Monday, October 24, 2011

A Brief word Portrait of Emily Elizabeth Harper's life in Australia 1916 to 1949 - Part 2

Wednesday afternoon 24th February was the time appointed for the funeral to leave 36 Merrin Crescent, and a larger group of people and cars I have never seen in a country township.  Over four hundred miners marched in front of the funeral cortege, with numerous cars following. It was a hot afternoon and we were all very much distressed as could be well imagined. I can hear the Anglican Minister's words to this day at the graveside.  Harry and I then came home and tried to resume a normal way of life in the circumstances.   In those days there was no Widow's Pension so it can be fairly stated that Mum would be very anxious about money to meet her day-to-day expenses. The Mine generously paid Dad's salary up to midday of the day he was killed; mind you the "Generous" is said with considerable sarcasm. At the time I needed a new suit, and it was through the generosity of our neighbour Robert Allan who stood guarantor for the debt that I got the suit.  

The first visit to the cemetery after February 24th was indeed a pitiful sight. I can see my Mother bending over the crude pile of broken clay which represented her husband's last resting place, crying pitifully.   From nowhere it seemed, a kind lady-took her by the arm and with reassuring kindness said "Oh Dear Mrs. Harper please don't distress yourself". That graveside scene still brings tears to my eyes fifty years later. The Lord Mayor of Melbourne opened a Relief Appeal for the 13 widows of the Mine disaster, and but for his efforts, my Mother's plight would have indeed been much more serious.  A total of about £34,000 was collected in the Appeal, which was administered by a board of three people.  Each of the Widow's received a weekly pension of £2 and for each child under 16 years an allowance per week of 15/- was provided.  So that meant Mum collected £4.5s.0 per week.  Additionally she got the Worker's Compensation lump sum of £700.  

Despite the tragedy which the Mine had inflicted on her family.  Mum at this stage was not contemplating leaving the Township.  It was only at the end of Year 1937 that she gave this serious thought. Mine General Manager McLeish had promised her earlier to get a suitable position for my brother Harry, but when the time came she was curtly told, "Get your bloody children educated first". Australians are noted for on one side of the spectrum their friendliness and generosity, whilst on the other side their rank rudeness.  McLeish's remark of course was the catalytic agent in my Mother's future attitude to the Township, and she hastily re drew her whole strategy plan about her children.  In early November 1937 she visited Melbourne to see what the "house market" was like in that City. She called in on my Aunty May at the time, and was very shabbily treated over an incident involving a crochet hook, which was carelessly left by my Aunty in a chair. Mum sat on the chair and the hook deeply penetrated her flesh. Surely, this was a time for sympathy but it was noticeably lacking.  

Mum never again visited Aunty May until about the middle of the following year, well after we had settled in at our new home in West Brunswick.   She returned to Wonthaggi after the crochet hook incident and discussed matters of selling the Wonthaggi home with her solicitors. He was a kind and thoughtful man and a good help in her time of need. Also Town Clerk Harold Strickland was a wonderful support for Mum in her troubled months after the Mine disaster. Early December 1937, found Mum again visiting Melbourne on house hunting where she booked accommodation at "The Victoria" in Little Collins Street. She called in on Dad's old friend Joe Wilton in west Brunswick and he and his wife Sarah Wilton were both the epitome of kindness and help. They insisted that she leave the Victoria, and bring her cases to their home, which she did.  Joe had heard of a home coming up for auction at No 29 Cook Street, West Brunswick, and also she looked at several in the burgeoning area of Pascoe Vale South, but the prices were too high.  

Mum, accompanied by Joe and his Wife attended the Auction at Cook Street on the appointed date.  Sarah Wilton made the bids on Mum's behalf and when the price had reached  £320 Mum felt it was slipping away from her. The Auctioneer leaned over and whispered into Sarah Wilton's ear "Go another five pounds".  This was done and fortunately Mum became the new owner of the house at that address.   Our Wonthaggi home was sold on a "walk in walk out", basis, which hurt me very deeply.  All our furniture with which were tied up so many memories of my childhood, suddenly became the possessions of complete strangers. Even to her auto tray and brass coffee table.  Viewing the matter in retrospect, perhaps she felt that it was too much a reminder of the tragic event of February 1937 but on the other hand these matters are very much "an attitude of mind".  

Harry and I came down to Melbourne with Mr. Dennis with the few chattels, which she wanted in early January 1938. I did not know that she had bought a house, but was led to believe that we would be renting one in Hooper Crescent of the same suburb. You can well imagine when Joe Wilton's son Bill directed Mr. Dennis to Cook Street, the surprise on my part.   I can feel myself walking up the path to be met by Mum at the steps, and saying, "Is this our house?" To which came an affirmative reply.   Harry got a job with the Bacteriology Department of Melbourne University in a junior position, and of course my education had at least another three years to go.  These three years were spent at Brunswick Technical School. Mum found her new life in the working class streets of West Brunswick to be different from the Mining Township. These were good solid people buying off their homes on mortgage, and struggling to educate and provide for their families, albeit smaller than the Wonthaggi families.  

The streets were narrower than those of Wonthaggi, and no grass nature strips existed, being bitumen footpaths with a similar paved road. I remember Mum's comment after living in the Street for about four weeks, "I think Cook Street is the hottest place in Australia". Sarah Wilton included Mum in her chatty afternoon tea parties, which were held with friends on every second Wednesday.  There were two others a Mrs. Walsh and Mrs. Quinlivan.  Needless to say Mum also "had to take a turn". These friendly "chit chat " afternoons were of course a means of settling Mum into the new life in Melbourne.  

Gone were the days of the Lamingtons, raspberry shortbread etc. and now we found ourselves patrons of the "bought cake market". The reason for this turnaround is not quite clear. She also delineated in her methodical manner every Saturday afternoon for a quiet read in the Lounge, and this was followed by a "fish and chips" meal in the evening. We had a hot meal midday on Saturday, sometimes bought other times home prepared.  One of her neighbours Elsie Wade was a particularly friendly person and would have a little chat "over the fence" now and then to reassure her new neighbour. That friendship lasted up until my Mother's death in 1949.  

Aunty May who married a Charles Robbins, had a cousin named Mrs. Victoria Goulder, a woman of considerable finesse and confident manner Mrs. Goulder, in her single days was one of the Supervisors in the large General Stores of Charles Moore Read's in Prahran. Aunty May, doubtless feeling the need to "put the record straight", persuaded Mrs. Goulder to include Mum in her "afternoon tea set", which was held every three weeks. Aunty May, Mrs. Goulder, and Mrs. Arthur Robbins were in this "set".  Mrs. Goulder was a lovely person and would always on her return visit to our home; quietly slip under my pillow a large block of Cadbury's chocolate.  A Schoolboy's thoughts towards such kindness could not be measured.

Until the end of April 1938, my other brother Jack, had been boarding at an Aunty of Mrs. Clarke (A neighbour of Aunty May) in Port Melbourne. He had left Wonthaggi in late October 1937, to take up an apprenticeship position with John Danks in Melbourne who were metal founders.   Whereas everything had been quiet and peaceful earlier we suddenly found his presence disturbing. He was a child who had very few friends, and tended to keep more in the company of men older than himself.  Viz at least eight years his senior.  Harry was a relatively quiet and somewhat reserved person at this stagey so it can be well imagined how a more "turbulent" character entering the scene disturbed the tranquility.  

Mum of course realised that as her son he had a place in the home, and accepted his company with reserved feelings. We had to reorganise the whole garden because the previous Owner Bill Gotts had lost the house during the Depression, being unable to keep up the bank repayments. Mum supervised this rehabilitation work with lawns and flowerbeds being set out in orderly manner. Through neglect the soil had turned sour, so much lime and gypsum was necessary.  Mum took pride in the results, which showed up several months later. The house was completely re furbished by the State Bank of Victoria so there were no problems in this area.  

Mum bought all new furniture for the Cook Street residence, as her previous possessions had been sold W.I.W.O. With her attendant good taste and pride she made the home look very attractive buying carpet squares for all the rooms except the Kitchen, and arranging her pictures around the walls including some time exposures done by Will Spare, of famous paintings in the Tate Gallery London, via Fragonard, Romney, Reynolds, etc. These were in mainly B and W tones.  

During 1939 she felt that a good holiday away from the mundane things of life would be a good move, and we both journeyed by train from Melbourne to Frisbane in Queensland in the May School Holidays. This is a distance of 1,200 miles and for a schoolboy this was a real adventure.  We stayed and basked in their lovely "Indian Summer" weather, and enjoyed the meals at the then very good "Canberra Hotel".   My brothers settled into their Melbourne jobs, but Mum also felt towards the end of 1939 that she would give my brother Harry a "turn" at an interstate visit.  They both went to Tasmania for the 1939 Christmas holidays, and I can still hear her talking about the convict atrocities committed by the prison authorities at Port Arthur.  She said to one of the Port Arthur guides, "I was proud of my English heritage until I came here", to which he defensively replied "cruelty was the order of things in the early to mid nineteenth centuries "in the Colonies".  

Yes, the ladies afternoon tea parties had their good features, but Mum became a little restless at the beginning of Year 1940, and she yearned for a new "contact with the Public". Perhaps this was a later return of the Ludbrooks career in Wonthaggi, perhaps not. She purchased or rather rented a shop, which was a suburban Library, and for the next twelve months or so renewed in a very positive manner her former contact with the general public.  She enjoyed this twelve-month period, and needless to say the public enjoyed her quiet charm and engaging manner. Not surprisingly, one of the customers showed a romantic interest in her, but this was severely frowned upon by both my brothers and myself.  Nobody could take our Father's place, and this was made eminently clear.   In December 1941 the "real War" came to Australia with the bombing of Pearl Harbour and the entry of the USA into the Wartime scene.  With the Japanese making swift advances down through the Malaysian Archipelago into Singapore, we Australians realised that "the party was over". England of course had experienced devastating wartime events before this date.  Blackout restrictions immediately were enforced, food and clothing rations was introduced by the then Curtin Labour Government. These were very much charged years filled with a mixture of fear and apprehension.  The Japanese bombed Darwin in February 1942, which was the first occasion when a foreign power threatened Australia.              


Mum then had three young youthful sons to care for and was in her 56th Year, so she was not quite eligible for "factory work" or munitions work, or for sauce, jam, or pickle factories.  She shopped as best she could in the difficult markets, but fortunately her Butcher was very "understanding" and would slip in a few extra items to her weekly meat purchase.  The large Eastern Cities of Australia, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, were engulfed in large numbers of American Servicemen, so the scenario, had now changed dramatically. Mum found it very difficult to get clothes to suit her needs, as the few clothing manufacturers for the civilian market concentrated on the under 35 year age group and in sizes up to 16. There was only one frock shop she said that in any way met the needs of her age group, and of course dress materials could not be purchased because they swallowed up valuable clothing coupons.  

I was working at the Carlton Post Office until June 1944, so my brother Jack was the only other person with her on the home scene. My brother Harry had joined the Australian Army Medical Corps and was immediately dispatched to New Guinea in August 1942.   Those War Years, despite their frugal nature and shortage of   particular items, were to me happy years because I had the chance to really get to know my Mother. My brother Harry tended to be a "favourite" in her judgment, and this was my chance to make up to some extent for lost time. Whilst Harry was on War Service, Mum gave me all his clothes which were very smart by my standards, as in 1942 I was still in the "college grey set".   We always went to the movies in the City on Saturday nights, and Mum looked forward to these with considerable pleasure. During the war there were a surprisingly large number of good movies, and the "Australia Cinema" in Collins Street allowed us to catch up on some of the classic movies of the past.  

The Years 1942 to my marriage in 1953 were the happiest years of my life since Dad's death, with the exception of 1949 when Mum suddenly died of Angina.  The war years brought Mum closer to her sister Aunty May, who not having children had to quickly find herself an "essential job", as the Manpower showed little mercy for idle women in the War Years 1942 to 1945. Aunty May worked in the Myer Emporium handcrafts and embroidery section where she fitted in very well.  She did her own crochet and embroidery which of course gave her a natural advantage in such an environment.  We visited her on regular intervals always walking up the tram tracks on the sunny days to my Aunt's home some 2 1/2 miles north of Cook Street. Here we sometimes met one of Jack Miles children. (Jack Miles Mother was a sister to Grandpa Archer), so he was Mum's first cousin. He lived in a palatial home in Barrington Avenue Kew, a solid middle class suburb of Melbourne. Their lifestyle and religion (Seventh Day Adventist), was not "quite our cup of tea". Mum had very little to do with Jack Miles, and his rather "narrow minded" Wife.  Mum never forgot Jack Miles first wife Molly, who died tragically in the Bubonic Plague, which hit Australia, in January 1919. She told the story of staying with her cousin who was then living in the rather plain area of Keilor (now a Labour stronghold), and visiting Molly's grave in the small local Cemetery on the side of a steep hill overlooking the Marybyrnong River Valley.  

Mum said the eldest daughter of Jack Miles took her hand and led her gently up the winding track on the hillside, in through the crude stone gates of the cemetery to a pile of clay and the four children saying in chorus to her "That's Mummy's grave". Mum was shocked, and said to her cousin on return ""Why don't you do something about Molly's grave", to which he replied with complete confidence and assuredness "I've done all I could for Molly when she was alive".   My father had little time for "religious fanatics", and needless to say the visits to her cousin became very well spaced, finally disappearing from the scene. However, Jack Miles visited us at Cook Street on a couple of occasions during the War years 1942 to 1945. He had three very attractive daughters by his second marriage, but the children of the first marriage tended to get "very short shrift".   The War Years finished in August 1945 for Australia and this allowed us as a family to return to a more normal lifestyle. It was some time before clothes and petrol rationing were abandoned by the Labour Government of the time.  

Harry was not discharged from the Army Medical Corps until November 1946. In late 1945 my Aunty was suffering a lot of internal pains, severe constipation, and general debility. She saw her doctor who quickly diagnosed that the worst was ahead. She was suffering from Cancer of the lower digestive tract, and in those days very little could be done. Surgical operations were performed, often with little success. Some patients survived for another 18 months or two years and then succumbed to the disease.   My Aunts Cancer was now well advanced, and the surgeon's were very hesitant about operating. To cut a long story short she died in June 1946 at the Austin Hospital Heidelberg. This Hospital in those days, handled only chronic diseases.  My Aunt had been in a small private hospital in the early stages of her "treatment", but now the pains were so severe that a major hospital was necessary. 

Mum with true sister's loyalty spent as much time as she could at her Sister's bedside, and she knew by the classic signs that my Aunt's life was rapidly coming to an end.   Her body was wasting away at a very rapid rate, and I recall with particular clarity one wet mid weeknight visiting my Aunt at Austin and unbelieving noting that she was merely "skin and bone". She was so heavily drugged that she did not recognise us. On the following Saturday afternoon we again visited the Hospital, and as we came through the door one of my Aunt's old friends came in with us. Her friend just looked at my Aunt and burst into tears, so dramatic had been the change in her condition. She died on the following morning.   Her husband did not show the understanding and sympathy, which was required in such a situation, and this of course led to a strained relationship between he and my Mother.  We all attended the funeral and later cremation at Fawkner, returned to my Aunty's house for the last time, and bade our farewells. Mum never again visited her Sister's home in Greenwood Street, Pascoe Vale South. Within three days of my Aunt's death, her husband was "hawking her clothes" up and down the Street. A good neighbour Mrs. Purcell passed on this information to Mum. Needless to say we were all deeply shocked.  

With the War coming to an end, a new atmosphere charged day to day living in Australia and Melbourne in particular. There had been a severe curtailment of all building operations during the Years 1941 to 1946, and therefore couples who had been married during the War and immediately post War, found that houses were virtually non existent. This led of course to the "rented room" situation with the "key money" gimmick, a totally unsatisfactory situation.   For my Mother these same years represented a call for a new appraisal of home life, because in August 1942 she had fare welled an 18 year old son to go on War Service in New Guinea.  In 1946 he had become a strong well built man, (not overweight as at present).  

Harry, being away from his Mother's apron strings for 4 1/2 years also had a different view and perspective of life in general, and his future career. He cared little for returning to the C.S.I.R.O Laboratories in Parkville under the watchful eye of Erich Munch Petersen, a capable Danish laboratory worker.

Harry had sensed the feel of "freedom" and the thoughts and desires of the real Australians. Men of varied background had been his day to day contacts in the Army, some from very poor backgrounds, others from more affluent experience. This had a natural corollary for my Mother, and she had the good fortune to sense that she was not now dealing "with a boy". Also I was now 20 years of age, and doing a man's job of Telegraphist in the Chief Telegraph Office, Melbourne.   There had been a distinct "gap" left in my Mother's social relations by the death of her Sister, and as a result she quietly thought about her own future.   On several occasions she thought of paying a return visit to her sisters and brothers in the United Kingdom, but I think money was probably the final determinant in this question.  She was also getting a bit restless about the area in which she lived, as there were some noticeable changes in the composition of "the new entrants" into her suburb. The first of the overseas migrants were now making a social impact by 1948, with the famous story about one boarding house located some half mile distant from her home where as Luigi got out of bed to go on the "night shift", Angelo got into the warmth of the same bed.  

One would need little imagination, given her reactions to the British migrants into Wonthaggi of the early 1920's, that in this scenario she saw again the threat of a repetition of events. This left her in a feeling of insecurity, and she made several attempts, unfortunately without success, to move into a new suburb of Melbourne. One I recall with particular clarity was a "house swap" with some person in Parkdale, one of Melbourne Southern beach suburbs.   We as her sons heaved a sigh of relief when the unstabling effects of this mood finally worked itself out.  After the War she joined the Ladies Guild of the local Anglican Church, and together with two friends Mrs. Boreham and Mrs. Knapman she was a regular visitor and attendee at all its functions.   She additionally made a close friendship with an older couple who moved into Cook Street in 1947 a very warm and friendly pair in their early seventies. Mr. and Mrs. Nevin helped her to finally shake off the depressive effects of her Sister's sad passing and gave her outlook, together with other contributing factors, a new "vision".  

She went on two extended Interstate tours with Mrs. Nevin, one in 1948, and another to Tasmania in early 1949. She always said that Tasmania was the only area of Australia, which reminded her of England. This is not hard to understand given its little stone churches built mainly by convict labour, and the lovely green unfolding plains and wooded valleys, which this lovely island presents to the visitor. Additionally the lovely Clarendon House in Tasmania was built and owned by John Lee Archer, and this doubtless gave her a comforting feeling as she walked through its mellow and tasteful surroundings as a visitor on a conducted tour, that one of her namesake actively developed this lovely State. Furthermore, the Father of Field Marshall Montgomery, who spent his "middle years" as Bishop of Tasmania, possibly was recalled in her mind. Monty' s Father was connected with the Kennington Parish of St Marks in his early ministry, and Mum told the story how he as a Bishop of Tasmania, on a return visit to the U.K. spoke to Grandma Archer. Her story was that Bishop Montgomery actively urged Grandma Archer to consider migrating to Tasmania, because good solid people like the Archer family made ideal migrants to this distant land of Australia. Grandma of course, was too royalist, and had too many close family connections with the U.K. to even consider such a move.  

As mentioned earlier, Harry left the C.S.I.R.O Labs in Parkville, and under the C.R.T.S Scheme of rehabilitation of ex servicemen, enrolled for a three-year full time course at the Melbourne College of Pharmacy. He qualified as a pharmaceutical Chemist in early 1951 just after his Mother's death in August 1949.  

There were in these immediate post war years some occasions when the home relations became "rather strained", because I don't think my Mother totally accepted the fact that she was now dealing with young men of independent spirit and desire. Harry at this time and if I may say so, myself, were in the "bloom of youth". We were both tall and lean and could not be described as the ugliest men in the street. Naturally the female population noted the changes from "boys to men", and showed in suave ways their interest. Mum looked upon this in a very disapproving manner. She did not want her boys to leave her "for romantic reasons", or what she considered some "chit of a woman".  

Her Sister's death had left a somewhat bitter taste in her attitude to life generally, and slowly but imperceptibly she was translating this bitterness into her own day to day relations with her family. Harry of course was very busily engaged with his studies, and used to take his books and papers up into a small garden shed near the back fence and "pour over his notes". This in the months of the Melbourne Winter must have indeed been a very cold and unsatisfactory situation. Mum of course wanted to listen to her "radio serials" and the like, and saw little reason for abandoning these even if there was a student in the house. It was noteworthy; that within days of her death in August 1949, that Harry "re organised" his study and built a makeshift desk, which is located in a well-placed corner of the Hall of the house. He could of course now have the warmth and comfort on the house rather than the "breezes through the cracks" of the garden shed.  

In August 1948 I had the opportunity of an "exchange" for three months to the Chief Telegraph Office Brisbane. This chance was looked upon with considerable enthusiasm, as my fond memories of the schoolboy visit to Brisbane in May 1939, was still very glowing in my mind. I was fortunate in getting very satisfactory "digs" with a private family. Mrs. Alexander was a German Australian from the Warwick District of Southern Queensland. She was a woman of warmth and great kindness and treated me like her own son. Those three months in Queensland were a very happy experience for the writer. I related very happily with the Queenslanders and their friendly and relaxed approach to life.  

One of the Supervisors at the Telegraph Office, Ted Kriedermann said on my arrival at the Brisbane Office, "I don't know whether you Melbourne telegraphists are any better than ours, but they are certainly not wanting for good looks".    I returned to Melbourne in late 1948 and as may be realised the home atmosphere was a noted contrast with that of Mrs. Alexander. Petty bickering had replaced what was earlier a warm relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Sometimes Harry and I would look at each other and in exasperation say "Let's go to the Movies" as a quick and certain relief from a particular situation. Of course there were moments of happiness in our Cook Street atmosphere and it would be misleading to say otherwise. But in summary it could never be said that the pre 1946 atmosphere would ever again be present in our home life.   Additionally my Mother was now subject to more recent gall bladder attacks. She had always, like Aunty May been weak in the gall bladder, but with her advancing years the condition worsened rather than ameliorated.  

In July 1949 my Mother realised that something more serious had to be done about her condition as the attacks were becoming more frequent. She additionally had an Angina condition, which was not a desirable "traveling partner" with vomiting attacks.   Dr Henry Tisdall was summoned to attend my Mother and he was in the process in early August 1949, for arranging a surgical removal of the offending appendage.   Early in the week which included Thursday August 11th 1949 my Mother and I had a disagreement over some petty little matter. I deeply resented her attitude towards me, which lacked sympathy and understanding, and doubtless I made my thoughts perfectly clear in the matter. This of course led to her comment, "Well you had better look for somewhere else to live".   You can imagine how such a comment shattered me as I had always been a "home boy", and had kept her company during those difficult War Years when Harry was away on service. This and other supporting action was to be "brushed aside" in a mere whim on her part. (Recall the drastic reaction to the crochet needle incident with Aunty May in 1937).  

Thursday morning August 11th 1949 found me saying the usual "goodbye" to my Mother, who was then sitting up in bed. Dr. Tisdall was regularly attending and the operation was named for the following week. My brother Harry called home at lunchtime and was speaking with Mum. He was the last member of the family to see her alive.   That week I was working a "broken shift" at the Telegraph Office. 9 am to 1 pm.   3 pm to 6 pm.  At about 2.30 pm on that day I was shopping at the Myer Emporium which was next door to the Office. As I approached a set of escalators in the Store, I had a feeling of sudden emptiness and apprehension. Within a half hour of this feeling I returned to the Telegraph Office, and Jim Lewis came running up to me to say an urgent telephone call came through for me to return home immediately. No other details were given.   I caught the tram and within 35 minutes arrived at the back gate of our Cook Street home, to be greeted by old Mrs. Taylor, who said with feeling and sadness "I am sorry, but your Mother passed away early this afternoon".  

The words were virtually unheard by me at the time, as I did not connect a gall bladder condition with death.   My twin brothers "went to water", so it fell upon me to organise the Memorial Service at St John's Church, and provide the Undertaker with the necessary details.  Stafford Viney was the Vicar of St. Johns at the time and I can hear his sympathetic words to this day, with the added enquiry "Would you like some fresh sausage rolls for tea"?  The Memorial Service was held at 11 a.m on the Saturday, which was attended by her friends and acquaintances. We struggled to sing her favourite Hymn "Rock of Ages", and from there was taken to the Melbourne General Cemetery at Carlton. This event of course marked the conclusion of Emily Elizabeth Harper's life in Australia.  

My Mother's life in Australia therefore fell into four distinct and definable periods  

June 1916, her arrival in the country until the birth of her first children in November 1923

November 1923 until her departure from Wonthaggi in January 1938 to reside in Melbourne

January 1938 in Melbourne until the death of her Sister in June 1946.

June 1946 until her death in August 1949.

That period 1916 to 1949 showed clearly the transition of a woman from a quiet charming and sensitive parson in the first thirty years of her life in Australia, to a bitter and resentful person, who failed to accept that life was studded with events both joyful and touched with sadness.  

It was this failure to accept these later events in her life that spoilt her last couple of years in Australia. This was indeed sad, because had she taken a more realistic approach to her Sister's death, she could have quickly and effectively supplanted her sadness, by a more joyful experience and sharing and encouraging the love of her immediate family. She indeed had three sons, and it could be said without evasion, equivocation, vocation, or mental reservation, that, none of these three men had given her cause for any bitterness or misunderstanding.  

This brief portrait of her life in Australia highlights of course the frailty of human nature. It also highlights the joyful acceptance by the Australian people of her earlier kindness and sensitivity. It also shows that despite the separation of twelve thousand miles of sea between herself and her brothers and sisters in the United Kingdom, that she could for the most part, live a "new life" in a far off land.   Perhaps, there is no better appendix to the summary of Emily Elizabeth Harper's life than to recall one single incident, which occurred in the United Kingdom, one month before her departure to Australia in Year 1916.  

Nell Spare, sister of Will Spare, badgered Mum to have her fortune told by a Gipsy whom Nell believed had "unusual powers" of foresight.  Mum was quite predictably reluctant to take up the suggestion. However, on Nell's insistence she weakened.   The shriveled faced old lady took her hand, and looked into her crystal ball and said three things.  

"My Dear you are not going to marry the man you think you will". Secondly,  " I can see two lights like the forward light of a ship passing in mid ocean"  

And finally, "You will have three sons, and your husband will be killed at the age of 45 years".
 As Emily Harper watched the coffin of her husband being lowered into the grave at Wonthaggi in February 1937 the nameplate inscribed, "William Henry Harper aged 45 years", with dramatic effect flashed into her mind the predictions of the old gypsy fortuneteller of earlier days.

The End.  

The story is published by kind permission of Harry Harper, the son of Emily and William Henry Harper.

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