Friday, 31 December 2010

FSO - Happy New Year!

  Happy New Year!! Another celebration. A new year, a new you, new beginnings, new town. What is new, changing, evolving. New in your town or new with you if you care to share.

Seventeen years and quite a few shoes sizes separate them.  It's hard to imagine having another grandson but soon, soon there will be another.

We know already he has long legs and according to those who can spot resemblances from those in the womb photos, he has the Ward chin, a sure sign of a determined nature.  That's a nice way of saying stubborn.   Will he be dark haired and dark eyed like his parents?  Whose nature will he inherit?  Will he be a chatterbox like his mother?  

Which one will he look like:
 The new parents to be

Did I say I can't wait for the new person in our family?    I can't wait to see the little bloke who will wear this tiny shoe (although I trust he will have two feet).    

My grandsons' shoes

To see the photos of the rest of the Friday Shoot Out Team, just go here.  

Best wishes to all for a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Childhood Part 2

We all loved Grandma and Grandad Osborne in a special way. They had the gift of making each of us feel special and never compared any of us to each other or to other cousins, whereas I always felt that we never quite measured up to Grandma Ward’s expectations. After Grandma Osborne died Esme, Tricia and I held a wake for her at the Irish Club in Mt Isa. We laughed till we cried, then laughed some more. All our memories of her were so positive! But the highlight of the night was when Esme announced that she had been Gran’s favourite! I couldn’t believe that she could possibly think that, as I knew that I had been her favourite but Tricia had the same belief. What a gift!

Grandad loved to tell us stories.  Ward means the Bard, the storyteller but I think the joy of spinning a yarn comes from Mum’s parents.  Even when he was confined to a nursing home, suffering from Alzheimers he would occasionally attempt to spin a yarn.  

He once said to me, “Remember the Murphy girls?”  I nodded because there were Murphys in the family. 
“They never did catch their murderers, you know.”  I thought, hello, I’m behind the times.  How come there’s been a murder and I haven’t heard about it?
So I said, “When did this happen, Grandad?”
He replied, “Back in the 1890s.  The Gatton Murders.  The two girls and their brother.  They never did catch who did it.  But I think it was bushrangers.  Men on horseback were seen up in the mountains  the following night.  Captain Starlight was around at the time." 
Grandad’s best stories were about Tommy Day, an old bachelor who lived not far down the road who Grandad lead us to believe was “not all there” and Uncle Cecil who lived right at the end of the road and had been in Mum’s class at school. Tommy spoke with a high pitched, slow voice and Grandad could imitate him perfectly.  We waited, each holidays, for the latest Tommy Day story.

Mind you, I think Tommy got his own back at least once. One day Tommy came across a couple of men trapping parrots in Grandad’s Dam Paddock, the entry to which was opposite Day’s house. Tommy told them he wasn’t going to make trouble for them but to watch out for the old guy up the creek – “He’s as mad as a cut snake”. The trappers later went further up the creek where they came across Grandad and told him the story, asking where the mad old guy lived. Grandad thought it was a huge joke and told us they had been referring to Uncle Cecil.

Cecil Crosby
Uncle Cecil’s house today

He used “Uncle Cecil” to keep us from getting lost when we ventured into the mountains at the end of the road. He would tell us to follow the creek with a warning “Stay away from the road or you’ll go past Uncle Cecil’s house and he will come out and chase you.” We fell for his instructions hook, line and sinker, believing that if we went off the track we were to follow once we got to the next creek crossing (past the end of the road) we would be straying too close to Uncle Cecil’s property and goodness knows what would happen to us. Mum told me a few years ago that Cecil, had indeed, been a bully and Grandad was right to warn us about him. He used to ride a horse to school and would charge it straight at any youngsters who were walking.

We spent all our school holidays up on the farm at Townson. The road from Laidley followed the creek up the valley towards its source in the mountains and everything was either ‘up the creek’ or ‘down the creek’. Only Grandma’s mother and brother and Uncle Cecil lived further up the creek. From there you started climbing up into the mountains. The mountain range formed a U at the back of the house with mountains running back down either side.

The road leading “up the creek” on a rainy day

When we arrived on holidays Grandad would always fill us in on where wallabies and dingoes had been sighted, and how many snakes had been seen lately. If a snake had been killed recently it would be hanging over the fence for us to look at and to learn to identify the different sorts (and to remind us of their danger). The house was only about six steps high and they had a huge birdcage under it, right beside the front steps. Gran would trap parrots down along the creek before we arrived so we always had some to look at and learn about.  On one accasion we were in the kitchen and heard a sqwarking coming from the birdcage, ran out and discovered a snake inside the cage, too swollen from it’s feed of birds to get back out through the wire netting.   

Holidays were spent running wild around the hills and along the creek. We always had an ‘expedition’ into the mountains in search of wallabies and once we even managed to get up close to them. One special memory is a holiday when I was about 17 and the only one staying at the farm. Grandad said the wallabies had been coming down to drink in the evening in the Top Paddock, the one closest to the mountains. So, he and I set out on foot shortly after lunchtime with just a drink of water each. We found a good spot under some bushes and settled down on our bellies to wait. It seemed a long afternoon. It was hot and got uncomfortable and we only spoke occasionally in whispers. But we were rewarded. Just as I was giving up hope, Grandad poked me in the ribs and pointed. And sure enough, what looked like three families of wallabies were approaching. They came up to the water hole slowly, warily, and I was sure my breathing would frighten them away. But they drank, then played for a while before hopping away. It was such a special moment and extra special to be sharing it with my Grandad. It wasn’t until I was 50 and living in North Queensland that I got to see wallabies in their natural environment like that again.

creek running
The creek how we liked it, with lots of rushing water.

There was usually a parrot trapping expedition as well but these only made us wonder at Gran’s skill. We used the same equipment she used but without the same results; we lacked the timing. We’d have a box with the lid missing. This would be turned upside down and propped up with a little stick attacked to a length of string. Seeds the birds liked (Gran always knew which seeds to use) would be placed under the box and the idea was when a bird went under the box to eat the seeds, we would pull the string and trap it. To start with we weren’t very good at sitting quietly under a bush, and on the rare occasions when we did and a bird approached we would either pull the string too soon, or, in our excitement, make a noise that frightened it away.

The creek and gully had to be explored every holiday in search of water holes, swimming holes and goannas. I remember one big old goanna inhabited the same place for years. It was exciting on the first day of the holidays to climb a little hill and come down it on the other side on our bellies to see if we could spot him laying in the sun. We only had that one chance because he was a wary old devil and would disappear after our first day on the scene. I guess we were a noisy bunch!


I'm off work till 10 January so have decided to  spend some time  recording some of my childhood memories.  My siblings and offspring might find them of some interest.  

There are so many things in my life that I am grateful for, starting with the wonderful family into which I was born.  I like to tell people my parents were so impressed with me, the oldest, that they decided they’d like a dozen of me.  But the truth is my dad comes from good Irish Catholic stock and the change that swept through the world with the introduction of birth control was not felt in our household.

An early (and constant) influence in our lives were our grandparents.  Dad’s mother was a quiet, demure, gentle little lady who I don’t remember as saying much but who often smiled gently.  I’m sure she was made of sterner stuff than was evident to us in her old age.  After all, she gave birth to 14 children and raised 12 of them when times were tough indeed.  My dad was one of the youngest with a younger brother and 2 younger sisters.   They are all gone now.  The last one, Aunty Maisie died just a couple of weeks ago but I have many lingering and fond memories of some of the others.  Their lives were a testimony to their faith; they practised Christianity in its purest form.

My father's family home

Dad’s mother was roughly the same age as my maternal great grandmother who lived a creek and a paddock away from Grandma and Grandad Osborne.  Whereas Grandma Ward was genteel and always seemed to be sitting in her easy chair when we visited, Great-granny Crosby was always on the go.  Grandma Ward lived in retirement in a stately old home in Sandgate a seaside suburb of Brisbane (only 4 train stations and a bus ride from where we lived) with her oldest spinster daughter, Aunty Dolly, who appeared to be “in charge”.  The house was pristine, no clutter, no marks on the gleaming polished wood floors. 

During the holidays we stayed with Grandma and Grandad Osborne but during school term we visited Grandma Ward regularly on Sundays.  Mum would see that we were scrubbed and dressed in our best Sunday clothes, clean white socks and polished shoes, hair tidy, and Dad would take us to visit.  These were not fun Sunday outings; in the presence of Dad and his family we were always conscious of the need to behave.  No hanging out train windows getting soot on ourselves from the old steam train and mucking up our hair.  No raised voices except Dad’s keeping us in line.

Reaching the Sandgate railway station was a relief as it was easier staying clean on the bus and therefore stay out of disgrace with Dad – and Aunty Dolly.  Somehow we developed a ritual for when we arrived at Grandma Ward’s.   Firstly we would take our shoes off at the door and line them up neatly by size, then traipse into the lounge room.  I would sit on one end of a long lounge chair with the youngest brother or sister beside me, Dennis the next oldest of us would sit on the other end with the next youngest beside him and the other younger ones would be between us.  And it would be up to the older ones to keep the younger under control.  If any of the littlies misbehaved it always seemed to be MY fault, as Dad would say, “Pauline!” in his sternest voice.  No wonder my younger brothers and sisters thought I was bossy for years!  Maybe they still do.

My sister Tricia's painting of my mother's family home.  This is exactly as I remember it.

The modernised farmhouse as it is today. 
This is as close as we can get to it but to see it there nestled under the mountains can set off a flood of memories.

But there were no rituals when we went up to the farm to Mum’s family.  There was no sitting on ceremony, although we were regularly scrubbed and dressed up on Sundays to visit my Great-grandmother.   We loved these visits because we liked to see Gran dressed up in her Sunday best.  She looked so elegant and beautiful when she did her hair in her “fancy” style with deep waves on the sides of her hair and her bun secured with a pretty comb more loosely than on other days.  I would wait with interest to see what broach she was going to wear and if she would put on a necklace.  Her outfit wouldn’t be complete till we had crossed the creek when the stockings and gloves were put on, no matter how hot the day.  Then, armed with towels, our shoes and socks in our hands, we would race down to the creek.  The crossing place was shallow with lots of stepping stones, so our feet didn’t get dirty, just wet.   On the other side, we’d add our shoes and socks and set off through Great Uncle Dave’s (Grandma’s brother who farmed the home farm) paddock.  Crops were grown in the rich soil of this paddock so our shoes would have a layer of dirt (mud if it was being irrigated) and our socks far from their original white. 

How we loved my Gran’s childhood home.  Before it was moved to its current site it had been Laidley’s first hospital.  A grand staircase led up to a wide verandah around three sides that had beautiful white wrought iron work.  From the top of the steps you could go straight into a long hallway with rooms off either side.  Living rooms on one side, bed rooms off the other.  The far end of the corridor lead out to a walkway which was covered in corrugated iron, and had a hand rail but no sides.  This lead to another verandah in front of the kitchen, which was one huge room, it’s length being the width of the house.  A monstrous wood stove was down one end with a worktable, cupboards, etc and dining table and chairs down the other.  Either table would easily sit 12 people, but we rarely sat in there, as it was cooler out on the verandah.  We would be given a cool drink of cordial and a piece of cake while Gran and her mother had a cup of tea.   Then we would proceed to the other part of the house and sit on the side verandah facing the creek.   

The move from one verandah to the other was the signal that the formal part of the day was over.  Off would come the shoes and socks and we’d take off, usually to the creek to check out the Top Crossing – a concrete causeway.  

 The Top Crossing with Crosby horses in the background.
One of my second cousins still farms here.

The only time an adult would reprimand us was if we chased Great-granny’s chooks.  Occasionally we would run up the back of the house and visit Gran’s brother Dave and his family, but Aunty Laura wasn’t the best cook in the world and being expected to eat her offerings was a bit off-putting.  We were raised to think we must eat food that was offered to us, so unless we were still hungry after eating Great-granny’s offering, we regarded Aunty Laura’s food as a bit of a trial.

These Sunday visits took about two hours I guess because we always left Gran's house after lunch and sometimes we would leave our togs at the crossing on the way over and have a swim there on the way home.  

Monday, 27 December 2010

To sum it up

My daughter Leone summed up our Christmas perfectly on Facebook: 

So..another Xmas over..."Woodcock style'....lots a wicked food,sports & games (competitive bunch) & of course a concert by the kids (we're show offs too)... As always a great time :-)

She totally forgot about the gifts - that's not the major part of the day, although watching the kids (and older kids) opening their parcels is fun.

There's always lots of activities at a Woodcock Christmas.  I don't know how we would adapt if we were housebound on Christmas Day.

 Our family - not that many of us compared to the gathering of my brothers and sisters and their offspring in Australia, 26 adults and 13 children at last count.  But next year there will be another grandson in the frame.  And, who knows, one day Bernie might come home to join us.  Miss you, Bern.

Friday, 24 December 2010

A child's Christmas

A few weeks ago, with a worried frown, Georgia announced, "Might be there is no Santa."
"Really?  What makes you think that?"
"Some kids say there is no Santa Claus.  That he is make believe."
"Well, that's a shame for them.  You know that Santa only comes to kids who believe in him, don't you?  He won't come to kids who don't believe in him.  So what do you think, Georgia, do you think he's real?"
Her little face brightened - "Yes!"

A few hours later Georgia asked me if I'd help her make Christmas presents for everyone in our family.  "I want to make all my presents with my own two hands.  Not just go out and buy them - that is just too easy!"

So for the rest of the day her little hands were busy, busy, busy.  She even made presents for the dogs, (and her aunt's cat) a paper bone for her Sammy and a new house for my Lewey.  The old wine cask is probably ill advised but I don't think the dog will mind.


Georgia has embraced the spirit of Christmas. Perhaps this will be her last with the true innocence of a child, where anything is possible. 

 I wish you all a wonderful Christmas full of love and joy.

To see how the rest of the FSO team interpreted this weeks "Christmas" topic, just pop over here.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

A delightful visitor

I had a pre-Christmas treat today.  Lunch with two lovely ladies and a delightful visitor from Australia.  Lucy is the niece of my friend, Chris and daughter of my blogging friend, Bev.  I've met two of her daughters now but still haven't met Bev.  One day, huh, Bev?  Chris gave me a beautiful little bag Bev had made for me but I simply can't get a good photo of it.  

 It always makes me feel good to be near families where you can feel the relaxed loving relationship.  Sorry, Chris, I didn't mean to catch you mid sentence!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Home in time for Christmas

When I left here just over a week ago to return home to Brisbane for my aunt's funeral, the countryside was bone dry.  I wondered a few times while I was away how my garden would be surviving.  I needn't have bothered, the garden is flourishing after a lot of recent rain and the grass and weeds are positively thriving. 

As I was leaving, just a couple of miles down the road I noticed a car pulling out of the entry to the Lodge, which is owned and operated by the Lions Clubs of Northland as a school camp in the forest.  I thought, "Oh lovely, now I will have to eat his dust all the way to the corner (12 kms)."   Most visitors to the camp drive very slowly along our road, which is wise if you aren't familiar with it.  

Just around the corner from the entry I noticed there were two cars up ahead - or is that three?

Now, before my daughter comments about taking photos while I'm driving, let me say that I stopped to take each of these photos.  Each time I stopped I fired off a shot before driving on at my usual speed and catching up with the entourage.  I was curious to see how many of them there were.

Because there are so many corners, I could see there were more cars than I first thought.  Five cars in a row is unheard of on this road! 

But wait, there's more!   These six, plus the little red car in front of me.  Why they were travelling so closely behind each other I do not know.  When it's dry it pays to hang back from the dust of any other vechicle on the road.  And you can't get lost between here and the corner, there's just one road. 

Anyone who visits my blog regularly knows about my 'thing' for churches and graveyards.  So here is the church in which my parents were married and I was baptized - and where the service for my aunt was held - St Patrick's Church in Laidley.

After the burial, one of my brothers called me over to where he was standing and pointed to the grave beside him.  It was that of our maternal great-grandparents.  We hadn't known where their grave was!

We wandered over to visit my sister Esme who lays at rest in the Ward family plot, next to her grandparents and great grand parents:

 The second Daniel below was my grandfather and Catherine Eileen (Eileen) is the my father's sister who died of blood poisoning (who I mentioned in my Very Long Post on 7 December).

Thursday, 9 December 2010

10 minutes from home

I frowned a little when I saw the topic for this week's Friday Shoot Out, thinking where will I get to in 10 minutes?  It will just look the same as here, just more farmland and trees. No use walking for 10 minutes, I'm constantly posting photos as I go for walks around the farm. 

So I've clocked up a few extra miles in the car this week going 10 minutes thisaway and 10 minutes thataway and then 10 minutes the other way.  I guess I'm lucky to have three choices.

Heading into town along the road I take to work each day, I had a pretty good idea exactly where I'd be after 10 minutes - a minute or two short of the school corner!  The road follows a creek and crosses several little bridges.  Ten minutes took me to the last bridge and last sight of the creek.  There's often ducks (wild and domestic) around here but no sign of them Saturday when I stopped.

 Looking down from the bridge:

On the other side, cabbage trees and flax thrive in the swampy ground:

This farm stands on a corner and the side road goes up over hills in the other direction from the mountains I so often feature in my posts.  This road is our alternative route to town when our road is flooded.  Takes quite a bit longer and is unpleasant to drive when there's a storm as the road winds along exposed ridges.  After driving for around seven minutes there is a No Exit side road that runs parallel with our road, but at a higher altitude.  As you can see the countryside is much more hilly than around here. This is the road ahead when my stopwatch told me to stop:

As you can see the countryside is much more hilly than around here.  The countryside changes so much in a few minutes!  In the next shot you should be able to just see the tower that I see so clearly from my place - which lies in the valley between the green hills in the foreground and the higher mountains in the background. 

Swinging around to the right, there are the Uppity Downities!

And around further still, more mountains.  There are no creeks or lakes up here to add variety to the scene. 

So that just leaves 'up the road' past our place.  I rarely take this road, only when going through to Dargaville on the west coast and that doesn't happen often.  Thank heavens!  This is not a fast drive.  The road is narrow with many blind corners, in many cases banks on one side, steep drops on the other.

I thought if I drove slowly I would come to this railway bridge in 10 minutes to add some variety:

 but I wasn't slow enough and had to carry on driving.  I was really surprised how far I went actually.  And as 10 minutes sounded, here is where I was. 


And that's it.  I had to go further up the road to turn around and go back home again!

Why not pop over here to see what others found 10 minutes from their homes.

I will away for the next week but will catch up on the team's posts when I return.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Warning - a very long post

Aunty Maisie (*Alica May, born 1925, mother of John, Peter and Paul) my father’s youngest sister, and the last of the Wards from Thornton died this morning.  I can deal with history tonight but not with my emotions.  

 It seems to me that no-one in my family has taken a lot of interest in where our ancesters lived before they came to Australia, myself included.  Just being Australian was enough.

But laying at rest in Laidley cemetry is Daniel Ward born County Wexford, died 2 Nov 1900
married Eliza Kavanagh died 1906, my great-grandparents.

County Wexford is a maritime county in the south-east of Ireland, which was founded  by the Vikings and named by them 'Waesfjord', meaning 'inlet of the mud-flats'. It is known as 'Ireland's sunny south-east' for its high amount of sunshine.

My grandfather, Daniel Ward was born in 1867 (according to his headstone at the Laidley cemetry) at Purga.  No-one seems to know anything about this Purga place, except that it is near Ipswich and was an immigrants camp.  They moved from the immigrants camp to Thornton, outside Laidley. Grandfather Ward died in 1942, aged 73.  He married Margaret Carroll (born 5 August, 1878), a young orphan who had been sent from an orphanage to work as a maid in his family home.  They were married on 26 February 1895 according to marriage certificate.  Daniel's age is given as 26, so he was born in 1869.  My guess would be that the date on his wedding certificate is more likely to be accurate than that on the headstone.

(also buried in the Ward family plot at Laidley Cemetry is another Daniel Ward, died 1915 aged 86 years, born 1829, is this my grandfather's father?)

Laidley is 83 km and a comfortable hour's drive from Brisbane, and is one of the larger rural towns in the incredibly productive Lockyer Valley.  The area has been providing many of the vegetables that grace the plates of Queenslanders and the eastern states for more than 100 years.

Thanks to the history books we know the actual date the Laidley Creek Valley was discovered – 23 August 1828.  When I went to school we learnt about the early expeditions of the men who first explored Australia.  A child who did not know the names of “The Explorers” and where they explored had something lacking in their education.  I think most kids were like me, totally in awe of these fearless men. Surely they must have been fearless.  Either that or crazy to go off exploring in that harsh land the way they did.  I suspect it was a combination of both.  Allan Cunningham was one of these early explorers and on that August morning he and his troop of men left their tents to climb a high point of what they thought was the Great Dividing Range but was actually the Little Liverpool Range, expecting to see a passage to the Darling Downs which he had discovered from the west the previous year and now sought a way through the 'gap” from the east. 

The party reached the summit of Mt Beau Brummel from which they observed a valley and named it Laidley Creek Valley after a prominent NSW public servent.  Those early explorers may have been fearless and slightly crazy but, even then, they had to play the political game and keep in good with prominent officials, the guys who held or influenced the purse strings and so funded their wanderings.

Because there was a penal colony at Moreton Bay no free settlement was allowed within a fifty-mile radius and so this lovely valley remained uninhabited except for the local aborigines until 1842.   We might have been taught about the explorers but about the previous occupants of the lands we learnt very little indeed, unless they killed an explorer. 

After 1842, squatters began to settle there and the village gradually grew around an inn and a lagoon where drovers and their stock rested.  Many of the original buildings have been preserved in the Laidley Pioneer Village on land that was gifted to the council by my maternal grandfather, while the lagoon where cattle once slaked their thirst is now a pleasant flora and fauna sanctuary. 

Laidley is now a sleepy little township calling itself the 'Country Garden of Queensland' because of the rich soils surrounding the town support farming, vegetable growing for the Brisbane markets, dairying and cotton. 

The first bridge was built in 1863 and this enabled the area “up the creek” to be settled by both squatters and legitimate landholders. And it was up the creek that both sides of my ancestors settled, Dad's family at Thornton and Mum's family at Townson further up the creek, where there are six families listed as the first settlers, my maternal grandmothers and grandfather's families among them.   

According to Daniel's obituary he came to the Thornton district when he was 10 years old.  To quote from the obituary:
“Busy as he was, he played his part in the public life of the community.  On two different occasions he was a member of the Laidley shire Council, and for about 35 years was Chairman of the Thornton School Committee.  He was a foundation member of the Laidley H.A.C.B. Society (Hibernian Society).  For many years he was a member of the Laidley Hospital Board, and was one of those who assisted to have the hospital removed from the Old Township to its present site.  He was also a member of the committee of the Laidley Agricultural and Industrial Society, and took a keen interest in the life of St Patricks Roman Catholic Church.”

It says he died at age 75 but if he was married at age 26 in 1895 , and we have a copy of that document, he must have been 73.  He died at his residence in Thornton where he had lived all his life.  

Daniel and Margaret had 14 children:

Mary Anne (Dolly) b 1896 d 1977 started school 190
Daniel (Barney) b 1897 buried at Nudgee (adopted Anne) started school 1902
Ester born 1900 died 1904 from polio aged 4
John (Jack) b 1903 d 1973 (Marie and Jackta) buried at Nudgee started school 1907
Tom – strangled in a mosquito net aged 8 – 9 months old (but I'm not sure what place in the family order)
Charles (Charlie) b 1905 (Tim, Catherine, Pat, Vonnie) buried at Rosevale started school 1910
James (Jim) b 1908 buried at Nudgee (Jennifer, Carmel, Janice, Catherine) started school 1912
Eva Marguerita (Sister Mary Paulina) b 1910 became a nun 8 July 1930 buried at Nudgee started school 1915
Eileen b 1912 died 1941 aged 29 started school 1917
Elizabeth Josephine (Jo) b 1914 buried at Nudgee (Margaret, Brian, Mary, Betty) started school 1919
Andrew (Andy) b 11.02.1918 died 10.02.2007  buried at Nudgee started school 1924 (my father)
Monica (Monnie) b 1920 buried at Laidley (Terry, Eileen, Garry, Gerard, and one more, my memory fails me) started school 1925
*Arthur Terence (Terry) 08.02.1921 according to Army records but he put his age up - buried at Kalbar (Phillip, Denise) started school 1927
Alica May (Maisie) b 1925 (John, Peter, Paul) started school 1930

·      Confirmed year of birth as approximately correct by verifying with school records but why was Dad 6 when he started school when some of the older ones were 4?

Eileen, who was a governess “out west”, died from blood poisoning in 1941, aged 29.  She was engaged to be married.  She had a pimple on her forehead which she had pricked with a needle after sterilizing it.  She'd gone to Brisbane to visit Uncle Jack and was wearing a felt hat, as was the custom of time.  Ladies did not venture forth without their hat and gloves.  It is thought the hat rubbing against the pimple may have caused the infection.  Uncle Jack took her to a doctor, the doctor said it was two days too late.

Everyone in the family had their blood tested to find a donor for a blood transfusion.  Charlie, Dad and Jo all had the same blood type as Eileen but Dad, aged 23, was chosen to give blood because of his fitness.  Dad said he had to lay down for an hour, they took the blood, then lay down for another hour before being told to go home and lay down again, a very different experience from donating blood these days.  Dad became a life long blood donor and made sure we all did too.  These days such a simple infection would be easily treated but then there was no penicillin.  Australia became the first country in the world to make penicillin available to civilians in 1943, just a little too late to save Eileen.  When we were young, Dad always insisted that we girls brush our hair each and every night before bed, 100 strokes.   He would tell us about Eileen's long black hair and how she would brush it each night until sparks flew across the room.  I don't think he ever spoke of his lovely big sister without sadness, I know he thought her death was a tragedy. 

I never knew anything about the two older siblings who had died, just that they had existed, until I sat down with him and Mum after my sister, Esme died and asked them to tell me more about the family.  Ester's death he seemed pretty matter of fact about and I put that down to the fact he had never known her but his voice choked up a bit when he told me about Tom.  Of course, that too had happened before Dad was born but he said his older brothers often spoke about it and said no-one thought Grandma Ward would ever recover from that and she was never the same person afterwards, there was a spark that was never seen again. 

Grandma Ward always seemed something of an enigma to me.  I guess by the time I have clear memories of her, from about 8 or 9, she was already 75 years old.  She was a refined, gentle old lady who never had a lot to say, Aunty Dolly ran the house and seemed to me to be the boss.  It always seemed impossible to me that this genteel old lady had given birth to 14 children and raised 12 of them in the bush, when life in the bush had been very hard indeed.  Before electricity, phones, motorcars, let alone a mod con.  I used to wonder if Dad actually loved her or visited regularly because he was scared of Aunty Dolly telling him off if he didn't.  I suspect I thought such things because Dad's sense of “duty” came through so strongly but, in those days, he didn't seem loving to me.  He was the strict father, the disciplinarian.  I think now that he was just a product of the times and his own upbringing.  He was never very comfortable with any show of affection. 

My oldest cousin, Marie is 14 years younger than Dad, so she has known him for most of his life, since he was a young, single man.  I think her recollection of Ward history should be recorded.  The following is her speech at Mum and Dad's 60th wedding anniversary on 5 September, 2004.

Except for Maisie I have probably known Andy longer than anyone here.  For close on 72 years he has been an important part of my life.

Could I take you on a journey with me?  Back 60 years to the 17th June, 1944 to St Patrick's Church, Laidley.  We are spectators at the wedding of Andrew Ward and Lily Osborne.  He a very handsome 26 year old farmer, and she just 18, surely the prettiest girl in the shire.  Australia is at war.  Food and clothing are rationed and Lily wears a pink dress and hat.  There are no spare clothing coupons available for a wedding dress when a home has to be established.  Maisie Osborne, Lily's sister is bridesmaid and Andy is attended by Jack Wilson, not yet married to Maisie Ward.  Andy's brother, Terry, his lifelong best friend, would have been with him on this important day but he is away with the A.I.F. fighting in New Guinea.

I wasn't at the wedding but I was at the “tin canning” a short time later.  After the Thornton house was dark, a fearful din broke out.  It was some of Andy and Lily's friends and neighbours banging on milkcans and saucepans and ringing cow bells to get the young couple out of bed.  We all got up.  I don't think it was much of a surprise, as all on grandma's side of the house anyway were all dressed, and the party began!  There was a piano in the parlour and Maisie was soon banging away while the very unmusical Wards and their friends sang their little hearts out.  We had some wonderful times around that old piano and the windup gramophone, “Clementine”, “Blueberry Hill” and “Nursie” were always on the programme.

Jackta and I had great holidays on the farm.  Our father Jack went back to help on the farm as often as he could and we had a ball.  Farming is hard work but we little girls didn't know that.  The women were mostly occupied providing food for breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner for the men who toiled all day.  The big, black wood stove was always lit and provided some great meals, scones and cakes, as well as heating the heavy irons and water for the ladies' baths.   One small kettle of hot water and two of cold was the ration from Aunty Dolly.  The rain water soaped up beautifully and we would itch for a long time after our joint bath.  Butter was made by hand, and washing day, boiling up in the yard and hanging out in the home paddock nearly did take all day.

All this Lily took on when she came to Thornton.  It could not have been easy for her, so young, and having to live in half a house with her mother-in-law and Aunty Dolly, her eldest sister-in-law, in the other half.  She got on with it, and soon was bringing up her own first child. 

I've done a few calculations.  When Pauline began to eat solids, Lily produced 1,095 meals the first year to feed her.  By the time Janet was on solids Lily was turning out 13,140 childrens' meals a year and 2,190 for Andy and herself.  Working on 10 nappies a day in the days before disposables, she would have changed, washed and folded 3,650 for Pauline in her first 12 months.  So in the first 12 months of their lives 12 children were probably responsible for at least 43,800 nappies.  If Lily had the time, I'm willing to bet she would have been a most enthusiastic potty trainer.  If you were to ask Lily what she did “just a housewife” would be the answer.  “Heroic housewife” surely would be more apt.  Andy was born in the last year of the First World War, into a home without electricity or any of the comforts we take for granted today.  He grew up and went to Mulgowie State School with his brothers and sisters and learnt to be a farmer.

As a farmer his day started at sunup with the milking and finished at sunset, when he stood, winter and summer, under a trickle of water from the tankstand and then came upstairs, combed, clean and smelling of soap for dinner. 

When we were there they played cards every night, mostly euchre, our Grandpa, whose sons called him “Boss” because believe me he was, Jack, Jim, Andy, Terry and Dolly.  The hurricane lamps would dance on the table as they slapped down the cards to take tricks.  They were most competitive players, real life and death stuff.  I've said Andy was handsome. He was also tough, very strong, a good rider and a more than competitive and competent footballer and a tireless worker.  A good dancer, his hair was bryllcreamed to shiny, neat perfection before he ventured out for a Saturday night dance.

On the farm everything was done by hand.  He walked behind the horse with the reins around his neck guiding the plough, mostly in a cloud of dust.  Seed was planted and eventually the potatoes, hoed, picked and bagged, corn cut, lucerne scythed and piled into stooks which were then forked up onto the dray to go to the hayshed to eventually be made into chaff and bagged.  I remember the draught horses, particularly Blossom and Nugget.  Nugget was almost twice as tall as Andy with hooves big as dinner plates. Andy just bossed these huge animals around and at the end of a long day fed them large bales of hay.  In his spare time he mustered the mountain and back paddocks where he was always, always fixing the windmill.  The cattle were brought to the house paddock to be dipped, branded, ears clipped and other unmentionable things done which we were not allowed to watch. He bled the bleeder bullock and inoculated the cattle and neighbours would come to get blood for their stock.  He had to service the outdoor loo and always have a clean pan ready for visitors and he kept the woodbox full.  One day he cut his little toe off, took the wood upstairs and gave the toe to his mother.  Grandma put it in metho in an essence bottle and one of the first things Jackta and I would do on our visits was check the bottom drawer of the sewing machine to make sure it was still there – it always was!

Andy joined the Light Horse during the war.  Grandpa Ward died in 1942, aged 75.  When Terry turned 21 he enlisted in the AIF and Andy was demobbed and had to come home to run the farm.  They had 999 acres to look after and farming was an essential service.  With the help of hired hands, Percy who rode a white horse (and I thought very handsome) and Tommy Day, a very tall thin man, Andy kept the farm going.  It became harder and harder however and in 1952 it was sold. 

Andy and Lily located to Nudgee to the house they live in still and Andy became a carpenter.  He became very involved in the Parish here and worked for many years for the handicapped residents at Holy Cross at Wooloowin.  As a couple they have always been ready to help someone else and to share what they have.  Lily, the oldest of 5 and Andy, third youngest of 14, set about making their own remarkable family of 12, before family payments and Government help of any kind.  Any money in their home was made by Andy's two hands and Lily had to spend it wisely and well.  In those days if you didn't work you didn't eat.  It was as simple as that. 

Let's fast forward to todays – 60 years later and the love they had for each other is still there through all the joys and sorrows, laughter and tears, good health and bad.  Their 12 children are a credit to them both and the fact they are all here and all get on so well with each other is further testament to a really good marriage and family togetherness.

So, Andy and Lily, we congratulate you sincerely on this great occasion and hope you are aware of the love and respect we have for you both.

In this Olympic year we award you a gold medal for 60 years of love, devotion and steadfastness.

May God bless you both.

A few months after the anniversary party Marie wrote out the following for us:

Because some of you asked for a copy of my speech you may be interested in some more about Thornton.

Barney, Jack, Jim, Charlie, Andy and Terry would have all worked during their childhood and early teens doing the things I've described on the farm.  Barney and Jack finished their education at the Brothers in Ipswich and then went to Brisbane to work.  I think there may have been too manybn children to live off the land. 

Barney became a public servant.  He was nice but was always telling other family members what they should be doing.  He had a sad life and died of a brain tumour.  He was a reasonably good boxer in his youth.  He married a lovely lady called Claire and they fostered a pretty, dark-haired girl called Ruth.  When she was 14 her father, who was working away from Brisbane, took her back because she was old enough to work and bring in money.  They never saw her again and I know it broke their hearts.  Aunty Claire became ill with TB and after she died Barney married Val and they eventually adopted Anne from Nudgee Orphanage.  Barney taught Dad, Charlie and Jim to swim by just throwing them in a deep waterhole in the creek which flowed very freely in those days. 

I know my father, Jack, loved the land.  He joined the Agricultural and Rural Bank.  At 18 he became their youngest valuer, was given a car which he learned to drive taking up his first post at Gympie.  It was dirt road all the way and took him two days to get there.  Eventually he became the 1st Chief Valuer for Queensland for the Commonwealth Bank armed only with a Junior Certificate and practical experience.  He died of a massive heart attach in 1973, aged 70.

Jackta and I loved going down the lane and over the creek to Jim and May's house.  They lived opposite the family home at Thornton.  It was a prosperous dairy farm with a big herd of jersey cows.  The farm had electricity so milking was done by machine and the cream and milk separated at the press of a button.  Andy milked by hand and sometimes had to leg rope a cow because she kicked or was stupid enough to put her hoof in the milk bucket.  Sometimes Andy would squirt the warm milk at us or into the mouth of one of the dogs.  Aunty May was a great cook and there were always cakes and bickies at her place.  Sometimes a cow would get into the lucerne and bloat, and to save it Jim would stick a knife into its side to let the gas out.  I saw this twice and the smell was incredible.  It didn't seem to worry the cow. 

Charlie rode over the Liverpool Range at the back of the family farm to court Kathleen Dwyer of Rosewood.  When they married they farmed at Rosevale.  He wasn't much of a farmer but he was a fun uncle with plenty of time to play with us.  He did daft things.  He once bought an expensive saddle when he didn't have a horse and they never had electricity connected to their house.  His feet were like leather because he seldom wore shoes.  He would sometimes earn a few bob by coming over the mountain and picking the potatoes while we were on holiday.  Aunty Kathleen was very religious. When she wrote to us every sentence ended with T.G. or P.G. for Thank God or Please God as in “It rained heavily last night T.G.” or “They say it will soon rain P.G.”

Terry saved his money from his Army pay and bought a truck and started carting in the district.  We all know how well he and Aunty Jean did.  He loved going to the races with my dad and we saw quite a lot of him at Brighton where we lived over the road from Grandma and Aunty Dolly.  He went off to the war a very handsome young man, went over the Kokoda Track and returned gaunt, yellow, terrible thin and sick looking with thinning hair.  He never talked about his experiences until many years later. 

I was told, and hope it is true, a funny story about Andy.  Grandpa gave Andy a fine bay mare to take into the Light Horse as soldiers provided their own mount.  There was big parade down Queen Street, Brisbane where my father worked.  He and his staff waited on the balcony for the parade.  Dad told everyone about his young brother's riding ability and the good horse.  Down Queen St they came, the bay mare trotting proudly at the head.  Plodding along among the troops came Andy on a horse with very feathery feet, almost a draught horse.  “Where's your brother, Jack?”  “Hell, said my dad, “I don't think he's there.”  The Commanding Officer had swapped his scrubber for the good bay mare. 

Terry and Andy were 12 and 14 when I was born.  One Christmas, Father Christmas brought me a wind-up monkey which turned cart-wheels on a frame.  They almost wore it out playing with it.  I don't think there were too many toys ever at Thornton.  Dad told he was only ever invited to one birthday party.  His father took him into Laidley and they bought a pen-knife as a present which Dad fell in love with.  Dad couldn't bear to give that knife away so he didn't go to the party.  When our first child Lindsay was about two, again at Christmas, we gave Lindsay a battery operated timber train which would load and unload 10 little logs at a siding and pick them up again next time around.  Terry loved it and play with it until the batteries ran out.  It was hard to explain to an almost two year old. 

The Thornton house had many beds with some along the verandah.  Here the men rested after lunch during the hottest part of the day.  Andy and Terry slept there at night too.  It gets pretty cold during winter up that valley.  I used to sleep with Aunty Dolly.  She had long hair she wore in a bun which she let loose at night.  Sleeping, she would give a mighty toss of her head and cover my face with long strands of hair.  I hated it!  One night when she was putting me to bed, she saw a lump under the quilt and discovered a snake.  Snakes were an occupational hazard in the bush.

A carpet snake lived in the big pantry off the kitchen, and we kept a wary eye on it, having a bath in a big washing tub before the bathroom was built at the end of the verandah.

Grandma's rose garden was always beautiful and along the path from the front gate there were two circular beds on each side.  There was a white fence at the front and along the left hand side.  To the right, from the house, were a few rows of grapes, and I would eat grapes until my teeth ached.  Watermelons, pie melons and pumpkins were grown down by the creek and mostly were fed to the pigs. 

Jackta and I were so lucky being born when we were.  We were taught to ride, climbed the hay stack looking for eggs and scrambled under the barn to search out the clutch of eggs some clever hen had hidden.  We helped feed the calves, sucking on our milky fingers to get them started, and the pigs.  We helped with the dipping, opening and shutting the gate after the cattle jumped in the dip and had to stand in the gate while the men sorted the cattle to be sold.  Some we let through, others we had to stop.  Some had very big horns!  We rode over to the back paddock with Andy and Dad past Jim's paddock with a very bad tampered bull who would walk along the fence line roaring at us.  We always rode the other side of the men just in case it broke out.  We were busy getting the cows out of the lucerne when Dolly waved a tea towel from the verandah signaling the cows half hour feed of lucerne was up.  We stamped the lucerne down on the dray when it was forked up.  We helped separate the cream from the milk, washed and dried the separator afterwards.  Every day was an adventure.

Maisie told me Grandma Ward hated Andy and Terry playing football because of their injuries.  They would tell her they were just going to watch, having thrown their football boots over the railings of the verandah beforehand and going off in the Crosby truck to the game.  They were often hurt she said because as good players the opposition tried to get them out of the game.

Sometimes the priest would say Mass in the front bedroom and neighbours would come over, but we were often driven into Laidley by Andy in the old car.  At Easter we would watch for the sun to come up dancing over the mountain.

It was hardworking families like the Wards that helped make Australia the good country it is today.  I'm proud to be part of it and I hope you are too!

PS  There was a horse called 'the Bender” because he would quickly turn around in circles when a foot was placed in the stirrup and only “The Boss” ever rode the black mare while he was alive.

I’ve posted this as a tribute to my father’s family, for my Aunty Maisie.  Rest in peace! Moe mai ra!