Myrtle and Robert Simpson Transcript
Transcript of Myrtle and Robert Simpson
Interview with: Myrtle and Robert Simpson
Date of Interview: 2 August 1985
Place of Interview: Mapleton
Interviewer: Gillian Pechey
Transcriber: Heidi Scott
Tape 1/Side A
GP: So Mrs Simpson when were you born?
MYRTLE: January the 13th, 1919.
GP: And where were you born?
MYRTLE: Born in Nambour.
GP: And where did you live in your childhood?
MYRTLE: At Mapleton, all the time.
GP: Do you remember the house you were brought up in, what it was like?
MYRTLE: Yes, yes, nice big wooden home, with nice verandahs. It was up high.
GP Yes, is it still there?
MYRTLE: No, they pulled it down not so very long ago, and cut all the farm all up into allotments.
GP: What did your father do?
MYRTLE: He was a citrus grower.
GP: So did you see very much of him, or was he out working all the time?
MYRTLE: Oh no, he worked on his own farm, and he was in too much at times, morning tea, afternoon tea, or you’d take it over. I’d have to go over and take the morning teas over, with a billy-can, and a basket of eats, and cups, you know, for morning tea. But he’d generally come in for lunch and then night time, milk a couple of cows and then come in for tea just on dark.
GP: And your mother, what did she do with her days?
MYRTLE: Well she did a lot of dressmaking in those days, and she helped packing fruit and things like that in the shed, it was a full time job. Getting us off to school and things like that you know, there was only three of us, but still had to see that we got to school on time, and be there in the afternoon when you came home.
GP: So she’d have made a lunch for you?
MYRTLE: Yes, we always took a little bit of lunch in our port to school. Walked to school, wasn’t that far, but we used to walk.
GP: So how was the house heated that you lived in? Like, did you have to cut wood?
MYRTLE: Oh yes, Dad always chopped wood in the wood stove, and we’d just stoke it up and sort of sit in the kitchen where it was warm in the winter nights.
GP: And what sort of power did you have, or what sort of lighting did you have?
MYRTLE: We had the kerosene lights, or the Aladdin Lamp with the kerosene in it. But it was always a wall lamp, with kerosene you’d put up on the wall so nobody would knock it over.
GP: So did you have much to do at night, did you read or anything like that at night?
MYRTLE: Well we always had school work at night time to do.
MYRTLE: Yeah homework, we always had homework, and of course you were only allowed to stay up till about nine o’clock, and it was bedtime, you know, you weren’t allowed to sit up too late. You had to get into your school work as soon as the dishes were over.
GP: Did you sit around the table doing your homework together?
MYRTLE: Yes, we always sat round the table. Mum would be doing sewing or something like that. Dad would read the paper, he’d be at one end reading the paper, and the Mum’d do a bit of sewing and we’d be doing homework or something like that, or for something that you really want quiet, you just go to your bedroom, and sit in there and do it.
GP: So did your parents help you with homework?
MYRTLE: Oh yes, they were generally pretty good, they used to help us a bit. Because those days they used to be able to, these days, it’s so complicated, I don’t think, we couldn’t help our kiddies, not very much, bit too far advanced. But it was always just spelling and writing, you know, the ordinary things that we used to have years ago. But not like they have now.
GP: Did you have a lot of insects or flies in those days, and what sort of things did you have to deal with them?
MYRTLE: Well I suppose we had a certain amount of flies and things, especially summertime, you know. Not that the cows were real close, but your house was always fenced off if the cows weren’t around to bring in any flies or anything. Oh no, they only just had those fly bottles on the table to catch the flies that’s all. They had to be cleaned out every day, put them down again, some days you’d get a lot in them, other days you wouldn’t. But we seemed to cope alright, because everything was covered, covered with a cloth or gauze or something, never had gauze in the doors or anything.
GP: Did you ever have any poisons like DDT to treat pests?
MYRTLE: No, I don’t think so. It was only for the fruit like out in the orchard of course, they’d have the spraying gear to spray with lime and sulphur and things like that. I think that might have kept a lot of the insects and things away when you’re spraying for the fruit and things like that. But hey had them, and the horses used to drag them on a trolley or something like that.
ROBERT: Had a big barrel, a 44 gallon barrel with a pump on it.
GP: Do you think there were more birds in those days?
MYRTLE: There was always plenty around, but we’ve got plenty around here now.
GP: So it wasn’t that.
MYRTLE: No I don’t think so, because people feed them these days too, years ago we used to feed them too. No there used to be plenty of birds around, too many at times, if you wanted to grow strawberries or something like that. Because they’d be after the …yeah, well we’d grow them for our own use, or perhaps a few to sell, not as many as they do these days. But I know Dad had to often put wire netting right over the top because the chillywongs and birds like that used to come. Well how else would you get rid of them, well not get rid of them, if you shot one and he squawked a lot well the others would fly off and they’d be frightened for a long time. Sort of make a scarecrow of it, then I think they got too educated, and they used to come back.
MYRTLE: Than wouldn’t frighten them, but they were pests you know, for fruit or anything like that years ago, but you couldn’t do much about it.
ROBERT: Flying foxes, remember the time they’d be thousands and thousands, every evening they’d fly from the north, they’d go down towards Brisbane way.
GP: So what did you do about them, did you have a way of controlling them?
ROBERT: Couldn’t do anything about them at all.
MYRTLE: There was just too many.
GP: And did they eat the oranges or other fruit?
ROBERT: Well mostly mandarins they’d go for, they wouldn’t touch oranges so much but mandarins…
MYRTLE: Yes, more softer.
GP: Did anybody have anyway of dealing with that pest problem?
ROBERT: Well they’ll try and find where the camps where, and they’d perhaps ten or dozen men with shot guns would descend on the camp, and wipe a few of them out, that’s the only way they could sort of deal with them.
GP: Were possums a problem in the orchards?
ROBERT: No, not such a lot, no.
MYRTLE: We get more problems with possums now, get in the ceiling here once, now and again, we had one here just a while back cleaned up all the naval oranges on the tree there, scooped them right out.
ROBERT: They weren’t real ripe, they weren’t ripe enough to pick, but they were ripe enough for him to eat.
GP: So getting back to the house, was there water in the house?
ROBERT: You’d have your tank water.
MYRTLE: The big tanks outside, galvanised tanks.
GP: And did you have a bathroom, or did you have a bath?
MYRTLE: Oh there was a special room built down stairs, see our house was just up high, and you had a room down stairs that was made into your bathroom. You had a dish on a round stand in the corner that was for washing your hands and things like that. And then well, at the start we didn’t have the ordinary bath, we had the round tubs, but later on we got a bath and thought we were great in this bath then.
GP: Did it have hot water running to it?
MYRTLE: Oh no, no, you had to heat your water. Either light the copper outside and get some hot water, or else put the saucepans of water on the stove and use it like that. But winter time it was too cold downstairs to have a bath so you come upstairs and put a bag down in front of the wood stove, and get your big round tub and put it there, and have the boiling water and saucepans on the stove. Your parents would have to get the hot water ready for you, you’d have your bath there.
GP: And what did you do about refrigerators in those days when you were a child?
MYRTLE: No, we never heard of such a thing. No we just had a hanging safe with the gauze round it.
ROBERT: We had a safe like that one that’s there, with the gauze on both ends.
MYRTLE: Yeah but it’s got a bit of gauze on each end and you just put your eats in there. We never seemed to have any trouble with keeping things, whether the meat was cured better in those days or what I don’t know.
GP: So you had meat all the time?
MYRTLE: Oh yes.
GP: And how often would you buy that?
MYRTLE: Well you see, we had a butcher shop up here. You could go up every day and get what you wanted if you wanted to, it not just for a couple of days. I suppose you didn’t have to worry about keeping the meat, see these days, if we do down we get a weeks supply, well you’ve got your refrigerator, or your deep freeze to put it in, but in those days, well with the butcher handy like that, we used to get it nearly every day. Then of course we used to get the other through from Brisbane.
MYRTLE: But that was in the winter months because you couldn’t send to Brisbane and get a sugar bag of meat in the summertime, wintertime a lot of people used to send down and get them there. When the butcher was here well you just go and get a little bit what you wanted, well then you’d only have to keep it in your safe, hanging safe, where it was cool, downstairs generally.
GP: Now I’ll talk about the food you would have had as a child, can you remember the sort of food you ate in a day, like breakfast, lunch and tea?
MYRTLE: Oh much the same.
GP: What did you have for breakfast?
MYRTLE: Well, if it was wintertime it was always rolled oat porridge, and I never liked that, now and again you’d get a bit of the shell of the oats I suppose it was. But it was always rolled oat porridge, and I never liked that, now and again you’d get a bit of the shell of the oats I suppose it was. But it was always rolled oat porridge, or cerevite, you know a hot porridge and of course there was plenty of milk with having your own cows to have on it, and then we’d just have toast or a glass of milk or something like that for breakfast. Perhaps Dad would have a bit of meat, but I don’t think we had meat that much, or perhaps an egg or something like that.
GP: You’d have had chooks I suppose?
MYRTLE: Yes, we had our own chooks, and that’s what I say, it was good stuff days those days, not that it’s nothing… well the milk is a long way richer those days, getting it with all the cream on it. And then take the cream off and make your own butter, well you had your pure butter, and your good milk and then you always had eggs. Well they were those decent ones.
GP: And would your mother make butter?
MYRTLE: Yes, she always made butter, in fact she sold it now and again. Make them in a pat and square.
ROBERT: Put it in the separator.
MYRTLE: Yeah, you’d have to separate the milk, you know the old fashion separator with the handle on it, and separate it and get your cream, and let it stand, you couldn’t make it real fresh otherwise you’d be all day stirring that to try and make butter, you’ve to leave it to get a little bit stale. Make your butter and then there was buttermilk, that was quite nice, that was nice to make scones and things like that, or even to drink like it was, in the winter months. Yes we had all that, well you had to on the farm.
GP: Yeah. Did your mother make bread?
MYRTLE: Now and again she used to. You’d sort of perhaps miss out, the baker would only make so many loaves, and you might be just unlucky to miss out, so then we’d say oh well we’ll have to make food tomorrow. Or in Mum’s day, I think they made bread, I think nearly everybody made bread, course I suppose there wasn’t bakers here then. It was nice a good old fashion loaf of bread.
ROBERT: They’d buy their flour by the sack.
GP: What else did she make?
MYRTLE: She was a good cook, she was always making cakes and things like that, you know.
MYRTLE: Yes, she always made her own jam, anything like that she always made, never got to making cheese or anything like that. They did use to make their soap once didn’t they, years ago. Mum used to make her own soap, you know for washing, the bars of soap and stuff. You’d buy…
ROBERT: You’d buy, you’d get tallow, you could buy tallow from the butchers, and then you’d get your caustic and all that sort of thing, whatever they put in the soap. Make the soap and then they’d cut it into bars, about that square size, and they’d be about that long, and you have them all up on the ledges underneath the house to dry.
MYRTLE: you’d wrap them in, was it grease proof paper, or some kind of paper.
ROBERT: I can remember we used to just leave it as was under the house. They’d be all this soap all along the rafters and ground plates and that underneath the house. Every now and again a rat would probably find it, and chew it up. But they’d just go and get a bar and cut it into about four or five pieces out of the bar, use it as they wanted it.
GP: So your house, how many people lived in it?
MYRTLE: Five, Mum and Dad and the three children.
GP: And did you have very much to do with your grandparents?
MYRTLE: Well, the one lot was up here for awhile, the one that first came to Mapleton, well then they shifted to Maroochydore, we used to go down there once now and again in the car to see them, and the others, Dad’s parents, lived in Nambour. Well we used to go there for school holidays, we thought it was great to hop on the tram and take our port and go and stop down there for the school holidays, they thought it was great having us down there. Walk up the town, do a bit of shopping, you know, there wasn’t that many shops in Nambour then. But they lived, Arundell Avenue they lived in.
GP: Did they ever come to stay with you, or did any other relatives ever come to stay with you?
MYRTLE: Oh yes, we always had somebody coming for few days or a week. You know they thought it was great coming on the farm, especially some of them that lived down town way, Brisbane way. They thought it was great coming out on the farm.
GP: Would this be cousins and things like that?
MYRTLE: Cousins and aunts and uncles.
GP: And did you ever get together with these people say at Christmas time or anything?
MYRTLE: Well every Christmas, the grandfather used to have the shop at Picnic Point and nearly all the family tried, he had a big family of seven girls and one boy, and they were scattered around, and we used to nearly always try and make it, we all head home to Picnic Point for Christmas day, and all the grandchildren, there was a whole mob of them.
ROBERT: He’d have a mob of tents in the backyard.
MYRTLE: Yes, it was a real get together. And then on Boxing Day, we’d go on my father’s side, and he had – was it five boys and one girl, I think – in his family, but they couldn’t all come together, they didn’t have very many in their families. But it was always Smith’s side on Christmas day, Richards’ side on Boxing day, but it always seemed to end up at the beach. Because I suppose that was good for us because we never got to the beach very often, but we always made it that Christmas Day and Boxing Day, that was two days we got out. Or Christmas Day and New Years Day, yes, whichever suited the families. Half the time it would be the only time we’d see some of the grandchildren, like their grandchildren.
GP: Was there any special food that you’d have on the day?
MYRTLE: Well everybody would make whatever they could, you know and put it all together and have a big basket picnic. Somebody’s light up the fire and boil the billy and things like that. Yeah, made a real day of it.
ROBERT: Somebody would probably go in and have a swim and then they’d come out and have a feed.
MYRTLE: We were always told to go and have a swim, have plenty of exercise because you’d got plenty to eat afterwards. And then you couldn’t go for a swim then in the afternoon, you have to have a spell for an hour or so, before you could go swimming again, or else you’d get sick. Which I think is a good idea, because I think we ate more those days than anytime, because you’re always trying everybody else’s food that they brought, it always seemed to be better than yours, you know, something different I suppose.
GP: So in your family, who made the decisions?
MYRTLE: I think it was always Dad, go and ask Dad this, or Dad can tell you that, yeah, I think he was always the head of the house, or he thought he was. [laughter]
GP: Was his authority ever challenged?
MYRTLE: I don’t know about that.
GP: Was your mother in charge of the house side of things?
MYRTLE: More so than Dad, he was outside on the farm, things outside there, you know, she did more inside. Tell me what to do inside, cleaning up, course everyday you had to do washing and then there was ironing on those days, it always sort of stuck to that. Cleaning up.
GP: Did you have certain chores you had to do?
MYRTLE: Had to do yeah, take turn about at washing up the dishes, one washes the other one wipes. It’s your turn tonight, you’ve got to wash, I got to wipe, you put the dishes away.
GP: And did you ever not do what you were supposed to do?
MYRTLE: Oh yeah, many a time. But you certainly got roused at.
GP: So what happened then?
MYRTLE: Oh got a good smack and sent to your bedroom or something like that. Oh yes, those things used to happen, like everybody’s families I suppose. I know I used to be very shy, and anybody came I used to get under the table or under the bed, you know out of the way. But gradually come out I suppose as they came to the house.
GP: As you got to know them I suppose.
MYRTLE: Know them, yeah. I know when I was small we used to live around another house. Mum used to tie me up to the rails at the steps on washing day because we had a dog, and the tramline was down below and there was a big water hole generally down there, and she was always frightened I’d go down with the dog down there. I suppose I was caught down there a couple of times, best thing to tie me up, I always got tied up on washing day. I suppose Mum thought she could look after me a bit other days, but no, generally got tied up, I think most kids have a bit of roaming spirit in them now and again. It was just because we had the dog I suppose, I used to wander off with the dog, I was only real tiny then.
GP: This is before you went to school ?
MYRTLE: School, yes, it would be.
GP: Did your family go to church together?
MYRTLE: Yes, they always went to church together, yes. Then we all went later on to Sunday School, yes.
GP: So you’d go to church in Mapleton?
MYRTLE: Yes, it was in Mapleton, they started, I think they had church here all the time.
GP: What sort of a church was it?
MYRTLE: Well that was the Methodist Church, but there was other places that had church, there was in the hall I think they used to have Church of England, wasn’t it?
MYRTLE: And then, well where my grandfather used to live, when he first came here, that was sort of switched over to the, what was it?
Father Duhig bought it for a, they bought it first for a college for some of the boys to come and learn out on the farm, but it didn’t seem to work out.
GP: This is that big old house?
MYRTLE: Right up on top of the hill, that’s where my grandfather used to be, when he first came here. And the Catholics sort of took it over and they were going to have a college, that’s why it was always called the college after that, we always called it the college. But I don’t think there was too many, it didn’t sort of run out did it properly.
MYRTLE: I don’t know why. They used to have their church services up there, the Catholic ones used to go up there, The church of England in the hall, and we had the other one up…
GP: So what would you do there at church?
MYRTLE: Well you had to sit and behave yourself, or try to be quiet.
GP: When you were a child, did you go to Sunday School?
MYRTLE: Yes, we went to Sunday School, oh everybody used to go and even the young mothers with their babies, you know, they’d go to church if they kicked up a noise, they’d just walk out on the porch and just sit there where it wouldn’t be interfering with the service. But there’d be hymns and the minister would come from Nambour, there was a minister down there, and then there was, they used to call them the helpers, or what where they, the local preachers or something. Now and again you’d get a missionary or something like that come, well then they’d come up and take the service. It was quite a pleasure to meet some of those, you
Know, some of them were only young, but they were doing their bit. It always lasted about an hour and then you’d all get outside, then have a little chat, before you go home and then everybody would go home then.
GP: What was Sunday School like for you as a child? What did you do there?
MYRTLE: Well they started off with hymns first in the bigger Sunday School upstairs, and then we’d go down, the small ones would go downstairs and have little, fancy wooden chairs were to sit on. You’d sit in a circle and you’d have an older person to sort of tell you a story, and then as I said with the blocks you’d draw, or you’d make plasticine models and things like that, or blocks, they used to have different blocks with different stories. And then you’d all, they’d take up the collection, sometimes there and sometimes upstairs, and then you go back up and sing the last hymn upstairs with the older ones, last about an hour.
GP: Right. And did you play any games?
MYRTLE: For Sunday School?
ROBERT: Only on your picnics.
MYRTLE: No, only on picnic days that’s all.
GP: When were the picnic days?
MYRTLE: They were once a year, we’d have them, Sunday School picnic.
GP: So where did you go for those ?
MYRTLE: Generally used to go to Maroochydore, or sometimes to the hall grounds or you might go for a walk out the bush and come back and have your lunch down here in the hall ground or something like that. But it was a real day’s outing, you know, you’d start fairly early, you’d walk the main of the, like if it was around these parts, because if you went to the beach, well everybody would sort of rally together and you’d take so many in each car. Never had buses or anything like that, everybody would take their own car, and put so many kiddies in each car and take them down. Parents would go if they wanted to. Another time you’d have it down the hall ground, everybody would turn out down there, and you’d have a picnic there. A lot of walking and playing around but it was good fun. Real day’s outing. You’d want a fine day of course.
GP: Yes. What sort of games did you play as a child?
MYRTLE: Where, like at home or at the picnics?
GP: Well at the picnics for a start.
MYRTLE: Yeah, well sometimes they’d organise some races, you know, little races. You’d have three-legged race and just the ordinary race, and relay races something like that, or having a ball and throwing it around. And then you’d have drop the hanky and some of those ring games that everybody could join in, even small ones. Musical chairs and things like that, you know everybody can join in those, otherwise sometimes the others sort of sit out. What was those they used to line up with a whole row each?
ROBERT: Tunnel ball.
MYRTLE: Oh yes, tunnel ball was another thing.
GP: Yeah, all those ball games.
MYRTLE: Yeah ball games and things like that.
MYRTLE: Yes, or they’d hide something and somebody would have to find it, a treasure hunt you know, do those sort of things. Boil up the kerosene for lunch, kerosene tin on the fire and boil up that up and make cups of tea and hand round cordial for the kiddies, packets of lollies, they nearly always gave each one a little packet of lollies.
ROBERT: Well those days, those times, when we used to deal from the shop up here, you’d book everything up, say for the month, and then when you went and paid your bill for the end of the month, they’d give you a packet of lollies.
MYRTLE: Great big packet of boiled lollies generally, you always got that, always got that if you paid cash at the end of the month you always got this big packet of lollies. Always. Then some of those shops used to donate lollies and things, in a big tin, I can remember those big tins about that high, or biscuits, and they’d hand them out to the ones who were having picnics. They’d donate those free, you know, the shops would, then you’d hand them all round to the kiddies, or else as I say, throw minties and things like that out on the grass, and you’d have to scramble for them. Egg and spoon race that was another one.
GP: Did you ever have ice-cream?
MYRTLE: Oh yes, everybody had to line up and everybody had an ice-cream each, if there was any over the parents used to be able to have one after that.
GP: Was this at the beach?
MYRTLE: Oh down here too.
GP: Where did you get the ice-cream from?
MYRTLE: Well I suppose they’d bring it up from Nambour because they’d have it in that ice, that dry ice. Yes. They’d bring it up from Nambour. Somebody would go down in the car, and bring the
Ice-cream up, ice-cream and soft drinks or cordials or whatever it was. And that was all put in the corner ready.
ROBERT: Go round to Wimmers Factory and perhaps get two or three cases of soft drink and they’d get the small bottles.
MYRTLE: Yes, you’d all have a bottle instead of cups and things like that, they’d five you this bottle with a straw in it. And you’d sit down and have your lunch.
GP: Do you remember any family weddings or big celebrations?
MYRTLE: Well when my grandfather and grandmother had their fiftieth, golden wedding wasn’t it, they had it at Maroochydore, they had a big get together there, with us having our wedding like on the one day, and then Mum’s twenty-five years, and then Grandad’s fifty years, all when we were married. Well then when Grandad and them had their fiftieth wedding anniversary they had a big turn out in the RSL hall in Maroochydore.
ROBERT: No, that was their diamond wedding.
MYRTLE: It was a diamond?
ROBERT: Hmm, because they had the fiftieth one down…
MYRTLE: Oh that’s right they would do, and we had it down, there, that’s right. Yeah well that was sixty, that’s right, we had a big turn out down there. And all the family, oh there was mobs and mobs of them, all turned out for this big turn out. Sixty years was quite a long time.
GP: Did you have cakes, like special…?
MYRTLE: Yes. They had a real sit down, oh it was cakes and sandwiches, we didn’t have a hot meal or anything like that, but a lot of fancy cakes and all sorts of sandwiches, I don’t know whether they had tarts, I don’t think they did, I think it was just cakes and sandwiches, you know. But it was very nice it was done up nice. Three big tables and then another big one across the top.
GP: This is your wedding? Are we talking…?
MYRTLE: No, it’s my grandfather and grandma. Now her bridemaids were both there, and it was Rob William’s mother, and Mrs Hornibrook. And Grandad’s brother was there.
ROBERT: There was one, one of the best men wasn’t.
MYRTLE: That’s right, he was the only one that was gone, I think, but all the others were there, course they were old people then. They were lucky to have that many alive weren’t they, for a sixty years married.
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GP: And what did you do, did you make speeches or sing songs or anything?
MYRTLE: Oh some of them made, yes they called on them for different speeches and one thing and another. They didn’t seem to mind listening to speeches those days.
GP: Did your family celebrate the birth of a child?
MYRTLE: Generally they used to have, well get the child christened in the morning or sometimes in the afternoon. And then you’d have afternoon tea or else you’d come and have lunch together, cause the baby would be dressed up in it’s best gear, long gown and all sorts, you know. Any other friends that’d like to come, they could come along. I think everybody knew everybody in the town then, different to what it is now.
GP: So if we could just go back to your family, did your parents ever talk to you about life, about succeeding in life, and being successful in life, was there ever any discussion along those lines?
MYRTLE: Oh not very much, now and again, but not that much about those sort of things, it was sort of kept more private, sort of. Unless they wanted you to do something special, they’d say well you’d have to pull yourself and work and do it or something like that you know. But otherwise, no there wasn’t that much on our farm.
GP: Did they ever talk to you about getting married and sort of having your own family and things like that?
MYRTLE: No I don’t think that was discussed very much, if you found somebody well and good, if not there was generally plenty of work on the farm to do (laughter). But no they sort of kept those things to themselves.
ROBERT: When was Ron drowned, was it Easter time?
GP: Yes you had a death in the family didn’t you?
MYRTLE: Yes, he wasn’t quite eighteen, and that knocked the family a lot, Mum took that very very hard. Even the younger brother Maurice, he was a long way younger than Ron that got drowned, but we thought he wasn’t taking any notice sort of, you know, but every now and again he’d burst into tears. He always says to this day, you know, he wouldn’t even go out to the grave site he said, it just knocked me that much. Well we thought it was, you know, we thought he never took any notice much at all. But you sort of miss them when another one around, you know, he used to be in the garage at Nambour, but he was away all week, and generally home on weekends, although sometimes his boss used to take him down to Caloundra for the weekend. Mum never used to mind that you know. But this weekend he went down there, and of course he got drowned on the Sunday. And we were at Church then when we got the word though, gee it absolutely knocks you, you know.
GP: So, you’d have had a funeral and the body went to the local cemetery?
MYRTLE: Cemetery, yes, he’s buried in the ordinary cemetery at Nambour where my grandmother died years ago, and she was buried there, but grandfather, Richards this was, was still living. So my grandfather had bought the two graves for him and his wife, well she died first and he was still living, so Dad said, “Oh well would you sell that one because Ron had gone so young.” So we’ve got him there, and then the grandfather died years later than that, well he was put on top of the grandmother. So we’ve got the two there and Ron there together. But when my parents died then of course they went to the Nambour Garden Cemetery over there.
GP: So the funeral for your brother would have been a very sad…
MYRTLE: It was, yes, and a lot of people attended, you know, everybody in those days knew everybody in the district and anything like that happened, nearly everybody turned out. Yes he went from the Methodist Church in Nambour to the Old Cemetery as you call it. Yes, it was a real upset, Mum was, well they say you can’t go grey over night, but she almost did, her hair went grey soon after that. And I don’t think she ever got over it, they both missed him so much.
GP: Did people talk about the death very much?
MYRTLE: Oh we got stacks of cards, yes, and course those days you used to wear black, not Mum wore black, a black frock, if she ever went out anywhere, you’d always wear a black dress if you had a death in the family. And I had a black one with a little tiny white on it, a little bit of white flowers on it. But every time you went out anywhere you dad to wear these dark dresses for about six months after they’d died. But that often, that was the case years ago, people used to always go. And you’d never go to a funeral with any, see anybody in real bright clothes or anything they always had their, I used to say the drabbest looking thing, the dullest looking ones, anything towards black, you know, nearly everybody used to wear black. If you went to a funeral, oh yes, you’ve got to wear a black dress, you know. So I had to wear this black and white dress every time I went out anywhere, just in respect of Ron they reckoned.
GP: I wonder if he’d have liked you to have worn the drab clothes?
MYRTLE: Don’t know. These days it doesn’t make any difference, I reckon it doesn’t make any difference anyhow, but that was just the way of things those days. They sort of respected people.
ROBERT: Those times, you always wore a hat to church.
MYRTLE: Yes that’s right. Yes, and the woman always had hats on in church, you never went without a hat, that was terrible. But these days, I don’t think anybody every wears a hat at all. And everybody dressed up in suits and ties, you never went just…
GP: Just to Sunday church?
MYRTLE: Sunday church, yes, you always had a suit on and a tie, nice tie and shirt, and stockings and everything, you never ever went just any old how. But I don’t think that makes that much difference, but that’s just the way of thinks there, you know.
GP: The custom.
MYRTLE: Yes, these days, you see, you can go to a funeral well, they go anyhow, and look quite decent , but as I say years ago they were always in black.
GP: Did you have flowers at the funeral, did you take flowers?
MYRTLE: Yeah, they didn’t have the big sheaves then, each one would take a little bunch out of their garden really.
ROBERT: Sometimes the family would get one of those glass-covered domes.
MYRTLE: Oh yes, those glass ones, we had three or four of them.
ROBERT: And then the vandals have smashed nearly all those that are in the cemeteries these days.
MYRTLE: Yes, they used to always have those glass ones, didn’t they.
ROBERT: Generally the family would put one on.
MYRTLE: Family would put one on, and then there was a couple of friends of Ron’s, they’d put them on, but no, they got all broken.
GP: So how far from the centre of the community like Mapleton, did you live? A mile?…
MYRTLE: Oh no.
ROBERT: Only about a quarter of a mile.
MYRTLE: It was just over the hill, and you had to walk the hill every day, and then up to the school.
GP: So you did most of your shopping in Mapleton?
MYRTLE: Mapleton, yes.
GP: How many shops were there when you were a child?
MYRTLE: How many butcher shops was there then?
ROBERT: Well there was two at one stage, there was the one up the tope of the park, and then there was the other one down at the Glengate.
MYRTLE: General store, Whalley’s general store.
GP: So two butchers, a general store.
MYRTLE: And the bakers.
GP: A baker.
ROBERT: Two blacksmith shops.
GP: A pub?
MYRTLE: Oh the pub was there all the time, yeah.
GP: A Post Office?
MYRTLE: No, that was on the end of the shop.
ROBERT: The Post Office and shop wee all in together.
MYRTLE: We didn’t have a bowling green then, those bowling greens came later. And the Post Office shifted along where the Post Office is now, but it was a general store with a Post Office on one end.
GP: So were there tennis courts?
MYRTLE: Oh there was tennis courts all round everywhere because there was two boarding houses…
ROBERT: The school, Wilkinson’s, ‘The Palms’ and William’s.
GP: Are these boarding houses?
MYRTLE: No, that’s tennis courts. No, there was two boarding houses.
GP: And some mills, some timber mills?
MYRTLE: Timber mills, yes. How many of those, about two case mills…
ROBERT: Well there was the main mill, and three case mills.
MYRTLE: Yes there was all those sort of things, made a town really didn’t?
GP: Sounds like it, yeah.
ROBERT: When the blacksmith’s shops closed up, they made one into a packing shed.
MYRTLE: That’s right, for packing for the oranges and things.
ROBERT: The growers would bring their oranges there, well at least in cases, then they’d sort them out, grade them and pack them into special cartons in the packing shed. Well the fellow that was in charge of the packing shed used to pack apples at Stanthorpe, during the apple season, and then when the apples had finished he’d come here and pack oranges.
GP: Right. When did that stop, can you remember?
ROBERT: I suppose, I don’t know whether it went on till the War started, did it?
MYRTLE: Suppose it would have been, yeah.
ROBERT: Yeah, about 1939.
GP: Did you ever have a job with the fruit, like packing fruit?
MYRTLE: Well I helped at home, and then I helped at another farm three days a week.
GP: Is this after you left school?
MYRTLE: Yes, it would be, yeah. Because I did a bit of, I went to the Rural School for dressmaking and cooking. I learnt some of that about three days a week. Go down on the bus for half a day, cause he only stopped down from the morning till dinnertime and I’d have to come home again. And then I’d help at home a bit with the fruit, well then when they weren’t real busy.