Tuesday, August 30, 2011


When Mum hit the nursing home, she was lucky to remember what day it was but two years on and she is almost entirely with it. Almost, it's been handy having her short term memory fritzed since I can tell her the same thing every visit but her long term memory has sharpened.

I bought her a book of the history of Mentone published by the Historical Society and I've been told the most amazing things about the family which I've never heard before. Just flicking through the photos has jogged memories to the surface and Brindisi Street where the nursing home is now, has been a busy street since the 1900s.

From out of nowhere she told us a story about our father. There's not much that stops my sister in her tracks but this did. He worked at the pre-fab building factory at Holmesglen and we think this must have been in 1955 since a lot of the work was building the Olympic village for the '56 games.

The main bus along there was the Ventura, still is, and there was an awful accident where a truck tore along the side of the bus, ripping it open. According to my mother, at least 7 people died. The men from the factory came down to help. There was a small girl with her leg trapped underneath a seat and my father, having driven buses for the past few years, knew all he needed was a screwdriver. One of the blokes had a work bag but wouldn't give him the tools and I don't know what Dad did, but he got a screwdriver. He had the seat off the little girl and she was out in no time. So, knowing Mum's memory, why do I believe this? Because my father instead of giving the bloke back his screwdriver, threw it at him. Now that is my father.

I asked her why she had never told us this and she said it never occurred to her to tell us. That's what it was like in our day, you didn't tell kids anything. It explains a lot about why the old boy used to get hysterical if we were five minutes late from the bus or train. And the first time I went out with friends in a car, there was a crash just around the corner from the house. Mum told me then that he nearly wrecked the house for fear it was me. When sister and I went on a cruise, he raced to the cabin to count the life jackets and it was all downhill from there. We had a cabin too far down to have a porthole so he raged in anxiety for the whole 14 days we were gone. The day we docked, my mother looked exhausted because he'd been at the wharf since the early morning to make sure the ship didn't turn turtle 5 seconds from home.

We didn't tell him about the sewerage problems on board or the fact that they had to keep the engines running in every port we went to since they weren't sure they could restart them but he did ask questions when it caught fire on its way home to Greece. He was too polite to ask questions about why I came out of customs carrying a large wooden spear and supporting a drunken yob while my sister carried his suitcase. He should really have said something then, I married the drunk.


The Elephant's Child said...

Very tricky. And in line with my recent post the decision not to tell things (or in my mother's case to lie) can be hard. Alters perception or some such thing.

Anonymous said...

Copperwitch, you must have grown up around the corner from where I grew up. My parents lived, and still live in Waratah Street, South Oakleigh which runs between Warrigal and Mackie roads. Father moved there in 1952 and still lives there. I live in Canberra now, but love reading your posts for the nostalgia value. Warm regards, Dotson.

JahTeh said...

EC, I think she could have told us after he died but I don't think she rememembered then. You probably haven't seen my posts on her twin sister, Aunt Selma who could twist the truth and outlie Nixon and Bush. She's decided to tell the family history, it will be the greatest fiction book ever written.

Dotson, Jayne from Our Great Southern Land blogspot is much closer to where your father still lives. I'm down in Cheltenham where we moved in 1953 so I haven't strayed far from the ancestral pile.

Andrew said...

Nice work. I had forgotten about the Holmesglen factory, now I think where the TAFE is.

River said...

I think your father loved you very much, with all that worrying he did. Had to giggle at him throwing the screwdriver, I would have too.
So with your mother's long term memory being good, if you keep telling her the same thing will she eventually say "you told me that 5 years ago"?

Jayne said...

I was about to say the same as Andrew, that it was where the TAFE is now (I may have seen it on some old map). Dad's memory was jogged with a few little things like that, we got a few gems suddenly out of the blue :)

R.H. said...

He wasn't drunk he was seasick, tell the truth!

Middle Child said...

How good is that to have that new memory to add to your father's life story - I have smatterings but I know there is much I don't know as well and now Mum is dead I never will

R.H. said...

There's a lot of white pre-fab flats hidden inside the Moorabbin Housing Commission estate (solid brick fronting the main street). Maybe they were from Holmesglen.

How about some more posts on Aunt Selma and Kitty Litter?

What was in the suitcase your sister was lugging from the ship, don't tell me it was booze???

Greetings to all my darlings. Loving you like you don't know what!


JahTeh said...

River, he lost almost all of his family to tuberculosis so was terrified that he would lose us. It didn't help that he almost killed me by backing a bus over me but something stopped him just in time. All I had was a mark on my coat near the shoulder from the wheel.
I don't know how he would have coped with his grandson's death but he'd gone on 8 months before.

Jayne and Andrew, I still remember seeing the factory from the bus. He kept his certificate from the Olympic Comm. saying he'd helped build the village.

Robbert, I was seasick, he was legless and if my father had known about his youngest underage drunken daughter, my sister, there would have been words. Trust her to find the loudest drunks on board the boat.

Therese, it was a complete surprise but then he never talked about himself. I had to hide my bicycle at a friend's place because he wouldn't let me ride and when I did fall off, I ended up with a huge hole in my leg. I had to hide it and honestly I should have had stitches but I wasn't game to come clean.

Aunt Selma's been very quiet of late, too busy digging up the family dirt. My maternal side were Cranbourne hillbillies except my Nana, there was a whole heap of lady there.

The suitcase was full of dirty clothes and booze and it didn't belong to her.
There was probably a lot of fibro stuff being used at Holmesglen but Dad didn't last long. What was left of his lungs couldn't get him through a long work day.