Marrying Jean
Jean Jackson and John Morris Hunt were married on 6th March 1942.
Jean's Father, John (or more usually, Jack) Jackson was born at Rosley, Cumberland, England on Boxing Day, 26th December 1888. On 6th April 1912 (Easter Saturday) he married Isabella Blackstock who was born on 13th September 1889 at Hallbank Gate, Cumberland. The wedding took place at Jesmond in Northumberland. At that time Jack's family lived at Ashington and Bella's at Haltwhistle, both in Northumberland, which were mining communities. Jack had been working as a grocer's assistant and Isabella (Bella) was in service with a prosperous family named Cail.
Soon after marrying, Jack Jackson migrated to Australia and obtained a position on the N.S.W. Railways as a signalman. Bella soon followed and they lived in a cottage in Tavistock Road, Flemington, N.S.W. where a son, Tom was born in 1915 and a daughter, Jean, was born on 31st October 1916. A second daughter, Patricia was born at 16 Randle Street, Granville on 29th September 1918. Later the family moved to a cottage at 114 Woodville Road Granville. These were all rented houses, but in 1939 the Jacksons had a small house of their own built at 85 Bennalong Street, Granville and it was there that I did most of my courting.
For the sake of the record I will mention here that Jack Jackson was soon promoted in the Railways to Relieving Stationmaster and moved around the Metropolitan area a good deal. Around 1939 it was found that he had cancer of the larynx and he had an operation that took away his voice. However, with great will-power and by using an opening in his throat, he was soon able to make himself understood and, to those of us who were close to him, the affliction was hardly noticeable after a while.
When he retired from the Railway he did casual work maintaining a few house properties owned by a friend and also took up Lawn Bowls which became a passion and in which he became quite expert. As a bowler he travelled a great deal around the State and made many friends. He also took a trip “Home” in the European summer of 1951 and I have a small collection of postcards he sent to the children. In the early 1960s he suffered a series of strokes from which he partially recovered. When we moved to Queensland to live he came and stayed with us in the winter of 1963, but his health was failing and, at the age of 75 he passed away on 2nd April 1964.
Jean's Mother, unlike her husband, was not one to travel or mix socially. She was very much a “homebody” and seldom went out. It was even a job to get her to come to Queensland for the weddings of Judith and Philip. She did come, though, and went home again as soon as she could. This may partly be due to the fact that she was very protective indeed of her youngest daughter, Pat, who early in life was found to be epileptic. By the time Pat was in her early twenties drugs to control her condition became available and from then on Pat was able to mix confidently in the world at large, particularly affairs associated with the local church, and when in later life Bella suffered from failing memory Pat was able to manage the household herself and look after her Mother. But eventually it became evident that Bella needed the special care that a Nursing Home provides and she was admitted to Thomas House at Westmead where she finished her days on 4th July 1971 aged 83 years.
It was a very big shock to us, and a very sad one, when Jean's brother Tom passed away from heart-failure, after battling high blood pressure for many years, on 18th December 1971, less than six months after his Mother's death. Following her Mother's death Pat lived on in the family home with a great deal of confidence and some help from friends and relatives. She had a great capacity to make friends of neighbours and I pay tribute to the interest and concern that her neighbours continually showed towards Pat. She had Meals on Wheels delivered, but otherwise took care of herself. The time came, however, when it was more practical to move into a Village. So she applied for and was accepted as a resident in the Hostel of Mayflower Village in March 1982. She still lives there, but is now in the Nursing Home section.
So, with that family background, Jean Jackson, the lovely red-headed girl to whom I had been attracted eight or nine years before and whom I had been courting for over four years, married me at Granville Methodist Church on 6th March 1943. The Minister of the Church at the time was Rev Richard Barlow, but he graciously consented for us to be married by our old friend, Rev. A.J. Chegwidden who had been ministering at Boggabri for a year but who happened to be in Sydney at the time for the Annual Conference of the Methodist Church.
Those were about the darkest days of the war, with shortages of most things except food, rationing covering mainly clothing and petrol. (Food rationing was introduced in June of the same year, but was mild by world standards, although some things like butter and tea were limited.) We were able to buy the only furniture we needed, a bedroom suite, which we installed in one of the front rooms at Auntie Ag Camper's home at 138 Good Street Granville. Like everything else at the time (and it was to get worse before it got better) accommodation was almost impossible to get and so we were very grateful to Auntie Ag to allow us to share her home. It was, you will remember, her daughter, Ida Camper who got me my job at Babcocks.
The rationing of clothes and clothing materials was something of a problem for the wedding but was overcome by saving enough coupons for Jean to make a lovely blue lace bridesmaid's frock for her sister Pat and making some alterations to the wedding gown of Tom's wife, Kitty for Jean to wear herself. I had enough coupons for a suit from Gowings-a wartime austerity suit with narrow lapels and trousers without turned up cuffs. But it did run to a waistcoat! Pat was the only bridesmaid and Allan Prior, a good friend from work, was Best Man. After the ceremony, which was notable for the fact that Jack Chegwidden omitted the bit about “If anyone knows any just cause or impediment....let him now speak or forever hold his peace”, a Reception was provided by Jean's parents in the Masonic Hall in Jamieson Street, Granville. Between times, we had our photos taken by Howard Harris Studios at Auburn. They were quite good in spite of wartime restrictions, but the photos taken by the Leica Studios at the reception were terrible! So there is not a very good record of who was there.
The wedding car was provided by courtesy of Uncle Spen Manton, who was one of the few relatives and friends who was still running a car because of petrol rationing. He also arranged for his Driver to act as Chauffer. The other car at the wedding was provided by Allan Prior who still managed to keep it on the road by inventing a power kerosene adapter for the carburettor. Uncle Spen's car was a modern American limousine, a Dodge, I think. Allan's was an old Essex Four. But we were grateful for both. We received some handsome wedding presents, cutglass, silver, two mirrors, a clock, and some linen. These were a useful supplement to Jean's Glory Box which, considering the times was a marvel of the art of “lay-by”. It had everything a young couple needed to set up house, sheets, pillow-slips, table-cloths, embroidered supper-cloths, cutlery, a dinner set, and an assortment of kitchen utensils. It was mostly bought at Grace Bros, where Jean had worked until her marriage, and made possible by an Employees discount and payment of two shillings a week at the Lay-by Department deducted from the rather meagre wages of a Machinist in the Furnishing Drapery Department.
But preparing for our wedding and the setting up for married life had completely exhausted our finances. We were literally “broke”. It was thus a source of much gratitude when we found that among the presents was a cheque from Mr & Mrs Thompson, (of Grocery Store fame), for Ten Pounds. This was equivalent to nearly two weeks wages for a draughtsman in those days and it ensured that our honeymoon at Katoomba was much more pleasant than if we had to depend on our own resources. Jean's Dad, who worked on the railway, had obtained for us two first class tickets to Katoomba and we had a compartment to ourselves. The honeymoon special, as it was commonly called, arrived at Katoomba after midnight, but the housekeeper at Belfast House was waiting for us when we arrived. Our honeymoon was for only a week, for it was wartime and that was all I could arrange away from work! Astoundingly, girls were expected to leave work when they married, although I am sure there were many useful jobs that Jean, and girls like her who had married during the war, could have done had they been expected to. Single girls were working in all manner of things, from tram-conductresses to the Land Army, but it was assumed that married women would be housekeepers! The weather at Katoomba in March is beautiful. We enjoyed our week of leisure, marvellous food, and being really together at last! We walked for hours, I took photos, and we tried to pretend when in the guest-house that we were not “Just Married”. But that was not possible, because, on about the third morning at breakfast-time, when the mail was delivered, there was at our place at the table a huge envelope, covered with confetti (from the office paper-punch) boldly marked “Just Married” and, when we opened it, containing nothing but more confetti! How embarrassing to a shy young couple like us! It didn't take long to work out that the culprit was Ron Robertson.
Back at work (for me), and it didn't take us long to settle down to a very happy life, while Jean learned to cook (as her Mother had never encouraged her in the kitchen) by spending a lot of time at my Mother's, and I learned, with the aid of Yates Garden Guide to provide vegetables. Jean found that sharing a kitchen with my none-too-tactful Aunt was rather difficult and discouraging, but they managed. And Auntie Ag seemed pleased to have us to attend to things like mowing the lawn, trimming the hedge (and What a hedge it was!), and making full use of the garden which certainly had better soil than any garden I have since had. There is now a house built where the vegetable garden used to be. What a waste of good soil!
We seemed to keep ourselves busy with visits each week to our respective parents and to the movies on Saturday night and Church on Sundays. I had just been made Superintendent of the Sunday School and was studying for the Local Preachers Exam. Incidentally, the exam was never held because of wartime exigencies, and I was appointed to the list of Local Preachers on the recommendation of Rev R.C. Barlow and a resolution of the Circuit Quarterly Meeting. The date on the certificate I eventually received is 1951 but it should have been 1945. We hadn't been married very long when Jean had a very bad dose of tonsillitis and Dr. Woolnough thought it best to remove the offending organs. The strange thing was that she had had them removed when she was a child but, as Dr Woolnough remarked, “they couldn't have got the roots”. What a painful operation it was, and Jean had a shockingly sore throat for days. When much later in life I had a dose of infected tonsils and the surgeon in Brisbane told me the pros and cons of a tonsillectomy I recalled Jean's agony and decided on the “cons”. I must have given those tonsils a scare, though, because they have been good little tonsils ever since.
We managed to keep up some social life in spite of the wartime restrictions. Most of the friends of our youth had married before we did, and now we were able to visit them on more or less equal terms. They spent most of the time giving us advice. I think they never forgave me for being a few years younger than they were and “stealing” their friend, Jean! Frank and Edith Breedon were living at Berala and had a little boy, Terence. Jean's brother Tom and Kitty were living at Merrylands and had a daughter, Narelle. Auntie Beat and Uncle George had a late-starter son, Richard. Dot and Jack Chegwidden had a son, Graham. Harry and Jean Gorton were living in a new house they had built at Adamstown where Harry had gone to become a “dilutee” pattern-maker in one of the Newcastle engineering firms. I think it was Goninans. They had a son, Clive. Arthur and Nance Tomlinson were in their own home at Bexley North, while Ron and Nance Robertson had part of Ron's parents home at Auburn. Out of all of these only Ron Robertson was in the Army and we kept in touch with them from time to time. We spent a weekend with the Gortons soon after we were married. I remember it was the weekend when food rationing commenced. Jean Gorton had made a large cake with lots of butter in the recipe but it had been a flop so she threw it out, only to find the next morning that butter was rationed to, I think, 4 ounces per person per week! We also had a brief holiday with Harry, Jean and Clive Gorton in December 1943 in one of Duffy's flats at The Entrance which was halfway between Adamstown and Granville-and we were “Distantly Related” to the Duffys! It was three years before we could manage another holiday.
Some time in 1944, I am not too sure just when, Jean's Father surprised us by saying he could get a house for us to rent if we liked. We liked. It wasn't much of a house, very old, with damp walls, no conveniences at all, and in very poor condition, but it was available for seventeen shillings and sixpence per week. It was owned by an old friend of Jean's Father, Jack Markham, whose wife had died and was going to live with a daughter. The house was at No 3 Herbert Street, Merrylands, only a block away from where Jean's Parents lived and just around the corner from the Jordans. The day Mr. Markham moved out and we moved in they had an auction sale of everything that wasn't bolted down-all the furniture (that they hadn't taken themselves), the pots and pans, garden tools, light fittings, curtains and even floor coverings. It was wartime. There were shortages and even beat-up old saucepans were valuable. In fact aluminium ware was needed for melting down as part of the war effort. We bid for a few things including the old wooden Venetian blinds, a couple of rickety old tables and a few kitchen items, but mostly the prices were beyond what we were willing to pay.
So when we moved in we had to do with a lot of makeshifts like brown paper blinds and dyed Hessian curtains. We managed to buy some very flimsy “congoleum” for the bedroom and kitchen floors but Jean had to queue up at Anthony Horderns to get two rolls of decent Linoleum for the dining room. The kitchen table and chairs we got at a place called “Royal Art Furnishing Co” was the shoddiest stuff imaginable, but it was all that was available. Strangely enough, we were able to buy at Anthony Horderns a beautiful Jacobean style dining room suite which was very well made and has lasted to the present day. We still have the four chairs, which look as good as new after forty years of constant use. In fact I am sitting on one as I type this draft! We gave the table to Philip when he was a student and he used it in his bedroom as a desk. He may still have it in his Boronia home. But the point is that we managed to get the things we needed to make a home. Some we bought new, some second-hand and some were given to us by kind friends and relatives. I recall buying a very small, very old lawnmower from David McLaren at work for a pound! We bought a new ice-chest for twelve pounds (on time payment) only to find the wood had borers! It was several years before we had a refrigerator, and even then it was an early model “Silent Knight” that didn't freeze on hot days! As each wedding anniversary and Mothers' Day came around we added to our electrical appliances with toasters, fry-pan and Mixmaster, etc. Eventually we really spread ourselves by buying a second-hand piano which has served us well over the years, has travelled with us from home to home and is now in Ann and Renzo's lounge room. Many were the new tunes that Jean played on that piano for me to learn and teach to others for the Sunday School Anniversaries and the District Christian Endeavour Choir. Later it was to suffer from broken ivories (which I glued back with Secotine) as a result of the depredations of small children who later still tried to learn the art of piano playing.
The house itself was something of a disaster. We were paying only 17/6d a week for rent, although some thought that was too much for what we were getting. But they were not times to quibble because accommodation was so scarce. The house was, indeed, very old and in very rundown condition. It had been occupied by old Mr. & Mrs. Markham in their old age and they had done nothing to it, it appeared for perhaps twenty years! The walls were damp up to as much as a metre from the floors because the slate damp-course had perished. The floorboards had dry rot, some of the woodwork had borers, the front verandah, which was open to the weather had old hardwood flooring that creaked and cracked if you dared walk on it. It was sewered, but the toilet was out beyond the laundry at the back. The kitchen was separate from the main house, but joined to it by a covered, but otherwise open back veranda. It was infested with several battalions of cockroaches. There was no running water or sink in the kitchen, so water had to be brought in from the laundry or bathroom and wastes disposed of by the same means. There was an old gas stove in the kitchen (and a constant smell of gas) as well as a rusty old fuel stove in another room further out the back which otherwise was unused except as a storeroom. The bathroom had a brick floor and a “chip” water-heater. The laundry had a “copper” set in brickwork and was wood-fired. Probably the house's only redeeming feature was that the roof didn't leak! But it was ours for 17/6 per week!
In spite of wartime shortages we did our best to brighten up the place. I painted it inside and out, inside with kalsomine and outside with linseed oil paint. We covered the floors as best we could, but when Philip came along all we could get to cover the floor of the third bedroom was Ormonoid sheets which we painted with Pavol. Jean did wonders with curtains, and for the front bedrooms we managed to get some second-hand Venetian blinds which I stripped, re-painted and fitted out with new tapes and cords.
As wartime conditions eased we were able to improve the old home and we were reasonably comfortable and very happy there. It served us well and taught us many lessons. We realised there were plenty of young marrieds including lots of ex-servicemen and their wives who were a lot worse off. For example, when we went on holidays on a couple of occasions we invited Ron and Norma Sunderland to move into our house as “caretakers” while we were away and they “jumped” at the opportunity because, at that time they were still living in rather restricted conditions with Norma's parents. In all, we lived at Herbert Street for nearly ten years until we moved to Church Street, Parramatta to live with Grandpa Pegler as described earlier.
But let us return to the first year that we were on our own. With so many of our friends with babies, and now having a nest of our own we were getting rather clucky. I recall going up to Dalmar Homes one day as part of a Church outing where Jean and I fell in love with a little boy called Edwin. I still have his picture in my album. I wonder where Edwin is now? But we would have loved to have adopted him. We wondered after a few months if there was some reason why we couldn't have children. Dr Woolnough, when quizzed on the subject said “Keep trying!” So we did. And it wasn't long before Jean told me some exciting news. But she wouldn't tell anyone else for quite a while. Perhaps our parents knew, but most people were kept guessing until it was patently obvious!
Now it is not my intention to say very much about my dear Wife or our children in this Memoir. I don't want to give them swelled heads. (Nor do I wish to become estranged from them.) Perhaps one day I shall write a sequel. But this book is about my Parents, my Ancestors and me. Of course, I can't help mentioning them in passing, and that is what I shall do-mention them in passing.
Jean, my companion and wife for over 42 years, has already been mentioned, and will be again. If you have been reading carefully you will know that her birthday is 31st October that she was born in 1916, that she has borne four children of which three survive. She also has seven grand-children-so far. That she has been a wonderful wife and mother must be obvious. That I love her very dearly is also, I hope, equally obvious.
And if you wonder why I am writing this memoir, let me tell you why. It is because I love my children and I believe they love me. And just as I loved my Parents and wish I knew more about them, so I am writing this that they may know more about me, and about those who went before, and perhaps give them the incentive to ask some more questions while there is someone around to answer them. Besides this memoir I have a stack of photo albums including some from my Mother and Sister. How I wish they were better documented and in better shape. I wonder what happened to the prints that are missing, especially from my Mother's. So I'm trying to get mine in order, with titles and notes so that for at least one generation after I am gone, or my memory has, there will be some evidence of the things I thought important enough or interesting enough or beautiful enough to photograph. There are many things that I wish I had kept. It is a sadness, for example, that not a single copy of “The Granville Methodist Gazette” or “The Torch-bearer” seems to have survived our several moves. I have tapes and cassettes recording things the children have said or sung. I have boxes of slides, shoe-boxes of old photos, a few 8mm movies. What continuing use are they likely to be until perhaps a grandchild or great grandchild finds them one day and gets the kind of thrill I get when I find something new about my Father or my Great-grandfather. That is, if any of these things survive. I hope something does. Perhaps it will be this memoir?
So, without saying a lot about my children and grand-children let me just put down the following for the record.
Judith was born on 7th November 1945 when the Jacaranda trees were blooming after World War 2 was over. She was educated at William Street Public School at Granville and Arthur Phillip High School at Parramatta. She married Donald James Carter (born 30th September 1944), a Civil Engineer, later to Graduate from The Queensland Institute of Technology and become an Associate Member of the Institution of Engineers, Australia. They were married on the Australia Day week-end, 28th January 1967. They have three children, Jane Ann born 4th July 1970, Paul James born 22nd June 1972, and Liesel Ann born 15th December 1974. They live at Blaxland on the Lower Blue Mountains. Don works for the Main Roads Department.
Philip John was born on a hot steamy day, 16th January 1948. He was educated at William Street Public School at Granville, Parramatta High School, Wavell Heights High School, Brisbane Boys College and Queensland University qualifying as a Bachelor of Arts to which he later added Master of Business Administration from a Melbourne University. He is a member of the Australian Institute of Management. He married Judith Margaret Anne Beeston (born 22nd April 1946), a Brisbane Secretary, on 7th September 1968. They have two children, Jamie Philip Kinross born 4th April 1972, and Melanie Margaret Anne born 24th January 1973. Philip, after a career in commercial radio is now Director of Planning and Executive Team Leader of World Vision of Australia. They live at Boronia in Victoria.
Ann was born on a spring-like day on 5th August 1949. She was educated at William Street Public School, Granville, Parramatta High School and Wavell Heights High School. She married Renzo Benedet (born 1st December 1951), a Bachelor of Economics, on 16th September 1978. They have two children, Carly born 25th May 1979 and Michael John born 1st September 1981. They live at Arncliffe, New South Wales. Renzo is the Chief Development Officer, Offsets/Overseas Liaison in the N.S.W Department of Industrial Development & Decentralisation. He had earlier experience in a Commonwealth Government Department.
Ian George was born after a difficult birth during which his Mother came close to losing her life, on 31st July 1953, and after a short life with us, unaccountably died by “cot death” on 24th September 1953.