Agnes was not the name favoured by my grandmother so she was referred to by most people as Fairy and to her grandchildren she was always Granny Fairy. I understand that Dutchie was a name also used by some family members. In a letter written in 1982 to my father, the cartoonist and friend of my grandparents, Syd Miller, wrote about the fury that would follow if he referred to my grandmother as Agnes instead of Fairy. He commented, 'She refused to be called Agnes by anyone'.
On 29 January 1914 when Fairy was 22 she married Reginald John Henry Moses (born Henry John Moses). They were married at St James' Church in King Street Sydney. Reg was a journalist and at the time of their marriage was editor of a Sydney weekly sporting newspaper, Saturday Referee, published from 1912-1916, when it became The Arrow.
On 5 January 1915 Fairy and Reg's first son, Reginald Moses, was born at The Towers Private Hospital, Forest Road, Arncliffe.
On 4 September 1918 their second son, Kenneth Campbell Moses was born at Montrose Private Hospital, Gordon Street, Paddington.
|At the foot of Paddy's Hill, Cobbity 1921|
We thought frequently of the families back home but at least one of us would say or think, "All that has been arranged, they are being looked after by sensible and mostly (if not relatives) well-paid people - you know, you look after mine, I'll look after yours. It often depended on who got in first with the request. Still works that way, I suppose - later as the years progressed we'd say or think, "They're old enough to look after themselves." In modern parlance: "She'll be sweet, mate."In the 1920s Reg, referred to as Mo in many of his articles, worked for the satirical newspaper, Smith's Weekly. In the book, The sea coast of Bohemia, Peter Kirkpatrick commented that not all of the Smith's Weekly staff were, of course, Bohemians. "Still the paper remained a focus for many of those who chose to be unconventional in whatever way, and commentators have continued to group its push of artists and poets under the Bohemian label." (page 115)
We do not know for certain the extent to which Mo and Fairy were involved in Sydney's Bohemian scene in the 1920s and early 1930s however the tone of Syd Miller's letter, including the statement that the 'Mos' and the Millers frequently journeyed together in the car and liked to go 'from pub to club,' plus the fact that Kirkpatrick listed Reg Moses in the list of biographical sketches at the end of his book suggests that there was some involvement. Kirkpatrick's book also describes the activities of Smith's Weekly staff at hotels, balls, parties and other functions. Friends of Mo, including the poet Kenneth Slessor, were among those listed with involvement in the Bohemian scene in Sydney. The annual Artists' Masquerade Ball held at the Sydney Town Hall to raise money for the Red Cross and other charities was a major social event and it is probable that Mo and Fairy would have attended one or two of them.
|At home at 68 Wood Street, 1935|
|Agnes Moses, front right, in the Daily Telegraph library 1948|
Fairy always dressed well and I have been told that wherever she lived she always had a well kept garden. As we lived in Melbourne we only saw our Sydney family for a few days when we were travelling to visit my mother's family in Queensland. Although Fairy did not see her grandchildren often she was always interested in what we were doing and kept track of all the milestones. I remember receiving on each birthday and at Christmas a card with a ten shilling note from Granny Fairy. She also wrote a letter of congratulations to me when I received my matriculation results at the end of secondary school and again when I completed my librarianship training. At the end of 1972 I received another letter saying how pleased she was that I had completed a Bachelor of Arts degree. She explained that my grandfather had a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Sydney and, at that stage, I was the only other member of the immediate family to have attended university.
Two years later on 8 November 1974 Fairy died . She was 83.
Agnes Campbell Thom was my grandmother.
Peter Kirkpatrick. The sea coast of Bohemia: literary life in Sydney's roaring twenties. 1992