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Stateline (ACT) -

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Live.

(Plays 'As Time Goes By')

Hello and welcome to

Stateline and Dumaresq Street

in Dickson. My name is Chris

Kimball. This week a special

program - as we hear from four very ordinary yet extraordinary

women. In some ways their

stories reflect Canberra's

community growth over half a

century. They all moved here to

this street in the brand new

suburb of dick economic the

early 1960s. They were drawn to

Canberra by their husband 's

careers. They staid on to meet

the neighbour, to raise a

family and grow a community.,

Betty, Maureen, iris and Joan

have lived here in these house

ever since and their families

are now a part of Canberra.

Betty's son, Arthur Hill,

produced this special so sit

back and meet the daims of

Dumaresq Street. We came here

in December 1960. It was a

posting. My husband, Spencer,

was in the air force and we

were allotted this house. After

a year of being in somebody

else's house and having a baby

and being pregnant again, it

was like a godsend, a brand new

house! We didn't care where it

was. We didn't care what it was

like. They said it was small -

I couldn't have Caird less. A

tent would have been good

because we were all together. I

AIF Ryed and it was - arrived

and it was like nothing,

nothing over the back, house us

some of them occupied, some of

them not. But I did have the

advantage of coming and I had a

network. The day we arrived,

people we had known on the base

since sale had us for afternoon

tea, sent me home with cakes

and biscuits and vegetables and

flowers, so that walking into

this house it was bare - the

furniture was half unpacked

because it had only arrived

about two days before, and it

was stuff everywhere. But it

didn't worry me. I was just

streamly happy. I was here and

we - supremely happy. I was

here and we were all here. In

that way there was nothing.

That way there was nothing.

Yes, we were sort of the last

street and also it was - his

friends at work used to refer

to it as North Yass, and why

are you living out there!

Because a lot of those were

allotted in Campbell and they

walked to Russell. And they

used to say, "Oh, I don't know.

It's pity you didn't get a

house in Campbell!" The Hills

next door a#r50i6d and my first introduction there was about a

month or so after we and and

we were quite settled, I think

we evened that lawn in -

everybody you always had to put

a lawn. In and then you stood

out there with the hose, you

know. But I answered the door

and there was brie - Brian

standing there with Betty and

Betty was nursing Vicki and

Brian said, "I'd like you to

meet my family." This is Betty,

this is Vicki and this is

Snowdrop. Sydney Opera

Housedrop was this cocker

spaniel. She was beautiful.

That was how we met The Hills.

I can't remember our first

meeting with the Kelletts. But

with John being the same age as

the two Johns but they were

only babies. So it was only the

kids going out of the house

that you really met because we

were all just too busy at homes

- keeping up. Well, my role

was to be a mother and a wife.

That was our voe demaetion life

then. We didn't have higher

education, not my generation.

And you didn't really expect to

have a career. Your career was

marriage and that was it. . I

don't think think my life was

empty and I think it was all

family. All family and school

and kids - because then I was

known as Bill's mother or

John's mother. I don't think

that we were women in our own right. Although that didn't

worry me then.

I can remember it well

because that morning for one of

the first times Bill was

playing football at O'Connor

and the game was called off

because it was snowing so bad.,

so heavily. So when he came

home, he found that it was also

on the front lawn. So we had a

lawn in before the drought, so

the kids - I can remember it

well, building the snowman. It

was absolutely wonderful just

the experns - experience of having it on the front lawn.

That's why we had to photograph

it for posterity. It was a

novelty, it was a real novelty.

The centre for koctd

education at ANU had night

courses and through them you

could go and do first year

professional writing. I was

going off to study and

sometimes I would be late home

and then we - I did a drama

unit and we did reviews and we

had rehearsals, and I was

playing the piano for them so

they'd come here and practice

and he'd say, "Your theatrical

friends! They always seem to be

under my feet." Which was a

gross exaggeration. But I

thoroughly enjoyed. That and

writing was something I felt I

could still do when I was in a

wheelchair. So that led to led

to another very low key career

in writing. That was a turning

point in my life, I suppose, as

far as what my position in

society was, I suppose, to put

it like that. I became somebody

in my own right. I look back

and can't credit at times just

how long we've lived here.

Lived here more than half my

life. So this is really home. I

would never want to live

anywhere else.

'As Time Goes By' continues

It was Brian's job that

brought us to Canberra. I

didn't really have an immediate

impression, didn't affect me

badly. It was a bit later on

that I felt a bit lonely

because it was so barren. And

then it took - whether this is

relevant but it took nine years

before I realise I wasn't going

back to Melbourne! And then I

think the consolation prize is

that everyone else was in it

the same as you, that

everyone's in the same boat. So

that really starts the

community off, I suppose. -

who's arriving next, who's

baby's next. We all had

children about the same age,

which was very good because

then they could start mixing

and playing in the street, not

like you can't now with the

cars going up and down. All the

children played in the street

and the dogs. Mainly we only

had one dog. I used to call the

dogs and I'd find out where the

children were. And luckily we

stayed, the group stayed, one

over the road and next door and

two doors down. I think we

were most probably too busy

early on to have much

relationship because someone at

some stage was having a baby,

someone of the three. And then

Iris of course down the road.

So I think that kept us

individually busy because we're

very conscientious mothers. I

suppose for at least three of

the families was church. Church

played an important part of

those days. Yes, we'd immediate

up in church but we were always

late. But there was lovely

community, a very nice

community at the church which was then part of the school

because I can remember then

when by the time Vicki was five

she went to school, and they

all went off to school

together. All the local

children. Which was very nice

community to live in, I

suppose, that's one of the

reason s we stayed. It was a

free time. Free time. Yes, and

they played in what we call

Sully - Sullivan's Creek, or

the drain. They crementd nit at

the back there. That was great

play field for all the

children. Once the pine trees

started to grow, they'd climb

the pine there's. And they

didn't have a lot. The children

didn't have a lot of toys or -

they made fun out of very

little. 10 #15, year years, -

15 year, 10 years before that I

knew that this was home. And

also I realised that it was

better for someone to start a

married life away from the

influence of families. You

adored the fam Loys very much

but by having to battle on your

own you became a couple and

then you became a family.

Canberra was unique inasmuch

it made you think about the

world. Canberra was big. This

is where it all happened. The

rest of Australia didn't think

so. But this is where - and

Australia and Canberra was

thinking of Australia. That's

always the way I always felt -

what was the best for

Australia. So that was an

influence for me. Which I

enjoyed: You were part of

building your capital. And

that's why I think whether it's

relevant to mention this now,

that's why I was so annoyed

with John Howard that he just

chose not to live here, that we

had come. If you apply for a

job or you're sent here on a

job, it was your duty to live

in that place. And he applied

for the job, he got the job,

and then he said he wasn't

going to live here. And we all

battled on and we made this

city and the children that came

along have made this city and

that was, to me, very hurtful

at the time. And you made - I

think you made T-shirt s - I

did. You got cross? I did. They

weren't very good T-shirts but

I made T shirts. Grandchildren

were much like coming back. And

seeing the plants that have

been there for such a long

time. And they relate to them.

They wrote stories about the

gardentor house in that school

protect - garden or the house

in their school projects. So I

think it's very important that

we have been here.

We arrived on a Friday

having taken two days to come

from Melbourne because Todd had

on just got his licence. We had

never had a car before. And it

was freezing cold. And he

insisted we staid at Yass the

last night. 7 o'clock in the

morning he had us on the road

because he had to pick up the

key at 9 odlok Canberra. So

here we are, all sitting in

this freezing conditions

waiting for the building to

open so he could get the key of

the the house. And that was on

the Friday we got the key and

on the Sunday I had word that

my sister had died. We had no

telephone s, so I had a cousin

who lived in Yarralumla and my

brother managed to get the

police to get a message to her.

And then she tried to find her

way from Yarralumla to Dickson.

Of course no street lights or

anything in those days. And

about 10 o'clock at night she

knocked on the door and I was

terrified because Catherine,

the baby, was crying her eyes

out and I thought the

neighbours might have been

complaining . Anyway, it was to

tell me my sister had died. So

I had to fly out on the Sunday

and leave Todd with 27 tea

chests and five children! Not

knowing where the schools or

anything was. He got his

comeuppance. We came here in

May 1961. Because Todd was

transferred up here. He was

with the first group of EDP

that had been selected in

Melbourne. They were people

selected from the three

services in Defence and also

the departments of the Army,

Navy and air force and Defence.

These people were selected to

do feasibility study on

computer s which didn't exist

in Australia at the time. There

were another young couple who

had just been transferred from

Melbourne too - and they were

living in Downer, one of the

first houses that were built

over there. So after about

three weeks, I jumped the drain

and went over and found Mary.

She was never more relieved to

see anyone in her life. She was

completely lonely. John had

gone to sea. So we both had

babies in prams and she'd come

over and jump the gutter and

I'd jump it and go over and see

her. So that was, you know,

helped me to settle in.

Mainly I would say through

school in those days. Damien

was the first pupil at dar

marlin when it opened - the

first six months he had to quo

Go to St Edmonds because we

didn't have a college on the

northside. So So he was an

original pupil at dar marlian.

After - Darra mar land. After

the children all went to

school, my mother-in-law had

come to live with us because

her husband had died. It was

getting a bit much for two

women in one kitchen. So I

decided - so I jokingly said to

a friend of mine, I have to get

a job. This doesn't work out -

two women in one kitchen. And

she rang me up late they're day

and said, "My cousin, Valle

Reid, is starting boats on the

lakes, so it grow from there to

we were doing weddings and

function and everything on the

larger boat and they built ma

moesa 2. - Mamosa 2 and then

they start bringing the

international visitors through

. We were going out to Burbong

and I ended up being a kairting

manage es. St Brigid's was

only cupped a - opened a couple

of years after we came here. So

then we formeded the nucleus of

a choir and I conducted for

important occasions. Then the

children went through school

there and then dear old Mother

Louise arrived - big,

enveloping and loving. And the

dog would go down to school

with the kids and he would lie

outside her class room for the

last two at least and come home

again with them at lunch time

and go back. That was our old

prince, of course, who became

quite notorious down St

Brigid's because when Toby

McGee arrived they had a bit of

a fracas and then Prince was

banned from school. Poor

Catherine would come home

crying, be sent home with the

dog and it would be the back

there before she got back to

school! Anyway, it was St

Brigid's was very close to us

all and I played the organ

there, conducted sing ing.

Most of my children were

married there. I've got a wonderful family. Had a

wonderful husband. I couldn't

ask for me.

We always knew that, as part

of his contract with the NSW

Department of Education, Harry

would have to do country

service and so we were - he got

Canberra. And I wasn't un happy

about that: No, I wasn't. I

actually - I'm 50 & bit politically minded and I

thought this is good, this is

where the politics happen. I

was quite happy. My parents

thought it was a bit different.

My father thought Canberra was

so cold and I remember him

saying to some people in

Brisbane once - I was with him

wi once and he said, "Have you

ever been to Canberra?" And

they said, no and he did, don't

bother it's bugger of a place.

It snows in October. Which it

did. He didn't think much of

Canberra. There was nothing

here. There was absolute ly

like Ainslie was the nearest

shops. There was no Dickson and

there was nothing. So

everything was kind of

delivered to your door. We had

our green grocer came, and this

is how you met people. This is

how you networked in your

street because everybody came

out to buy their fruit and

vegies and you got your fruit

and veggies off the truck, your

dry cleaner came, your butcher

came, your milk man came, your

baker came so it was all delivered. And then of course

Dickson shops were built and,

yeah, and so that all faded

away. So it has faded away, you

know - we're quite urban now,

or suburban. We're urban

because they call us a inner

north and near we were on the

outskirts of scbra! -

Canberra! I think we all knew

that we were - we had arrived

without family. So it was either going to make or break

you, wasn't it. And so we

warmed to the people and the

people, I gather, warmed to us.

And Maureen, who lives across

the road, she and spernser -

she'd move - Spencer, she'd

moved around a bit and I think

she knew the value of getting

to know your community. No, I

can't remember when it was

first owned and I don't even

think it was there when we

arrived. Isn't that terrible

but it was there very soon

after we arrived. And Harry had

been - we had both enjoyed the weather enormously and that was

one of the things about coming

to Canberra that you no longer

went to the beach or your trips

to the beach weren't as

frequent. And he'd been a life

saver and bronzed hero of the

surf that I used to say, with

red hair. It was very important

to us to teach the kids to

swim, that the kids learnt how

to swim, that that was a really

integral part of having - of

their knowledge to know how to

swim. To this day, I am still

on the safe waters committee

and that is about kids learning

to swim and the importance of

kids learning to swim. We

arrived in 1960 just on the

verge of Canberra really

expanding. So that, with a

young family, one income and

one car it was the - it was a

thing that you did on a Sunday.

You went for a drive to have a

look at the new suburbs that

were being built because there

were new suburbs going up all

over. And, yes, so you saw

Canberra grow. And then as your

family grew and you thought

about the development of

Canberra you realised that it

had, you know, burly Griffin,

the founding fathers that

there's some beautiful thing,

some terrific things have

happened in Canberra.

That was - That was

big. But you didn't expect you

were going to be along away

that long. Nobody has had a

cross word or fallen aut over

anything. It sounds like a

fairy story bit's true. It is

not a fairy story. It's just we

wer always interested in what

people are doing and their

children and their

grandchildren and, you know,

you always just up with it. And

I just regard myself as very

fortunate that Dumaresq Street

was where this house happened

to be and these other people

happened to November beside

us. It is very important to

have root s where you belong. I

feel sorry for people that move

all the time. Because they are

losing something, they're

gaining something but they're

losing so much, for me. I think

Dickson is a wonderful place to

live. So very convenient to

everything and wonderful

friends. Our friends are so

long standing over all those

years that it's just a natural

thing, you know at my age

you're losing lots of your

friends and neighbours. So

that's just life, isn't it.

I've had a very fruitful

life. But it was the people,

really it was the people that I

think kept us here and was the

kids who want ed to stay. Well,

at least in our case our kids

wanted to stay here. This was -

like they've all been overseas,

but this is where they feel

content, I guess. Yeah. This

sort of provides a place for

them. I remember wanting to get

rid of the dining room table,

which I have eventually done,

and I was told how terrible

that was to get rid of the

dining room table because

that's where we all sat for

years and years! So, yes, they

must be sentimental. They must

feel that this is where their

roots are, I guess. It's

home, isn't it It's home.

('As Time Goes By' continues)

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