Chapter 39

Establishing the Family

We made several trips to Bundaberg and Howard in the Singer when Betty’s mother was visiting her mother in Howard and we checked the land at Moore Park that had been left to Betty in her Eardley Grandfather’s will. This land was too far from Brisbane to build a holiday home on but would be ideal for a beach house, like the one at Woodgate which was my mother’s family retreat. Betty’s land consisted of two allotments on a sand hill separated from the main beach by another sand hill with tidal flats behind it. Of course, sand flies and mosquitoes were a problem.

Due to a break in the chronology of the narrative Betty provides a synopsis of intervening events in their story at this point.

Dear Beck,
John does give the years we were in various places…but so far I can’t find anything in detail about Sydney or when we moved back to Queensland to a job he got as an Engineer at Paradise Point, Southport. He was preparing the land for sub-division into allotments and eventual sale. John was working at Paradise Point when Oscar was born and, in fact, Oscar spent the first few weeks of his life in a house we rented at Labrador. I have a photograph taken the day I took Oscar back to his ‘new’ home. We weren’t there long though before moving back to Brisbane and to the nice apartment in Jane Street, West End. From there I found the land at 8 St. James Street, which we bought after selling the relatively new VW car; we bought the land with this money. However, just a few days after the sale went through we walked up to 8 St. James Street and found that the land had been used as a ‘dumping ground’ for all of the bricks that had once had life as chimneys in Brisbane homes that were now demolished. We hastily made an appointment with a solicitor and managed to get a couple of hundred dollars off the purchase price of the land…but we had to move the bricks…it was a labour of love. Not long after this John began designing this house (under strict supervision). I had the design of the house in mind and John was definite that it should be placed well back on the allotment, where the ground was stable and where it still stands. We had no money so that was rather a complication. John began working with the Public Service. Eventually, thank heavens, you were born.

Lots of love,


John continues…….
It seemed by now our lives had settled down and we were back in suburbia. Betty was continuing at the Conservatorium of Music and getting back into form. We still did not have a car but had the use of Betty’s family Ford Counsul when we needed a car. We would see each of our families when we went down to Wynnum and it was a juggling act at times to balance the visits so we did not upset either family. Ian and Lesley were busy with their lives and my parents did not see that much of either of us.
Betty’s father had retired from the army and was working at the hospital and her mother was caring for children; they ended up adopting four of the children who had been left in their care. Oscar and Rebecca were doted on and there was always other children at 91 Charlotte Street when we visited Betty’s family; my parents, too, loved seeing the children.
We kept in contact with friends from school but everyone was so busy. Hugh and Joan bought a boat building business and caravan part and were stretched to their limit. Ralph and Ella lived at Oxley and Ralph was still working at Sommers Jewellery. Alan and Glenda had moved to Melbourne, Peter and Kay moved where the bank wanted them to be. We still saw Sam and Phyllis, friends from Kavieng, and Nick Von Berky had remained in Brisbane and married June. Some time in this period John and Juanita Stanfield from Kavieng had a tragedy when their young son drank turpentine and was rushed to Brisbane but he was unable to be saved. I attended the funeral and afterwards John went back to the plantation in New Ireland. Juanita later went to Perth to see her parents and stayed for a short time with us. Around this time Myola Elliot-Smith, who was our bridesmaid, came from Libya and stayed for a while with us. Her husband Ted, a geophysicist with B.P. in Libya died suddenly and this was a shock to us all.
There was still a lot of work to finish the house at 8 St. James Street and I fitted in excavating for walls, concreting and landscaping over the week-ends. Towards the end of 1965 I had to decide whether I wanted to keep up the hectic pace in a consultant’s office or enter the Commonwealth Public Service. I had no wish to start up or run my own business and enjoyed the challenge of structural design where you could see something at the end of efforts and decisions made in the office.

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