Emily Law

Emily went to school in Yandina. The family spent Christmas camping at Cotton Tree. She worked a dairy herd with her mother. She was married in 1933 at Yandina and had six children

Emily Law

Interview with: Emily Law (nee Hamilton)

Date of Interview: 30 April, 1985

Interviewer: Caroline Foxon

Transcriber: Colwyn Boulton

Place of Interview: Nambour

Born: 1909 at Ninderry

Education: Yandina State School

Married: 1933 at Yandina

Children: 6 Children

Emily went to school in Yandina. The family spent Christmas camping at Cotton Tree. She worked a dairy herd with her mother. She was married in 1933 at Yandina and had six children.

Image: Stanley Law with his bride Emily Hamilton, 28 December 1933.

Images and documents about Emily Law in the Sunshine Coast Libraries Catalogue.


Emily Law oral history - part one [MP3 59MB]

Emily Law oral history - part two [MP3 43MB]


Family history

CF: Right Emily, you told me that you were born in 1909 at Ninderry, on the land originally selected by your grandfather, William Hamilton, back in 1888. Perhaps you could tell me something about your grandfather from your memories and from what your parents may have told you.

LAW: Well, I knew him all right. As I said before, I was afraid of him. But he selected the land; he had a sugar mill there. Later it was either a sawmill or an arrowroot mill. I think the arrowroot mill was last. He lost his wife in 1909 and he lived on the place on his own until he died when I was twenty-one.

CF: Where did he come from originally?

LAW: Belfast. I can't tell you when he came out from there. I suppose I have heard, but I can't remember it.

CF: When would your father have been born then?

LAW: I can't remember how old Dad was when he died and how many years it is since he died. He was an only child.

CF: That would have been quite unusual in those days, wouldn't it?

LAW: I'll say. I know that being an only child, he was very spoilt, very spoilt. His mother cleaned his shoes for him and he had everyone put his clothes out for him and he expected it all when he was married to my mother. But when he was born, I wouldn't have any idea. My sister-in-law has his death certificate.

CF: Did he work then with your grandfather? Was he working on his land?

LAW: Yes, he used to work on the farm. Then when they got married, he still worked on the farm. Then he came into town, into Yandina, to work - that was when we shifted into town when I was two years old.

CF: So you left the farm. Was that a cane farm that your grandfather had?

LAW: No I think it was mixed (farm), arrowroot mainly. Where the mill was, there was a big flat and that was all arrowroot. That's all I know. I do know there was down at our boundary, down the back, what they call the Rafting Ground. The timber was snigged down there and dropped into the water and then drifted down with the tide down to where it was picked up further down the river. How far down the river I wouldn't know, down to the North Arm it was.

CF: By then the timber industry had wound down had it?

LAW: Oh I don't know. That was in the early days and there's some very good timber come out of there.

CF: Was your grandfather the only one growing arrowroot in the district?

LAW: That I cannot answer. Whether other people ... Later, in my day, there was an arrowroot mill out at Kiamba. Mr Ben Love had it and I don't think it's working now. I think it went into a sawmill later.

CF: So your family moved into Yandina. What made your father move off the farm and into town?

LAW: I think he wanted other work; he wasn't happy, and he shifted into town. I would say he was the founder of the Masonic Lodge in Yandina. Yes, he was the founder of the Masonic Lodge. He was their first Master.

CF: Had the family always been involved in the Masonic Movement?

LAW: Yes. His two sons followed him. Two of his sons became Masons.

CF: What did it actually involve, being the head of the Lodge?

LAW: Oh I don't know. It's just like the same as anybody being President I'd say. They go out of the chair and somebody else takes it on; that's all I can say.

CF: Did you ever as a woman or a girl go to any Masonic functions?

LAW: Oh yes, I was a guest at one of their installations. But that was only at the banquet part of it. You never got up where the goat was. (LAUGHS)

CF: What was the goat?

LAW: Well they always reckoned that when you joined the Masonic Lodge you're 'going to ride the goat'.

CF: What did that mean?

LAW: I wouldn't have a clue.

CF: This is one of their rituals?

LAW: Yes, you're going to ride the goat. I know I had to respond one night, the first time I ever had to get up and make a speech, and I can tell you I was really frightened.

CF: How old were you?

LAW: I suppose I'd be about twenty. And it was sprung on me. It wasn't as though I'd had a chance to think things out and that. And I can tell you I nearly collapsed.

CF: Was it a very strong movement in the town, the Masonic Order?

LAW: Oh yes, yes. They used to have their banquets. They used to have a great big turnout. They'd have a big pot of peas and potatoes, have a hot meal in the early days. I can remember my mother saying about it.

CF: So your father would go off to the Movement.

LAW: Yes, well he was still a Mason when he died.

CF: Did they have a big dividing line with women in it? Was it essentially a mens' organisation?

LAW: It was a mens'. In later years they formed the Eastern Star but men can be in that as well as women. I never. I've been asked. Mrs Low's still after me to go and join, but I always said that I wasn't entitled to join - my husband wasn't a Mason.

CF: So it's really for wives of Masons?

LAW: Yes, and one woman said, "You've got more right to go than anybody because your father was a Mason." So that's it.

CF: Was it like a religious movement or was it more social?

LAW: Well, I don't know whether it was religious. I don't know whether there was any religious part to it, but the Eastern Star, I think the Bible is behind that, so it could be the Masonic. I don't know. The Lodge that Dad formed - was the founder of -is still operating in Yandina today.

CF: Oh, did it have a particular name?

LAW: Star of Maroochy I think. I can't think - 70 something, I don't know. I can't think of the number.

CF: So you'd moved into town and what sort of work did he take up when he moved to town?

LAW: He went into the grocery shop. He worked for R.M. Burnett then when they sold and it was formed into a cooperative store.

CF: Was that the Maroochy Co-Op?

LAW: Yes, the Maroochy Co-Op. He was orderman and the deliverer. He used to drive a horse and cart. First of all he'd ride a horse from here and all up round Cooloolabin, Kiamba, and get the orders. And next he'd take it up in a horse and cart and I can remember I'd gone with him several times when it was holidays on. I can remember hanging on when we were going up the old steep 'Bottle and Glass' (road), I always thought I was going to slip out the back. But you'd go to this one -"Will you have a cup of tea, Johnny?" You know it was real friends.

CF: I suppose people didn't get a lot of visitors, did they?

LAW: I don't think so, because it was all horse and cart in those days.

Yandina State School

CF: And you were in town for about ten years then. I guess you would have started school?

LAW: I had started school in Yandina.

CF: And that would have been about 1914 or so?

LAW: Yes somewhere round about then.

CF: Can you tell me some of your memories of school, of your teachers or pupils that were there with you?

LAW: The first headmaster I had, I got the cane one day. My cousin and I were only young and we were out in line and he brought us in and he always blew the tin whistle for us to march into school with.

CF: Which headmaster was this?

LAW: Mr Broe. Took us up on the verandah and all the kids down in front, and he gave us the cane with the tin whistle. I cried because I had my feelings hurt - I'd never a cane in my life before.

CF: So boys and girls got caned?

LAW: Oh yes. I got the cane once later - bruised all my fingers - by a school teacher.

CF: What sort of things would you get caned for? Not just you, other children.

LAW: The only time I got the cane after that was just talking. Mr Lane, when he was there on a wet day, we got so much of our work done, he'd give us games in our class, encourage us to attend school I suppose on a wet day. Course when Mr Lane went away Mr Slatter came. And he was very strict. And of course he'd said, "Emily stop talking." Well Emily forgot and Emily talked again. So he took me out to the verandah and he gave me six cuts. The cane would be as thick as my little finger. I finished up with bruises on the ends of each of my fingers. Course then I went home and showed them to Mum and Mum said, "You must have been naughty to get the cane. " And that's as far as she went. She didn't complain, but I have since read a letter that a Mr Sam Selleck wrote to the Committee about him and his cane. It was given to the Committee. The Committee kept it.

CF: So he was a pretty tough teacher?

LAW: He was; he was a very tough man. I remember when we had our Diamond Jubilee. I was one of the parents that were working and of course standing at the end of the table talking, and next thing I felt a hand on my shoulder, "Emily stop talking." I turned around and it was Mr Slatter.

CF: He hadn't forgotten.

LAW: No. Oh, he knew that I could talk.

CF: You were mentioning that you'd have different games in the classroom on wet days. Do you remember the games?

LAW: Oh not really, not really, but they were the good old days. Mr Lane was a very good teacher, very good. We had swimming with Mr Lane, he and his wife and his daughters, two daughters. We'd have swimming I think Wednesdays and Fridays, and we'd go down the back of the school there. We'd have swimming competitions, like a carnival, and I was one of the best girl swimmers. But I can't swim now.

CF: So you were taught to swim?

LAW: Yes. But talking about Mr Slatter again - he took us swimming but he'd always sit on the bank; he never came in the water with us. And one mother wrote and said that her children could not go swimming until they learnt. And he read that letter out in front of the whole class, the whole school - it was a one big room in those days -which I think wasn't very nice, because the mother hadn't had a very good education. But she meant that they would teach them and when they learnt they could go swimming at school.

CF: But the letter sounded a bit illiterate?

LAW: Well he thought he'd make a show of her, you know, in front of all the children and of course the children all laughed. And those children were sitting in the classroom see. No, he had his good points and he had his bad points.

CF: That was the Yandina State School. So it was one big room?

LAW: One big room facing the railway line, facing the road. Then later years, after I'd left school, it was turned and put onto - the main building that is there now was turned to face north. One big wide part of it, about as big as this room is, sitting out on one end and the other part was there and they built in between and made it into four classrooms and that is the main part of the school there now.

CF: That was the original section?

LAW: The original school. Of course the first school I didn't go to that. The first school was a slab building. That's back beyond my time.

CF: How many pupils would there have been when you were there?

LAW: Oh, there wouldn't have been - towards the last I'd say there'd be over a hundred.

CF: Really, all in one room?

LAW: Yes. We'd have the shed out the back, the playshed out the back and it had a front and a back verandah. Well see some classes would be out on the front verandah, some on the back verandah, perhaps having reading or sitting on stools and writing on our slates. Then when we'd have to go in and do copy-books or drawing, another class would go on to the verandah.

CF: Was it very noisy?

LAW: Oh yes. Down in the playshed the seats were all round. Some of these photos I've got have been taken there.

CF: And the playshed was used for lessons as well?

LAW: Yes we had lessons out there, like the teacher'd stand down at the end here.

CF: How many teachers would there have been at the school at any one time?

LAW: There could be four and the Headmaster. There was Miss Steggall.

CF: Which Miss Steggall would that have been?

LAW: Winifred. Later years her youngest sister, Miriam, taught us there too. She became a teacher. There was a Mr Bob Chapman, Maggie Chapman. That'd be four with the Headmaster.

CF: And do you remember how you felt about your teachers? Miss Steggall for example?

LAW: Yes, I liked the two Miss Steggalls. They were very dear. I can remember when Miriam was transferred, I cried. I cried. I wasn't a very good scholar, but you get to know them and like them.

CF: They were very encouraging?

LAW: Yes.

CF: Tell me about some of your lessons there. What were your favourite lessons?

LAW: Drawing, I loved drawing. I loved copy-books.

CF: Who would take you for drawing?

LAW: Same teacher. The teacher with the one class like, well she'd do everything. We'd have arithmetic, reading, writing, history.

CF: So they'd really divide you more by ages then would they?

LAW: Our years at school, you know, and that teacher would have that class. I know when it came exam time the Headmaster would always come and examine us.

CF: What were the exams like? How were they taken?

LAW: Oh some went flying, went to the top. I was always like the cow's tail. I was down low.

CF: Was it a very tense time?

LAW: I'II say.

CF: And you'd do those at the end of the year would you?

LAW: We'd have half-yearly I think. Half-yearly and get our reports and take them home.

CF: I hear that they had quite an emphasis on needlework in those days. Were you taught that?

LAW: Yes. When Mr Lane was there, his wife would come over, Tuesdays and Thursdays I think. And we'd have samplers one day, learning to do the stitches, and the other day we'd have garments. But with the samplers they'd showed us all the stitches and the seams and everything and then we had our garments. We had to make them by hand.

CF: What sort of garments would you make?

LAW: Oh petticoats, pants. You know the long ...

CF: Bloomers?

LAW: Oh no, these weren't bloomers even. And jumpers - middies we used to call them -they'd be like a blouse. Then they had one machine later. Each girl'd have a chance of sewing on the machine.

CF: And was it just for the girls?

LAW: Yes, the boys never did sewing. In Mr Slatter's time they went out gardening. He had a marvellous garden. And it was done up in plots, might be as long as this room, and as wide.

CF: Twelve feet?

LAW: They'd bring the seeds there. They might get a couple of feeds out of it. Mr Slatter'd use those.

CF: So he was keen on them doing it?

LAW: Yes. Oh, flower gardens. The girls had gardening too, but we were only in flower gardens; the boys had vegetables.

CF: Where would the vegetables go afterwards then?

LAW: Mr Slatter ...(LAUGHS)

CF: Did they used to have Arbor Day? Do you remember what you'd do on Arbor Day?

LAW: Yes, we'd have a picnic on Arbor Day, and they'd plant trees. There's two camphor laurel trees out at the front gate now.

CF: This is at the front of the school?

LAW: Yes. This is the front of the school where the gate goes out. One of those trees my Uncle Tim planted. So Anzac Day they planted another tree -that was an Anzac tree, a

pine - further along. I don't know whether or not it's there now.

CF: Oh of course you would have been at school after the First World War?

LAW: Yes, I was at school then. They had camphor laurel trees planted all the way, all the boundaries. The back paddock now - well it's school grounds now -but that was what they used to call the horse paddock. And the kiddies that rode to school'd have to take their horses down there and they'd run there all day.

CF: And you'd walk to school would you?

LAW: Oh yes. Sometimes run, because I'd be running late.

CF: You mentioned you moved back out of town to a farm.

LAW: Yes. I'd only have about two years that I came to school from out on the farm.

CF: How would you get in then?

LAW: Walk. Yes, walked everywhere.

CF: How far was that?

LAW: About a mile.

CF: Right, and you'd walk in. What about when it was raining?

LAW: Oh when it was raining too much we couldn't go to school cause the river would come up over the bridge.

CF: So you were cut off?

LAW: We'd be cut off then. If it rained very heavy we were sent home before the river came up.

CF: Did you ever have any trouble getting back home?

LAW: No, not really. That's one thing that they did do; they made sure that we were all home before the river came up.

CF: Some of the other things that you did at school - did you have concerts and that sort of thing?

LAW: Oh yes. Mr Lane was a very keen manand we'd have fancy dress. One time I was Humpty Dumpty. And his daughter, Hilda, was a great singer; later sang over 2SM in Sydney. But she'd sing and then we'd come on, you know. My brother (Edwin), he was a Bobby, and Bill; he was a little midshipman.

CF: That was your youngest brother was it?

LAW: No, I had another brother younger than him, but he was the youngest then. They were lovely concerts.

CF: Who would make the costumes for the concerts?

LAW: My mother made mine, and see Edwin's'd be a policemen's costume, so they get that from somebody else. And Bill, I know he had a little guard's cap for his midshipman hat. But Mum made mine and I was all padded. I was all round like a big egg. But no, they were good concerts. Well then when Mr Slatter came, we had concerts but they were more like all the classesat the back singing and then there'd be perhaps some come on and sing something. I can remember my brother, my youngest brother - I'd left school in those days -and he had to sing or recite. But anyhow he came on and of course when it was finished he marches off and everybody's clapping and clapping him like one thing and he wouldn't come back on. No he wasn't coming back on. Mr Slatter put his hand in his pocket with some money. "No," he said, "they're all laughing at me. I'm not going out there." And he didn't go; he didn't go.

CF: He got scared. So they were really good fun?

LAW: Oh yes, yes. I don't think the kiddies of today have the same fun as we had when we were going to school.

CF: Why do you think that is?

LAW: Why? Well I think the classes are so big. See we were only a small school. I know that when in Mr Slatter's time, when we were learning a new song for a concert or even in school, we'd all go over into his front room and I'd be the first one picked out because I could sing - which came from my mother's side, all the Bests were good singers - and see he'd send some of us over first to learn the tune. Then he'd bring all the others. So he'd keep the crows away. Those who couldn't sing couldn't be in it.

CF: So did they encourage you with your singing?

LAW: No, no. I just sang. I loved it. Today I love singing.

CF: Can you remember the sort of songs that you would sing when you were at school?

LAW: Yes. One concert we had was all the 'nigger' songs.

CF: Oh really, minstrel songs?

LAW: Yes, and we could sing them too.

CF: You mentioned that your mother would make the clothes and that sort of thing for the concert. Was it very expensive having children at school then? Did they have to provide much for them?

LAW: No, not really, because we didn't have to buy anything. When we were using slate, we had slate pencils. Well the Government provided those. Our drawing books were supplied, our copy books were supplied. I think we bought our exercise books. Reading books were all supplied; whereas the parents of today have got to buy everything. Even when we started using pencil and books instead of a slate, they were supplied. All taken up - there was a monitor who gathered up everything and put them in the press.

CF: Did you use the slates when you were younger?

LAW: Yes, from the slates see as we got up in class we had pencils. Rubbers were supplied by the Government. And they say now that's it's still free education. And when you see the books that the parents have got to buy for their children now, it's shocking.

CF: Tell me, what sort of clothes would you wear to school in those days?

LAW: No uniform; we just wore our ordinary clothes.

CF: And your lunches, would you bring your lunches to school with you?

LAW: Yes, we'd take our lunches to school. My favourite was tomato sandwiches.

CF: You hear about the kids that used to swap lunches, did you used to swap yours?

LAW: No no, I liked my tomato sandwiches.


Childhood on the farm

CF: By then your family, as you mentioned, had moved back onto a farm. This was in about 1921. What sort of work was your father doing then? What sort of farm was it?

LAW: Grandfather went in for cane.

CF: So you moved back onto the home farm.

LAW: Went back into the old home that was built for them when they got married. And my oldest brother had been working at Whalley's in Nambour. He decided that he wanted to be on the farm. So there was Grandfather, Edwin and Dad on the farm.

CF: So what made your father decide to leave town and go back onto the farm do you remember?

LAW: No, he was still working in town. He used to ride into town each day to work, but see my brother wanted to come out onto the farm.

CF: So the whole family moved?

LAW: Yes, so we all moved back. By this time Dad wasn't a healthy man; he was an asthmatical chap and as long as I can remember him, he had asthma. Course then Grandfather decided to buy some cattle and we went in for dairying. And Mum and I did the dairying.

CF: So before you went into school, did you have to get up and do the chores?

LAW: No, it was after I'd left school that they decided to go into cattle. I know that Bill and I at night, after tea, had to go down, and the cane tops, they'd pick them up and bring them up and we'd have to chaff them with the chaff cutter. And the type of cane was very hairy and I'd be always first down there and I'd have my hands on the handle. He'd have to feed it, because I was really allergic to these blooming hairs off the cane.

CF: So when you'd moved back onto the farm, what was it like then for your mother, did she have a lot of work to do?

LAW: Mum, my mother had a very hard life. She used to go to people's places and do their washing and their ironing. She'd get eight shillings for a day's washing and ironing. That would help us out, you know, because Dad used to drink. So you can imagine what kind of life she had.

CF: So she really had to keep the family going?

LAW: Yes. That was when we decided we'd go into the dairying. And we were on half-shares with Grandfather and of course before he died he got very mean. He'd only write one cheque say on the 16th March. He wouldn't have to write another cheque until the next month to give us our half- share and that might be the 17th April and he said, "Look she's got a cheque for the 16th and she's got a cheque for the 17th. How did she get those?" He was very tight.

CF: So it was really hard going. How did your mother manage then with having to do all the cooking and the washing and everything as well?

LAW: Oh well, for a time there I was running the place while Mum was working. She and I did all the milking and that.

CF: This was after you'd left school?

LAW: I'd left school then.

CF: Was it very difficult when you were at school and your mother was out at work? Was it very hard for the family?

LAW: Well I'd have to come home and light the fire and see about putting something on. She'd say what was there to be cooked for tea.

CF: What sort of food would you have? Did you grow a certain amount of your own food?

LAW: Yes, Mum was a wonderful gardener. She'd get up from the table perhaps and forget about the dishes and the beds and she'd be in the garden. She'd come in and that'd be it.

CF: She had a good 'vegie' garden?

LAW: Yes, she had vegetables. She grew vegetables and flowers. She loved her flowers.

CF: So what sort of food would you have to buy?

LAW: Oh you know, flour - we made our own bread - sugar, meat. Course Grandfather

Best was the butcher. We still paid for all our meat that we got just the same.

CF: Did you get a discount?

LAW: Ah ha. No. No. As I said I was frightened of my two grandfathers.

CF: What was your other grandfather like? This was George Best the butcher, was it?

LAW: Yes, he was the butcher.

CF: Did he help the family at all?

LAW: No not really. He owned the butcher shop and he owned the dairy out Ninderry, the ground that he selected when he came there. And he had a dairy farm and that was it.

CF: So you were having to purchase your own things. What sort of food did you eat in those days?

LAW: Bread. We'd make our own bread. Mum'd make a big pot of stew you know and put vegetables into it. There'd be more vegetables than meat.

CF: What sort of sweet things? Did you have any treats?

LAW: Well we'd always have a pudding, mainly rice, tapioca, sago; a bit of fruit with it. In later years Mum used to make the ice cream for the fete. And she'd be making up all this custard, egg custard and she'd always have the fruit salad and ice-cream stall at the church fete. Afterwards, late in life she still had the churn and we'd have a treat, she'd make up a big churn of ice cream you know, turning the handle and so forth to get it made. Apart from that it was all good wholesome food that we had.

Christmas at Maroochydore

CF: How about at special times, like Christmas? How did you celebrate Christmas?

LAW: Christmas we used to go to the beach, to Maroochydore. We'd pack up, and go down to what was known as Coulsen's Wharf down at the bridge over the North Arm. And we'd go down by boat and we'd have our fortnight at the beach. This is before we went up the farm again. Dad would come back to work and Mum and we kids would stop down at the beach.

CF: So this was your annual holiday?

LAW: This was our annual holiday.

CF: How long would you go for?

LAW: Two weeks -we'd have two weeks down there. Mum'd do a lot of baking before we went, you know with tins of biscuits and so forth. But that was our holiday.

CF: Where would you stay?

LAW: We'd have tents.

CF: Oh you'd camp?

LAW: Yes, we camped. Yes we camped down there. Then we'd get on the boat again. In those days the boat used to go right down to where the swimming pool is now, at Maroochydore.

CF: Down at Cotton Tree?

LAW: Yes, down at the Cotton Tree. And then we'd camp around further.

CF: How many kids were there in the family then?

LAW: Towards the last there was the four of us. We had a big storm. Dad pitched the tent over near where the wells were so we wouldn't have far to hunt the water. And we had a big storm one Boxing Day and the water just rushed down off the sand right through our tent and Bill would be only about eight I suppose, and he's saying, "Pray, Mummy pray." And Mum said, "I can't Love, I've got to hold the tent on. You pray." And he got down on his hands and knees with his arms around Arthur, praying like one thing. Well after that was over, like, Mum told Mr Moorehouse the Minister of the Methodist Church, and I think he preached that in every church he went into. And the storm stopped. But some years later, when I'd be about twenty-four, when they pulled down the old houses - my grandfather's house and the old one of ours -we shifted into tents again. And it was a sister tent to the one they had down at the beach before, when Bill was little and we had a big storm. But Bill didn't pray - all Bill could do was swear and the storm stopped. (LAUGHS)

CF: (LAUGHS) Oh, what do you make of that? When you'd be down at Maroochydore were there a lot of people camped down there?

LAW: Yes, there'd be, you know ...

CF: Twenties? Hundreds?

LAW: Oh there wouldn't be a hundred I don't say. The shops were only open for Christmas holidays. Mr Whalley had a shop down there. Collins had a shop down there and they'd only have it stocked up. See the Nambour ones would get their supplies brought down by tram, down to what they call 'Deepwater'. Then the boat would bring it from Deepwater down to Maroochydore. Oh we had lovely times there.

CF: What sort of things did you do down there? You'd swim obviously.

LAW: Oh we'd go for a swim here and we'd go out to the surf and then we'd go back. We practically lived in our bathers. And there was a boat used to go - RoIly Gill had a boat and he'd go from Cotton Tree up to the hotel. See that was the town in those days. You'd hear them calling out, "Sixpence to the pub, this way for the pub, sixpence." And it'd cost you sixpence to go up and sixpence to come back. The road wasn't formed down round the river and across Cornmeal Creek in those days.

CF: So what would you do on the Christmas Day when you were camping?

LAW: Mum would make before we went, make our Christmas pudding, and she had a camp oven, and we'd have a chookie. Perhaps some ham, and cook vegetables to go with them. And we'd have our Christmas Day down there.

CF: You'd have that at lunch time would you?

LAW: Yes, and old Santa Claus would come the night before. How she hid everything I'll never know. That all came down. We had our Christmas Day just the same as we would at home.

CF: And would your father come down for Christmas Day?

LAW: Yes, Dad'd be there for Christmas, Christmas and Boxing Day.

CF: And would there be some sort of Christmas celebration? Would there be a concert or something?

LAW: No, I don't know what we really did for entertainment at nighttime. I think we played cards or played the gramophone or something like that you know.

CF: You'd take the gramophone with you?

LAW: Oh yes, we'd take the gramophone and the records, those cylinder ones you know. Old time it was.

CF: I've heard the Salvation Army used to be there?

LAW: Oh yes. The Salvation Army used to have a great big marquee and they'd hold entertainment at night with the acetylene gas lights burning all round. And we'd all go to that you know.

CF: What was that, sort of a singalong?

LAW: Yes, it'd be like a service and all Army songs.

CF: Would you enjoy going along? It was all good fun?

LAW: Yes, well we made our own fun you know. We'd perhaps, one day we'd go for a picnic. We'd walk from Maroochydore right through to Mooloolaba, round, might be along the beach, might be along a sand track at the back. Then we'd get a boat and we'd go across to Arkwright. We'd have our day there, our picnic, then we'd come home.

CF: So it was a pretty exciting sort of time?

LAW: Yes, Mum'd have the baby's bathtub there and used to do the washing and we'd have quite a big string of washing out round the tent.

CF: Was that a bit of a holiday for your mother, or was she still very busy?

LAW: Well no, she would have a holiday really, but still, she'd be doing what she did at home - cooking and so forth. Only thing that she didn't do was gardening. When we used to go down there they used to have sand gardens.

Sand gardens

CF: What were sand gardens?

LAW: On the beach, they don't have them now.

CF: Oh, you mean like building sandcastles?

LAW: You'd make a garden and you'd have your castle in the middle of it. But I picked up everything - I was in one of the first ones and I picked up everything that I wanted on the beach, shells and little bits of plants and things like that.

CF: So you'd really sort of make a garden?

LAW: Make your garden there. You'd have it - oh, it'd be about as square as that.

CF: About six foot.

LAW: And Martin Hambleton - it was the "Daily Mail" that used to run them - and he was standing by watching and a friend of ours was standing watching mine and he came up to him and he said, "Look," he said, "If I was the judge that's the one I would pick." Because that was everything off the beach. Whereas the others had come from up round the town and the beach, brought plants and flowers and everything, you know. "But," he said, "that is what we want, not these others." But of course from then they went bigger and bigger every year. I don't think they have them now.

CF: That sounds exciting.

LAW: Yes. You'd make a castle and you'd mark a path and then you might have some oak - pull that to pieces and sprinkle that on the path, that'd make like the lawn. Then you'd have the garden. And all the shells on the edges of the paths.

CF: It was good fun.

LAW: Yes, it was fun.

CF: So you'd be down there for your two weeks. That'd probably be the only holiday you'd have during the year, would it?

LAW: Yes, that'd be our holiday.


CF: What was it like when you were back home? What would you do for entertainment at home?

LAW: Well, after I got older, of course we went to dances.

CF: Where would the dances be held?

LAW: Down at Dunethin Rock and we'd go to North Arm. We'd go to the Yandina Hall. We danced in the Valdora School.

CF: How would you get to all these places?

LAW: Sometimes I used to ride. I've ridden from the farm out round past Dot Davison's and into North Arm to the dances. But when we went to all the dances there was trucks in those days and we were taken by truck. We did the lancers and the ' drills (quadrilles) and the alberts.

CF: The alberts? I've never heard of that.

LAW: Haven't you heard of the alberts? Oh the alberts are very pretty.

CF: What was it like? What was it similar to?

LAW: It was to waltz music. It wasn't like the lancers, swinging and going on. And you finished up waltzing around the hall with your partner after you'd finished them.

CF: You say you used to ride to the dances. Would you have your dress on when you were riding?

LAW: Yes, yes, yes. A riding skirt, put a riding skirt over it you know.

CF: Did you all used to ride astride in those days or side-saddle?

LAW: Yes, astride. I can remember one time - oh after I was married - and my children, they were talking about going to a dance and I used to say, "Oh well, we used to ride." And Stanley said, "Righto Bob," he says, "come on, we'll go hitch up the old horses and we'll go to the dance." They thought it was very funny. But we made our own fun, entertainment. And when we couldn't go to a dance we'd spring a surprise on some of the homes and have a surprise party.

CF: What, you'd just all arrive?

LAW: We'd all arrive. We'd all take something for supper and we'd have a night out.

CF: Was there a young people's group or were you all just friends from school?

LAW: No, really our home of a Sunday was a meeting place for all the young ones. They'd come and then we'd decide we'd go for a swim. Course the river was just down below the home. But we played tennis together and went to all the dances together, you know, we were a group.

CF: Where would you have played tennis at?

LAW: In those days I played down Brown's, where Thelma Brown lives now.

CF: Where's that?

LAW: Down the Coolum Road. The Browns and the Brittens and us, we were all a mob together you know. We played tennis.

CF: Were you at school with them?

LAW: The Browns and the Brittens yes. The Hendren girls came later. They went wherever we went.


CF: And did you play any sport at all in those days?

LAW: Yes, I played basketball. We visited Nambour, we played at Woombye.

CF: This was after you had left school?

LAW: Oh yes, yes. Tennis was after I left school too.

CF: How was the basketball group formed?

LAW: Oh I don't know just - I don't know whether the Headmaster got into them and decided about playing basketball. It's not like the basketball today. It's what they call netball today. We played outdoors you know with the post and the net hanging from it.

CF: You threw it to each other?

LAW: Yes, yes and we couldn't run with it.

CF: So it was a proper basketball club?

LAW: Yes. It was the Yandina Basketball Club and it was only girls. See now men play. So we travelled round.

CF: What sort of places would you travel to?

LAW: Well there was two or three teams we played in Nambour. We went to Woombye. I don't know whether they had one or two teams. And then there was Yandina Club. We played on what is now the sports complex in Yandina. It was the race course in those days. No we had a really good time. That didn't cost us much for our fun.

CF: You had to have uniforms did you?

LAW: Oh yes.

CF: What were your uniforms like?

LAW: They were - for the basketball -they were brown tunics like the girls wore to school with the three pleats in the front. And a belt round our hips, white stockings and white sandshoes.

CF: You had to wear stockings?

LAW: Oh yes, yes, we wore stockings. We had a triangle that tied round our heads with YBC on the front of it done in white. So that was it.

CF: And you'd play on Saturdays would you?

LAW: Saturday afternoon, yes.

CF: How did you get to the different venues?

LAW: Mr Ross had a truck and he used to take us, that's how we went. I don't remember how much it cost us to travel or anything.

CF: You'd all have to pile into the back of the truck?

LAW: Yes, into the back of the truck with canvas seats like they had in the old picture theatres. And one day one girl - we were going along the road and it was before even bitumen or gravel went on the road from Yandina to Nambour, and it was all corduroy, tea-tree logs and mud; you go into one hole, the other side'd go; you'd be just like rocking - and one of these girls fell out and she's hooked up by the foot and we're screaming to the driver to pull up and she'd be swinging in and out, in and out. Each time we'd think, "Well she goes under the wheel this time." Anyhow she got up and she was a very muddy mess. But apart from that, we had our good times.

CF: They were good trips? Do you remember any of the girls from the teams that you used to play at all?

LAW: Oh yes. There was Eileen Rutherford, Madge McBaron, Ida Mackay, Evelyn Low, Lois Slater, Alma McGrory, my sister-in-law that is now Sarah Low, Doreen Hendren and myself.

CF: That was all your team?

LAW: I think that would have been all of them.

CF: What age would you all have been about then?

LAW: Oh round about fifteen, sixteen, something like that.

CF: Do you know any of the girls from the Nambour team, Woombye, or any of those?

LAW: I remember one time there was my sister-in-law was what they called jumping-centre and her opponent was a great big fat girl, and poor old Sarah, she couldn't jump to hit the ball, the other one just knocked her over, and she went down into the dirt and all she could get up was a spit and splutter getting rid of the gravel out of her mouth. You know, we laughed about it afterwards.

CF: It was pretty good fun? Do you remember, were there any particularly good players, ones you used to play against?

LAW: Yes, we visited Woombye and I can remember two very good players there. They were the Ambryn sisters. They were coloured and one was Agnes and one was Amy. I met Amy only since I've come to town here to live. She was over in Sundale but she passed away the end of last year. And Agnes today is in Sydney.

CF: They were very good?

LAW: They were good players and you know that they talk about colour and that, but all those other Woombye girls that played with them loved them, and when they'd do a good shot they'd run up to them and hug them you know, just the same as they would a white girl.

CF: What nationality were they?

LAW: South Sea Islanders I think.

CF: And there was no sort of hostility at all?

LAW: No, no, no.


CF: And during this time then, you say your family, or your mother, had taken over shares in the dairy herd and so really you and she were running this together. What was your average day like? What time would you have to get up in the morning?

LAW: Oh well, you know what it's like on a dairy farm, you get up early and the cows come in and you'd go and milk them.

CF: What size herd did you have?

LAW: We were up around between forty and fifty. To milk them by hand it took a bit of doing and course there was the separating. I always did the separating.

CF: How did you actually do that? Did you have machinery for it?

LAW: No, you just had the separator and the handle and you turned it you know. And then we had the pigs and had to carry the milk over to the pigsty and feed the pigs. I did it you know. I'd do all the carrying, these kerosene tins, four gallons, they get heavy to carry. It's all in the past now. I can look back on it.

CF: Did your brothers used to help at all?

LAW: Bill was away working, and of course Edwin by this time had gone back into Nambour to work for Mr Whalley and he would be married.

CF: So it would be really yourself and then your mother carrying it on. Where would you take the cream to once it was separated?

LAW: To the railway station, and then it would be put on the train and taken to Eumundi or Caboolture Butter Factories. Then in later years we didn't have to take it to the train. There was a Stan Cook - that was after I was married - he had a truck and he did the cream run, went all round the district and took it back to Eumundi.


CF: Milking machines would have come into use round about then. Did you ever have these?

LAW: Oh they'd been in before that. My grandfather had milking machines back when I was a girl, a child. But of course milking machines were expensive and we did it all by hand.

CF: Would many people in the area have had milking machines?

LAW: Not really, no. Most of them did it by hand.

CF: That's the hard way to do it.

LAW: I'd say that the size of herd didn't sanction milking machines and that extra expense.

CF: So you were essentially working on the farm all day then once you left school?

LAW: Yes.

CF: And how long did you stay on the farm?

LAW: Until I was married in 1933. And my sister Kathleen, she'd left school and she was old enough to take the reins over from me.

CF: So you felt you had to stay. So really if you left there was no one really to do the work?

LAW: No, no. Every time we said we were going to get married, Mum'd say, "Oh, you won't leave me, will you?" So when Kathleen was old enough to take over, help Mum, well that was it.

Married life

CF: That was your husband Stanley Law, how long had you known him before you got married?

LAW: I went to school with him. He was two when they came to Yandina district. We went to school. One of the school concerts he was to be my partner and he wouldn't and he got the cane. He took the cane for it and then he turned around and married me, so fate plays a terrible thing on you I think.

CF: What was his family? Were they farmers in the district as well?

LAW: Well yes, Dad Law, he felled all the scrub out Kulangoor with a gang, like. He was the ganger. He lived there; he was the manager afterwards. It was all planted with cane. And that's where the cane was taken to the Kulangoor siding, which means sweet.

CF: Oh really?

LAW: Yes Kulangoor means sweet.

CF: Named after the sugar?

LAW: Yes, but of course today The Big Cow's there and all the homes have been built on the place. And he had to walk from there, the family had to walk from there into Yandina School.

CF: That's quite a walk.

LAW: It was quite a walk. And kiddies of today don't walk anywhere. If their parents don't take them to school by car, they're picked up by the bus and taken.

CF: Was this in the '30s?

LAW: Oh that'd be before, that'd be in the '20s when they were out there.

CF: And he was still out there was he, when you married? Was he still on the family farm?

LAW: No, no. He'd left home. They had shifted off the farm and gone in. He had to go to the Station, take the mail to the train and bring the other mail back up to the Post Office after they shifted into town. No, Stan had gone out on his own before we got married. He'd always taken his wages home. Of course his mother and father weren't very happy about not getting his wages when he left home. He was twenty-one when he left home. They had a very big family. So he went out and started on his own and he was a cane cutter and felled timber, you know, all hard work. He did all hard work in his life.

CF: So you were still on Ninderry?

LAW: Yes. We were on the mountain this time, coming from the Coolum Road. It was while we were living there that my first baby was born. She was born in September and we went to Goomeri for Christmas that year and while I was there I had a stroke.

CF: You were only about twenty-five, twenty-six were you?

LAW: Yes, twenty-six. And I was all paralysed down one side. I couldn't feed her.

CF: Did they get the doctor out to treat you?

LAW: The doctor came out and he said it was only stomach trouble that I had and they kept going in telling him and he'd send medicine out and he said it was only stomach trouble and upset. Anyhow, in the finish, my uncle said, "Well I'm going in." He went in and said, "Look, that girl's dying out there. If you don't come on your own," he said, "I'll drag you out."

Well he was very apologetic when he did come and found just what I was like. And he said I'd have to go into hospital, either Wondai or Maryborough. And at that time Wondai Hospital didn't have such a good name. And my mother said, "Well if she can travel to Maryborough, can't she travel home to her own doctor? And we'll all be home with her."

So they got the ambulance out and took me into Goomeri and I went to the restroom there and rested. Just before the train came, the doctor came and gave me a needle. We had got the full sleeping compartment and the ambulance met me here in Nambour and took me up to the hospital, in Doctor Kennedy's time. And he said, like he told us, that if I didn't have another one within a fortnight, he didn't think I would suffer. But every time I get a creepy sort of feeling, I think, "Oh dear, not again." Though I've done lots of things since that so...

CF: So it must have been a very worrying time. You were saying you couldn't feed the baby?

LAW: Oh I'll say, yes. The doctor asked me the baby's name. Well of course she was Jean. I said, "Sidney." Poor old Stan nearly collapsed there and then. I didn't know my own baby's name you know. He thought, "Well, she's gone now."

CF: Did it take you very long to recover?

LAW: I was a fortnight at Goomeri, like outside Goomeri, and I was a fortnight in hospital here in Nambour. Mother was bringing my baby up every feed hour to be fed. And then when it was time for me to go home she said to Stan, "I think you'd better pack up and come home," she said. "You're away at work all day and Em and the baby are there on their own. They could, Em could have another stroke."

So they packed up the furniture and we shifted over to my mothers for fourteen months. Then we decided we'd go onto a farm, not a share-farmer, you know, a hired man. And we were to get ten pound a month and a percentage of what they were getting on the cream. They got a cheque for a hundred pound, well we'd get another ten pound.

CF: Where was this?

LAW: In Murgon. I discovered I was pregnant again and of course couldn't go to milk, couldn't do this and that, so we were cut down two pound. But there was always the tax came out of that which left seven pound, sixteen something. So we got that way that while it was a big drought, 1936 drought, and while the drought was on, they (the owners) could pay cash for a brand new V8 Ford car and also a brand new Lester separator, and Stan was looking after a hundred pigs, a hundred acres of cultivation, driving up to five horses in a team at a time. Of course we're going down, going down all the time, so Mum sent us money and we got home. Stan went in the cane, cane cutting again and the first cane cheque, he was able to pay Mum back the money that she'd paid us to get us shifted back down.

CF: So it was a good move to come back home?

LAW: Yes, well wasn't long after that, we shifted down into a house on our own again, into a house down at Searle Apps's farm and we lived there for some years before we shifted back up into Yandina where Stan was working.

CF: About what year would that have been?

LAW: Round about 1940. It was in the War years.

CF: During the Second World War.

LAW: Yes, it was during the War years.

CF: Where were you living in town?

LAW: We shifted into a house in Low Street and we were paying rent on it and the owner wanted to sell it. So we decided we didn't have the deposit. We had a very dear friend, Mrs English, and she gave us the deposit to buy it and we paid her back, eventually. It was after Stan died. Every time I'd have it paid, he'd want a new something else, you know, and he'd get another loan on the house. And after he died I paid it off.

CF: So you had your own home then?

LAW: I had my own home, never had anything owing on it. Rates were all paid up and everything.

CF: That was war time when you moved into town. What was your husband doing then?

LAW: He was working up at the Cooloolabin Sawmill.

CF: As a cutter?

LAW: No he was in the mill, working in the sawmill. And from there he went to the Co-Op Store.

CF: Same place as your father worked?

LAW: Yes, my father had worked there years before. He came in, he was the carter. He had to go to the Station and collect the stuff and bring it up. He used to take the things from the grocery store down to the Coulsen's Wharf where the boat started for its trip down Maroochy River. After he left there he went to work for Coulsen's and they had all the carting - fertiliser down to the farm; he'd take the stuff to the boat and then from there he'd go out to Valdora and deliver the bread, the groceries and the mail. On the return trip he'd bring orders for the next day and also bananas. Take that to the Station and load it on the truck ready to go to the market. And from there he went to Wilkinson's Mill.

CF: Where was that?

LAW: Well, it was in Low Street, just up to the corner on the left-hand side, which was sold to Cooroy.

CF: Oh, Cooroy Timber?

LAW: Yes, what was their name? I can't think of their name now but it's called the North Coast Sawmilling Company now. Strakers. He carted timber all round the district. He'd take me for a drive Sunday afternoon and he'd say, "I brought the timber for that house, I brought the timber for that house." I met a woman the other day and her husband was related to Stan but I hadn't seen her for a long time, and she said, "I think Stan brought our timber." I said, "Well he would."

CF: Was this all on a horse-drawn vehicle or did he have a truck then?

LAW: The truck was supplied by the mill and when he left Wilkinsons, he went to work at Lanham's Mill here in Nambour. And that's where he was working when he died.

War time

CF: So during the War then, the time you were in Yandina, was it very different to what it had been before, because of the War?

LAW: Oh well, we were all on rations, you know. We had coupons, ration coupons.

CF: So what sort of things were rationed? Food?

LAW: Butter, there was tea, there was tobacco, clothing. But I always had plenty of clothing coupons. I helped several girls out with their wedding dresses with coupons.

CF: How much would a coupon have been worth?

LAW: Oh dear. Butter, I think one coupon was a pound of butter and I don't think you got very many coupons for each.

CF: So it was a lot of coupons for clothing?

LAW: Yes, it was. Well, course we had six children and by the time you fed them you

didn't have much left for clothing.

CF: Could you swap your coupons with other people?

LAW: Yes, other people would perhaps give me food coupons and I'd give them clothing.

CF: So you could sort of work it out?

LAW: Yes. Tea, I wouldn't give a tea coupon away because we were very much fond of our tea. We loved our tea. And of course you got coupons for children too. Butter, butter was a necessity. But Stan had a duodenal ulcer and he had to have special food such as rice. And that was a rationed thing. Well see I could swap with other people for some rice; but, you know, I suppose we got through it and we'd get through it again.

CF: I heard down in Nambour they had lighting restrictions, or 'brown-outs'. Would you have had those up in Yandina? Where you had to cover your lights and windows?

LAW: Well, I know we had all our windows all painted black, which took an awful long time to get off after the War was over. I had to go with a razorblade and strip it down like that. It'd fly everywhere and my husband put it onto, you know, arctic glass, and instead of putting it on the outside he put it on the wrinkle side. And to get it out of those cracks it was a terrible job. I don't know whether he painted them with enamel paint or what it was, but it took a lot of getting off. So to make sure we didn't have a light showing, I'd switch all the lights off. That was one thing that we benefited by when we shifted into town. We'd have kerosene lights up until then and we come into town and the children would go round all the lights you know, they could switch them on.

CF: Oh, having electricity?

LAW: Yes, we came in for electricity.

CF: And how about water? Were you on town water then?

LAW: No. We had tank water. It wasn't till later years, oh much later, that we got water. But actually we didn't really need it. We had to pay so much in our rates to have it to the front we thought well we'd bring it in. We had a lovely well out the back for when there was droughts on. It was beautiful water. We had a tank at the well and we'd fill the tank and then we had a pipe down from it into near the copper. We had the water close. We didn't have to go and dip the water in the finish.

CF: You were using the copper for washing in those days?

LAW: Oh yes. I swore blind I'd never have a washing machine. A chap came and I said, "Look, there's no washing machine made that will clean my washing." We had three boys and my husband, and I had three girls and myself to wash for. And he said, "Will you let me do your washing?" I said, "Well, if you're going to try ... I might have to do it all over again." Anyhow when Stan saw the results he said, "I think you better get a washing machine, Mum."

CF: When would that have been? In the '50s?

LAW: Oh, I don't think I had it till towards the last of Ronnie's school days. Before this I'd stood and washed, you can imagine all the beds, all the sheets I'd have and in the wintertime I'd leave the pyjamas to the second day. And I'd have a full line of pyjamas. Shorts, each child had shorts for school, and their father had shorts and they had shorts for going out. And of course then later I had shirts, and I hated ironing shirts. I always hated ironing shirts.

CF: What sort of iron did you have to use in those days? An electric one I suppose?

LAW: I had a petrol iron, one like that.

CF: A petrol iron, sounds dangerous?

LAW: No, no.

CF: How did it work?

LAW: Well you heated the parts up inside. You put the petrol in the tank and you heated the parts inside with a piece of wire with cotton wool on the end of it. Then you just turned it on. Some of them didn't have pumps, others had pumps - you had to pump them up. Well when I got my first electric iron - oh - I loved ironing. It was so much different you know.

CF: Petrol iron would have been a bit heavy would it?

LAW: Well I had a heavier one than the petrol iron. (SHOWS IT)

CF: You were mentioning War time in Yandina. You had blackouts and rationing. Was your husband away at all during the war?

LAW: No, he went to enlist and we had four children and they wouldn't take him. They told him he would have to have a Captain's pay.

CF: For the children?

LAW: With a family like we had. We had four children and they wanted him to drop two of them and only pay for two. And he wouldn't do that. He said, "No, if anything happens to me, what's going to happen when my wife's got to bring them up." So anyhow he was a Warden, an Air-Raid Warden. And he developed duodenal ulcer. Well of course, when he was working at the store the Manpower came. He said, "You were a canecutter weren't you?" Stan said, "Yes." He said, "Well you've got to give this job up," he said, "you're wanted in the cane fields." Stan said, "I won't go." He said, "But you've got to." So he opens his wallet and he handed them a certificate. "Oh," he said. "We don't want you. You're no good there." So the manager of the store was very, very happy. He thought he was going to lose him.

CF: What did he have to do as an Air-Raid Warden? What did it involve?

LAW: They have tests and a certain time they had to have no lights showing and so forth. They had a big siren thing down at the garage. That'd go and of course then all the lights'd be doused, so forth and etcetera. And they'd have to go all round the town to see anybody that had lights showing and tell them they were showing lights see. And they'd have a mock accident and they had the store truck and they'd have to bring the casualties into the centre where they could work on them. We had one alert one day, and we had no trench because we lived on the edge of the swamp and if you dug a hole to make a trench there you'd have a swimming pool. So I didn't know, kids were at school, and I just walked out to the verandah and I'm looking all around to see what the alert was for. Then the siren went again, all clear. I got a shock when I found out. I didn't know where I was going to.

CF: It was just a false alarm luckily, was it?

LAW: Yes. My mother's uncle and his daughter lived opposite us and it'd been planned that they were going to build a trench over on his place - he was on the other side of the road, on the rise. But it never got built.

CF: Were people really worried? You were near the coastline. Were people scared of an invasion?

LAW: Not really, I don't think that it came home to us. I know that at one time, before we shifted into town, in the early stages, we got papers asking if we had any relatives or anywhere out in the west that we could go to. Then I suppose that if we hadn't our children could have been taken from us and taken out there, you know. That was a worry.

CF: You thought they might evacuate the area?

LAW: We thought they'd have to evacuate the coast. But apart from that we didn't seem to worry.

CF: Was there much news on the radio? You would have a radio. Was there a lot of news about the War on the radio at the time?

LAW: There was a lot, but there was a lot that we didn't know anything about. See when the "Centaur" went down, that was very 'hush-hush'.

CF: That was near here wasn't it?

LAW: Yes, down round Caloundra there somewhere.

CF: So really people in the area didn't know about that?

LAW: No, no we weren't told the fears of War like we should have been, you know.

CF: Right, so you only found out after the War?

LAW: Afterwards. Yes, afterwards.

CF: How do you think you would have felt if you had known these sorts of things during the War?

LAW: I don't know what would have happened you know. I wouldn't have known where to go, who to go to, or what.

CF: So you would have probably been frightened?

LAW: Yes, we'd have been frightened then, but we were both very keen fishing cranks and he was on the beach one night fishing. Course, cold night, they built a fire and next thing there was a searchlight. They doused that fire with sand and got down in a hole. There was nobody on the beach when the lights come round the next time. See the boats were out there all the time and he reckons that many, many a night he could swear blind he saw something coming, landing.

CF: Where was this? Down at Coolum?

LAW: Coolum, between Coolum and Peregian. Mainly Peregian. See that's what they used to call 'The Ramp'

CF: Why was it called that?

LAW: Well, the ducks and that used to go down there and they could go out.

CF: Oh, the Army 'ducks'?

LAW: That was an Army place. They called it 'The Ramp'. And they had open beach, they could come up, they could be up at the railway in no time.


CF: And were you involved in any of the Wartime committees they had, the Comforts Fund and so on?

LAW: No, not really. My mother was. She belonged to the Red Cross. When I lived down the river she used to bring wool down to me and I knitted socks and that was my best effort I could do for the War. You know, I had four babies there and there was two more born when I came into Yandina and when you've got six children you don't have much time. When the children were going to school, I took up tennis again. We had a ladies club and we used to play. Then I played competitive tennis.

CF: Were you in any other organisations in the town at all?

LAW: Yes. After Stan died, I joined the Civilian Widow's here in Nambour. I've been President of that, Treasurer, and I'm now Vice-President of it. And I'm back out with the Pensioners, out at Yandina. I'm President of the Yandina Pensioners. The Church - I belong to the Guild and indoor bowls. I was Secretary of the indoor bowls for about seven years.

Independent Order of Rechabites

CF: You mentioned that your mother had been involved with the Independent Order of Rechabites. Did this go back a long way?

LAW: Yes. Well I belong to that too. Mum was the Chief Ruler. When my brother got married, all his football cobbers decided they were going to 'tin-kettle' him. And one fellow in particular came and they had a keg, five gallon keg, and brings it in and puts it on Mum's dining room table and she had a big certificate showing that she was Chief Ruler, framed and hanging on a wall.

CF: Of course this was a temperance organisation?

LAW: And she said, "Do you see that up there?" He said, "I can't read." "Well," she said, "you can take that back outside," she said. "I'm the Chief Ruler of the Independent Order of Rechabites." So he did take it outside and they never had it in the house. But Bill told them they weren't to bring drink there and he wouldn't come out of his room. Mum belonged to the Guild. She formed the Sunday School for the Presbyterian Church at Yandina. Yes, Mum was very active in lots of things you know.

CF: There was probably a lot of unhappiness in your family because your father was drinking. Was that why your mother was with the Rechabites?

LAW: No. Mum was a staunch ... strong drink had never touched her lips and she believed in it. She belonged to the Women's Christian Temperance Union.

CF: She felt very strongly about it?

LAW: Yes.

CF: So all the family was in the movement as well, was it?

LAW: Yes, yes.

CF: It wasn't a religious movement was it? It was more of a temperance movement?

LAW: Temperance and a little bit of religion in it. The Bible came into it.

CF: You'd have meetings?

LAW: Yes, they'd meet each month. I'll tell you one incident now about Mum and the temperance. The day of our wedding, I had said there was to be no drink at the wedding but unbeknowns to me my brother Bill had gone to town and brought six bottles of wine out. And he said he wasn't going to have his auntie say that she had to toast the Queen with lolly water. So anyhow Mum's friend liked her wine and she's (Mum's) handing it down to her when they started to toast the King. And unbeknowns to Mum she toasted the King with a bottle of wine in her hand - put it up to the King, said, "The King", went to drink, and discovered she had the bottle of wine in her hand. That was the closet Mum had ever got to having strong drink. But the smell of it didn't knock her.

CF: You mention your mother was the Chief Ruler. Was it unusual for a woman to be in charge of the organisation?

LAW: No, no. You could have either men or women, could be the Chief Ruler. That again is just like a President, conducting a meeting.

CF: Did they have functions? Would you have social gatherings?

LAW: Yes. We'd come from Yandina and we'd visit Nambour. And Nambour'd come and visit us and we would have socials. That's where I first played indoor bowls. They called it carpet bowls in those days. But I never ever liked it and then when they started indoor bowls in Yandina I wouldn't go. I said, "Give me some marbles and I'll get down and play marbles with you." But now I play my bowls every time I get a chance.

CF: You've got the time now?

LAW: Oh yes, yes. Well that's what the family say: they've got to make an appointment to see Mum. I rang Jean the other night and she said, "Oh, you're home, I've been trying to get you for a week."

CF: So it's quite different to back in those War days?

LAW: Oh yes. When I had the family, I think I had two dresses that I could go out in and you know, today I can go out and "Oh, what shall I wear today?" My youngest daughter comes home and she'll go to the wardrobe and she goes, "Now what ones don't you want, Mum?"

CF: So in those days would you actually get the opportunity to go out very much at all?

LAW: Not much, not very much at all. I used to play cards, euchre. One night a week we'd go up and play euchre. Apart from that, generally at home, and our program on the radio, we'd sit and listen to that.

CF: What sort of thing would you listen to on the radio?

LAW: Oh, "Dad and Dave" and all that sort of thing, you know. "Blue Hills", I listened to that right through to nearly the last.

CF: Would the whole family listen to the radio?

LAW: Oh yes, yes, they'd all get round; they'd want to hear this, the stories, "Green Bottle". I was up in Cairns for Christmas and they're having it all up there again. It brought back lots of memories, when the kids were little.

CF: Were there movies and that sort of thing in Yandina in the War years?

LAW: Yes, yes, yes, there was movies. We used to come through here to Nambour to the talkies. Then after we shifted into town, Etheridges had movies every Saturday night.

CF: Where would they show those?

LAW: In the School of Arts. And Stan used to help them. He used to be on the door taking the tickets for them.

CF: That was Etheridges from Eumundi was it?

LAW: Yes, Jack and Bob Etheridge. We always went, always went to the pictures on a Saturday night. See that was something, you could take all the children to that. The young ones, they had their young people's club at the Church. And Jean was the guider of the Guides. I was connected with the committee for both Guides and Scouts at their first meetings.

CF: Were you ever involved with the CWA at all?

LAW: I never joined the CWA. No, I've never had any inkling to join it. My mother joined it.

CF: Was there any pressure on you being in a country town to be involved in it?

LAW: No, not really. I don't think so, you know, I just didn't want to go. I had a sickening of it. They had a Younger Set's dance and the mothers and some of the committee ladies were to be there. Well there was two committee ladies arrived to help with supper and I was the only mother. And anyhow when supper was over, one woman said, "Oh I think I'll go home." The other one said, "Well I'll walk you round a bit." Anyway when she came back I'd finished washing up and I said, "Well if that's it, you're not getting me to go and do it. I want some help if I go again."

CF: You like to share it a bit.

LAW: No, they weren't putting it over me.

CF: So tell me, after all those years of War, how did it feel in town after the War ended? What sorts of celebrations were there?

LAW: Well the day the Armistice was signed, I celebrated in the operating theatre. I had my teeth out that day. When I'd have anaesthetic any time I'd sing and go on, yodel and all sorts. And the sister that was in the theatre that day, she said to me, "Gee, Mrs Law, you'll oodle oodle today won't you?" Anyhow I did. I started to sing and go on, but that was the happiest time to think that the War was over and our boys, menfolk, were coming home again.

CF: Did they have sort of formal celebrations in the town itself?

LAW: Not so much after the Second World War, but the First World War. See I had three uncles that went to the War and when each one of them came home, we had a big celebration, big dinner. There was a photo - I don't know what happened to Mum's photo - but the whole family, the wives, children and everything, were all taken in this photo. My cousin, Joyce Best, would have one still.

CF: So it wasn't quite as much a big deal after the Second World War?

LAW: No, no. They never welcomed them home like they did after the First World War.

CF: Why do you think that was?

LAW: I don't know. I don't know. Different generations I'd say.

CF: And you stayed on in town at the same house then did you?

LAW: I lived in the house that we bought for about thirty-three years and then sold it. I had my name in for one of these units. I shifted into one little old place and it was sold over my head. I shifted into another place that belonged to a friend of mine. His wife had been killed and I shifted into there. When this came up, I thought -and it was for sale - well if I don't take this, I'll be in the gutter with all my goods and chattels. I shifted in here a very lonely old woman, I thought I was going to be, but I've got lots and lots and lots of friends. And I'm very very happy.

End of Interview

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