Melita Grace Law (Scotland)
"Celebrating the life"
August 31, 1917 - March 16, 2002
Melita's own story
This is a work in progress,
and will be added to as more material is transcribed.
Written by Melita Grace
Transcribing by Tim Law.
Minor editing for clarification and reordering.
My father was born in
Newcastle on Tyne in 1880. He came to Australia early 1900 when
he was about 10 or 12 I think.
He and my mother Paula Erna Frieda Pustkuchen met at the her
friends, the Hardies who had a tennis court and lived in Servetus
Street Swanbourne. They used to have tennis gatherings. He used
to employed as a jackaroo in the North of WA.
My mother was a companion with the Morrisby's in 1912 when he
(Mr) was a magistrate at Cossack near Roebourne. They had children
and mother loved them a lot. I think she was with them at least
six months and they remained good friends all their lives.
Mother did her 3 year nursing training at the Children's Hospital
- now known as Princess Margaret Hospital. She was one of the
first to enter after the hospital became a training school in
1906. She went North afterwards in 1912.
Paula was born on 29th November 1881 in South Australia to German
parents, in fact her mother was born (1848) on a ship coming
out to Australia and was called Paulina Oceana. They had a good
life as they had everything money could buy. Her father was an
indent agent. They were taken to Germany to be tertiary educated
and it was then while they were there there was a bank crash
when all was lost - about 1889. They came home devastated. Her
father died soon after of perhaps shingles and or an abscess
in his throat. Mother felt helpless and realised later on that
she must learn about nursing. They moved to a farm at Narracourt.
Then Uncle Ted, mother's older brother, came west and bought
a farm at Narrogin where he invited his mother, his three sisters
and young brother to go to with him which they did, about 1905.
The sisters were Ella the eldest, Paula and Thekla and younger
brother Pete. The other brothers were Otto (the eldest boy, the
bank boy), and Leo. He was a geologist and loved the good earth
and people. He had lovely blue eyes and was a good friend for
we young ones. He always had something in his pocket which he
doled out one at a time, peanuts or peppermints. Ted was a lovely
fellow, more serious perhaps and set himself firmly the task
of a life of caring for his mother. He always did what he could
for everyone. He grew fruit at Narrogin (Sylvania). My first
taste of stone fruit and I remember it well. It was beautiful.
He had a large bough shed at the back and it was always cool.
He help the fruit there and it tasted superb. Pete also went
into the bank. My mother came to Perth in 1905 and did her nursing
training 1906 - 1909 at the Children's Hospital. She kept something
of lots of things, the second annual journal she had - missed
out on the first. Very good that she did keep so much. She kept
up a friendship with many of the girls she knew but lost track
of some as she lived in the country for many years. Later years
when she came back to Perth she joined in many a happy gather
of the 'girls'! This gave her lots of joy that she had missed
out on in the previous years.
My father's family were Will, Jim Jenny and Norah and lived in
Newcastle on Tyne.
My parents were married 19 Feb 1915. Their first child was Norah,
born in February 1916. Father had joined the army and they lived
in various places up near Red Hill (Toodyay Road, east of Perth),
the army camp at that time. Mother said it was difficult to get
accommodation and so what she got was a room in Gooseberry Hill
and with a baby on the way it wasn't for her or them both. Father
sailed overseas with the 10th Light Horse in November 1915 and
3 months before their baby was born. Mother stayed with sister
Thekla at "Minabbie". Thekla had married a farmer Will
Graham by then they had 3 sons, Will, Herb and Leo, and baby
Rita born 21st July 1915. These were my cousins. My mother may
have also stayed with her mother and brother at Sylvania for
Norah was born in Narrogin Hospital on February 4th 1916.
In October/November 1916, mother and Norah went off the England
on the passenger ship Arabia to visit father's family. Father
expected to get leave from Egypt to meet up there too. It was
wartime and surprising that there were ships taking passengers
still, but that is what happened. The ship was torpedoed and
went down quickly though all passengers and crew got off with
the help of other vessels. My mother got onto a mine sweeper
where they took 2 days and 2 nights to reach Malta. A lot of
passengers were in poor conditions from crowded conditions and
coping with the storms. However, all survived included mother
and baby Norah. They were cared for at Malta. My father was an
officer - Lieutenant - and allowed to have time off to got to
Malta to be with his family which must have been a great blessing
to all. Especially as Norah was in a very poor condition. Later
mother went to Egypt and was able to stay near by for a few weeks
so they could have some time together. I was born nine months
later and called Melita, which was the first name of Malta. I
was born in Narrogin on August 31, 1917. Not sure if father was
home by then, the war finished in 1918. Father still looked after
farms and his first was Wong Gong near Armadale. A lovely place
I believe, but I do not remember.
What I can remember is when we were at Southern Hills. Helen
baby born 2 years after me used to climb out of the wicker basket
pram with high wheel and I (aged 3 years) either saw the empty
pram or watched her doing it - probably both. Once when my parents
went for a swim there was a soak well or dam, with fearsome black
looking water it was for me. One lost the lower part of their
bathers and spent some time looking for it.
There were aboriginal families about and they helped mother and
used to take us for walks. Norah remembers that part better than
Dad was doing a caretakers, jackaroo or manager job at that time,
1920 as he had done before the war. The next happening is quite
clear in my mind in arriving at Kulin, then 25 miles (40 kms)
East where Dad had a farm and was building a house. I knew nothing
about it and can't remember going out but arriving there I do.
Mother had Pauline also, by then 6 weeks old in a basket born
26th July 1921, so there were 4 of us under 6 years old. The
farm was later called Jesmond by father after his place of memory
in UK. This house looked fine, he'd done a good job and it was
probably the first house he had built, but the floor boards weren't
down and we stepped from board to board - fun for us but poor
mother! He had built it all himself I think and could not have
had the property for very long as Helen and Pauline were just
2 years apart. We lived there until 1929. There were the times
Helen used to put a potty in a flat fruit case and I think a
pair of pants on top and take it out the side gate and sit on
this box for hours said she was waiting for a "man in marter
car" or a "motto car". When she eventually came
in carrying her box which would have been very heavy for a 3
or 4 year old, she would say "no marter car tumming today".
I can remember doing school work by correspondence, sitting in
the sunny east side of the house. We had boxes for desks and
seats. Everything came in boxes; kerosene cases. They held 2
four gallons tins of kerosene. We got petrol that way later on
when we had a car. The boxes were made of good white wood. There
were better boxes also which may have held 30lbs of butter. Beautiful
white wood they were. Very useful for cupboards and shelves for
children's clothes and toys and books etc. We had nothing else
but we had good iron bed steads.
More coming soon. ...
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