married but we looked after each other and the family was always good to us, especially as we got older. Jim died in my arms at home on 7th January 2002.
Life goes on and I keep busy with my knitting and crocheting.
I had a successful hip replacement operation last year but then I had to spend three months in hospital and a nursing home after breaking my pelvis in a fall. Marj’s sons, Carey and Gregory visited me regularly at that time and they and their wives and their children are very good to me.