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Avenel - Another Story Of An Avenel Identity - Deceased (13 March 2002)

contributed by greenfingers
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In the early stages of this new century, Australians have the opportunity to honour some of their unsung heroes who have lived well over 90 years. These nonagenarian have seen so much in their life, ranging from Spartan and frugal lifestyle, through a world depression, two World Wars, advances in medicine, technology, many changes in government and radical changes in society, to name a few.

One such person is Avenel’s older local recently and he has accumulated quite a collection of interesting facts, experiences and memorabilia over the past nine decades. When he was asked “How do you keep young at heart” he replied “by mixing with younger people, keeping alert and interested in things around you, and being a good listener. You will learn and gain so much this way”.

He was born at Adjunbillie near Gundagai on the Murrumbidgee. His father was a builder and with his wife Joanna and the family, they moved around the country following the father’s work jobs. His parents raised four girls and two boys. He went to school in Tumbarumba and Walwa, then to work on a farm near Batlow (NSW) at the age of fourteen. He earned 15 shillings ($1.50 of which half went to his mother) on his first job.

A lass from Warragul, his wife, became the love of his life when met her in Walwa, where they were married at the Roman Catholic Church by Father Tom Auburn, a priest from Tallangatta. At that time he was earning the respectable wage of Pounds 4. 5. 0 ($8.50) per week.

The couple celebrated their seventieth anniversary ( a record in the Nagambie district) in 2001, just before she passed away in her eight-ninth year. They raised two daughters, and today there are nine grandchildren and fifteen grandchildren.

He enlisted for Military service in 1941. As a delivery driver for a store, he had both NSW Victorian driver’s licences, so he was asked to be a driving instructor for the Royal Australian Army Service Corps. His wife moved to the small Central Victorian township of Avenel in 1943, just a couple of weeks before her husband was sent off to New Guinea. Discharged in 1947, he said he gained some good working and administrative skills during his six years in Uniform.

She became a popular member of the church and community. When he returned, he also took a keen interest in his new community, and became the manager of Harry Whiteman’s General Motors branch, staying there until the business was sold. They lived in the Whiteman’s house until their own house was built in Shelton St.

Building materials and skilled labour were short in the 1950's, but he was an innovative man, and the new house was framed in green timber which took months to dry out. It was almost a year before enough bricks were collected for a chimney. When the outside was completed, he set about the task of making the internal fittings and fixtures, untrained though he was, and with only manual tools at his disposal.

Although a good rounder in many things, one thing he excelled at was golf, which he had began to play at the age of ten and later took to championship level. she also learnt to play and the coupe accumulated many trophies both together and individually at the Golf Club. In 1963, he was made a life member of the club he had served as President and a committee member during his thirty six years of membership.

During his sporting life, he was involved in the formation of the Dalhousie District Golf Association. Eighteen Golf Clubs joined this association, of which he was a delegate for ten years, president for eight and is now a life member. He was also an avid tennis player and he excelled on the courts in the competition seasons.

As if this was not enough to keep a person occupied, he was also on the Avenel progress Association for twenty years and was treasurer of the Avenel Memorial Hall Committee for ten. He was also on the building committee and remembers all the parties the RSL and community held to raise money for the hall. He was very grateful that his wife did not mind him going out to these meetings at night, but emphasis that he thinks a husband and wife should share at least one interest together.

“It makes their relationship stronger and than more understanding of one another” he says.

In his “spare time” he was the trustee of the Avenel Race Course Reserve committee for twelve years. This later became the Avenel Pioneer Park committee, on which he served a further six years before retiring from the committee in 1978.

His interest in his community was very serious, and he shared in much of the history making events and progress of the town. On a personal level, he and she were devoted to each other throughout their seventy years of marriage. He believes that many marriages fail in modern days due to money - too much or too little, but mainly bad management of it. He speaks about taking his wages home, handing over a certain amount to his wife for housekeeping, paying the other household bills, and saving some when they could. He was very proud that his wife never had to ask for money from him all his life.

After a short spell with Forbes (Massey Ferguson) of Nagambie, he went on to become a top selling insurance representive for the National Mutual Insurance Company, and topped the state sales records for many years. He won the company’s acclaim for selling over one million dollars worth of policies for six years in a row in the 1970's, despite the fact that he had never knocked on doors or sold policies at night.

In 1979 he retired from full time work. He has had seven heart attacks, but is still full of life.

My Mean Mother

I had the meanest mother in the world. While other kids had lollies for breakfast, I had to eat cereal, egg and toast. While other kids had cans of drinks and lollies for lunch, I had to have a sandwich.

“As you can guess, my dinner was different from other kids too— as well as the food, we had to eat it at a table and not in front of the television.”

“My mother also insisted on knowing where we were at all times. You’d think we were on a chain gang or something. She had to know who our friends were, where we were going and she even told us when to be home.”

“I am ashamed to admit it, but my mother actually had the nerve to break child labour laws. She made us work. We had to wash dishes, make our beds and even learn to cook.”

“That woman must have stayed awake at nights just thinking up things for us kids to do. She always insisted we tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

“By the time we were teenagers, our whole life became even more unbearable. No tooting the car horn for the girls in our family to come running. She embarrassed us by insisting the boys come to the door to get us.”

“I forgot to mention that most of our friends were allowed to date at the mature age of 12, and 13. Our old fashioned mother refused to let us date before we were at least 15.

“She really raised a bunch of squares. None of us kids were ever arrested for shoplifting or busted for dope.”

:”And who do we have to thank for this? You’re right-our mean mother.”

“Every day we hear cries from both our people and politicians about what our country really needs. What our country really needs is more mean mothers like mine.”

Courtesy of Euroa Gazette

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