My grandparents were George and Margaret Evans. They had eight children and all of them grew up on the farm in Walchs Road (formerly Sparks Road). My father was Bill and his brothers and sisters were Ron, Ernie, Alan, Myrtle, Ethel, Muriel and Elsie.
Grandfather went missing one weekend and his body was found a couple of days later washed up on the shore near the Grammar School.
Grandma was bed ridden for years but managed to mend all the men’s socks.
My father Bill and mother Margaret Brame were married in Geelong. Mum was brought up in East Geelong and was from a big family – she was one of 13 children.
My brothers were Ivan and Max, and Gwen was my only sister. Gwen was the eldest, then came Ivan, myself and Max.
Even though he had a family of four young children Dad enlisted in the army and fought in the Middle East. Fortunately he survived but his youngest brother Alan, who was also a soldier, was killed in action.
After he came back from the war Dad worked at the Phossie, the Cement Works and Fords.
After we kids were all at school Mum worked as an office cleaner at International Harvester. There was quite a group of North Shore women who worked there from 4.30 until about 9.30pm. There were Mrs Meyrick, Mrs Gladys Dean, Mrs Tas Power, Mrs Lorna Nelson and Mrs Lorna Anderson.
I didn’t like school and left the day I turned 14 as did my sister Gwen and brother Ivan. However I managed to get my Merit Certificate before leaving. I first got to know Mac at school, and the other kids and I used to ask him for the answers as he was much cleverer at school work than we were.
Our home was in a group of four in Sparks Road at the north end of the big Phossie shed. Mr and Mrs Parker lived on one side of us in Walch’s Road and after they left, the house was rented by a man who stuttered, Wallie Greig. The Blisses replaced Ron and Della Evans when they moved up to Grandfather’s home, then Norm Hilcke (whose children were Alan, Graham and Gary) and then, later again, Tom and Rita Finch.
My brother Ivan was like Uncle Ernie – very quiet. However, I was sitting in the cow bails one day when Ivan brought the chaff cutter down on my leg. I still have the scar.
At the North Shore Hall there was a junior debutante set and my partner was Francis Buckley and later in the more senior set it was Pat Gamble. Mac was Val Power’s partner. The other girls I can recall being in the deb set were Joyce Beckley, my cousin Della, June Burns, Rae Baxter and Marj Thompson.
At the dances, old Tommy Dean used to get me up for the circular waltz and waltzed me around with tiny steps. After supper at the dances they used to do the Alberts with each set having four couples and I can remember big Patty Cahir swinging Gwen off her feet.
Frank Burns and Harry O’Brien were the doorman at the North Shore dances.
I started work with Gwen at a Geelong laundry. I hated it there but could not leave because of the manpower regulations. Eventually Mum replaced me at the laundry while I left to work for Timms Pies in Moorabool Street.
Gwen was at the laundry for many years but eventually became sick of it too and suggested that we should both change jobs and go to work for Goodchilds, the shoemakers. We rode our bikes there but both of us hated it and declared that we would not go back the following day. Mum told us that we had to return as we couldn’t possibly make up our minds after only one day. So the next day we were riding through the short cut when we met Kath Donnelly who said, “why don’t you come to the mill?” so we turned down to the Federal Mill in North Geelong and that’s where we finished up. That night Mum asked us, “Well, how did you go today?”
We said, “It was good.”
She said, “There, I told you it would be all right.”
But we replied, “Yes, but we didn’t go back to Goodchilds, we started at the mill.”
We worked there for years. I worked there on the looms on piece work. Other North Shore girls who worked at the mill were Patty O’Brien, Val Power and Rae Baxter.
At the weekends many of the North Shore girls played in the local softball team in the summer and the netball team in the winter. The softball home games were played in the paddock behind Bliss’s house but all the netball matches were played at the courts at Kardinia Park. Della, Gwen and I played in both teams and I think Rae Baxter and a Lara girl, Florrie Blair, played in the netball team.
Even though Mac and I had known each other for years as good friends we did not become close until we were 21 when we became engaged. We were married in 1951 at St Gile’s in Gheringhap Street, Geelong. Della and Marj Thompson were my bridesmaids and Keith Burns and brother Gordon were Mac’s best man and groomsman.
We first lived with Mac’s parents for about three years and built a kitchen on to our bedroom to make a small flat. Later we lived in Camelia Crescent in Norlane, then for a while in one of the Distillery cottages before buying a house in Station Road.
We had two girls, Janis and Raelene. Tragically, Janis died in an accident at the age of 18. She was recovering from glandular fever and a young friend offered to take her for a drive. As the car drove over the railway crossing in St George’s Road it was struck by a train. The boy survived but Janis was killed. Her death was a terrible blow for Mac and me and Raelene.
Raelene is married to Gary Lubcke and their children are Stacey and Brett.
My brother Ivan married Mary Powell and their four children are Gary, Noel, Denise and Maureen. The two girls are twins. Max has two children, Brad and Sheridan, and Gwen has Peter and Lynette. Gwen’s husband, Jack Chapman, died many years ago at the age of 62.
Mum died in 1988 aged 86 and Dad died in 1998 aged 90.
Mac suffered with arthritis from the age of 28 and he became more and more crippled because of it over the years. He died on 18 September 2011 at the age of 81.