Chris was born in 1906 from a Danish family. She talks about dairy farming, school at Montville, snake bite, pineapple farming, dances and balls
Interview with: Chris Howard
Date of interview: 21 March 1985
Interviewer: Susan Brinnand
Transcriber: Colwyn Boulton
Chris was born in 1906 from a Danish family. She talks about dairy farming, school at Montville, snake bite, pineapple farming, dances and balls.
Image: Montville State School pupils and teachers wearing fancy dress on Peace Day, Montville, 1918.
Chris Howard oral history - part one [MP3 30MB]
Chris Howard oral history - part two [MP3 30MB]
Chris Howard oral history - part three [MP3 30MB]
Chris Howard oral history - part four [MP3 28MB]
Family settling in Australia
SB: How old were you when you came to the area?
HOWARD: I was seven. So that would be seventy-two years ago. Seventy-two years ago and that was when he (father) came to Queensland. He came from Denmark before that.
SB: Do you know why he came to Australia from Denmark?
HOWARD: Yes I do, because he travelled out with his sister, because she was going to get married out here. He wanted to be at her wedding so he brought her out. And that's how that happened and of course he never went back. Because he found my mother. And when they got married, his mother wrote and said, "Well your place is here now, in Australia with your wife and family." So that was how my grandmother looked at it, you know.
SB: That's how she expected it?
HOWARD: That's how she wanted it but she - it was her request that he travelled with his sister out to Australia. That was very nice I thought.
SB: How did his sister meet her husband? How did your father's sister meet the man she married?
HOWARD: Well he went for a visit to New Zealand, over the continent. He was really from Denmark but he came out, I don't know when he came out. Well I think as far as I can understand the courtship really started in Denmark. And then came back again you know.
SB: So after your father came to Australia and met your mother what attracted them to this area of Australia?
HOWARD: Well now I couldn't really say. Of course my uncle that married my father's sister, he was a great cabinet-maker and he got a job cabinet making in Sydney and I think that's what kept him here. Because he then lived in Sydney all his life and they had
a family of three. Course Mother was a native of Brisbane. So of course she never got overseas at all. It wasn't like it is today-to travel overseas, they just come in the old slow boats didn't they? Then of course when we left Bega, we had a small farm in Bega, but then there was a chappie in Bega that wanted him (father) to take on one of his half-shares up here. So that's what he did. Out along the Blackall Range.
Farming on Blackall Range
SB: What was he growing on the farm?
HOWARD: It was dairy. And of course that's where I went to Montville. I rode to Montville to my school days up the old Blackall Range.
SB: So was the farm half-way down the Range?
HOWARD: Well it was down from Hunchy, further down from Hunchy. And we were below Hunchy. But Hunchy was the Post Office at the time. And then I rode the Range everyday to school.
SB: On a horse?
HOWARD: On a pony, yes. I had some nice times there and some touchy times riding the Range. I come into a runaway team. Iwas riding the Range, it were only narrow and I was riding the Range and this runaway team, the brakes had given away.
SB: A horse team?
HOWARD: Yes, six, they were fruit carrying from Montville and I heard this terrible thing coming. Then I seen all the horses careering, and there were six horses in the team with a big wagon of fruit behind them. And it wasn't very wide so I jumped off my pony and climbed the bank and let the pony go. But, nothing happened. Only the poor team could not make that bend and it went down over, it didn't come to me, it went over the bend. Oh there was fruit all the way down the Range you know dispersed everywhere. And then the six horses down there in a mess with the team. One horse had to be shot because his legs got broken and one of the shafts went through him.
SB: It would have been frightening?
HOWARD: Well it was, 'cause I thought it was going to come down on me and what was I going to do because the horses weren't being controlled you see. So it made it very hard for a little while. But still. And when I come to get me pony, he had got a fright and he had jumped over the gorge, over the embankment and of course it was very steep. And there was barbed wire fences When he jumped he jumped far enough out, fortunately not to catch the barbed wire. And he got down into a cow paddock and there was no way of getting him out so I had to walk right back to Hunchy with him to get him out to come up back to school. So it was quite a distance. But still we managed and I got me music tuition up at Montville at the same time.
SB: With the dairy farm that your father had, he would milk by hand I would assume?
HOWARD: Yes it was hand-milking by then. It was up to eighty-four cows for four of us to milk.
SB: So you would have to milk before you went to school?
HOWARD: Yes, before I went to school. Got up at half-past two in the morning.
SB: Half-past two in the morning?
HOWARD: Half-past two in the morning and then I left for school, while they were finishing off, I left at round about eight o'clock to ride the Range. Had me breakfast and ride the Range. Well those days the schools always finished at half-past three. But I finished at three o'clock to get home to milk again.
SB: When would you finish the milking in the evening?
HOWARD: Well they would have been started and -oh -round about five, half-past five. There were four milkers and of course it would take longer if one wasn't able to be there. Course my brother used to often help clear the lantana on farms and this sort of thing see. Sometimes there was only three of us.
SB: And where would the milk go?
HOWARD: Well the milk we gave to the animals, but it was the cream that went away. And it went to Palmwoods.
SB: Would a truck or something come round and pick it up?
HOWARD: From the top, from near Hunchy. We used to have to take it up to the top road between Hunchy and Palmwoods. We used to have to take it up there.
SB: By horse and cart?
HOWARD: Horse and cart; no motor cars then at all.
SB: Was it taken then to the top of the Range by horse and cart as well?
HOWARD: Yes, by horse and cart. Well by big wagons really. They used to have them with three or four horses in; they'd take it to Palmwoods. And then it'd go on the train of course to Caboolture.
SB: What time would you go to bed then?
HOWARD: Well I very seldom got to bed before half-past nine. After our tea, I used to generally have me hours practice and then do me homework. And if I didn't get finished my brother used to get up at about two o'clock to go and get the cattle, get the cows. And I used to say, "Well I'm not finished my homework or I want to do a bit more practice, so will you call me when you get up?" Of course those days a piano had candles, no electric light. I had the lights for the school work but candles on the piano.
SB: When did you first start learning the piano?
HOWARD: I was ten.
SB: And your parents got a piano into the house?
HOWARD: Yes, as soon as we came Mother wanted me taught and I also had an elder sister, but she was taught in Bega. She didn't want to carry it on but Mum wanted to give
me the same opportunity as her. So she got a piano.
SB: Who was your teacher?
HOWARD: Miss Chancellor from Montville. Course she's long since gone. She used to ride on a horse, on a cream pony, from the Elston Boarding House that used to be on the road going to the Bowling Club at Montville. She used to ride from there to the School of Arts, at Montville, which was only across the road from the School.
SB: And you'd go there?
HOWARD: I'd go there in some of me school hour, or me half-hour lesson for dinner, it didn't matter which. It just all depended what suited. And I've seen her, she was elderly, lovely teacher though, and I've seen her come on her little creamy pony in pouring rain with an umbrella. And riding the horse with an umbrella on to keep herself you know, that's a thing you don't see anymore.
SB: No you don't.
HOWARD: Anyway they were happy days, I enjoyed them. I had me own pony.
SB: Were many people learning the piano?
HOWARD: Oh yes. There was quite a few, quite a few girls my age sort of going on and learning all the time. You know, they were carrying on.
SB: You would practise every night for an hour?
HOWARD: Yes. Between the night and morning - practised. I loved it, course I always loved it. It was never anything tome to play. I always have been very fond of it you know. I could often spend an hour or two on the piano. And I think it was a terrible God-send to me when I lost my husband because I could not sleep for a while. It was rather sudden. I used to wake up and I couldn't go back to sleep, so what I did was bought new pieces that I'd never touched, and go out and play them, and put me mind on them. And for a long time I memorise a lot - and after Hubby went, I found myself that I wasn't memorising, so I fought my way back on that. I would hear a piece and I'd say, "Well I used to play that." Course it's a memory because the notes sort of come tome, in front of me. And I sort of play like that a lot. And once I've had a piece I can memorise it and play it you see. But the notes have got to be there sort of, you know in sense of the word.
SB: Yes, in the first place.
HOWARD: Yes and I found that there were big pieces -'Sweet Bye and Bye', ‘Nearer my God to Thee' and 'Home Sweet Home' and all those - I'd play with variations, I couldn't do,..so I fought my way back on those as time went on. Course..Hubby's been gone seven years the end of this month but I thought for a while, "Well I'm going to lose that." So I fought back. But I managed it and got most of it back now. Which I'm pleased to say. For instance I might hear something on the radio. "Oh, I used to play that," and I'll go out and play it. But it was a God-Send really a God-Send to me. And of course another thing I was almost drowned at Maroochydore when I was a girl. I was out with my brother and his mate and they took me out over my depth and I couldn't swim anyway - and I still can't swim – but they took me out over my depth and there was – course they told me what to do, but I didn't do the right thing. As I went down under, his mate let me go, and I was too strong in the water for my brother. And he had to knock me out to get me in and of course I got filled with water. I was fighting him see, you know, I was fighting, and he couldn't control me enough to bring me in. So he knocked me out and brought me in and then of course they had to get the water out of me. For almost twelve months I could hear the roar of the ocean in me head, and Mum took me to a specialist in Brisbane, this sort of thing, and they all said different things. And Mum went to some other chappie, he was a specialist. Mum was a bush nurse and she said, "it's been a big shock," she said, "Isn't there anything you could track on this?" And he said, "Is there anything that you could really put her mind to that would control it?" And Mother mentioned that I loved me music. "Well," he said, "When she wakes up with this terrible roar, get her to go to the piano and try a new piece of music." So music has been a lot in my life really and that's what I did. And I'd gradually sleep a little bit longer, a little bit longer till I could sleep all night. But when I'd wake I'd think I was under the water.
SB: Were there any lifesavers or anything on the beach?
HOWARD: Well not many those days. Well there was one or two and of course they helped the pumping with the water and that. But at the time, the brother got me in quick you see, he said I was fighting, well fair enough, and the other fellow wasn't a good swimmer and it was a big wave and my brother could swim pretty well. But he was only a small-built fellow and it was hard when I clung to him. See I kept him down with me. So just winded me and got me in, so you know that's something as I say, I can always thank my brother for. But these little things you know they come back but I was very very pleased about my music, my music was my wonderful thing in life. Because it done so much for me again it done, when I lost my husband.
SB: Did your mother play the piano?
HOWARD: No, she could sing, she used to sing nicely. She used to be in the church choir and that sort of thing. But she couldn't play a note. Course she never had the opportunity. She was a family of seven and that makes it rather hard then. In those days in was very hard.
SB: So what church did you used to go to?
HOWARD: Church of England.
SB: Would that be far from Hunchy?
HOWARD: No Mother never went to church when we were on the farm, but the Ministers used to come out and visit us, the same as they did in Bega. Mother always said if you had to go away on a farm, you'd have somebody else to always do the work, which was true. And of course it couldn't be managed in those days with sulkies and horses. Mum could only ride side saddle, and drive horse and sulky. Well when you're six, seven miles away from a town, it'd take the best part of a morning to get there, or evening. Therefore you wouldn't get back to do any dairying and things like that you see. So that was very hard.
SB: The Ministers would come and visit, can you remember them visiting?
HOWARD: Well I can remember them. Occasionally a couple used to come out from Nambour but I don't know who now. I can't remember. But they'd ride around and .….
SB: Stop for tea?
HOWARD: Yes and I know in Bega when I was a kid I used to always take the horse that the used to ride and take it out to pastures and let it feed on grass while they were in talking to Mother. And he generally had dinner, mostly had dinner with Mother and it was really nice, it. was lovely really. And of course I was only little and he use to always say,
"I bet one day you'll be riding a pony."
HOWARD: And of course it did come true, when I came to Queensland I had my own pony. But until then, course Dad had horses for the farm, in Bega. But only a small farm, and he ore or less carried that farm on a Danish style. He only had a few cattle and they were rugged and looked after, like you did in Denmark. See, he more or less followed that style.
SB: What other cultural things did he bring with him from Denmark?
HOWARD: Well really, Dad was a book-binder by trade but of course never done anything out here, never followed it up but he as a book-binder.
SB: It amazes me how they could be a book-binder or an accountant in their home country and come out and be farmers?
HOWARD: Yes. Well, his dad was a butcher and he had a farm, well cattle and stuff like that. I think that's where it started with Dad see. Because that's where Dad got the idea of looking after the animals. Granddad didn't have a lot but he had some, which gave his children the opportunity of handling animals.
SB: Was here any Danish food?
HOWARD: Well, no we never. In Sydney, the auntie she always kept a lot of Danish food and that, she followed the Danish tradition. She was rather annoyed at Dad when he didn't. And never taught us Danish.
SB: So you never learnt Danish?
HOWARD: Never learnt Danish. No when we were coming up from Bega, we stopped for six months with them. And Auntie was very upset, she could speak both of course and she was very upset because we hadn't learnt it. Of course Dad said, "Well, they're Australians." And that's it. We never worried, see Dad never worried about it either but Dad could only spell in Danish. So when he used to want any business letters written, anything like, I used to write them out for him. He could speak English but he couldn't spell, so I used to always write them out. Then he would write them back because he had beautiful handwriting. He used to rewrite them.
SB: Were there other Danish people in the area, Hunchy or Palmwoods?
HOWARD: No I don't think so. Not as far as I know there wasn't any. We were the only Danish, or Dad was the only Danish. Really only Dad because see Mother was in Brisbane.
SB: How did the neighbours around feel about him being a new Australian? Was there any problems with that?
HOWARD: Oh no. No, no they didn't seem to... Well they would know he was Danish, there was never any friction what so ever. The farm we came on to had a dip on it and everybody around, they didn't all have dips. They used to dip at that property. So it wasn't long before we were a community of friends. I remember one man, I was helping Dad dip one day and one man said – they used to call him (father) Charlie - his name was Carlbut they used to call him Charlie. And he said, "Charlie, how do you like the wet weather and the showers?" (We had six months of mostly rain at night, showers through the day). And Dad said, "Well I don't like them very much, they take too long to pass." I'll never forget that. It was the way he said it. And of course the others created a bit of laughter over it. But we got used to it because those days we used to have the wet season, but for years now we haven't had the wet season. But you could depend on the wet season coming over, starting at Christmas, or just before Christmas, till after Christmas.
SB: This would happen every year?
HOWARD: (That would happen.) Every year. And of course you're milking in wet weather and you're washing the cows udders and everything else daily before you start to milk, morning and evening. We had the machine-bails but we didn't have machines. But the machine-bails have two cows go up and there's twelve cows in under shelter.. at one time. Well then you'd put them in and you'd wash both and milk that one then turn around and milk that one. You'd do it like that.
SB: Did you ever get machinery in?
HOWARD: No, no. We were on that farm seven years and then the owner's daughter got married and they took over. I think they did put machines in.But we shifted then to where Dad bought a property just out of Woombye and we were there then, until I married.
SB: Was that dairy again?
HOWARD: Yes. We dairyed again but for ourselves, for our own sake and that's where I got married from. Just out on Blackall Road.
School at Montville
SB: We'll go back and talk about school a bit more. You went to Montville School? There's a story about the school bell at Montville? Do you know that?
HOWARD: No I don't. No I don't know anything about it, course that's something like this could have gone on later after me leaving. Course years ago you used to have yards for your ponies when you went up, course all that's not on now.
SB: About how many children were going to the school when you were there?
HOWARD: I suppose there wouldn't be any more than a hundred or something like that.
SB: That's quite a lot.
HOWARD: Well I think there'd be about a hundred, it done the lot you know, from the tiny tots up. I think there was about seventeen or eighteen in our class alone, well you take the classes down from that it'd range about that you know.
SB: So the children would come from ...
HOWARD: From baby days, from little ones right through. I didn't, because I was the last of my family, but some of them would ride along with their little brother or sister in front of them or behind them on the ponies. The little tots coming in.
SB: So even the little ones would come in on horse back?
HOWARD: That's right, we learnt to ride quite young. I know one little one she was not quite five, she couldn't put the bridle on her pony and she handled that pony beautifully. She did come with her brother, on another pony but she rode that pony. Lovely little
creamy Shetland pony, little beauty. But she wasn't big enough, she was short and fat you know. And she couldn't get up and of course the cunning little thing he used to keep his head high as he could to keep her from getting it in. She used to get cranky about this.
SB: You were saying you didn't get away from the farm much because of the work?
HOWARD: No, not in the day time. But at weekends we used to and we used to have a riding party down to Maroochydore, 'bout twenty of us. On a couple of occasions I played the piano on the motor-boat that went up the river. Course that was a party went up the river. We used to have a bit of a sing song there and play the piano there. Different ones would say, "I heard you play, I was sitting out on the verandah, I heard you playing." We used to go up on the river and then come home to this chappie that I mentioned that was my brother's mate. His brother had a boarding house down there, so we used to generally come there for the meal. We rode down, we'd have a meal there, then we'd go up on the boat. Then we'd come back and some of them used to like oysters - I didn't like oysters - but they'd have oysters or what have you, and there'd be a supper anyhow, whatever. Then we'd ride home and we'd be home in time to milk. We didn't have any sleep that night. And as we'd come home my brother used to come through the paddock and bring the cattle in.
SB: So you wouldn't get home till two in the morning?
HOWARD: No, just about daylight. Just in time to milk the cows. But that was after I'd left school, I'd just left school then. That wouldn't have happened while I was still going to school. I couldn't have done without me sleep. But still you get used to short hours, I mean, it's no worries to me, to sit up, I just get up early just the same. And I still do. It's just one of those things. And I feel better because if I think, "Oh, it's only five o'clock. I won't get up," if I wait till half-past six or seven, I feel miserable. When Hubby was home working at the Mill he used to be down at the Mill about a quarter past seven and of course that meant up and getting things going too. So you sort of just kept things going all the way through.
SB: And how did you used to do your shopping? Would you go into Nambour?
HOWARD: No, well we used to take a horse and sulky in, to do any bits like but we always had our groceries delivered from Palmwoods. The grocer used to come around and take the order, course there was no phones. He used to come and get the order and then deliver it.
SB: Who was the grocer in Palmwoods?
HOWARD: Collins from Palmwoods. W.S. Collins. It was funny when we first came up here. Mum walked into Collins one day and she looked at Mrs Collins and she said, "I know you."
And Mrs Collins said, "Well, I don't know you."
She said, "I know you. you were Jane Fleming from the Logan."
"Who are you?"
"Well," Mum said. "You stop and think."
And Mum said, "I was Mary Reach."
"Oh Mary." she said. "Isn't it lovely to see you."
You know so it's clicked again. And Mum remembered her but she didn't remember Mother. But she remembered she was Jane Fleming. Course they became great friends. And they used to come out to visit us of a Sunday in their horse and buggy. Sometimes they used to drive a pair and come out and spend the day with us until cow time. Then they went home.
SB: Did your mother make all your clothes?
SB: What about for the men?
HOWARD: No, no the men used to mostly buy theirs. But of course while they were small, Mum would make shorts and that sort of thing. But other than that, when they got up a bit, they bought it. They bought their stuff. Mum always made mine.
SB: Always made yours?
HOWARD: Yes, and sisters. And my sister learnt hat making and she used to make the millinery.
SB: What clothes would the men wear when they were working?
HOWARD: Just a flannel shirt, mostly a flannel shirt and just trousers. Very seldom shorts. They liked the long, because they were working in lantana which was itchy and scratchy.
SB: Was lantana a big problem then?
HOWARD: Well yes on the dairy farms it was. It had to be kept under control. That was the worst thing; there wasn't much groundsel like there is today, but the lantana always had to be kept in check because it got a hold. Under lantana no grass would grow and it'd cut all your fodder back for your cattle.
SB: How would they control the lantana?
HOWARD: Brushing, with a brush hook. They'd brush it and brush it into heaps and burn it. That's how that was kept under control, 'cause they never had the poisons like they do today either. And I don’t know - I think that's a better thing too. I really do, I think there's too much poison getting into the system, in everybody's system through the spraying of everything.
SB: So what problems would you get with the cows in terms of sickness and disease?
HOWARD: Not much. Only tick, we used to dip them. Very seldom you had anything else go wrong with them. Only when we first came to Queensland, as I told you it was wet. Nearly every cow got footrot. Now you know a cow's hoove is split. Well even though they were fresh cows in, they would go off their milk with the pain. So my two elder brothers were blacksmiths. So my eldest brother, he made shoes for the cows, steel shoes for the cows. Which consisted of a little shoe like that, round like that. And he used to burn the footrot with a red-hot iron to take all that footrot out and then he'd cover that wound with stockholm tar and then he'd put a pad on it. And then put the shoe on. And he shod pretty well every one of those cattle. It was the funniest thing out when they were on concrete when they first came back in on the concrete. And they were lifting their feet up. See it stopped their pain. The fresh ones came back well on their milk. But before that they were lifting one foot after another in pain. Of course I can tell you it was some job that we had to do.
SB: Were there any vets in the area?
HOWARD: Oh yes there would be, but we never worried about them. We never had any trouble as far as going to the vet was concerned. When you were on farms and that sort of thing, see my brother he shod the horses and did things like that. And the dogs used to go through the dip with the cows and we never had any trouble with ticks like we have today, with you know, a scrub tick or anything like that getting on a pet, killing it. But you used to put them through the big dip and we never had any trouble like that at all.
SB: You were saying that your mother took you to Brisbane to the specialist. Why did you go to Brisbane? Were there any medical services up here?
HOWARD: Well there was, but there was no specialist see. And when this sort of thing happened - well Mother was a native of Brisbane and she liked Brisbane - and she reckoned she wanted the best care that she could get for me, because she thought it was something that could be there for life if something really wasn't done. So she took me down, which I was pleased for, because I think it must've helped it a lot. She was afraid that with the shock something might've set in. We used to go down by train. Be taken in with horse and sulky and then whoever drove that, Dad mostly, then drove home again. Then we used to go down by train. It was a long process, always a slow process. Really a slow process, but still as I say we coped.
SB: What did your parents do for relaxation or entertainment?
HOWARD: Well, we had the piano and Mother used to sing. We used to get different people around us. Some boys used to be working up on banana fields and that sort of thing and they used to help make that twenty to go down to Maroochydore for riding. Mum used to ask them down. Sometimes they'd be batching and Mothered ask them down for tea and we'd have a tea. And if perhaps I wanted to go out in the afternoon one of the boys'd say, "Well I'll take Chris's place at the cow yard, let her go." So that'd be arranged beforehand. And you'd do these sort of things. And then of course we'd have a sing song at home. Mum used to cook a big meal for the lot, we had a big verandah.
SB: What are some of the things she used to cook? Can you remember anything in particular that you liked?
HOWARD: Mostly lovely big stews with everything in it. And also the dumplings on top, that's what the boys used to like. Then a big steam pudding to finish up with custard and that sort of thing. They still grew their vegetables and that even on the farms out there. We had a farm that we used to have our own vegetables, we had everything on. There was nothing bought sort of business. Until we came to Queensland - Mother found that she couldn't make the bread the same here - but until we came to Queensland we never knew what it was to buy anything. Because mother had her pantry in Bega, half as big as this room and she had preserves, jams, sauces, everything, you name it, she done it. And they had that sort of farm in Bega. And we bought nothing. Mother made the lot.
SB: And that changed when you came to Palmwoods?
HOWARD: Yes she never had the time really. 'Cause she was on the bigger farm and she used to have a small garden but nothing like that because we had a fruit orchard and everything down in Bega. And everything was made, you never bought anything. When we sold the place in Bega Mum got five hundred pound for her pantry, for the inside of her pantry. Preserved stuff and everything, with the great big bottles with screw tops. It was really wonderful. I can remember the chappie walking in. Dad used to have the oats growing. And he used to bring it down and cut it like chaff. And we had the big haystack. Both a brother and I, we used to go and pick some green tomatoes and put them in there to ripen. And when the sale came on this chappie that bought he managed to put his hand in to see that the hay was like and he pulled out this great ripe tomato. And he said, "Oh, that's good hay." I can remember this, I was with Mum.
And she said, "Oh well you can have it for dinner if you like."
And he says. "Somebody's hiding place?"
"Oh yes," Mother said, "That's how they ripen them."
And of course the hay heats up you see. They were good days. You knew that nothing was sprayed or anything like that. There was never anything like that.
SB: You had no trouble with pests getting into the vegetables?
HOWARD: No, nothing. That was in Bega. Up here... Mother never ever did. Well we had the big fuel stove and she used to take the ashes and spread around little carrots or cabbage and things like that. We never had any trouble. So that must have done it. I don't bother growing anything but she did. She used to be always out in the garden. If there was a little wee grub she got it. In Bega with the apples, we used to have a coddling moth. It was mine, I was the youngest. I had to go round - we used to make it out of the bags and tie the hessian around the tree, fold it over the cord and the coddling moth would be caught in that, it couldn't get up the tree. And it'd be caught in that, you'd go round and get that, couldn't get up see. You tie your cloth around here and also your tie was tight, and it'd get that far, you'd catch your coddling moth in that.
SB: They don't fly?
HOWARD: No they crawl up the trunk of the tree. So they never got up. We used to kill them then. Course we used to have to go round and do that.
SB: You'd have to go round to collect them would you?
HOWARD: Well every so often we used to go round to collect them. Well say you’d go round and see how the fruit's going and this sort of thing. Then there'd always be someone else with me, my sister or brother, mostly my brother, and we'd go round and if we found that there was a lot there, well we'd take them and put fresh bags on and take them up and burn them. And that's how it was done in those days. Of course you sort of looked after things that you had to do and you done them and I think you benefited by it really, as years roll on.
SB: So you had big evening meals. What did you have for breakfast?
HOWARD: Oh I had a big breakfast too. We'd mostly have a nice big pan of mince. Mince meat, done up with pepper, salt and onions. And that was our breakfast. And then there'd be an ordinary dinner of cold corn meat and tomatoes or whatever, you know. And that was our dinner and then we'd have the great big teas, roast teas or boiled corn meat, boiled bacon or boiled potato.
SB: And all your meat was that delivered by Collins as well? Or did you have a butcher?
HOWARD: No, no we used to go and get the meat. We had no refrigerators or anything like that. And the big drip dryboxes, you'd call them safes, and the drip dry safes and there'd be water in the top. And it'd drip down into the trays underneath, kept everything beautifully cool.
SB: Would you have to keep on putting the water in?
HOWARD: Oh yes, well they used to have big canvas bags over that and that would drip, drip, drip till that bag was empty. And then you'd fill the bag. They were made with a wall of canvas right around those boxes and that, water came right around. It was beautifully cool, beautifully cool. Then of course we also had wells. We had tanks but we had wells and Mother used to put her butter down in the well. That was always down in the well, that kept beautifully.
HOWARD: Yes, right outside. Outside where the well was, put it right down in there. When we made the cream, made our own butter of course from the cattle, always kept enough to make our own to have our own butter rather, we always had it all the time. And those drip water safes that used to keep the meat often times we'd kill a vealer, a young animal, and of course Dad knew a bit about butchering and he used to kill that. He had one great big safe that he used to hang the animal up in. He made that. That was done the same way. You'd go out there and you'd just cut pieces of steak off. You don't get it today. You don't get it today, it was beautiful. When we were first married we went out onto a half share farm and we used to kill the vealers and that. Of course we still never had electricity or anything. So Dad made a couple of them for us. This barren heifer, she was four year old, she was a beautiful thing and Harry said, "I'm sick of trying to look after her. I'm going to kill her and eat her." This was my husband. Anyhow we killed her and Dad came down and he fixed her all up. My son, he's fifty now, but he was a little fellow, he used to love it. I'm a lover of raw mince meat. I'd never buy minced meat as such. I buy the steak and mince it up myself and mix it up. I could eat that just without cooking it if I wanted to. Sometimes I just touch it, I just stick it in the pan and flat it over a couple of times and I eat it like that. I love it and of course the little fellow, he was very much the same, he loved fingers of raw meat and he was very little and how this started – my husband used to take the cream, this is after I was married, into Eudlo by pack-horse. He was away this day and we had a kitchen and everything downstairs, but then the bedrooms were upstairs. I put him upstairs to let him run around on his bike up there while I scrubbed me kitchen floor. And I'd listen to hear the usual running around and I didn't hear the little bike going round. So I went up and I found him in a pool of blood. He'd come around, he used to go round the verandah and through the rooms and round the verandah round through the rooms. And I had a big tin trunk standing on the corner of one of the rooms, and evidently what must have happened, the front wheel must have hit the little board that's across the bottom too hard, or straight on and it threw him off. And it opened his head up here, just above the temple fortunately. Of course he'd lost a lot of blood. So I got him down and no phones, no nothing. He wasn't unconscious fortunately, almost but he wasn't so I got him round properly and then I bandaged his head up. He went to sleep then but he was limp from loss of blood evidently. When Harry came home I said, "You'd better go back down and ring the doctor and tell him what's happened to the little fellow because he's lost a lot of blood. "And he said, "Oh I won't do that. We'll go up to Nambour." So we drove straight up to Nambour.
SB: To the hospital?
HOWARD: To the doctor up here in the main street he was then. Just opposite the police station.
SB: Which doctor was that?
HOWARD: That would be Dr Sax by I think it was, at the time. Anyway he said, "Yes, he's lost a lot of blood. He said, "You want to see if you can get some fresh meat down his neck. Fresh blood down his neck."
Harry said, "Well that won't be any problem," he said, "He loves raw meat." So that kid used to sit up on his chair and the moment I brought the steak in view he'd go (CLAP) and I used to just cut him his little fingers of raw meat. He'd just suck it all and put it out on his tray. He never looked back.
SB: So there was no such thing as blood transfusions?
HOWARD: No evidently they never mentioned it in those days. Never mentioned blood transfusions or anything like that in those days. He was right as rain. The doctor said he wanted to see him in a fortnight so we took him up in a fortnight. He said, "Well there's nothing much wrong with him now, is there?"
I said, "The biggest thing now will be to cut him off raw meat."
He said, "Well don't."
I said, "Well as long as I know what I'm giving him, I won't." But it just shows you what can be done really. There was no telephones or things like that. Of course I had just had to wait till Hubby came home.
HOWARD: But one of the bigger scares I got on the farm was - as I said there was ground floor underneath, you were level to the ground. We had the big wooden floor. I had the barricade across and I used to have him in a playpen while he was little because I had a big fuel stove. With the brass taps in the front on a fountain. Which can draw kiddies' attention and also the coal trap was still in where the big stove was. So I used to keep him in the playpen till it was bath time. Then he'd have his bath then he had a little run around you see. I just finished bathing and we had French doors, well say just there, and they were open. We had banana trees outside and I'd just got rid of his bath water and looked around and here he was, he's got a snake about this long out in the bananas. And the snake's pulling itself in and he's pulling it out again. So, what did I do? I grabbed the snake of course and put it in a tin. Killed it and put it in a tin. And that was about the worst few hours I spent. Hubby was about an hour and a half off coming home at this stage. When he came home I had fifteen steps to go up to the bedroom. I kept him downstairs, I couldn't see any marks on him but I wasn't sure whether he was or he wasn't. So when Hubby came home I said, "What sort of a snake's that?"
"I killed it. It's in the tub."
"Oh," he said, "it won't hurt, it's only a little ..."
I said, "It's not a brown snake?"
He said, "No, it's only a little thing. It won't hurt."
That was alright but that was the worst hour and a half I've ever spent. I was up and down watching that kid to see if his pulse was going alright and all the rest of it. But these things happen when you're on. ..
SB: So you had no transport when your husband was out working? You had no way of
getting off the farm except walking?
HOWARD: Well riding. I could have rode but that'd be more harassing to a child like that. Because I always understand that if you get any trouble like that the worst thing you can do is to create pressure on your blood. Of course when we came up here, then we had house cows.
SB: On this hill?
HOWARD: On here, yes we used to own all this. There was pineapples. Course now that the lad's partly grown up and he helped with the pineapples and this sort of thing. I was here one day on my own, Harry had gone to work and the lad had gone to work I think, yes. The cow had got into a bit of small crop we had down there. So I went down to put it out. It got it out and there was blady grass and that down the bottom. As I walked up through the blady grass - I used to wear cotton stockings those days. The old cotton stockings, thank goodness. I pricked my leg and I thought it must be blady grass and I looked down. There was a brown snake went by. I thought, "Hello, that's it." So Milton was at school, and I come up and there was the two things just on the leg. I slit it with a razor and I put condies crystals into it. I don't know if you've had anything to do with condies crystals. Well it's just like a hot iron but I did it. Anyway, Hubby was away and when he come home. Hubby wasn't working at the Mill. It was in the war years, he was on duty. He wasn't coming home till the weekend. Cause he couldn't go to war on account of his asthma. So he was doing other things. Whalley's then used to deliver the groceries. And he (Whalley's man) come and delivered the groceries. He said, "Are you alright?"
I said, "Yes, I'm alright."
But he said, "You don't look alright."
I said, "Oh well I'm alright."
And Milton had come home from school before this and I said, "If Mum flakes out," - (Our nearest neighbour was Mr Edmonds over there) - "you go over to Mr Edmonds will you and tell him that's Mum's sick."
So he said, "Yes, I will do that."
Anyway I didn't flake out. I was alright and on the Friday when Hubby came home Mr Forgan was out checking the delivered things.
He said to Harry, "Is Mrs Howard alright?"
Harry said, "As far as I know, yes."
He hadn't come you see. "Well she didn't look alright when I was delivering the sales."
He came home and said, "What's the matter with you?"
"Well," I said, "I think I've been bitten by a snake." But I said, "I must be alright." "What'd you do?" And I told him what I'd done. So that was it, we done no more about it. Evidently the cotton stocking got a lot of the poison. But twelve months after, I'd forgotten all about the snake, and me foot to the knee just broke out in a lot of sores that you could hardly put a pinpoint in between them. The brother came in, he was living out there, they're married now and he said, "What's the matter?"
I said, "Oh, take me down to the doctor." I didn't have a car then. So I went down, Dr Short was there then. Well we didn't think about the snake, we'd forgotten all about that. He said, "I can't understand what it is. Well, go home and put it into hot water right up to the knee." I had the fuel stove so I thought oh well the only thing to do is to put a kerosene tin on the stove. And when it gets really hot, put it out, put my foot down in it, as high as I can. So this is what I did. But before I came home, I went back and sat in my brother's car. He had a car. And I thought that's the leg I got bitten on, so I hobbled back to Dr Short. And he said, "Well, that's what it is. It's the poison from the snake." He said, "Aren't you a lucky person?"
I said, "Why?"
He said, "Well it's broken out."
SB: It's got out of the system?
HOWARD: It's come out. But he said, "It hasn't gone past your knee." So then I had to keep on these hot foments and all this sort of thing but it got better. It was alright. Little things that can happen.
SB: Did you have any home remedies that your mother would give you or home medicines, treatments? Well not particularly. She used to make a cough mixture of - there used to be aniseed in it. She used to boil linseed but what other ingredients I wouldn't know. But it was lovely. Later on when she came up here we got into Heenzo.
SB: What's that?
HOWARD: It's a cough mixture, a concentrate, and I've never been without since I've had children around home. I've always kept it. The kids always had colds cause they loved Heenzo. I only had my own son but I reared four others. Two little girls I took out of a home, not that they were in a home but they were going to go into a home. So I reared them. Then I reared my Hubby's niece and nephew, so I had a family of five.
SB: You had a big family.
HOWARD: I had a big family.
SB: And your mother didn't give you anything else for treatment?
HOWARD: No, perhaps eucalyptus if we had a bad cold or something like that. Or a swab of Lysol, used to be Lysol those days not Dettol. One drop in about half a cup of water and do with that. I remember us having that because Mother was great friends with a school teacher's wife in Bega and the little kiddy got very sick and of course as I mentioned before Mother was a bush nurse. And different people around sick they used to ask Mum to come. And many a baby she brought into the world the same way. She went over, she was coming back from going into Bega, and the husband of this other women met her at the bottom of the hill. He said, "Mrs Smith, can you come up? My little baby's very sick." So mum went up and Mum said, "Yes," she said, "she's very sick. I think you should get the doctor quickly." So he raced straight off, course no phones. He raced straight off on his horse and Mum stopped there till the doctor came. It was black diphtheria and the baby died. And of course Mum was there. Mum laid the baby out. Of course the moment Mum got home there was swabs all round us, pronto. Straight away she swabbed herself and swabbed everybody else around the place too. Because this was very contagious.
SB: Sickness or typhoid, was that a worry when you were up Hunchy way?
HOWARD: Well we never found it as such. We never had any trouble in any way or heard of any troubles about it. And of course we were around quite a bit and with young folks around, we'd go to dances and things like that. Course we used to go to dances riding our horses. We'd put our ball dresses up around here, put a safety pin in there. Had our skirts underneath, our riding skirts. We used to go in just as good as anybody else.
SB: At home when you had your entertainment evenings, what were some of the songs that you used to sing? Or your mother would sing?
HOWARD: Well she used to love 'Mother McCree', and 'Abide With Me' is a little hymn that she used to love. After I was married and went away, course the old piano stopped at home, and she always used to ask me to come in and play 'Mother McCree' and 'Abide With Me' and then 'Home Sweet Home' with variations. you know and things like that. When we had the community singing it used to be 'Long Way To Tiperrary', 'Long Long Trail Awinding', 'For Me and My Girl.'
SB: When did you leave school?
HOWARD: I left school when I was fourteen.
SB: And what was your first job?
HOWARD: Well I didn't go to work. I stopped at home and helped Mum and Dad on the farm. See I never went out at all, I stopped at home till I was married and helped with the dairy. They had a dairy all the time. They gave the dairy away after that, but while I was home he stayed with the dairy. I had a lovely life really.
SB: You mentioned last time your house burnt down...?
HOWARD: Dad bought a place at Eudlo, it was a milk run. That's where we were burnt, we were only there about six months. It was an all-pine place, evidently it started in the roof. Course now there was electricity there and it must have started in the roof. I'll never forget that. I seen me piano go through the floor, that was the sad part. It was a milk run, we still had cattle and it was a milk run, but of course that ended that. Then Dad bought up here.
SB: So you didn't own the house?
HOWARD: We were buying it. It was classed as our home because he was buying it. Of course he lost a lot of money over that.
SB: Was there any fire brigade or anything like that that could come out?
HOWARD: Well there didn't seem to be. See we were out from Eudlo and there didn't seem to be any fire brigade at all there.
SB: So what could you do to try to stop it?
HOWARD: Well we couldn't. We were out, we were up at the top of the hill there and my second brother he was living in Eudlo. He was blacksmith in Eudlo at the time, and somebody came to him and they said, "There's a fire out on Eudlo Road." That was our road and Ted said, "Where?" Oh well, he went out and had a look. We had two of his little kids out with us. So he got on his horse and he galloped out, it wasn't any further from here to Nambour; and he galloped out and of course there was nobody home. So there was a house across the road and they said we went up to our friends for tea, they had a big poultry farm, and they said, "We seen them all walk up the hill, just before dark." So of course Ted galloped up there and we were there. He brought us the news, course we went down, everything was gone. You know, all pine. So it was all gone.
SB: So what did you do that night? Where did you stay?
HOWARD: Up at those friends. They came down with us and when - everything was gone they took us in up there, till we managed to get everything. It was insured of course. That was where Dad lost all his nice brass things he brought out from Denmark. And a beautiful silver afternoon-tea set that they gave us in Bega, it was all just a mess. It was very sad really. It was terribly sad because all the old things, home-life things, went there. They were brought down to there see. We had the next home where I was married from, but there was all that heirloom stuff and everything. Everything went. We never had anything. I mentioned Uncle Vass was a cabinet-maker. Well he made a beautiful piano stool, carved it all, it was a duet stool and it was beautiful, done it all over and everything else. And Mum had two beautiful tables he made and my sister, he made a beautiful mirror for her and then chased a shelf about that long. That was his work, we had none of it, got none of it. It all went.
SB: So then you moved to the next place?
HOWARD: We moved up here out on Blackall Range. Blackall Road.
SB: And you got another piano did you?
HOWARD: Yes. Mum got the little cottage piano then. Really she liked piano and she liked me to have something, so she got the little cottage piano.
SB: Did she have to go to Brisbane to get it?
HOWARD: No Palings sent it up, Palings sent it up and the carter brought it out from Palmwoods.
SB: So he sent it up from Brisbane on a train?
HOWARD: Yes that's right. And then they got it from the train. After I was twelve months married Mum said, "Well you take the piano."
I said, "No I won't, I won't take the piano it's yours. So when I come over I can play it."
Which I did. And then after we were twelve months married Harry said, "Well I can't live with you any longer without a piano."
I said, "Why can't you?"
He said, "You drive me mad, playing tunes on the duchess." So anyway he bought me the piano I got today. And that was an anniversary piano, my piano that I got today.
SB: Did that come up the same way?
HOWARD: Yes come up from Palings. Come up to Nambour though and it didn't come here because we were on a lease farm up Kureelpa. And we were there for twelve months. We had young stock growing and all that there. It wasn't big enough so then we had to disperse of that. Well that Kureelpa one, when we were first married we went there as I told you with a pack horse and that, this piano travelled with us always.
SB: When you first got married you moved onto a farm. Were you leasing that?
HOWARD: Yes we leased that one, had to lease that farm. But the stock was ours and the young stock that come along was ours, but it wasn't a big enough property. It was just up Kureelpa Range and it wasn't big enough to hold the cattle so we got rid of that, took that half share farm out at Eudlo. We were there seven years till we came here.
SB: Were you married in Eudlo or Nambour?
HOWARD: Married at home. I was married at home, at the home out from the Blackall Road.
SB: Did a minister come down?
HOWARD: Yes, a minister come out. He used to come out from Nambour and married us. Of course Mum had the big spread and all out there at home.
SB: What were some of the wedding presents that you got? Or something that was considered a really good thing to get?
HOWARD: Well in those days of course it was a petrol iron, I haven't got it anymore. Before I was married I used to play for the dances at Woombye and they gave me a kitchen tea. Well do you know, I got that kitchen tea and I never had to buy a thing for me kitchen. I think everybody turned for that kitchen tea. It was Tytherleigh's and, McLachlan's and they said if there was a duplicate of anything I could change it there. And there was only two things I got duplicated and that was - I got an aluminium colander and an enamel one and two flour sifters. So I gave the odd ones to Mother. I still have them.
SB: So all the little things for the kitchen you'd get at the kitchen tea?
HOWARD: Absolutely and I got a presentation from the footballers. I got a nice cut-glass dish, silver-mounted.
SB: Did you have a glory box?
HOWARD: Yes I had a glory box. And I made most of the things for that. I used to do crochet quite a bit and done these doilies and all things like that. Bought some table cloths. I got the trunk that I had for that up there now and I got it from my sister because she happened to have it. And that trunk did come from Denmark. I’ve had it when the fire was at Eudlo. So it came back. It's not a tin trunk, it's a box trunk. But that was what my glory box was. I used to do darn-knit work when pillow shams and all that were all the go. I used to do all those things. Grandma, Mum's mother was a great crocheter and she used to make me quite a lot of doilies and things like that. When she couldn't do much else she used to just sit and crochet. I missed out on nothing really.
SB: Sounds like you did really well.
HOWARD: Yes I really did. I was twenty-six when I married.
SB: What was the courtship like in those days?
HOWARD: Well it was a strange thing - Harry's mother was living up above us on the Blackall Road and her and her other son was there and he had bananas really, but he used to grow a bit of tomatoes and things like that. She used to come down to our place. "Now there's a lot of tomatoes up there, if you'd like to come up Chris and pick them."
I said, "Well righto, how will tomorrow do?"
"That'll be alright."
So the next day - she didn't tell me, she didn't know herself - her eldest son, which became my husband, he came in - he was a drover - and he came in because him and a team were going to go right up to the outback. So he thought, "Well I'm going to come and say ta ta to Mum for the time being." Of course he's sitting at the window like this and Mrs Howard always used to sit there and she'd generally wave as I rode up the hill. So of course I could see somebody sitting there, I didn't know who, I thought it was her and of course I waved. A hand waved back, little bit of a hand waved back - I thought it was her. So when I got up and got in that door she said, "I'm surprised at you."
I said, "Why?"
She said, "Waving to a stranger."
I said, "Stranger, who have you got here?"
Then this long streak walked out, it was Harry.
I said, "Hello, how are you?"
"I'm good, how are you?" he said, "Fancy waving to me, you don't know me."
I said, "No, I don't know you."
Then Mrs Howard introduced him.
"Oh well, " I said, "That 's good, now you can help me pick tomatoes."
"Oh well." he said, "I suppose I could do that too. "
Arthur was away down the farm working see, the other brother. Anyhow we got talking and Mrs Howard and Arthur were going to come down for a sing song that night at home, so of course Harry tagged along too. But in fact, no, he didn't tag along, they had horses there too and he rode one of the horses down, carried the tin of tomatoes down to my home in the afternoon. Then he rode home again. And that's how it started. After that he never went back out west. He bought a horse team and carted stuff along the Woombye-Blackall Road. He was a carrier there for quite a long time. But then two years before we were married he sold the team and he decided he was going to go out west for two years - earn better money out there or course - and when he came home we were married.
SB: So you waited for him?
HOWARD: Yes, my word I did. I was engaged and I waited for him. But it used to be funny all the same, I used to go off to dances with his brother Arthur and my brother. Or my brother might go some other way, and I'd say, "Arthur, you got anything to do tonight?" By this time the farm's gone and Arthur's boarding at our place.
"No Chris," he said, "no, where do you want to go?" Course I wouldn't go alone, riding. So, "Oh yes, righto," and we'd go and he'd have the first dance with me and I really confused the people around there. They didn't know who was me boyfriend, they weren't sure anyway. Because they hadn't seen Harry for some time see. And then one night I'm playing at Hunchy for a dance and who should come in but a man with a big western hat on, matter of fact he still had his spurs on too. Come to the door, this tall streak, nobody knew Harry. His big stetson on and his riding habit, all riding boots and everything on. They didn't know who he was, so he bent down, took off his spurs and walked straight up to the piano and kissed me.
SB: In front of everyone?
HOWARD: Yes. "Oh, oh." They were quite sure I was going with Arthur see. Quite sure I was going with Arthur. I never knew he was going to turn up to the dance there but I expected him home, that weekend. But he got back early so he rode home on the Friday night. But you know everybody else was quite sure I was going to go with Arthur. Well so much so, that a couple of late items that came in, and they weren't at the wedding, they wrote Mr and Mrs A. Howard.
SB: You well and truly confused them.
HOWARD: Yes, but they weren't there see, they weren't there at the wedding. And they'd been away for a little while, about six months, seven months and they were quite sure it was going to be Arthur. It wasn't, it was Harry. Then we went on the different farms and that sort of thing.
Piano playing at functions
SB: When did you start playing the piano out at public functions?
HOWARD: When I was about fourteen. I went then with my sister-in-law because she used to get the engagements and we went out together. We played half-time each.
SB: And you'd make money from that?
HOWARD: No, well I didn't make money, I went for the benefit of doing it. I went for the benefit of doing it, I didn't make any money much. She might give me something you know. But I got paid for the picture playing.
SB: When did you start doing that?
HOWARD: Oh well I suppose I'd be about twenty. I was about twenty then and I'd go out and play for the pictures, and an odd dance I'd play for too.
SB: And you'd get money for playing at the pictures?
HOWARD: Oh well you were lucky if you got 30/- till later when somebody backed out. There was a dance to be played for and I was engaged for it to play. The neighbours over from us had the phone on and somebody wanted to see me, so I went over there to be told that somebody else was doing the playing, so I thought, "Alright, okay." So they were to have done the playing. It was a wicked night, terrible stormy night, and I was very pleased I didn't have to go and do the playing, but the brother went in and about half-past nine, I was in bed, Mum and Dad were in bed, and Fred come up the front stairs. Mum and Dad's bedroom was there and they were in bed, so he had to come round this way - his bedroom was on the verandah. He said, "Chris in bed?"
They said, "Yes, of course she's in bed, it's half-past nine."
"Oh they want her to play the piano."
So I heard this and Fred come racing in the door, he said, "Will you come in and play the piano for them, they got no pianist."
I said, "Serves them right, I'm not getting out of me bed."
That was the one see, she didn't come. Anyhow poor old Charlie Kuskopf, he got killed later on, but he came in and he stopped the wind at the door and "Oh Chris, do come."
"Well," I said, "I'm not going to ride a horse, it's too wet."
"Righto," he said, "I'II gallop back in and get the taxi out.'
There was a taxi those days from Woombye. So I said to Fred, "You might as well wait here too 'cause the taxi will have to bring me home again too."
I said, "Let the horse go and you come in with me."
So poor Charlie went in and the taxi come out. Well there was a hall full of people and no pianist see, so Charlie was on the committee.
I said, "Charlie, I don't take this easy, I'm going to play tonight, but I'm not going to play for what I used to."
"No Chris," he said, "I don't expect you to. You've been done the dirty on."
I said, "Yes, I've been done the dirty on. So for the rest of the night I want five guineas."
"Yes Chris," he said, "we'll give you ten."
You know just like that. I played till about 2 o'clock and I had the taxi in and taxi out. Well you know ever after that I got five guineas.
SB: So when was that, when you were still at home?
HOWARD: Yes that was when I was at home. I got five guineas. See I had done it. I never got paid for just the free dances I used to do, be it for the basketballers or the footballers. But when they used to join up for a big night, then I got paid. And that was one of those big nights and she hadn't come out to the district very long and she was fluttering herself about but anyway she didn't come. It didn't make any difference, I got it and as I never chased it, I just got it back.
SB: What were the dances they were doing then?
HOWARD: Oh they used to do a lot of the square dances, the old square dance, the lancers, the quadrilles, the Alberts, veleta. They used to do the waltze, the shottish. Then they did do some one-steps, foxtrots too. All that, all that went on. And Chris Aird used to
play the violin a lot with me.
SB: Oh did he?
HOWARD: Yes, yes he used to play lovely. I don't know whether he still plays or not. We used to play for a lot of the dances and he used to come in and play with me. We done a lot of those dances like that together, Chris and I.
SB: What about the Charleston and the jitterbug and those type of things?
HOWARD: Well some of them used to get on the side and do a little bit when we used to do a bit of quick playing you know. They used to do it but not very much. Not very much of that done. The Maxina was done.
SB: What's the Maxina?
HOWARD: That's rather a pretty dance, you could say something like the veleta. It's quite a pretty dance and there's mostly a set music for it. That was done quite a bit. They'd all routine up like they do for the veleta. You don't go anywhere and everywhere, you sort of follow around, you do the same step. It's really pretty.
SB: Would you do the set tunes for the dances or would you just play any?
HOWARD: Well, more or less the ones that would fit them. Some of them you could pick out that would fit. Now the Maxina it had to have something to fit. But most of the others and of course the 'Valze Vienna' it was very seldom played, because nobody ever wanted to do it. But as I played, you come into the more younger generation doing the one-step, and doing the tap waltz, you know the other sole while you were dancing. And spot waltz. All that thing came in more freely than the other. Course the old barn dance always stood. You done the barn dance. Then they done the continued barn dance.
SB: Progressive barn dance?
HOWARD: Progressive that's right. That was a good one and it used to last for a long time. You played and played and played for that one because they went over and over it. Which was good.
SB: Did they have door prizes and things like that?
HOWARD: They used to divide the hall into hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades and you'd stop the music and the cards'd be cut and if you were in the hearts you sat down. You went round like that.
SB: What would be the prizes?
HOWARD: Oh well, could be chocolates, a box of chocolates or something like that. There was always something nice in that line. Not like different things they have today. But it'd mostly be chocolates.
SB: Would you have a supper at the dance?
HOWARD: Often times, yes. Often times there'd be a supper, not always, all depends how long the dance went. But mostly there'd be a supper. Then somebody else'd come in and play a few dances while I had supper. Very seldom they had to sit out while I had supper and if that was the case they used to generally bring a cup up and I'd have a bit, in between, while I was playing. I played for the silent pictures in Woombye one night and a chappie came in and they put stuff on top of the piano and I just thought it belonged to somebody else of course. When I went over Mrs Willersdorf - old Mrs Willersdorf was in the shop then, we used to go over and have a drink when it was finished - and she said, "Did you get your box of chocolates?"
I said, "Hey, box of chocolates?"
She said, "Yes."
"It's the first thing I know about it." So went back over to get this box of chocolates. She said, "There was two of them, cause I didn't have a big enough one for him, so he bought two boxes of the best I had." That was the Old Gold. So she said there was two of them. Then I went back over there was only one. The other one was gone evidently someone took it. But it was evidently for me, because he was a stranger come into the town according to Mrs Willersdorf and he sat and listened to the music and watched the pictures, and he reckoned I reminded him of his mother by the music I played. Mrs Willersdorf said, "I wished I had a great big box with a big red rose on it, but I didn't have it." But anyway I got one box out of it. Somebody else got the other. But I'd gone out, I’d gone you see and left it.
SB: So when you were playing for the silent pictures were they very popular?
HOWARD: Well those times they were, because they used to have dances but they never had dances the nights the silent pictures were on, see that's how they worked. I went to Eudlo a couple of times and played down there. The silent picture, the movie picture went down there and played, showed them. They had nothing else down there. There was a hall and there used to be an odd dance and I used to play there. I still played the dances thereafter I was married and up at the Highlands where the farm was.
SB: So Highlands is near Hunchy is it?
HOWARD: No, Highlands is out between Montville and Maleny. It goes out from Eudlo, Highlands.
SB: It's below the Montville-Maleny Road is it?
HOWARD: Yes, you know where the Gerrard Lookout is.
SB: And what were some of the silent movies, can you remember any of the ones that the people...?
HOWARD: They used to love poor old Charlie Chaplin. We did get big rolls up The Ten Commandments and The White Sister. I played four times for that.
SB: What sort of music would you play?
HOWARD: Well that was 'The Nun's Prayer' and 'The Cloisters Nun' and 'In The Cloisters' and that was all. I played all parts of that. Plus 'Rock of Ages' and part of 'Sweet Bye and Bye'. I played part of them in that.
SB: And for Charlie Chaplin was there anything in particular you would play?
HOWARD: No, nothing really particular. Something fast and funny sort of business.
SB: So you were doing the mood music?
HOWARD: Yes. More or less. One piece I can recall is 'Ragged Edges', I played that for him, that was rather a jumpy piece. I used to play that, bits of it, when anyone would come on. I used to have a list, just a big list of names, up where the music should be. As long as I could run my eyes down that I could cope.
SB: So you're sort of watching the movie and picking out bits of music to go with what was happening?
HOWARD: I was watching the movie. I would be sitting here at the piano, the pictures there. I done this eye on that, watching the picture. I just got the little bulb on this bit of paper to do that. But I done me eye a bit on that. It's alright now but for two years I had to wear glasses to bring the vein back. Me eyes started to ache and I went down to a specialist in Brisbane. He said, "You have a vein almost crossing the sight. What have you done to do it? It's a strain." Well I told him then about the pictures. It didn't hurt this one, but it hurt that one. So I wore glasses, plain glass here. He said, "I want to see you in six months." So I went back in six months. He said, It's improving a lot, I'd like you to wear them for eighteen months." Which I did. So it hasn't affected them, I wear reading glasses, but I haven't got to wear glasses all the time.
SB: That's pretty good, especially if you've been reading music by candlelight.
HOWARD: That's right.
SB: Did you ever play in Nambour? Play for dances in Nambour?
HOWARD: No, not that. I played for a few weddings and that sort of thing and perhaps a bit of a dance after that. But I never played for anything else like that in Nambour. It was mostly the outside areas. Course they had their big screening in Nambour in those times but they used to come out to different places. That's how it was done.
SB: How much would it be to get into the pictures? When silent pictures first came.
HOWARD: I wouldn't know, I never paid. (LAUGHS}
SB: Did you ever play for the big balls or was this mainly the dances?
HOWARD: No not for the real big balls, because they generally had a full orchestra for those sort of things. They used to have a big orchestra for those.
SB: And did you go to those?
HOWARD: Oh yes, I used to go to the dances. I suppose you paid five shillings.
SB: Would you make your own clothes?
HOWARD: Yes, well Mother made them.
SB: She would make them?
HOWARD: Mother always made them. I never made them. Occasionally I suppose I bought one. Then I had me wedding frock that I used to go to a lot of balls in.
SB: You were saying before you used to ride to the dances?
HOWARD: That's right yes. And put your dress up. Even for the good gear, bring it right
up, and then bring this piece right up there and do it with a fancy clip.
SB: Did you wear stockings and things?
HOWARD: Oh yes we wore stockings. Always wore stockings. You wore stockings but your riding skirt kept them good. Course if you wanted dancing pumps you put them in your saddle bag and changed when you got there. Changed your shoes. So you'd have your good sole to dance in you know.
SB: Would you do your hair in any particular way?
HOWARD: Well mostly used to be just put in waves and it was never made up like we have now. Never went to a hair-dresser to have it down. You used to just do it up in curlers yourself.
SB: In curlers?
HOWARD: The old stick in the fire, wrap your hair around it. It used to stop in though. (LAUGHS) It used to stop in and you'd put the net on to go in, wear a net.
SB: You'd wear a net on the horse?
HOWARD: Wear a net on the horse, yes to keep them like that. When I was younger I used to wear a hat band, used to wear fancy hat bands with elastic under here. And of course I used to have rag curls those days, they used to put me curls in rags to make them curls. When we came up from Bega, about four years after, a couple of Bega people came up, that we knew and the chappie said, "Chris, I always thought you had curly hair." I said, "So I did, because Mum used to putit in curlers every night when I was little." He always thought I had curly hair. Course something cropped up about having it waved and this sort of thing and that's how he came to say that.
SB: How would you cope if it rained?
HOWARD: Oh we had raincoats, always strapped on the saddle. They were always on a roll in the saddle, you never went out without them.
SB: Was it an oilskin?
HOWARD: Yes, oilskin. Hat and all with it. You never left that off your saddle, strapped to your saddle. It was all there.
SB: So when you first got married was it difficult coping economically in those times to get yourself started?
HOWARD: No, not really, you know you had your milk and butter, and animal if we wanted to kill it, your meat. See that's a big thing. Course we used to have to buy the bread. But you didn't pay like you do today. I forget now, but it was five pence or something like that.
SB: When were you married?
HOWARD: I was twenty-six anyway, so I'm seventy-nine.
SB: That would have been round the depression years?
HOWARD: Oh yes. Oh yes it was the depression years.
SB: Did that make things more difficult for you?
HOWARD: Well, then there was the war years, you had coupons for everything.
SB: In the '40s?
HOWARD: That was in the '40s we had the coupons.
SB: How did that work?
HOWARD: Well you had to have coupons for butter, coupons for clothes.
SB: Was it like rations?
HOWARD: Yes. Rationed. And the kiddies got coupons, dish them out coupons. When I got those two little girls I had to have coupons for them. Their mother had gone away and sort of taken the coupons. So when I got them I had no coupons for them. So I went to the police and they gave me a big book to get them so I could dress them. Cause they had nothing, they didn't even have any clothes, only what they were wearing. So I went down to Bayards and got the material.
SB: So were those children local children?
HOWARD: They were, yes they were local children. One girl is gone, she died years after. She was about twenty-five when she died. She got peritonitis and didn't look after it. Didn't do what she should have done and thought she'd be alright. It was too late when she got to hospital. But the other one's living up out from Gympie, she's married and living out there.
SB: So the depression didn't really worry you?
HOWARD: No, no not really. I do think when you've been used to farm life and you've been used to - well not having everything in the sense of the word, that you could lay your hands on, you were a country person - and you coped, you never had to go to a shop for anything. You had it there. It's still the same, if I didn't go to town fora week it wouldn't worry me. I've got enough in the cupboard to do me for a week. I've always got flour and I've always got things like that that if something cropped up you're not stuck. That lives with you. As I say we used to pack everything away on pack horse. You sort of get used to that. And even thought I've come here, you might as well say I'm a townie - I don't live town life. I still live me country life as far as my home consistency is, because I like it that way, and I think it makes a big difference.
SB: So when you moved here you were growing pineapples and had a dairy?
HOWARD: No we had no dairy, just a couple of house cows. That's all we had then.
SB: How did you sell your pineapples?
HOWARD: They used to go to the factory. They used to pack them and send them away to the factory. The carters used to come and get them, send them to the factory, the Pineapple Factory.
SB: And where was that?
HOWARD: Down at - is it Lone Pine? Something like that.
SB: So it'd go down to Brisbane?
HOWARD: Down that way, yes.
SB: Was it still chipping when you came here? Did you have to chip all the pineapples?
HOWARD: I didn't, Harry and the boy did. They used to chip the pineapples. He put his name down to get a job in the Mill, well eventually he got his job at the Mill. He was there until he retired. To the finish he was a yard boss there. He retired and we had twelve years of lovely retirement before he left me, so it was wonderful really. A lot don't have that. We were very happy, we were very lucky to have that.
SB: When did he start at the Mill?
HOWARD: Well, that's more than I could just tell you.
SB: Was it during the war?
HOWARD: Oh it would be during the war, during the war that he got into it. It wasn't the start of the war. Towards the finish of the war, I think it was, that he got into the Mill, the pineapples slumped while we were here; and he had to go out and we had a lot of work, chipping around and this sort of thing. And he was in the forestry working also.
SB: So when you say the pineapples slumped, you just couldn't sell them?
HOWARD: Yes, there was no price in them. It wasn't worth fertilising, wasn't worth doing anything with. By the time you fertilised you had nothing left. So it wasn't worthwhile carrying on, because they went too low. And that's when a lot of the pines around Woombye went that time.
SB: That was during the war was it?
HOWARD: Yes that was the war, war years so it made it very hard then you know. But he got work, we carried on alright in that respect. Of course only having the one kiddie it didn't make it hard and of course I got support for the others. Which helped.
SB: You'd adopted them?
HOWARD: Well I didn't adopt them, I looked after them anyway. I got help from the father for the two little ones and also my nephew and niece, their father helped with them so ...We carried on alright. Didn't have anything to spare, but still we coped. As I said I made, and I was very proud, when I first took the two little ones - they were three and two, and a half - and I took them out to the show, and I made everything bar their shoes, hair ribbons and their singlets. And I dressed them in little pleated skirts. I made a little pink jumper each, I knitted their pink socks. So they did look lovely really and they were both fair haired girls and they had beautiful curls. They were pretty little kids really.
SB: You made it all on a treadle sewing machine?
HOWARD: No, I had an electric one when I come here. Soon as I come here I had an electric one. Soon as they had electric I got an electric one. It was in electricity when I got the kiddies here, though when we first came it wasn't. This was only just a little four room cottage, it had a little front veranda on it but then we closed the front veranda in and put this on and put a new roof on it.
SB: So electricity came to Nambour in the '30s?
HOWARD: Yes, that's right. I think it was in Nambour, but it wasn't out and around. See first of all they reckoned we'd have to get it from the top there and that would have been a lot more poles and a lot more expense. Harry said he couldn't see that; he'd wait a bit longer. So while they were arguing the point about there, it came through here; so we got it.
SB: Did you have to pay for any of the poles?
HOWARD: Oh anything that comes inside you have to. See this is only an easement see, our road's only an easement, it's not a permanent road - not a public road. You'd have to supply your own to the bottom road, had to supply the poles.
SB: So you had to put the poles in?
HOWARD: That's right yes, put them in. But of course then we owned it all, now we don't own it. So far so good the lines go across the property. But this chap had to put a new pole in so I asked him before I got the new pole did he mind. He said no he didn't mind, so it's still there. It's not hurting anything.
SB: What were some of the appliances that you wanted to get when you had the electricity put on?
HOWARD: Well, I had to get a stove, I only had a fuel stove, so I got an electric three-plate stove with the top oven, I don't like them low down. So I got that. It lasted me for a number of years, but I've had this one for about eight years now. Well put it this way – electric everything.
HOWARD: Yes, this used to be a polished floor that I covered and I had an electric polisher for that. Oh pretty well everything. Bar me piano.
SB: And you could get all these appliances that you wanted in Nambour?
HOWARD: Yes, oh yes I got them, all of them in Nambour, between Swans and S.E.A.
SB: Did they give guarantees?
HOWARD: Yes. Oh yes I had all guarantees on them. Yes we got very, very good satisfaction. Course I'm one that believes in buying where you live. I don't believe in running around and buying. You want your town, well support it. That's how I look at it. I don't go anywhere else, I shop here, unless there's something I can't get.
HOWARD: And of course I couldn't get a piano. Even when I started I couldn't get a
piano here in those days. Matter of fact I did try. Thornton's used to be here then - an agency in selling property and this sort of thing. I went into him and I said, "When you sell an estate anytime, if there's a good piano in it let me know, Hubby wants to buy me one." So he said, right he would. We waited quite a long time so Harry said, "Oh, better send down to Palings." So I wrote down to Palings and as it happened the piano I got, had been out six months - the people couldn't go on with the money on it, so they gave me the offer of that. So it was an upright grand, a Billing. So I said, "Alright, will you guarantee it? They said, yes. So I said that'll be alright. So the letter came up about it and I wrote a letter back about it and I put the letter in the jolly postbox and I walked down. Thornton had an office down near the station in those days. Was walking down there and he said, psst." So I went over. "I got you a piano."
I said, "Mr Thornton, I'm sorry it's too late."
SB: So you had to do all your negotiations with Palings by mail?
HOWARD: Yes, yes, yes done by mail then in those days and of course they sent it up and I got a big carrier up ...
SB: How would you pay for it?
HOWARD: Oh well we paid instalments. We paid so much down, then instalments monthly.
SB: Would you have to send the money to them in Brisbane?
HOWARD: Oh yes, sent it down by cheque. By cheque and they sent the receipt back. We had it over twelve months, so we got it done over twelve months. We were very pleased with it and always been pleased with it. Course it's done a lot of work.
SB: Put it through it's paces?
HOWARD: Yes, put it through it's paces alright. And I loaned it to - there used to be a Philharmonic Society here, in Nambour - I loaned it to them for twelve months and they gave it a lot of work. I might have leant it longer but it was sitting in Collins' Cafe, but they were only supposed to use it for when they wanted to practise, that's what they got it for. Anyhow I happened to ride in, we went up to Nambour one day, from Eudlo it was, somebody was playing me piano in Collins'. So I went over to one of the fellows and I said, "Who authorised people to play that piano?" He didn't know I was the owner of it and he said, "The Philharmonic Society told me I could let anybody play it."
I said, "Oh did they? Well I'd like you not to let anybody else play it, it's only for the Philharmonic Society."
And of course he looked at me and he said, "What authority are you?"
I said, "I happen to be owner of it."
"Oh," he said, "I'm sorry." So anyhow I went and seen a couple of the heads and they were a bit hostile about it, about not letting anybody else play it. Well it had nothing to do with anybody else, it was really only for them.
And I said, "Well I'm sorry, if that's the way you look at it I'll get a carrier and take it home." One fellow he went off high arid mighty. I said, "Look, I'm not going to be abused about it." I looked around, Harry was gone.
I said, "Well no more about it, Mr Howard's gone to get a carrier, we'll take it right now."
We did. Well I mean the point was evidently anybody had been playing it and I loaned it to them. I told them to lock it and keep the key, but see they gave the key to Collins. I got the key. But Collins had it, well he had no right to have it because he had nothing to do with the Philharmonic Society.
SB: Did the Society put on many performances? Did they put on a performance every year?
HOWARD: Well they used to put on some sometimes. They had one turnout up at my place when I was at Kureelpa, that was how it came about. We were leaving Kureelpa and going to go down to Eudlo and then they were talking about pianos. So I said, "Oh well instead of us taking it straight down to Eudlo then you can have a loan of mine, until I want it again." So they had it for twelve months and I didn't mind them having it, because it was helping them.
SB: When would they perform? Can you remember any of the performances?
HOWARD: No not really, I never went to them. I only gave my house at Kureelpa one time for them to play there. I didn't bother otherwise about it. You know, you get lined up with your own things and we never went out that much really. Firstly Harry worked all day and he was pretty tired at night so we didn't bother going anywhere.
SB: What would you do in the evenings when you were at home?
HOWARD: Oh well, we'd read or playa record. In the early times of course we got the radio and went on from there. I'd play the piano and he'd sit and read you know and this sort of thing. We used to have quite a lot of visitors before we got T.V., before everybody got T.V. That ruined all home life I think. Especially for kiddies I do think. I do really think so, it's ruined the ... Where Dad used to come home perhaps have a romp with the kids, it's all ceased. Nowdays it's, "Oh I'm watching something."
SB: So you'd get lots of visitors calling in?
HOWARD: Yes that's how our time used to pass quite a lot. When we were up at Highlands I used to go to dances.
SB: You still used to play after you were married?
HOWARD: Some of the time I used to play but then if I wasn't playing ...there were three girls that weren't allowed go if I weren't. I was the chaperone, so I always got out. That was when my son was small, of course Daddy always stopped home looked after him. And they used to come over - "Can you come? If you can't come I can't go."
SB: Your husband didn't mind you going off to dances?
HOWARD: Oh not at all. He wasn't a dancer, he liked music and he liked his books. He was a great reader. Not outside, but he used to recite a lot at home for me and he spent a lot of time learning the different ones.
HOWARD: Yes used to learn them and do them. Unfortunately I haven't got any on record of him. Never thought of it...Never thought of getting it on, I'm very sorry about that now.
SB: It sounds beautiful, the home with the piano and poetry...
HOWARD: Yes that's right. Oh yes, a couple came up the other day and they taped me on the piano and piano accordion. They always call me 'Auntie Chris' and of course when their friends come up from Brisbane or anywhere they say, "Now you can listen to Auntie Chris play." So they play the tapes. Those things are lovely, they're nice. The old things I think and a lot of it's coming back I think. It isin the song world isn't it, a lot of that sort of coming back. But I don't bother going out at night now. I have me bowls and that's it, only go bowling.