A LIFE ALBUM
Norman James Floyd
The events recorded in this album will not be in correct chronological order. Neither will they be guaranteed as factually accurate, because they are a spasmodic collection of reminiscences relating to experiences covering eighty years, and depending on a weakening memory, blurred by the passage of time. In some cases the facts have been complemented by other people.
– Norman James Floyd, Wyoming 1992.
By Peter James Floyd.
“Grandad”, as we knew him growing up, was full of life, energy, and enthusiasm. He loved everything, and everyone, and most definitely was not an ‘adult’ in the mold of other adults. However, it seems that his earlier life – largely unknown to us grandchildren – was just as lively, energetic and enthusiastic. It seems he just never fully grew up like others do.
My memories of this man include learning how to body-surf at the beach, his orchard of orange trees in his backyard, and the incredible (and often edible) range of varieties of homemade jams … Bean and Carrot Jam, yum! I also have vivid memories of his Volkswagen, and later the little Ford laser, and the fear we all shared about him driving in them as his reflexes, and focus, started to fail. But they also include his lovely paintings – of which I am the proud owner of some now – and the sheer time he loved to spend with us kids.
In this “Life Album” I have taken the contents of a book that he filled out, and tried to reproduce it. The book was given to him by his youngest son, my Uncle Ted, and provided headings, and often memory jogging terms, and plenty of blank space for the owner to record their own life story. Grandad did so in about 1992. Soon afterwards he suffered a stroke, and was rendered incapable of either re-doing an activity such as this, updating or even dictating to someone else – so this is definitely his last words on the subject.
Grandad survived eight years after writing this, with good and bad days, but gradually more of the latter. Eventually he passed on in 2000, and I have included his eulogy, as given by my father. It was about then that the existence of these memories came to light, and now I am proud to be able to present this information to interested family and friends.
Grandparents, Uncles and Aunts
Grandfather and Grandmother Floyd moved from Icely to Lucknow where I first knew them on a farm. They raised ten children and apart from my father, the best known to me were uncles Peter and Joe, and aunts Sarah and Emma.
Uncle Peter had a farm at Spring Hill, about two miles across the paddocks from our Clearview farm and his two sons, Eric and Mervyn resorted to pea-farming. There among other neighbouring farms, I earned much of the cash to pay my way through college, by pea-picking. Uncle Peter was best known to me as superintendent of the Spring Hill Methodist Sunday School. He was also a Councillor of the Canoblas Shire Council.
I remember Uncle Joe well because of his association with cricket. Once he brought a team from Orange to play at Spring Hill, and because the locals couldn’t muster a full team, Col Dooley and I, both High School boys were asked to play. We saved our side from total collapse by scoring fifty odd each. Uncle played in the Orange competition for years and I had the pleasure of playing against him many years later when I represented Molong in the Orange competition. He was a competent batsman, a teasing leg-spin bowler, but especially a reliable slips fieldsman. Maybe his habit of constantly sucking boiled lollies, and licking his fingers explained his bowling and fielding success.
Aunts Sarah and Emma, each married to a Harris, lived at Wellington and their sons, Fred and Ted often exchanged visits with us and were great mates, sharing in many escapades which I hope to describe elsewhere.
Grandfather was best known throughout the district as a Methodist lay preacher. He rode his taffy pony many miles to his appointments; the farthest that I know of being to Molong, some thirty miles.
Grandfather and Grandmother moved from their Lucknow farm, to live with Uncle Jabe in a large house near the Lucknow school. It was there they celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary, an occasion very well remembered.
As a very necessary preparation for the feast that we expected, we children were thoroughly rehearsed in table manners, and dutifully refrained from picking bones at the table. Instead, we pocketed them and enjoyed them later on the Jackass mine dump outside the back yard. Unfortunately, as so often happens in a group of children, arguments arose, one resulting in Fred Harris pushing me over the edge of the dump. The plants I grabbed as I rolled down didn’t halt my rolling and followed me down into a creek, thirty feet below. I declined Uncle Jabe’s offer of a dry outfit of cousin Belle’s clothes and spent the rest of the day drying myself as best I could.
Uncle Jack, Mum’s brother was a frequent lodger in one of the sheds at Clearview. He turned up each harvest time, and stayed till the hay was all in stacks and then wondered off somewhere to no fixed place of abode until next harvest. I remember him helping to run down a rooster in our yard, not noticing a clothesline, which was hanging chest high; with dire results. I also remember the alacrity with which he sprang from a load of hay when a sheaf was pitched up with a snake clinging to it.
Around the turn of the century, George Floyd would ride daily from his home in Lucknow, by the back road through Bagtown to his newly acquired farm at Spring Hill. In Bagtown he would pass the modern Nicholls cottage where he would often wave to the girls, or maybe stop for a chat. Eliza Nicholls subsequently became his wife and moved with him to establish Clearview, which was to become our home.
The transformation of heavily timbered virgin bushland into a flourishing mixed-farming property, complete with an orchard, required pertinacity, courage and stamina, with all of which Dad was well equipped. He believed in making full use of daylight and expected us and other employees to do the same. A young Agricultural student whose father arranged his employment, to gain harvesting experience, arrived next morning long after we had started, cheerfully asking “Well, where do we start, and when?” “Right here”, said Dad, “an hour ago!”
He allowed us to attend parties, or other social outings with reservations, always stipulating that we should be home early and up in time for the next day’s work. I met these conditions by dressing in work clothes before retiring and could sprint out, fully dressed as soon as I heard Dad preparing the fire in the kitchen.
Dad had strict rules for himself as well as for others. He never smoked. Placards prohibiting smoking hung in prominent places in our home. He was a strict teetotaller. Once when shopping in Orange we couldn’t find him. Mum asked Grandfather “Do you know where George is?” “No, but I know where he ain’t!” he replied pertinently. The nearest Dad got to a hotel was when he stabled the buggy horse in the hotel stables. Dad discouraged dancing, mainly because of its association with liquor. That probably explains my aversion to dancing until my twenties.
He never swore, at least not in the conventional sense. If his own vocabulary was inadequate, he improvised, I have heard him castigating a recalcitrant horse with “Get over there you fadgin dobbit!” At cricket, a well bowled delivery, a smart catch, or a brilliant stroke elicited the excited exclamation: “ooh! A Boolacoo!” Ironically, he showed an exceptional command of English expression, especially as a lay preacher, for which he was very well known and respected.
His musical ability was manifest in his role as choirmaster at Spring Hill Methodist Church, and as a soloist at various concerts; his rich bass-baritone voice being acclaimed. His playing of simple tunes on the organ was made difficult by fingers badly gnarled by hard work. He was a talented artist, his pencil sketches, especially of horses and their riders, adorning our walls.
He loved sport, especially cricket and to a lesser extent, tennis. In the former he was highly regarded throughout the Central West as a wicket keeper, and more so as a left-hand batsman. I proudly remember the times we watched him bat right through a team’s innings, often compiling centuries.
He lived an arduous life at Clearview, proud of many improvements that he made; never faltering or complaining of misfortunes or disappointments that often follow a farmer’s most strenuous efforts. I remember vividly his dash across the farm, over a mile to the railway line, gathering branches as he ran, to beat out a fire started by a spark from a passing train and threatening a wheat crop. With a little assistance from us he succeeded. Then there was the heart-breaking half-hour of hailstones that demolished the fruits of a year’s labour.
Dad passed his final Earthly moments in a place which I fancy he would have chosen. He collapsed and died of heart failure while working in his belloved Hill paddock. I hope that some, or all of his qualities may be inherited by his progeny.
My mother spent her childhood at Sunny Corner, a small mining settlement between Bathurst and Orange. Her father was killed in a mining accident at Cobar, and her mother moved with the young family to Bagtown, a suburb of the busy gold-mining town of Lucknow. I called it a town, though only scattered mine dumps and the machinery of some mines still operating suggest any former prosperity. Mum’s mother remarried and I know her as Gran’ma Eslick.
Dad’s choice of a partner (as related in the previous article) was a happy and providential one. Mum faithfully and selflessly supported him in all that he did and all that he stood for. Possessed of a retiring and reserved nature – almost shy – her love of home and family surpassed her extraneous interests. Her outings were almost always with Dad, or some members of the family.
At church functions, by far her main social outlets, she was helpful, dependable, but never aspiring to prominence or leadership. She very rarely missed a church service. I can still in fancy see her, when transport was not available (as happened when Dad had a preaching appointment elsewhere) trudging the two miles with the final steep climb to the church on the hill.
We attended Sunday School an hour before the church service, so I can only remember once accompanying her on that walk. About halfway, she noticed to her horror some dirt on my knees, so she dragged me to a nearby pool, and administered a thorough scrubbing; no doubt to the amusement of the Mays who passed by in their sulky. I suppose Mum reckoned that “Cleanliness was next to Godliness!”
I don’t think Mum ever recovered fully from the loss of her first two children, Dorothy and Vivian. We could sense her sadness when anything reminded her of them. I remember now her alarm when any of us became sick.
I remember too the fierce protective anger if danger threatened us. One day, when we were very young, we were playing in the yard, unaware that a snake was wriggling in our direction. Now, normally, Mum would run a mile rather than confront a snake, but the safety of her children was good enough reason to forget her own fears. Grabbing a handy stick, she pulverised the luckless reptile into an unrecognisable fleshy mass – or mess. If a snake has nine lives I reckon Mum accounted for them all.
I remember, too, once when I was older, her angry scowl as she snatched a glass of beer offered me by her brother-in-law, Joe Rushton. Her aversion to alcohol, as zealous and unyielding as Dad’s, had a lifelong effect on my attitude.
The sadness, often apparent, grew to deep depression and melancholia in her later years. Her grief after Dad’s death resulted in a severe mental illness from which she never recovered.
Brothers and Sisters
Brother Wiff became second-in-command at Clearview and after Dad’s death was Commander-in-Chief. He married Alma Whiley, one of four sisters who lived with their parents next door to the Temperance Hall. That was after he had courted Nellie Davis, who lived at the bottom of the Church Hill. We knew that because old Jess, our saddle horse, stubbornly refused to go past Nell’s place without a lot of urging.
Wiff and Alma lived in a cottage on the property bought from the Moad’s, until Clearview was sold, then retired to a fine home at 10 Yalunta Place, Orange. Their son, Geoff, also living in Orange is well established in a sporting-goods business dealing especially in firearms and ammunition. Alma still lives at Yulanta Place after Wiff’s death and keeps busy with floral art, her work being in demand, especially by bridal parties.
Horrie specialised in the orcharding pursuits, and married Claire Hawke, daughter of an Orange orchardist. They later bought an elegant home in Kylie Crescent, but sadly after some years Claire passed away. Horrie still lives there with his second wife Margaret. In his younger years Horrie was always prominent in Orange cricket, having an important part in the success of a young club, the Ophir Colts – and represented Orange commendably for years.
He and Margaret share an interest in golf and are fortunate in being able to step from their back yard onto the Golf Course. Apart from enjoying his golf, which he plays competently, a bucketful of golf balls in his garage is evidence that he often enjoyed a stroll with his dog across the course, not necessarily on the fairways.
Dulce was another of the family to migrate to Orange. Employed for a time as a domestic, she met and married Norm Meade and they were later employed at Cousin’s dairy-produce distributing establishment, next door to their first home. They became heavily involved in the life of the Methodist (now Uniting) Church, Dulce with the Girls’ Comrades and Choir (in which she was joined by daughter Val, who added the position of organist).
Dulce and Norm did much in a caretaking capacity. Often when calling at 10 Nile St. (their second and present home) and finding them not at home, I would go to the church, sure of finding them there at their home away from home. Dulce and Norm are grandparents, sons Ron and Lloyd and daughter Val having young families of their own.
I have been told (because I have no recollection of the event) that I was born on the 22nd of March, 1909 in Dudley Hospital, Orange; son of George James Floyd and Eliza Dahlia Bereman Floyd (nee Nicholls). Three other children of the above were born previously; namely Dorothy, born 27th November, 1903; Vivian, born 13th December, 1905; and Wilfred Varney, born 13th May, 1907. Of these three, Dorothy and Vivian died before my birth, so that the family, as I knew it, comprised Wilfred (Wiff), myself, Norman James (Joe), Dulcie Grace, born 26th March, 1913 and Horace Carl, born 6th February, 1917.
I was told that I was given the nickname of Joe from the time I began to walk by a nursemaid, Kath Kelly, who compared my wobbly gait with that of an old Lucknow miner, Joe Murphy (who staggered home from work – and a stop for refreshment) for reasons different from mine. The name Joe stuck, and right through my school days till age about sixteen, I was known by schoolmates and teachers alike, by no other name. Dad often recalled asking at the Rural School, Orange, if he could see Norman, and was asked by the teacher “Is he Joe’s brother?” I remember a verse in the Orange High School magazine which began: “Oh Joe, oh Joe, you naughty boy!” It referred to an episode, which is worth relating. See School Days.
My earliest memories were of incidents at home, “Clearview” Spring Hill – a farm of some 350 acres about halfway between Spring Hill and Lucknow. Two incidents when I was about age three come to mind: One day, Mum found me hiding in a kerosene box (made to hold two four-gallon tins). I explained that I was waiting to see if God could find me. I have no proof of the result, but I am sure He has kept a caring watch over me ever since. Mum was not so sympathetically amused another time when she found me in my first imitation of cooking – bashing a dozen eggs with a flat stick in a heap of dust and chaff in one of the machinery sheds.
My Childhood Home
Clearview was a mixture of weatherboard, galvanised iron and even one room of ‘wattle and dab’. Situated on a hill it overlooked the Spring Hill-Lucknow road and beyond to the 100 acre hill paddock which was gradually transformed from a heavily timbered block to a cultivation area suitable for growing hay, potatoes etc, and later for lucernes and improved pastures for sheep. I remember well the process of clearing; grubbing of huge gum trees; burning of logs; often on huge boulders to break them – and roasting potatoes in the hot coals.
The house boasted no facilities like running water. It was drawn in buckets from galvanised iron tanks outside and heated for baths or cooking over an open fire, or on a fuel stove. The toilet comprised a hut, over a pit, outside the house-yard, and about 2 chains distant. There were three bedrooms, but we boys preferred to sleep on the open front veranda, sharing the warmth with dogs and cats.
There were several sheds with 2 stables and space for farm machinery, sulkies and a buggy, which was later, replaced by a car. Some sheds were furnished with crude bunks for seasonal workers, who also had the use of a detached hut with a large open fireplace for cooking purposes. When unoccupied these buildings were ideal for some of our games. Behind the house was the orchard, producing mainly apples, pears and grapes, with its packing shed.
Our postal address was Spring Hill, a small village with scarcely 100 residents, situated on the main western railway between Millthorpe and Orange, and commercially linked with both. It had an imposing railway station for such a small village, and a large goods yard and goods shed for the loading and dispatch of farm produce – chaff, potatoes, fruit, peas, grain etc. A branch line skirted the village and led to Cadia where iron-ore was mined and loaded for despatch to Lithgow.
A huge produce store and an iron foundry, once situated in the main street have long since disappeared. There still remains an hotel, a general store (which will be mentioned elsewhere) a bakery, a butcher’s shop, and two sweets and small goods shops, to the last of which is now attached the Post Office. It was previously attached to the general store aforementioned. Opposite the present P.O. was the temperance Hall, which served many purposes, two of which were most interesting and memorable to me.
We often went there to enjoy the silent “flicks” of which Charlie Chaplin comedies were most popular. Then, annually, the Methodist congregation held a Harvest Thanksgiving service. The church was elaborately decorated with farm and home produce, which was later taken to the Hall for a sale of gifts. I remember well the feature of those sales – the auctioning of watermelons for as much as ?20 each, and then the distribution of slices to lucky children.
The Methodist Church, a sturdy blue-metal building, stood on the hill overlooking the village and will be mentioned elsewhere. Down the road stood the Parsonage and opposite it, the school. The Anglican Church stood in a cluster with the Temperance Hall and the Post Office.
The Railway line separated the village from the Cemetery and the “Rec” – or Recreation Ground which was often the venue for exciting Rugby League matches between the locals and teams from places like Lucknow, Shadforth and Millthorpe. Cricket matches and picnics were also held there and at one end of the ground were two gravel tennis courts.
The village as I knew it best, and as I have described it, was a collection of a few scattered residences, but in recent years many new houses have been built by folk from Orange, for instance, taking advantage of lower land prices and cheaper rates.
Visits by travelling hawkers and entertainers to Clearview were few and far between. I remember the Indian hawker with his horse drawn caravan carrying an assortment of silks and other fancy materials and garments. A group of gipsies sometimes visited us, entertaining us by playing musical instruments like the accordion, or mouth organ, or inviting us to “see the monkey dance”. Vendors of ointments, liniments and medicines occasionally came by.
Our Childhood Games
Our whole farm was a playground. Our earliest games were based on farming activities. We linked wire hooks to represent a team, pulling a wagon made of tins or boxes. One day I improved that idea by harnessing a team of scaly rock lizards, but abandoned the idea when the leader turned and bit the end off my finger. A visiting hawker bathed the wound in kerosene (my parents being absent) and probably saved it from infection.
The hill, sometimes snow-covered in winter suggested experiments with crudely fashioned skis, or with a toboggan made from a perambulator chassis. Snowballing and building snowmen were of course favourite winter pastimes.
Birds in the orchard and rabbits in the bushland encouraged shooting; first with catapults, and later with rifles or shotguns. Rabbits provided a means of earning pocket money. We shot them, dug them from their burrows, trained dogs to catch them and trapped them; the last requiring an early start each day, examining the traps before setting out for school, which in high school days meant catching the train at Huntley, 2 miles distant, to travel to Orange, a further 8 miles.
Of course we played cricket (bowls out, goes in) and football; and I remember the inflated pig’s bladder, which lasted at least 2 games of the latter. We made a tennis court with river gravel from Perthville. It was rolled with a cylindrical oil-drum filled with concrete, and it was my job to whitewash the lines with a brush. Tennis afternoons became important social events at Clearview, visitors coming from Lucknow, Millthorpe, Orange and Spring Hill.
Creeks near Clearview had many pools or bogey-holes as Dad called them, small, but large enough to splash about in and learn our first swimming strokes. One such pool, our favourite, was in a far corner of Ginn’s bush paddock, near the residence of Mrs. Davis, whose ducks were often disturbed by our frolics. One day we had enjoyed a swim and were sprawled out on the bank in our birthday suits, soaking up the sunshine, when we heard the voice of Mrs. Davis emanating from nearby brier bushes: “Just getting out of the water?” “No, were just getting back in!” yelled Wiff and four of us hit the water together with a mighty splash.
Dad encouraged our swimming and often drove us to Bagtown Dam on the back road to Lucknow where there was plenty of room to swim as far as we were able. One day though, misfortune came in the form of an accident to Wiff. We had a good strenuous swim and were playing in shallow water near the edge, when Wiff knelt down, unfortunately on a broken glass bottle. Blood gushed from his knee and we carried him over to the sulky. Dad drove him two miles to Lucknow and from there a friend of Dad’s drove them by car the six miles to Orange and to a doctor. The deep gash was stitched, and with the knee tightly bandaged, he was ready for his next adventure.
That occurred a few days (or nights) later and is described elsewhere under the heading “Childhood Fears”.
Gangs and Battles
Wiff and I had a select group of mates when we went bird-nesting or rabbiting in the nearby bushland. Would-be intruders were definitely not welcome. One day George Bryant persisted in following us, so we waited until he came close enough, which happened to be just as we were digging out a very deep rabbit burrow. We caught him, tied his hands behind him; also tied his legs, and buried him up to his chin in the huge hole we had made. We left him and went further into the bush in search of more burrows. We don’t know how he managed it, but he did escape as we found out a few days later.
In High School days we travelled to Orange by train, and generally the Spring Hill boys kept in a compartment to themselves, as did the Blayney group and the Millthorpe boys. Occasionally though, it was necessary to share a compartment, in circumstances which weren’t always harmonious. We had a set of boxing gloves and many a close encounter took place in the cramped conditions. Strangely enough, in the school surroundings, the “Train” groups united in a strange loyalty in hostilities with the “Town” gangs.
On the slope in front of our house stood the remains of an old orchard comprising a few old pear and quince trees, and especially three mulberry trees. In one of the latter I built a platform on which I spent many hours reclining and reflecting, disturbed only by the urge to reach out and gather a handful of the luscious berries.
One of our quince trees supplied lots of fruit for quince dumplings and for jam, and it was often my job to pick the fruit. On one occasion I had filled one bucket and left it standing on the ground while I climbed into the tree with a second bucket. Some fowls discovered the first and began picking greedily at the fruit. Some of the words I shouted meant nothing to the chooks, but Dad just happened to be passing within hearing distance and demonstrated his objection to my ‘fowl’ language with the aid of a sturdy belt.
My best remembered pets were three dogs and a magpie. I carried Tiny home from school, in my coat pocket. She never grew to be much larger than a cat but was a useful companion when we went digging rabbits from their burrows and was a useful watchdog. Nipper was a larger fox terrier and capable of running rabbits down.
Jacko was a stray of no identifiable breed who came uninvited and made himself at home. Mostly useless, he did on a few occasions wander off to the paddock and annoy the cows until they chased him home, thus saving us the task of rounding them up for milking.
The magpie, also named Jacko, also strayed to our place, evidently after receiving a very broad education from a previous owner. He would sit under the bushes, especially on a windy day and carry on a most realistic human conversation, punctuated by laughing, and often a spasm of coughing. He could also imitate the barking of several dogs, to such good effect that I remember visitors standing outside the yard, afraid to enter because of the ferocious barking emanating from the bushes. Unfortunately, Jacko the magpie met a sad end. He was attacked by a number of wild birds, and Tiny, rushing to his aid, snapped and fatally bit the wrong magpie.
Familiar smells of Childhood
At the back of our house stood two peach trees and the luscious fruit often fell to lie amongst bushes of mint growing underneath. For years, if mint sauce was served with a meal, I would fancy I could smell peaches, and often in the presence of peaches I would imagine I could smell mint.
Hair and Haircuts
Dad, with a special pair of scissors, which no one dared use for any other purpose, was our barber. That is except for a couple of well-remembered occasions. One day, in the absence of our parents, we decided that Horrie needed a haircut. Horrie agreed, but when Wiff produced a pair of horse-clippers, he began to have doubts, and I held the victim down while Wiff continued the operation. Horrie has never had such a close-cropped haircut as that one.
Wiff, one day, went to an Orange hairdresser, determined not to be influenced by the suggestions as to styles that he expected the barber to make. “I want a plain haircut”, he said bluntly. “Hey Joe” called the tonsorial artist to his assistant in an adjoining room: “Bring me a plane. There’s a cove here wants a plane haircut.”
Apart from Dad’s Bible, which was the most important book at “Clearview”, and which I still possess, though in a state of disrepair, two books that take me back to childhood days are, “Coles Funny Picture Book”, and Steel Rudd’s “On Our Selection”.
The first was a Christmas present for all of us and many hours were enjoyed, reading the stories, laughing at the pictures and jokes, and testing each other with riddles and puzzles. Many enjoyable evenings were spent, sitting around the open fire, while Dad read to us from “On Our Selection”. We imagined ourselves as the characters in those hilarious situations that Steele Rudd described so well, and we often delighted in acting the incidents as we went about our daily chores.
Most of our childhood tasks were the kind you would expect on a farm. We threw grain to feed the fowls and saw that water tins were filled. We gathered the eggs from nests, which were scattered about among the bushes as well as those in the boxes provided.
We yarded the cows for milking, often having to drive them more than a mile from their paddocks. From 8 years old, I took my turn at milking. We turned the separator to separate the cream from the milk and had to bottle-feed pet lambs and ‘poddy’ calves.
It was our job to supply wood from the huge woodheap just outside the yards, for the fuel stove and the large open fireplace. Just as important was the gathering of huge bundles of ‘kindling bark’ from the nearby bush paddock. It was excellent for starting the fires and a large supply of any bark was a necessity.
One periodic inside job was to polish the silverware and clean the cutlery on a special board, sprinkled with a brown powder, whose name I have forgotten. We even helped to polish the floor linoleum by pulling one another over the polished surface on a mat.
On many a daytime escapade we traversed the nearby bushland like intrepid explorers without any inhibitions or concern about the possible risks or dangers. But nighttime was a different matter. I think Shakespeare said “The thief doth fear each bush an officer,” and a similar principle applied to us if we had to venture across the fields after dark.
An instance of that occurred one night when we returned from Orange at about 8pm, and still had to muster the cows for milking, which probably meant a search of the ‘Hill paddock’, extending for possibly a mile. As we proceeded, we sang and shouted lustily, acting on the theory that we might scare any scarer into being too scared to scare us. This continued till we reached the far end of the paddock. There we mounted several stumps and boulders, still singing lustily – at one stage accompanying Thelma May who was playing and singing “The Bells of Saint Mary’s” from the their house in the valley beyond.
Then, thinking I saw the cows across a clearing, I jumped down and began to run. Suddenly a few yards to my left there was an ear-splitting blast of a shot-gun, a flash of blue light and the raucous yell of the gun’s owner: “get to —- —- out of here before I blow your —- brains out.” I needed no further persuasion and turned to follow Wiff who had a considerable start and maintained the lead in spite of a knee, stitched and heavily bandaged following a recent swimming accident (which I hope to describe elsewhere).
We completed the marathon run home, breathless, but just able to splutter out our story. Dad grabbed his shotgun and a lantern. “But George” cried Mum, “He’s got a gun”. “So have I” said Dad as he sallied forth. We heard another shot, and when Dad reached the area he found a dead dog, which partly explained earlier events. Dad brought the cows home.
Some days later in Spring Hill, Dad met “Red Mick” Davis who boasted “I frightened Hell out of a couple of kids up your Hill paddock the other night”. “I know” said Dad, and added a lot of other things.
We attended Spring Hill Primary School – a three roomed brick building with a headmaster’s residence attached. (We often enjoyed domestic disturbances, which were plainly heard through the thin walls). The infant’s room was furnished with dual desks but the senior pupils were accommodated, five per bench, at long desks. The third room served mainly as a library. An acre of the playground was devoted to gardening and a large outer field had a football field and was suitable for picnics etc.
Our term there happened during the years of World War one; and warlike games are the best remembered. A huge trench traversing the lower playground and a large weather-shed, stored with odd furniture and cases, lent themselves to war-imitating exercises. An abandoned hen’s nest which I found while hiding behind a piano-case, provided me with missiles which I’m not sure should be described as grenades or gas-bombs, though some of the targets would agree with the latter.
News of the end of hostilities in Europe, found us prepared with a collection of tins and batons. Mr. Fairlie announced the Armistice signing, and then gave the customary order to turn right and proceed in to school. Instead we turned left. One boy manned the bell-rope and the rest of us collected our “percussion instruments” and marched in a disorderly parade through the school gate and around the village streets. I can’t remember the reaction of the spectators, but at least one startled horse broke through a fence and galloped off down the road.
When local soldiers returned from overseas the school choir participated in ceremonies arranged to welcome them home. Not required till the latter half of the programme, we took leave to visit the local bake-house and with stomachs and pockets crammed with hot fresh bread, returned to perform far below our expected standard.
I should mention that we did have ordinary lessons at school; much of our handicraft exercises devoted to knitting of socks, Balaclava caps etc, to be sent via Red Cross to the boys at the front.
By 1920 I had passed the 2C (Qualifying Certificate) and was ready for High School, which meant a daily train-trip to Orange – (2 miles walk to Huntley siding, 8 miles by train to Orange, thence 2 miles to the school).
Because of a solid grounding in Primary School, my early performance was very good; but then I decided to try for a bursary, with dire results: I was excused from ordinary class and allowed to study unsupervised and unassisted without much knowledge of the curriculum, alone in a bike shed. I failed in my bursary attempt and, worse still, I failed miserably in the yearly exam. Another unrewarding year and Dad, dissatisfied with my progress – or lack of it, arranged my transfer to Orange Rural School, where my achievements were a vast improvement.
But first let me relate the best-remembered incident of my High School days: The saga of the Goose.
Cricket was played on Moulder’s flat, a flat area, as its name implied, surrounded by willows and encircled by a creek. One Wednesday a few of us arrived early at the venue and amused ourselves pelting at geese on the stream’s bank. With my practised accuracy I hit one on the head, killing it. Some local children took it and reported to the owner who complained to our headmaster. Next day at a special assembly I explained that we were hunting the geese from the cricket pitch. Mr. Armstrong suggested that as we were acting in the interests of the cricketers, they might subscribe to the cost claimed. They sportingly responded, so generously that I was able to take the day off, pay Mrs. Sharkey the amount claimed, and make a small profit.
My scholarly efforts at Rural School were far more successful than at High School, resulting in a pass with 7 A’s in the Intermediate Examination. After the examination I stayed on to finish some woodwork models – I still have a bookcase and a taboret, or palm-stand made then.
During a 3rd Class teacher’s absence on 3 week’s sick leave, Headmaster, Mr. J.A. Henry asked me to substitute, which I did so acceptably that he urged me to sit for the Teacher’s College entrance exam. My mate, Jim Coventry and I did that and in 1926 were enrolled at Sydney Teacher’s College – 1 year short-course.
Completing the course, we gained a 3A classification, the highest attainable for short-course students and awaited our first appointments. Then followed 38 years of teaching and learning, the main events of which are recorded elsewhere under the heading of work.
The flats around Clearview were often dotted with mushrooms, often 4 or 5 inches in diameter and we delighted in gathering them by the bucket full – our buckets were 4 gallon kerosene tins – and sometimes we would even fill washing tubs. Cooked in a large pan over an open fire, they were a favourite delicacy.
Our icecream treat was a mixture of cream and snow, with vanilla and sugar added. Of course, when in Orange, we bought the real product from a shop, or from Lippold and Dallas’s cart. At a football match in wintertime, a Lippold and Dallas hot meat pie was just as important as the football match.
The huge flat pans used for other cooking were also excellent for making pancakes, which with sugar, syrup or honey, were a tasty delicacy. Boiled apple or quince dumplings were a favourite pudding and dumplings with golden syrup were a delicious alternative.
A periodic event was the slaughter of a pig and fried brains, boiled pig trotters or tripe and onions would appear on our meal table.
Some pools in nearby creeks abounded in small fish, known to us as Slipperies. They averaged about 6 inches in length, had a smooth skin, and compared very favourably in taste with any fish I know. We made simple rods with cork floats and baited the tiny hooks with worms, which were plentiful in our garden. I remember one afternoon we made a catch of over 90.
Crayfishing was a favourite alternative to fishing, and dams on the flat at Clearview afforded plenty of that sport. Eight-inch crayfish were common and flesh from their great nippers and from their tails was delicious. One day, in Orange we saw some boys crayfishing from a pond in Cook Park. So we decided to try our luck there when we next went to town.
We had caught a few, when a local lad began to throw stones into the water, thus disturbing the fish and spoiling our fishing. We remonstrated with him, but his method of continuing the altercation was to grab our plastic bag of bait and throw it into the pond. Our response was something similar. We grabbed and threw him in, persuading him by some well-directed shots, to stay there until he retrieved our bait. Deciding that we had had enough sport for the day, we packed up and left.
We spent a lot of time bird nesting and saving the blown eggs was a favourite hobby. (We pierced each end of the egg and blew the yolk out. It didn’t always work if there was a young bird inside.) We sometimes augmented our collection by trading special eggs for a number of a different variety, eg: a plover’s egg for 2 starlings’ eggs. We have even been known to paint small pullet’s eggs to represent some very rare variety and trade it off for a number of more common kinds: Sparrows eggs were the most plentiful and consequently the least valuable. When nesting, each of our party was a sort of specialist. While others would climb higher trees, it was always my job to scramble into thick brier bushes for sparrows or similar nests, which I did more for my peers’ acceptance and esteem than because of any disdain of the treacherous thorns.
I have always been keen on sport and played reasonably well at cricket, football, tennis, golf and bowls. But cricket was my first love, due no doubt to my belonging to a keen cricketing family. I played regularly with the Orange Rural School eleven, encouraged by sportsmaster Mr. A.G. Doyle, himself a prominent Orange cricketer, but then only occasionally in Teacher’s College and during my early teaching years.
When I moved to Gosper’s Downs I began playing regularly again, captaining a local team against various district teams – Manildra, Gumble, Cranbury and Reedy Cricket. I had to mention the last because against them I scored my only century; 110. I’ve had plenty of eighties and some nineties, but only one solitary hundred. Leo Giblin gave me a case of peaches to celebrate.
It was then that I joined the Molong club and journeyed forty miles to play with them in the Orange District competition. In my most consistent season with them I averaged 35, although my highest score was only 55. In Sydney I played a few games with Marrickville, but then captained Canterbury Methodists in the Western Suburbs Churches competition.
Returning to the country, I played regularly in Tamworth, and Glen Innes, and captained a Red Range team to win the Glen Innes District competition. After a few games in Gosford, I gave cricket away to seriously take up Lawn Bowls.
My first football code was Rugby League, played at school representing Orange Rural, mainly against Orange High. My next experience of football was at Burgooney where I went one day to watch an Australian Rules match and as the local team was short of a player, was asked to play. My first contribution was to incur a penalty for making an effective Rugby tackle on an opponent, but I did better as the game progressed and was asked to become a regular with the team. I did that, playing for four seasons in the Northern Riverina competition and was often cited as one of the best and fairest players.
I had no further association with football till my transfer to Sydney, where I coached Dulwich Hill school team in Rugby League and gained my referees’ badge to officiate in inter-school matches.
I still remember the daily spoonful of treacle and sulphur administered to us as children. I have no idea why, but I think it was supposed to purify the blood. Eno’s Fruit Salts were for something of a similar purpose. Epsom Salts formed a more drastic measure for clearing the system. We always had Zambuck for cuts and scratches and even as an embrocation for muscular pain. But Sloan’s liniment was supposed to take care of muscular pain.
I remember once, while harvesting, I assayed to jump from a load of hay onto the few tiers of a newly started stack. My feet slipped and I landed on my shoulder, injuring the muscles. Sloan’s was the remedy applied at lunchtime and I returned to work in the hot afternoon. That’s when the liniment had its burning effect. I still fancy I would have preferred the aching muscles to the stinging effect of Sloan’s.
For chest complaints, Hearn’s Bronchitis Cure was always handy. Mustard poultices were another ‘kill or cure’ method, while I remember the ‘dilly-bags’ with camphor blocks hung around the neck, supposedly, I think, to keep the air passages free.
I learned tennis on our home court at Clearview; and afterwards played most of that game while attending Teacher’s College. On a court next-door to my boarding place I played often under lights as well as on afternoons and on Saturdays. On my return to the country, I continued to play in inter-district matches.
I enjoyed the little golf I played, especially with Manildra club, but unable to practise regularly, made little progress in its skills. I have to confess that one of my most memorable and enjoyable games was one that Reg Prior and I arranged with some visiting girls at Lake Cargelligo. Naturally Reg and I carried our partner’s clubs as well as our own and Reg wondered why his load seemed heavier than he expected. That was until he found half a brick secreted in each bag he carried. Three of the company wondered how the bricks got there!
I first played bowls at Glen Innes, mainly in the winter, as I was still heavily involved in cricket. At Junee bowls gradually took over, and at Gosford, apart from a few very rare games of cricket, Bowls became my only active sport. Regrettably a series of hip and knee operations has interrupted my participation and now my only enjoyment of any sport is as a spectator, aided by television.
Lighting at Clearview was supplied by kerosene lamps and candles. I remember an incident in which a bedroom curtain blew over a candle and caught alight. Emmy Rushton, a cousin employed as a housemaid averted a serious conflagration by thrusting the curtain into a bedchamber, – another useful commodity of those days.
Fuel stoves and open fireplaces provided the heating. Back logs for the latter were almost 4ft long and up to 10ins thick. They often kept burning through the night and red coals greeted us in the chilly mornings. Flat irons, – used for ironing – were often also used as forerunners to electric blankets; heated and wrapped in woollens, then placed between the bed sheets, they were a much appreciated comfort. Rubber hot-water bottles were used for a similar purpose.
Canvas bags were used to keep water cool, but food was kept fresh – butter kept firm – in a drip safe – a contrivance with a tap fashioned as a water container, from which hung flannel sheets, down over the sides of the safe. Water seeping through the flannel, evaporated, thus cooling the safe and its contents.
Water was not laid on and had to be carried in buckets from the galvanised-iron tanks, which were filled from the roof. Clothes washing was by hand, the water being heated over a fire outside. A later addition to the appliances was a bricked-in copper, fuelled by wood. A corrugated wooden washboard was used for scrubbing and a wringer was used to roll the articles through rubber rollers to do the job that is now done by a spin dryer. The clothes-line for drying, consisted of two wires, stretched between two posts, 30 yards apart, and supported by clothes props which were easily procured from the nearby bush. Bathwater, too, had to be heated in buckets over the fire, and carried to the bath.
Our pantry had shelves of preserved fruits; pears, peaches, apricots, quinces, apples, cherries and plums. These fruits were all grown in the orchard and preserved in a Fowler’s Preserving outfit. One end of the pantry was taken up by a huge flour-bin capable of holding 10 bushels of flour. Mum specialized in dampers, baked in a cast-iron camp oven, and plenty of dumplings; apple, quince, or syrup, so a good supply of flour was a necessity.
My first job is mentioned elsewhere under the heading or work.
I experimented with smoking, but never enjoyed it enough to become addicted, indulging occasionally, mainly for peer acceptance. I think I only once bought cigarettes. At home we found dried grape leaves a satisfactory substitute for tobacco, while travelling home from school we were content with what we called O.P.s (Other Peoples).
Two noteworthy experiences discouraged any habit-forming. Once Wiff and I, with the two Harris cousins who were holidaying with us, walked to Lucknow and there decided to buy a packet of cigarettes. We brought them back to a bush hut in Ginn’s paddock which we often frequented and began smoking. The others were satisfied with one or two ‘fags’ but I determined to smoke more, and more, and – funny, the ground was dead level when I started, but it began to bulge into huge mounds until one finally grew so big that it hit me on the head and I blacked out.
When I regained sensibility, Mum was there with a bottle of Castor Oil, and listening to my companions telling her of the enormous quantities of unripe raspberries I had eaten. For a time at least, any threat of addiction to nicotine was avoided.
Once in High School days, I was happily anticipating the pleasure of taking Emily Harris (Spring Hill stationmaster’s daughter, and not related to my cousins mentioned elsewhere) to tea at the Sunday School picnic. As often happened, we smoked in the train on the way home. Arriving at Spring Hill, I felt guilty and afraid of Emily’s disapproval of tobacco smells, I walked a mile along the road to procure and chew some gum leaves – a recognised breath deodorant. Returning for my expected rendezvous, I found to my chagrin that Emily was enjoying tea with another beau – maybe a non-smoker!
You will have gathered from my reference to my parents, that they regarded alcohol with abhorrence. I inherited their aversion, partly because I disliked its taste when on a few social occasions I accepted a drink, but principally from the dangerous effects I could see.
Ironically my concern about alcohol influenced my attitude toward dancing, which changed from early disinterest to later enthusiasm. I was at Burgooney in my early twenties when I had my first dance; and that’s a story.
As secretary of the Hall Committee, I attended frequent dances to sell admission tickets and was the subject of plenty of good-natured teasing and some unfriendly challenging for not dancing. Then one night, when relieved of my duties at the ticket window, I approached a young lady who had been one of my tormentors and asked for a dance. By the time I had danced every dance on the programme everyone had recovered from their surprise. Unknown to them I had secretly had lessons and surprised myself at the ease with which I had mastered all the steps.
Now, to try to explain the connection between my concern about alcohol and my attitude to dancing. I became increasingly disturbed by happenings outside dance-halls where a few characters gathered, whose enjoyment and courage came from bottles and often made pests of themselves inside.
When North Junee Parents and Citizens decided to promote dances for the children, I believed that the children’s enjoyment depended largely on the knowledge of dance steps and determined that they should have a chance to learn. That’s why dancing lessons were instituted at North Junee School, and at many a play-time, around 40 boys and girls could be seen in the playground, doing the Hokey Pokey, the Gipsy Tap, Strip the Willow, the Barn Dance as well as simple Waltzes, One Step, Two Step and others whose names I have forgotten. And that’s why kids enjoyed themselves inside the hall, instead of running wild and getting into mischief, perhaps making undesirable contacts outside.
I am not an avid patron of the cinema and would only be persuaded to leave the comfort of my lounge and television by the prospect of seeing a special programme – like Sound of Music, or the Man from Snowy River or several others with equal appeal. I prefer vaudeville or musical comedy.
However, I have nostalgic memories of my enjoyment of the flicks when in school times we could go to the Spring Hill Temperance Hall and see a program of silent flicks, presented by a visiting operator. The most popular and best remembered were Charlie Chaplin comedies.
My next most vivid recollection of regular visits to the pictures was of Harry Moxham’s ‘theatre’ at Lake Cargelligo around 1930. The ‘theatre’ was a galvanised-iron enclosure – open to the skies. Seating consisted of wooden stools with backrests while in the aisles, braziers with burning coals and cow-dung discouraged mosquitos in summer and provided some warmth in winter. They also created a haze through which we dimly saw the pictures and caused a coating of thick black soot to settle on the furniture. I know because I sometimes went attired in tennis clothes and returned home with black bands across the back of my shirt and a huge black patch on the seat of my pants.
The most enjoyable feature of the programmes was the piano accompaniment provided by Ed Fitzgerald a sheer genius. He must have improvised as he went along as the volume and pace of the music was always appropriate to the mood and action of the film. In the early thirties a new theatre was built in the main street and we were able to see and hear the first ‘talkies’.
While stationed at Lake Cargelligo, I boarded with the Prior family, who owned the bakery and who became very well loved friends. When I moved to Burgooney 15 miles distant, I returned as their guest on many weekends or sometimes for an evening.
It so happened that during that time I turned twenty-one, on 22nd March, 1930. It also happened that Ron Spry turned twenty-one on the 21st, and the Prior’s son, Reg, became of age on the 23rd. So, the Priors arranged a great celebration of the three birthdays at their home on the middle date; my birthday.
It was a grand party, but I doubt if it was fully appreciated by Reg, as his birthday didn’t arrive until the 23rd he was not allowed to join in the games or enjoy any of the treats until after midnight. I can assure you he then made up for lost time.
A small tricycle and a perambulator chassis were the wheels’ of my childhood and many thrills and spills I had as I propelled them around the hilly paddocks of ‘Clearview’.
Then when I was teaching at Burgooney, and spending weekends at Lake Cargelligo, 15 miles distant, I needed a grown-up’s means of transport. I bought a second-hand BSA motorbike for the purpose. Unfortunately I never once completed the journey without a breakdown and having to dismount and push it. In the end I gave it to Charlie Templeton, the dealer, to pay for repairs. It’s successor was a new Indian Prince which gave much better service even on much longer journeys, like travelling home to Spring Hill for holidays.
I advanced to four wheels (five counting the spare) with the purchase of a Whippet roadster, while still stationed at Burgooney. It served me well for about six years, but not without some memorable incidents.
Once, I decided to make the trip to Sydney from Burgooney, for the four-day Easter break, taking a mate, Johnny O’Leary with me. Nearing some sharp curves in the road at a place called “The Rocks” near Bathurst, Johnny was driving and I warned him to slow down to negotiate the curves. He didn’t, and the car skidded first to the left towards a cliff and then as he tried to correct it, to the other side of the road.
It crashed through the guardrail, turned completely round and upside down and dropping ten feet over the bank, till it was stopped by a sturdy gumtree from hurtling another thirty feet into the gully. We both spilled out underneath.
Somehow, I had a premonition that the first car to pass by would be an old dilapidated contraption that seemed incapable of helping me back to Orange to seek assistance, and sure enough an old, early model “Grey” chugged and spluttered uncertainly up the hill, and its occupants offered assistance. To make this part of the story short, I was taken back to Orange (20 miles) secured the services of Tom O’Brien, returned and contrived to get the car on the road and were able to continue to Bathurst by nightfall. You have believed the story so far; why not add this: There wasn’t a glass broken on the car! We continued to Sydney next day, Saturday, had Sunday in the city and returned to Burgooney by train on Monday.
There is an interesting sequel to that story just told which I will relate elsewhere.
My next car came after my marriage and was a Vauxhall tourer with a canvas hood. That last fact is worth mention because of an experience at Sydney Cricket Ground. While attending a cricket match, we left the car in the parking lot outside. During the afternoon the area was struck by the most vicious hailstorm I have ever seen, hailstones as large as tennis balls pelted down and soon the area resembled a huge glacierium. Naturally the canvas hood of my car was torn to shreds and when we arrived home at Canterbury, there were still huge chunks of ice throughout the car.
After the Vauxhall came successive Holdens and finally a Ford Laser, which is still in use (1989) although I am unable to drive it because of a physical disability. Somewhere in that list there should be a Volkswagen, but I’ve forgotten where.
Now, here is the sequel to the story on the previous page: Some five years after those events I had moved to Gosper’s Downs and spent a lot of my time in Molong; where I met, and kept company with Nell Dartnell. One holiday I went to Sydney and took Nell to visit her sister at Eastwood. When we arrived the door was opened by a lady who immediately exclaimed “I thought as much!”
I then recognised her as the lady who had offered me a lift to Orange after our mishap at The Rocks, five years before. She and her husband were on their way to Molong, and frankly I was surprised to learn that their decrepit old “Grey” had made it.
Norm and Ettie’s Wedding
I Norman Floyd joined the Chapman family on the last day of 1935, when Ethel Mary Chapman and I were married in that dear little stone church on the hill at Spring Hill; and perhaps my most vivid memory of that time was setting out in a sturdy Austin tourer, sturdy enough to tow a miscellaneous collection of tincans, horse shoes and various bric-a-brac.
Or perhaps it was the raucous cacophony of locomotives’ whistles as our train pulled into Bathurst at midnight and we were a little disappointed to realise they were greeting 1936 and not us. Or maybe it was that we were so readily recognised and received as a honeymoon couple when we arrived at the People’s Palace – in Pitt St. Sydney. That could have been attributed to heaps of confetti on the vestibule carpet, from our umbrellas and other parts of our luggage.
Our first home was a country cottage, long disused and without mod cons, situated two miles from the small school at Gosper’s Downs – or from the rail siding at Jeerabung, or from Red Hill Hall, or from the Post Office called Meranburn.
We then moved into our first school residence at Pinecliff, leaving a well stocked vegetable garden and several large heaps of firewood that I had prepared for use in the open fire or Dover stove. At Pinecliff I supplemented my income by obtaining a permit to destroy ‘possums which annoyed us by cavorting with their noisy chatter on the roof before descending in dozens on the garden.
There too Bob, in 1936, and Allen, 1940, joined, or began our family. Then during the war years we moved to Metropolitan schools first Canterbury and later Dulwich Hill, occupying a small cottage at Canterbury where we were often visited by army personnel, notable H.W. and R.N. Chapman.
For convenience we had to leave some furniture in the country, and garage our car for some time at Hillview, feeling pleased and important to tell folk we had property all over N.S.W.
Ted joined us in 1946, before we moved north to Tamworth and then to Glen Innes where I first had the opportunity of teaching one of my family. I don’t know whether I was pleased with that. The first thing Allen noticed in the main street was a Fish and Chips shop, owned by a character named Jack Floyd, and when the Methodist minister enquired of the infants about their parents, Allen indicated the extent of his family quality by saying “I have two fathers. One is a school teacher and the other keeps a Fish and Chips shop”.
At Glen Innes, too, our family gained more balance with Robyn’s arrival, 1949, and we had as many kinds as anyone else.
Four years at Red Range as headmaster for the first time and then on to North Junee for the happiest eleven years of my career. The family growing up, Bob entered the ministry; Allen joined the Rural Bank and Ted attending Yanco Agriculture High; then University to subsequently join the Soil Conservation Service at Wagga. On another page there is mention of Ted’s gaining a degree at Sydney University, with a B.Sc. in Agriculture.
Robyn completed her schooling at North Junee and then Junee High School, and for a short time at Camden, always with distinction. She completed University with a B.A. degree and has subsequently been appointed to several schools, beginning with English mistress at Auburn. Now she resides in a spacious old-style home at Mt. Druitt. I enjoyed a tour with her in Tasmania in 1971.
I have visited Bob and Mavis and family now comprising David and Tony (Queensland born) ’66 and ’68 and Jennifer (a Windsor product, 1972) at Albury, Tweed Heads, Glebe, Windsor, Dulwich Hill, Leeton and now Jarrett St. Wyoming where thankfully Bob is now recovering after a long illness. I also accompanied them on a memorable tour of New Zealand.
I have followed Allen and Jean where a successful banking career has led them, to Leeton, Dareton (where my Victorian grandson Peter joined them in 1968), Newcastle (Karen’s birthplace, 1970), Wellington, Lithgow, Gosford, Mullumbimby, Bowral where at the last three, Allen as manager always ensured that “The State Bank does more for you personally”. In 1975 we enjoyed together a tremendous safari trip to Darwin, the Kimberleys and Central Australia.
Who knows? It might still be possible to follow Ted and his family some place.
Some excerpts from other pages will be repeated from several passages, but some items will be included.
On 22/3/1909 a bonny baby boy was born at Dudley Hospital, Orange. He was the son of Mr. And Mrs. George Floyd of ‘Clearview’ Spring Hill and was duly baptised Norman James. He was ready for school just after the beginning of World War I and most games at Spring Hill school were an imitation of war manoeuvres.
In 1920 Norman qualified for High School and each school day walked two miles to Huntley Siding, caught the train for an eight mile trip to Orange, then walked through the streets for another mile or more to school.
Among his friends were the older Chapman children, Clarice and later Ettie, whom he already knew well, especially as fellow adherents of Spring Hill Methodist Sunday School and Church. This friendship, especially between Norman and Ettie became more intimate, the two being often seen together as the young man escorted the young lady along the Orange streets, to catch the train – naturally carrying her case of books.
In 1922 Norman transferred to Orange Rural School intent on studying farming pursuits, especially orcharding. There for a week he controlled a class substituting for an absent teacher and so impressed the Headmaster that he was advised to seek entrance to Sydney Teacher’s College and pursue a career in teaching.
He did that and in 1927 was appointed as assistant teacher to Lake Cargilligo. There followed Burgooney and Gosper’s Downs which was much closer to Spring Hill, and soon his green Whippet roadster was often seen parked outside May’s General Store which was practically run by Ettie Chapman.
Norman and Ettie were married on the last day of 1935 and that’s how the name Floyd was added to a Chapman Family Tree.
Their first home was a farmer’s cottage two miles from Gosper’s Downs school and soon they were transferred to Pine Cliff where Bob and Allen formed the commencement of their family. Then followed terms in Metropolitan schools of Canterbury and Dulwich Hill during the 2nd World War years and Ted became their third son.
Back to the country, Norman became Deputy Headmaster at Tamworth and Glen Innes, where the addition of Robyn gave the family as many kinds as any. From where Norman served as Headmaster at Red Range, North Junee and finally the Oaks, before retiring in 1966 to Wyoming, Gosford. There sadly he lost his partner who passed away while holidaying at Blayney, and has lived alone at 24 Renwick St. Wyoming since 1968.
Again several items will be mentioned in previous passages and some new and different information will be included.
I was born at Orange in March, 1909, and lived my boyhood years on a farm at Spring Hill, eight miles from Orange. I attended Primary School at Spring Hill, walking two miles each way. For my secondary education, I travelled to Orange, walking two miles to Huntley, and boarding a train for the eight mile journey. At Orange High School and later Orange Rural School, I studied mainly agricultural subjects, preparing to take my place on the farm.
However, during the absence of a teacher, I was asked to take over his third class, which I did successfully, and my headmaster advised me to try for a teaching career. I did that, and so became a teacher instead of a farmer.
Meanwhile, I had occupied a lot of my time with duties at the farm. Various ways of catching rabbits occupied some of my spare time. I trapped them, hunted with dogs, dug them out of their burrows and shot them, using catapults and later a rifle. Collecting bird’s eggs was a favourite hobby.
Some of the farming jobs were my responsibility. I gathered kindling bark, and chopped wood for the fires. I milked two or three cows and fed the fowls and gathered the eggs. In season I assisted with harvesting the hay crops and picking and packing fruit. During holidays I often found employment with neighbouring farmers in such tasks as harvesting and pea-picking.
I chose school teaching as my lifetime career, partly because I reasoned that it would not be so physically arduous as some of the farming jobs I’d experienced. Then there was the pleasure that dealing with young children gave me and seeing how rewarding was their response and development.
I was five years old when World War I began and I can best remember the celebration at our school when it ended – how we left the school and playground, gathered some kerosene and batons we had collected in anticipation and paraded through the village, frightened animals and alarming people with a cacophony of beating tins.
During World War II I joined a unit of the V.D.C. at Bankstown and we spent our week-ends in such exercises as anti-aircraft practices, patrolling beaches, drilling and using weapons, on the rifle range.
When I retired from teaching in 1965 we came to Gosford to search for a place suitable for our retirement. We had visited the area several times previously and its scenic attractions, especially its proximity to beaches, appealed to us, so we finally settled at my present address in Wyoming, in 1966.
I couldn’t say we had a regular spot for family holidays. We mostly packed a huge tent and camping gear on to a trailer, and selected a camping ground near a beach and some of my best remembered places were Yamba, Burrill Lake in NSW; Coolangatta and Airlie Beach, Queensland; Lakes Entrance in Victoria and Glenelg in South Australia.
With my family grown up I have enjoyed trips further a field; to New Zealand with son Bob and family; to Tasmania with daughter Robyn; to Darwin, the Kimberleys and Central Australia with son Allen and family; and on a tour of Riverina, NSW, with son Ted.
As a teacher I found drawing and painting a valuable aid to illustrating my lessons, and sometimes encouraged my pupils by presenting a painting as a prize. After retiring, on my travels, I photograph scenes that appealed to me and my paintings are reproductions of those scenes. I undertook a course in oil painting and that hobby, along with gardening is my chief home interest. My collection of paintings with some that I have given away is thus a record of my journeys in all Australian states and New Zealand.
Movements as a student and as a teacher during my career.
I attended as a pupil at Spring Hill Primary School and attained a Qualified Certificate (Q.C.) in 1920.
I was a pupil at Orange High and Rural Schools 1921 – 1925.
I was a student at Sydney Teacher’s College, 1926.
At Lake Cargelligo, I taught 5th Class as an Assistant, 1927.
At Burgooney, I taught Kindergarten to 7th Class, as Teacher in charge from ’28 – ’31.
At Gosper’s Downs, Kindergarten to 7th Class, as Teacher in charge, from ’32 – ’36. I was married 1935 at Spring Hill.
At Pinecliff, Kindergarten to 7th Class as Teacher in charge from ’37 – ’41. Bob was born at Orange, ’36 and Allen born at Orange, 1940.
At Canterbury I taught a 5-6 Class as an Assistant, 1942.
At Dulwich Hill I taught a 7-9 class as Assistant and Sport’s Master, from ’43 – ’46. Ted was born at Summer Hill, 1946.
At Tamworth, I taught a 5-6 class as Deputy Headmaster, 1947.
At Glen Innes, I taught 6th Class as Deputy Headmaster ’48 – ’49. Robyn was born at Glen Innes, 1949.
At Red Range, I taught 4th, 5th, 6th classes as headmaster from 1950 – 1953.
At North Junee, I taught 4th, 5th, 6th classes as Headmaster from 1954 – 1965.
At The Oaks, I taught 5th and 6th Classes as Headmaster.
21.10.’36 Born at Orange.
Lived at Pinecliff to 1941.
Lived at Canterbury, there about ’45.
Lived at Tamworth, about ’47.
Lived at Glen Innes, about ’49.
Lived at Red Range and School Hostel at Glen Innes, ’53.
Worked at Wagga and Holbrook D.M.R. ‘56
Attended Central Methodist Mission Sydney ’58.
Had appointments in Bulli, Thirroul and Austinmer Parishes; ’58 – ’60. Met Mavis and became engaged to her.
Appointed to Oyster Bay, Sutherland Parish ’61.
Attended Leigh College Sydney ’62, ’63, ’64.
Appointed to Albury, ’65. Married to Mavis 20/2/’65.
Appointed Tweed Heads, ’69. David born 25/12/66. Tony born 11/4/68.
Appointed Glebe ’70.
Appointed Windsor. Jennifer born ’72.
Appointed Dulwich Hill, ’76.
Appointed Leeton, ’82. Leave of absence at Gosford, ’87.
Appointed at Toowoomba, Queensland ’91.
Appointed at Arana Hills, Queensland ’92.
Present address at 4 Ardee Court, Keperra, Brisbane.
15-9-’40 Born at Orange.
Lived at Pinecliff to 1941.
Lived at Canterbury, 1941 – 1946.
Lived at Tamworth, 1947.
Lived at Glen Innes, 1948 – 1949.
Lived at Red Range, 1950 – 1953.
Lived at Junee, 1954 – 1959.
Commenced work at Rural Bank, Junee, 4.2.’57.
Transferred in Bank to Finley, 6.1.’60. Met Jean, 11 ’60.
Transferred in Bank, to Leeton, 2.1.’61. Became engaged to Jean, 5.3.’64. Married 6.2.’65.
Transferred to Dareton in Bank, 16.11.’66. Peter born, 9.3.’68.
Transferred to Charlestown, lived at Hamilton, Newcastle on 9.4.’68. Karen born 11.4.’70.
Transferred to Wellington, appointed as Bank Accountant 2.1.’71.
Transferred to Lithgow, 10.8.’72.
Transferred to Gosford 14.6.’74.
Transferred to Mullumbimby, 25.1.’77 appointed as Bank Manager.
Transferred to Bowral, 9.7.’80. Rural Bank changed name, as State Bank, 9.’81.
Transferred to Queanbeyan, 7.1.’83.
Transferred to Gosford, 20.1.’87.
Transferred to Albury, 19.1.’90.
After 27 years of living in Bank owned premises, we purchased our first home to live in 19.1.’92
Born at Glen Innes: 5.8.1949.
Red Range 1950 – 1953.
Junee 1954 – 1964.
The Oaks 1965.
Wyoming 1966 – 1967.
Attended Sydney University 1968 – 1970. Living at SummerHill Womens and Wesley College. Gained Bachelor of Arts.
Attended Newcastle University 1971. Gained Diploma in Education.
Commenced teaching at Henry Kendall High School at Gosford 1972 – 1973. Lived at Rozelle 1972 – 1984.
Taught at Petersham Girl’s High School 1974 – 1978.
Enmore High 1979.
Head Teacher of English at Auburn Girl’s High 1980 – 1986.
At Evans High, Blacktown 1987 ->
Moved to Mount Druitt; 1985.
Edward J.(Ted) Floyd
Date of Birth: 18/8/46.
Primary School: Junee
High School: Yanco Agricultural High School 1959-63. Leaving Certificate 1963.
University of Sydney: Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. Major in Soil Science. Graduated, BScAgr. 1968.
Wagga Soil Conservation Research Station 1969-73. Soil Investigation Officer. Investigated erosion problems and control measures. Carried out research, surveys and testing of soils.
NSW Department Mines Chemical Laboratory 1974-80. Analysed rocks, coals, gasses, soils, etc.
Sydney Technical College 1978-80. Part-time teacher of Soil Science.
Sydney University, Department of Chemical Engineering 1981-83. Member of a research team investigating anaerobic digestion.
University of NSW School of Chemistry 1984-88. Responsible for operation of teaching laboratory.
University of NSW Department of Biotechnology 1990-91. Technical support in teaching and research laboratories.
Membership of Professional Bodies :-
Member Royal Australian Chemical Institute.
Member Australian Institute of Agricultural Science.
Member Australian Soil Science Society.
Member Australian New Zealand Society for the Advancement of Science.
Activity in Conservation Movement:-
Ecology Action 1973-1979. Research Officer and member of Executive Committee.
Friends of the Earth 1976 -> Research Officer Energy/Greenhouse/Transport. Co-ordinator.
Appropriate Technology for Community and Environment Inc. APACE. Joined 1980 – Committee Member 1982- Secretary 1985-.
Movement Against Uranium Mining.
Total Environment Centre. Volunteer Research Officer on Oil from Coal 1980-1.
Nature Conservation Council 1992-> Executive Member.
From the farming chores of childhood I progressed in my teens to harder tasks such as the harvesting jobs like stooking (ie., standing the hay sheaves to dry ready for carting and stacking). Then came loading on the wagon and finally sheaf-turning, or positioning the sheaves in a handy position for the stack builder. When
part of the crop was later stripped for grain I had my turn at bag-sewing.
Potato digging and gathering was another job, and bag-sewing was part of that. The most irksome job I remember was digging under fruit trees where the plough could not reach and I think the backaches from that had a lot to do with my looking for an alternative to farming for my future career.
In my later teens I sometimes sought employment on neighbouring farms, such as pea-picking and fruit picking, and my earnings helped pay my way later through college.
My first teaching appointment was to Lake Cargelligo, where I taught a 5th class in general subjects and I also taught a few 7th class pupils book-keeping and business principles, managing to learn each lesson the night before presenting it. We were accommodated in an open weather shed and often had to hang on to books, charts etc during a dust storm.
Next came my appointment as Teacher-in-charge at Burgooney, where most of the thirty odd pupils came on horseback or in sulkies from the surrounding district. I remember Stanley Gilbert who rode in 8 miles each day. The children were allowed to water their horses at lunch time at a tank ¼ mile away and I had to warn them against racing them. One day however, I saw Stanley galloping his steed, belabouring it with his hat to urge it on. When I reprimanded him for speeding, he blubbered his excuse: “But please sir, I couldn’t make him stop.”
After four years I was transferred to Gosper’s Downs. At least that was the school’s name. The Railway Siding was Jeerabung; the hall was Red Hill Hall and the Postal Address was Meranburn. I was married while there and we rented our first home – a farm-house two miles across the paddocks from the school. We had a garden beginning to flourish, and a great heap of wood gathered and chopped ready for use when we were transferred to Pinecliff. There we occupied our first departmental residence – quite comfortable in spite of the night-long chattering of possums on the roof.
By this time, 1937, I had improved by examinations my status as a teacher, having gained 2b classification with passes in English Language and Literature, History, Education, Physiology, Geography, Arithmetic and a credit in Art. By 1942 I added credits in Hygiene, Swimming and Physical Training and History and also improved my family status with the arrival of our first two sons, Robert James, 21/10/36 and Allen John 15/9/40.
From Pinecliff we moved to Sydney, taking up residence at Canterbury School. I was soon, however, transferred to Dulwich Hill Commercial School, for my first experience in a Secondary School. There I added to my classroom duties by becoming Sportsmaster, and while there completed my first class attainments, successfully submitting the three required theses:
I submitted 1. For English Literature, “Tennyson’s Poetry as Expressions of the Aspirations of the English Nation”.
2. For Education, “Variation of Method is Essential to Successful Teaching”.
3. For Optional Third Subject, “Water Conservation a Major Factor in Australian Development”.
By then our family had grown by the addition of Edward Jeffrey on 18/8/’46.
My next move was a promotion as Deputy Head Master at Tamworth, which I accepted although accommodation was not guaranteed, leaving Mum and the three boys at Canterbury. After boarding for over a month I rented a house at West Tamworth and was joined there by the family. Again we had a garden flourishing just in time to be transferred to Glen Innes, where again I was Deputy Headmaster.
Glen Innes is best remembered for my association with the Musical Society and parts I played in shows like “The Pirates of Penzance” and “The Girls of Gottenburgh”. Then again, perhaps more important than that was the addition of Robyn Kay, 5/8/49 to our family, and we at last had as many kinds as anyone.
Due again for promotion to Headmaster, I was a little disappointed with the offer of Red Range, but at least I was still able to maintain contact with Glen Innes clubs and societies. There again we had a school residence, but it had been condemned years before, and was barely habitable. I remember well arriving home one snowy night and determined to warm things up by building a blazing fire in the open fireplace. It worked so effectively that the chimney caught alight, and so did the ivy climbing up outside. So I had to go out again into the cold, to extinguish the flames that threatened the whole place.
My next, and almost my last move was to North Junee, and there I spent eleven of the happiest years of my career. I had greater responsibilities with sometimes four assistants, and it was a Practice School; I had sometimes to supervise students from Wagga Teacher’s College.
Our family was growing up and preparing to launch out into their own careers. Bob was at first employed as a clerk with the Main Roads Board, and later prepared for his entry into the Methodist Ministry. Allen began in Junee as a Bank officer and is now well established as a Bank Manager. Ted and Robyn entered High School and pursued their studies so successfully that they later completed University degrees, as B.Sc. in Agriculture and B.A. Respectively.
Seeking a position nearer Sydney for family convenience, I was transferred to a school at The Oaks, near Camden. That happened to be my last appointment. During twelve months with several absences because of ill health, I was retired at the end of 1965.
We moved to Gosford where we bought our house at 24 Renwick St., Wyoming. For two years, Mum and I conducted a Rawleigh’s Agency, selling their ointments, liniments, medicines etc. Actually, Mum conducted the business, especially the clerical part of it, my main contribution being the driving. Unfortunately and sadly, I lost my partner in early 1968 and have now continued my retirement for 21 years, alone at 24 Renwick St., but happily with my widely scattered family keeping closely in touch.
Over my forty years of teaching experience, I had many bosses; more properly called supervisors and inspectors. I admired and respected most of them, possibly because they had risen through the teaching ranks and had a practical and sympathetic understanding of teaching practice and problems and just as important, an understanding of children.
I prefer to forget the arguments I had with a few of the other kind who earned their positions and authority by passing University examinations and with little or no experience in classroom procedures. I would rather recall a few incidents which were at the time amusing.
Once at Junee I returned to school after a long absence due to illness, and Mr Inspector arrived on the same day. I was thrilled with the reception given me by the children. They gathered around me, greeting me with unmistakable delight and sincere affection, but unfortunately ignored Mr Inspector. He later wrote in his report “Mr Floyd is asked to give attention to training the children in the social niceties”. At last he approached 10 yr-old Jill and said
“Good morning. How are you?”
“Good”, she replied.
“You are not good” he imperiously reminded her: “You are well, thankyou.”
“Yes, I know” she replied undaunted, “But I’m good too”.
Another inspector, at Pinecliff asked the children to nominate numbers to 100 and then, to see if they were alert (as he explained to me), he proceeded to write the numbers on the blackboard in reverse so that 56 became 65; 39 became 93 and so on. Puzzled, but unwilling to interfere, the children remained silent. But George Wilson was alert! “Firty-fwee”, he offered; then sotto-voce to his neighbour, but in my hearing: “Watch him muck abart wiv that one”.
Mr Inspector Phil Wolfe belonged to the first mentioned group of inspectors and I was pleased to discover that along with other essential qualifications he had a sense of humour. During his visit, I was horrified at recess time to hear a group of children chanting “What’s the time, Mr Wolf?” and then, when I went to investigate, I saw a line of them skipping hand in hand and shouting “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf; the big bad wolf; the big bad wolf?” That gentleman accepted the gesture as it was intended and did not comment on ‘the absence of training in the social niceties”.
I always enjoyed my work, for several reasons, but partly because of the humour of the children. Mostly innocent and unintentional, sometimes deliberate and obviously planned, it relieved tensions that inevitably were part of the job.
Charlie McDonough at Lake Cargelligo had a good memory for poetry, and enjoyed reciting his favourite being “Abou Ben Adhem”, but his wording was not always exactly correct. “Abou Ben Adhem, may his tribe increase” became “Abou Ben Adhem, made his tribe increase”.
At Pinecliff the youngest pupils had the use of much free material, including a set of pictures, each with a packet of names to label the objects in the picture. I encouraged the practice of phonics to recognise the words. One day I found Jeff Burgess puzzled by the word “sky” so I assisted him by carefully enunciating the sounds: s – k. He watched me intently for a while and then declared decisively “You don’t know what it is yourself!”
When I came to Gosper’s Downs, I soon discovered that the pupils had very little knowledge of Music. One day I hung a Tonic Solfah chart in front of them, and sounded (in my practised voice) the top note, Doh (disguised as Ooh!). “What was that?” I asked. There followed a stunned silence. At last Lorna Norris, an otherwise gifted scholar furtively raised her hand and said “Please sir, it sounded like a train.”
Some more humour to add to those under the heading of ‘work’.
I once escorted a group of boys from Glen Innes to Guyra for a football fixture. Arriving at Guyra, the boys were intrigued by a huge galvanised iron produce store, belonging to the Producers Distributors Society, and displaying their initials, P.D.S., painted right across the roof. There was much conjecture among the boys as to the meaning of P.D.S. But a young potato farmer’s son ended the speculation: “P.D.S.: Pa data’ shed” he said with an almost supercilious air.
I never approved of chattering during lessons and one day at Burgooney, Bert Sullivan persisted throughout a lesson in spite of several reprimands. At last, losing patience, I ordered Bert outside to procure a stick – (I can’t remember using a cane at Burgooney, and hadn’t one on hand). Bert left and the lesson proceeded. With my back to the door, I only gathered that he had returned, from the amused expressions of the other pupils. I turned to see Bert standing in the doorway, nonchalantly shouldering a huge mallee root; the kind Riverina farmers prized as back-logs for their open fires. I dismissed Bert without using his instrument of punishment.
A situation similar to the one just recorded occurred at Dulwich Hill Commercial School during the time of the Second World War. After reprimanding three boys several times for continuous chattering, I ordered them to stay after school and write fifty lines as punishment. “Please sir, what shall we write?” they asked. They were fourteen year olds, so I suggested “Think of something to remind boys not to interrupt a lesson by talking”. A short whispered discussion, and they were soon busy writing. After some twenty minutes or so they came and each presented fifty copies of the very familiar war time slogan : “Don’t talk. The Enemy Listens”.