Don's Childhood Recollections.

Don's Recollections.

Don wrote piecemeal recollections of his childhood over a number of years as well as writing some specific memories that would be relevant to Lloyd’s kids. These he wrote shortly after Lloyd’s death. I typed them up for him but have no recollection of ever getting the document back for correction, of which there were certain to be many. Fifteen years later I have found the documents amongst Dad’s stuff and this is it.

My Mother and Father.

            I have only the haziest recollections of my mother as she died in October 1818 a few months before my 5th birthday, so I have to rely mainly on secondary sources for my impressions. These include some letters Mum wrote to Dad during their courting days over a period of some 5 years (1908-1913). Most of the letters were written when one or the other was away on a trip – Dad on business trips to Sydney, Melbourne & Hobart and Mum on holidays in Melbourne and one with a sister& and friends on Kangaroo Island. In the latter case they were staying at the same place as Gordon Branson's parents on their honeymoon. Other glimpses of Mum before her marriage have come from stories told to me by her sisters and a cousin Jean Haines who came to Adelaide from time to time on holiday from Western Australia. Putting these impressions together we have a picture of a very attractive lady. It would appear that she was the best looking of the Thomson sisters. My aunts often told me that I inherited her hair. Her sisters indicated that she enjoyed the outdoor life, with frequent references to swimming, tennis parties, picnics, etc. Like well brought up ladies she drew the line at mixed bathing and was critical of couples that showed their affection in public. Unlike some of her sisters she was more interested in fancy work than in reading. One of Jean Haines’s stories concerned Grandpa’s family prayers which were rather long. The girls got up to various pranks during the course of the prayers and on one occasion Auntie Lena crawled out of the room on her hands and knees and some of the others followed her.
            Dad had a varied business career. His first job was with a Mr. Malpas but I know little about it. Then he worked for many years for E.Q.Thomas, who was the South Australian representative for MacRobertson chocolates, IXL jams and other food products. He was highly regarded by his employer and seemed to have a bright future but, instead of remaining there he branched out on his own as a dried fruit merchant in about the early 1920’s. This business began well but, after the formation of the Dried Fruits Board, decisions made by the Board caused him to incur heavy losses. As I understand it Dad had made contracts for large sums with growers for the purchase of their crops and other contracts for the sale of the fruit on world markets. The Board took action cancelling his buying contracts and required him to purchase his supplies from them at substantially higher  prices. Prices for his selling contracts had been fixed on the basis of his original buying prices and these could not be adjusted, so completion of the contracts resulted in heavy losses.
            Eventually Dad’s health broke down and his doctor advised him to leave the city and work in the country. It was then that he took on the agency for Overland & Willys cars on Eyre Peninsula. The onset of the Great Depression, which came earlier in South Australia than in the other States, caused him to abandon this undertaking and return to Adelaide. Then began the series of primary production ventures which are described below.
            I was the first child in the family and according to family tradition, I was a premature baby. I was born on 2 January 1915 in our home at 48Thomas St., Unley and am told that drastic measures had to be taken to keep me alive. One story was that I had to be put in the oven.

Unfortunately, that is where the writing stops. I may find a continuation somewhere but that is unlikely.
The series of primary production ventures are mentioned later in his Childhood Memories.

>Addendum to Prior Story

As many of you would know, Don was a prodigious & pedantic writer. He would write three & four drafts of the simplest of letters, and keep all the drafts. After some years his filing system let him down, but I will write on that at some other time. Amongst his Christmas card filings, which were held in an expandafile,  indexed by surname, with families historical cards and Don’s responses grouped with paper-clips, I located this early draft of the above story. The variation between the two stories is quite interesting.
Dated 2nd January, no year but the writing is getting smaller and scratchier, so I would put it at his time in Tamworth. By comparing that to some of his other dated letters I may be able to pinpoint the time more accurately.
From hints that have come to me over the years since the deaths of those who could have enlightened me but did not do so, it appears that my birth on the 2nd Jan 1915 could have caused a minor scandal in our family. I was born a little less than 6 months after my parents were married. I had known that my birth was premature – one story told to me as a child was that the midwife who delivered me had to place me in the oven to ensure my survival. But even allowing for that, the suspicion must run wild that I was conceived before the wedding. To my mind even if true that is not important. The important thing is that whenever conception occurred it was an expression of commitment between two people who love each other and i have ample proof of that. Mum died before I turned five and Dad died over 50 years later.  After Dad’s death I found among Dad’s papers letters Mum had written to him during their courtship which extended for many years. During those years Dad made frequent interstate business trips & these letters were written during these periods of separation and they all reveal the strong bond of affection between them. One remark made to me many years after Dad’s death was that it was a pity I didn’t have a better father. This shocked me deeply as I had always had a great admiration for Dad and regarded him as a wonderful father. I had always had the impression, too, that he was highly respected by all who knew him.
Half a page written on the back of a medical bill dated 12th February 1988.
Written across the bottom of the page in Olga’s handwriting is :-
Good Bye I’ve had enough !
As Dad did many drafts of everything and kept them all lying around for extended periods of time while he reworked them, there is no real evidence that the two comments were written at the same time. It would tend to imply the period when Mum & Dad were living in the granny flat constructed at Marg & Adrian’s. Mum’s altzheimer’s was getting pretty bad then, Dad was stone deaf and would watch the TV with the volume on maximum and Mum would be in the other room totally confused by the conversations she could hear. She had no understanding that it was the TV . She would quite often take off, heading for Epping Ave, on foot.


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