I landed on a Sunday morning and my mother-in-law had a lovely big dinner ready for me. My husband asked me if I would like to go to the football in the afternoon, which I had never seen.
You were married then?
No, I had to wait for three weeks for the bans to be read in the church. He said, would you like to go to the football in the afternoon, and his mother said yes. I wasn’t used to swearing, I had never heard such awful things. So when I came home, the old lady said, mum said to me, “Now dear, how did you like the football?” “Oh,” I said, “Mrs. Bade it was dreadful, they were swearing like anything. I’ve never heard anything like it.” Because I was a pretty holy joe then.
What year was that, when you came to Australia?
I came to Australia in 1920. Dick was born in 1921. I was just 11 months here when Dick was born. Dick was born on 7th August, and the next day I would have been a year in Australia. 10 months, 3 weeks and 4 days, I would have been here when he was born.
Tell me what it was like coming on the ship. Which ship, and how long did it take?
8 weeks and 4 days. But we had a lot of stops, you see. You had to stop for coaling up and all that sort of thing in those days. We stopped at Capetown.
Where did you live then when you first got married? You got married in Fairfield.
I still lived with Wally’s mother. I got married at St. Paul’s in Fairfield and Reverand Booth, he married us and his wife was a witness to my wedding, and my husband’s mother. They were witnesses to my wedding. That’s all there was in the church, and I walked down to the church, got married and came back again and my mother-in-law had a nice little setting for us. Then we went down to Black Rock for our honeymoon.
My husband was educated at Fairfield State School.
What about you? Of course, you were at home. Now tell me again, your husband’s sister?
My husbands sister was a Millie bade then, and she was the oldest scholar at Fairfield School. The first pupil at Fairfield School.
After we got married we stayed with my husbands mother for quite a time and it was all paddocks around about. You could stand outside and see all the paddocks all round you, in those days. Gradually it got built up bit by bit. Some years after, my hubby built a home of his own.
The next street, round the corner in Hartley Street.
You started off in Bastings Street was it?
No, Mitchell Street. My mother-in-law, after her husband died, she couldn’t keep the farm on. I never met him. He died years before that.
They had a farm?
Yes, they had a farm.
Where was that, then?
Well, all the cows used to run all round Fairfield.
Where did they live? Mitchell Street?
They lived in Bastings Street. That’s where my husband was born. He was born in Bastings Street. A very old homestead.
Did you say it’s still there? What number?
But it’s been divided up a bit.
Do you know the number?
It’s on the corner of Bastings and Slater Streets.
I wonder how many cows they had? You don’t know?
We lived there for quite a while.
Your mother-in-law was buried at the old German Cemetary?
Of course, all her people were Germans, of German origin.
Tell me how you first started to become a bike rider.
Oh, that was back when I was in Dublin. I was about 18 then and we used to go to a dance in Dublin. At the dance place, my brother-in-law was a member of the band. So, we used to go dance there every Saturday. I remember this chap there, about ten years older than me and very religious, very religious. Anyhow, he used to go out with the cycling club once every fortnight or once every three weeks. “I hate going now and leaving you”, he said, “It looks selfish of me, doesn’t it”. “No,” I said, “You go out and enjoy yourself”. He said, “I’ll have to teach you how to ride a bike”. So anyhow we went round and bought a bike for 12 and 6. He taught me to ride and the next day I went down to the city in all the traffic. He couldn’t believe it. From then on I’ve never stopped.
You’ve always ridden a bike?
Always ridden a bike.
I hear a story that you’ve had your bike stolen just recently.
That’s why there’s a new one there.
Tell me about that.
Well, I use it such a lot, and I couldn’t be bothered putting it into the garage – there’s a lot of junk in there. That’s all it’s good for. Well, anyhow I used to leave my bike a lot on the verandah here but they had to come right down the driveway and turn in, they couldn’t see the bike unless they came right down. I don’t know who took it, but somebody must have been watching. Then, of course, I used to go round and see the old ladies in nursing homes. Without my bike, I would have to walk. I couldn’t walk everywhere.
How much did it cost you to get a new bike?
This bike cost $150.
A bit different to the first one bought for 12 shillings.
Oh, that first one. Years and years ago. The one I had stolen Bernie sent to England for. That cost me nearly 87 pounds. It was a Raleigh, one of the best made bikes.
Now, Mrs. Bade, tell me about you going to the nursing homes. Which are the homes that you go to? Tell me the names of them.
I went to one, but I haven’t gone up there for a while because it’s all up hill now, at the top of Clarke Street, and you turn in and then you go up to a real steep place, I forget the name of it.
What are the others you go to?
The other one I have been to, there’s nobody there now, and that was the one in Station Street.
Maristowe, yes. I have been to that. I have been to the one where Mrs. Gleeson lives. I still go down there.
That’s Hanslope House.
In Hanslope Avenue. Then I’ve gone to another one, she was in Hanslope Avenue, she had a heart attack and they took her to hospital – in Como Street – that new hospital up there. Have you seen it?
Yes, I’ve seen it.
It’s very nice inside.
How often do you go out visiting to the nursing homes?
I used to go out every week or every ten days.
You still go about the same?
Yes, when I get the opportunity.
Tell me when you came to live in Lucerne Crescent. Tell me when that was.
How old were your children, were they school children? You lived in Lucerne Crescent for 28 years. What number was that?
Did you buy a house that was already built?
No, my husband and Bernie did all the work and we had to build it there.
Did you know any of the people around there, very much?
Oh, yes, we had good neighbours, lovely neighbours. Very nice neighbours. I still go around now to see an Italian lady, who has a very sick girl.
See what you can tell me about the depression days.
I remember one time when they sent a letter to my hubby wanting him to go up the country to work. I think it was 29 shillings a week then. I said, “Wally, you couldn’t do that! We’ve got two children to keep. How are you going to pay your board up there?” He used to mend the children’s shoes at the time and we would grow our own vegetables, had a few chooks. We were well off to a lot.
Did you see much of the hand outs that went on in Northcote? Where did all that happen?
We never went amongst them. We were always able to keep going.
That was good, wasn’t it.
But I will say, that when I belonged to the Women’s Unemployed, one poor woman, her husband used to drink a terrible lot. It used to be a terrible struggle for her.
Now, what was the name of the organisation? The Women’s Unemployed?
They used to hold it in the Racobite Hall there.
What sort of work did you do through the organisation?
We used to hold meetings every Monday, and there would be suggestions of different little things we could do. We would have a raffle – someone would bring something to raffle every week, and then we would have a little party.
Did you do things to help the people in the district?
Well, I’ll tell you what I used to do. I would get Wally to kill a chook or a rooster and I would pluck it and fix it up and we would raffle that off, which was a great help. There were different little things that you could do.
Northcote was a very good shopping area.
Why was it so good?
Well, decent shops and nice people in it.
Can you tell me anything about the midwives in the area?
When I came to Australia there was one midwife, Mrs. Schitz, she was a great old lady. She used to do a lot of the nursing roundabout. My sister-in-law ran a private maternity hospital in Derby Street, and Mrs. Schitz used to come in.
Your sister-in-law had a little nursing home, wasn’t it?
Yes, a little place.
What sort of place was it? Describe it to me.
A double-fronted place.
In Derby Street, Northcote. What sort of patients did she take in there?
She was very fussy who she took in. She couldn’t take too many.
Was she a trained sister?
Yes, a sister.
A trained nursing sister, was she?
Yes, she was a trained nursing sister.
I mean, your sister-in-law that had the house.
No, that was her own private home. I couldn’t tell you whether she was a trained nurse or what she was because I wasn’t in this country.
This midwife used to go and attend there……
She would attend there to bring the babies into the world.
She went around her patients in a jinker.
She used to go around in a jinker. She used to go round in a jinker.
Did you know of any other midwives in the area?
No, I don’t think I knew anyone else in those days. That was a long, long time ago.
Do you remember whether many of the women had their babies at home when you were first in Australia.
My two children – Bernard, the youngest one, he was born in Mitchell Street at home.
With this lady?
No, no, no. There was another, a Mrs. Fairhurst, she lived in Clifton Hill. She used to come down.
Did she just come on the day of the birth or did she stay in with you for some time?
She would come down and bring her rocker. Richard, the eldest boy, he was born at Nurse Fairhurst’s house.
In Clifton Hill?
She lived in Clifton Hill – Gold Street. Wonderful old lady. She was 93 when she died.
Did you attend a doctor first for your children?
Well, I had to have the doctor. That was the usual thing. Dr. Calendar at Clifton Hill.
Do you remember who the doctors in the Northcote area were then?
There was one that used to live opposite the Town Hall.