This article is taken from the Spring 2011 addition of OAKDALE NEWS & MUSE
My Life: by Helen Griffiths
I was born in Koonya in 1942, I lived with my nanna and grandfather at the rectory. I used to go fishing with nanna and grandfather out the front of the rectory, we would catch flathead. Grandfather also used to catch mutton-birds at the rectory.
My grandfather and nanna also had turkeys, I used to go and feed them every day, we also had chickens, budgies, dogs and a pet goanna, his name was Nelson and he would come up on the verandah for milk and plums.
It was lovely to live at the rectory. I had my own bed. I can remember when Peter and I had the measles and chicken pox together and having to stay home, Aunty Doreen told Mum you could get them at the same time.
One day I went and washed the black chook, I washed it in the tub with soap, Aunty Ruby was out in the backyard with me and I had ringlets back then. I went to Koonya school, Mary was my teacher. Later me and Jillian went to Nubeena school, I had a lot of friends there, we did sums and spelling at school. I played nurses with Jillian and Valerie and also played basketball and tennis, I was good at playing them. We all used to take turns reading in Grade 2, Pandy Honest, Humpty Dumpty and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I had a school case, nanna used to cook jam tarts and piklets and I would take them to school in my lunch tin.
I went to a fair at Oyster Cove, when we lived at Koonya it was on every year. There used to be dances at Koonya Hall every Saturday night, I used to go and dance with all the boys. Aunty Marie and Uncle Ben had a shop at Koonya, the shop had everything in it. At the cinematic centre we used to watch movies, Cinderella, and all different movies.
I had a birthday at nanna’s, Jean came to see me and she put a cheerio over the radio and they got me a nice present.
My father was the post master at Orford post office. I went to live with dad for a while and would go home to nanna on the weekends. I went to Orford school and I had my own room at dad’s place. We used to have a bonfire and crackers every year in May, it was fun, Roger, Beth and me would let the fire crackers off, one year the cat ran into the bush and we never found it.
Mum had an organ when we lived up at Orford, she used to play it. I would sin songs while mum played, we would sing ‘Silent Night’. I can play the organ too, ‘Put another nickel in’. I also used to go to Collegiate school, I boarded there, after a week I got home sick and went home. Beth used to go to Campania school, she told me she didn’t like school and was hiding under the bed, Beth got into trouble.
Dad had a tractor, we used to go bailing the hay, Dad also had a shack, it was on the way up to Mr Hudson’s place, we would stay there some times.
I also went to Dora Turner school, it was behind Elizabeth St College. One week we would wear a white uniform and the next week a blue one. Mrs. Ray and Mrs. Bedford would cook lemon sago and apple crumble.
I used to eat the plums at Willow Court, I used to pick them off the tree and eat them, I love plums and cherries. We also had dances at the hall in Willow Court. Leagh and Kenny were two of my boyfriends, Geoff was my boyfriend too.
We would go to Lou Rice’s place and dance on Thursday night then get up the next morning and go for a walk. I would also go for a walk on Sunday mornings. We used to go down to St Stephens Hall for Christmas parties.
I lived on Ward 5, there was a ghost on Ward 5. I saw the ghost, he wore a black coat, white shirt and black trousers, he smoked a pipe. He was scary.
We used to go out on bus trips with Willow Court staff. We went to Queenstown one time and stayed two nights, we also went up to Burnie for 2 nights one year.
I used to work over at the activity centre, we did knitting, drawing, this that and the other. Some of the staff at the activity centre still work with me at the Cottage now.
I would go down to Lachlan to see Janet Row, she is a nurse at Lachlan, her birthday is the same day as my grandfather’s. My mum got married again but dad never,dad ended up at Dover with Eleanor. We would go and see dad’s friend Mr Hudson every year for Christmas and birthday. At Christmas time all the family would come around and meet, we used to get really nice presents off my family.
I like listening to Slim Dusty music and I like to watch ‘Little House on the Prairie’, ‘Sound of Music’ and ‘Titanic’ as well as ‘Keeping Up Appearances’ with Mrs. Bucket. I now live at Brighton and love living there, I go to the Cottage during the week. Recently staff took me and Elaine to Koonya. Every year Beth takes me down to Koonya, sometimes we go up to Orford.
[Helen’s biographical essay has beenreproduced without editing to preserve the integrity of her enthusiastic and delightfulstyle. (Ed).]