Sunday, 13 May 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 19 - Mothers Day

Mother's Day - a time to celebrate and reflect on the lives of our mothers. In this post I look at how a girl from Queensland acclimatised to living in Melbourne.
My mother introducing me to an amused horse -1948
My mother, Rosemary Lord, was 19 when she married and moved with my father to Melbourne in 1946. Born in western Queensland, she had moved to Sydney in 1939 to attend secondary school and consequently had lived in Sydney during World War II. Seven years later she was again starting a new life in another strange city.

Notes from an interview with my mother in 1994 reveal some of her experiences at this time.

My father, Ken Moses, was a journalist and had transferred to Melbourne to work on the Sun News Pictorial towards the end of 1945. He had been working in Melbourne for almost six months before returning to Sydney to marry my mother on 11 February 1946. After a honeymoon at Phillip Island Mum started her new life in Melbourne.

Initially my parents stayed at a boarding house, Dever, 444 St Kilda Road, before the building was demolished and absorbed into Repatriation Department (Veterans Affairs) buildings. Mum described her experiences when she first came to Melbourne: Ken worked for the Sun and I didn't have anything to do and didn't know anyone apart from a couple of old aunts.The 'old aunts' were Aunt Meg, the sister of Mum's grandfather, and Aunt Vi, Aunt Meg's sister in law. A great uncle, Maurice Hutton, and his family also lived at Burwood. Mum occasionally visited them but did not know them well.

Mum later observed: When I look back I should have got a job but one didn't think of doing such things in those days once you were married. It was really ridiculous because we really needed the money. In Sydney Mum had worked as a receptionist for a music company.

After six months at the boarding house, my parents moved to Hotham Street, Elsternwick, where they shared a house with Mr Greer. The house, near the Ripponlea shopping centre, provided them with two bedrooms, a lounge room, a small balcony and the use of  the bathroom, kitchen and backyard. This arrangement would have provided Mum with a little more freedom and independence. Mum described Mr Greer as a very nice gentleman, very good to us. Fortunately Mr Greer did not mind young children as I was born at the local hospital during their time in Elsternwick.

When I was ten months old Dad left for England to cover the London Olympic Games for the Sun newspaper so Mum and I spent the next six months at the home of my grandparents in Queensland. Although Dad returned to Australia just before Christmas, Mum and I remained in Queensland until January until my parents found somewhere to live in Melbourne.

The location this time was Fern Tree Gully. My mother did not enjoy her six months living there:

We had a house. It was pretty terrible. In those days (1949) Ferntree Gully really seemed the the end of the world. The only good thing was you could go for long walks around the place. I knew absolutely no-one. Trying to go into town or do anything was quite an event. Ken started work at 2 in the afternoon and if he missed the last train at night he used to come at 4 in the morning on the milk train.
Fortunately accommodation became available again at Mr Greer's home so my parents moved back there until deciding to rent a house in Reservoir. This is where they were living when my sister joined the family in 1951. I remember that my father purchased a car around the same time that my sister arrived.

The next few years were ones of relative stability for my mother. She was now living in her own home and had two children to keep her occupied. I was able to attend kindergarten and dancing class in the hall around the corner from our house. We also attended Sunday School in the hall. The shops were nearby, as was the railway station. In the middle of 1953 I started school. I suspect that Mum's life at Reservoir became more ordered and settled.

Then my parents decided it was time to purchase a home of their own so in May 1955 the four of us moved to East Bentleigh to live in a brand new house. The area had been market garden and our house was the third house to be built in the street. It was not long, however, before other houses were built. There was a shopping strip aound the corner, the school was three streets away and a short distance further on was the church. The Oakleigh - Middle Brighton bus stopped at the top of the street making it relatively easy to get to the main shopping areas at East Bentleigh or Bentleigh, and when I went to secondary school I travelled by bus to Brighton.

Our street soon filled with young families and firm friendships were formed. Mum now had a community in which she could become involved.  She joined the Mothers' Club at school, and as this was a new, initially over crowded school, there were always fund-raising activities including the annual school fete. Mum baked lots of cakes and made sweets such as toffees and coconut ice for fundraising activities for both the school and the church. Dad was also involved in community events when work commitments allowed. It was not long before East Bentleigh became home.

The first nine years living in Melbourne involved many changes in accommodation and were often lonely times for my mother. However my mother has lived in East Bentleigh now for sixty-three years, a place that she now definitely calls home. Although many of her original friends have moved from the area or have died, my mother is still active in support networks including the ladies group at the church and with RSL and Legacy groups which work with war widows. It is easy to joke that an appointment is required to ensure that Mum is at home before we visit. 


  1. I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at
    Thank you, Chris

  2. Lovely story of your Mother’s life. I feel for her in those times of lonelliness - it can be such a disconnection, so it was comforting that she eventually found a sense of community and enjoys her life.