Rita

FR

Chronicle of Marguerite Dardel,
known as Aunt Rita, spouse Gray,
on the Dardels in Australia.

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Dear Family,

It's hard to know where to start this story so I will just go back as far as I can and write things down as they occur to me, regardless of whether they are in the order they happened or not. I will try to tell you the little I know of the various families that came together to become your ancestors, starting with James Henry Dardel who first came to Australia from Switzerland in 1836. That apparently was only a visit and we have no record of it — it was just something that was told to us. When he finally came out to stay it was 1842 and he was a young recently widowed man with one daughter, Blanche, whom he left behind in the care of her grandparents. I won't go into all the things he did before he came to the Geelong district. You can read this in various other accounts and I don't know any more then has been written there. I don't know what grandpa Dardel did for a living before he came to Australia. I only know he was in the Hussars as every Swiss lad had to serve time in the German army. I remember my father telling me that his father's uniform and sword in the museum at Neuchâtel when he was at school there. It must have been the Hussars that gave him his love of horses. Suffice to say that he bought land at Batesford and as soon as possible had a good-sized vineyard flourishing there and wine making was in full swing. He built a bluestone house amidst large gardens and called the place Paradise Gardens. He had a very good friend in Baron von Muller who designed the Melbourne botanic gardens. Baron von Muller often came to stay at Paradise and the gardens there were laid out under his clever and watchful eye.

Grandpa made many trips back to his homeland (seven in all) and each time came home laden with plants and trees, both for himself and for the baron.

Labour of course was cheap and perhaps for Grandpa extra cheap because he encouraged very many Swiss people to come out to Australia and try their luck. Many of them stayed and worked at Paradise before taking a piece of land for themselves. A few of them married after meeting there — one I know of the wife knew neither German or French and her husband no English, yet they established a good home and family and seemed quite happy.

James Henry Dardel eventually married again — a young Irish girl from Dublin called Mary Burroughs and they had two children: James Henry — my father — and Marie. They needed schooling and for a while Henry — my father — was driven in each day to what is now Flinders school, but there were other problems for a busy man trying to bring up two motherless children.

So at the ages of 7 & 9 they were put in the care of captain of some ship and sent off to Switzerland to live with the Perriers in Neuchâtel. Madame Perrier was an aunt of the two children and it must have been a very noble effort on her part to take on the job. She had two sons of her own and eventually Charles — or Carlo as he was called — Louis and Henry became very good friends, so much that Henry did not want to come home. He was allowed to stay at Neuchâtel with the Perriers until he was 17 and had finished his schooling but poor little Marie came home and lived with various relations until her father married again.

Henry still didn't want to come home and told his father he wanted to study medicine. His father didn't object exactly but said the only place to study medicine was Heidelberg Germany, and if Henry didn't want to go there he must come home. That was the end of it for father, as he spoke only a smattering of German and felt he would never be able to pass his exams with the handicap of not being familiar with the language.

He came home, but this time grandpa had another wife — Marguerite Weitnauer of Switzerland and had a daughter — Marguerite — and two sons Gustave and Charles.

This meant that my father felt a bit of a stranger in the household though they were very happy and got on well together. But still he felt that with two sons and a daughter, Grandpa had all the company and help he needed so he took a job more or less as a jackeroo with a Dr Coward who owned a big sheep property in N.S.W. He stayed there several years and enjoyed the life immensely but things were happening at home that upset his plans. Within a very short time of each other both of his half brothers died. Charles was epileptic and Gustave had an accident with horse drawn vehicle, was thrown out and died. This left the family very saddened and father of course could see that his duty was to be with his father and home he came.

He and his father managed the property for some years and now I think it is time to tell you something of the Thompson family who lived at Craigton Morabool.

John Thompson came from a place called Crathie near Balmoral in Scotland. He was a farmer and took up land on the banks of the Morabool River very near where the big railway viaduct over the valley was built. I don't know what year he came or what ship but he was a very dour stern old Presbyterian of the most stubborn kind. He married a girl called Annie Coutts and they lived at first in the valley. But it was too wet and cold in the winter and they built a large stone house higher up on the top or the hill and it is Craigton to this day. Jenny and I went out to see it one day and while the outside is much as I remember it in Grandpa Thompson's day the inside has been modernised out of all recognition.

John and Annie Thompson had a large family of six sons and three daughters. They were in order of age James, Alexander, Annie, Helen, Alfred, Win (a son) Maggie, Walter and Archibald. The sons stayed at home for a while but gradually left to try their luck elsewhere. Alec and Walter went to W.A. to have a look at the Goldfields. Walter stayed and married and became a book keeper or so called accountant. Win and ALF took up land at Beech Forest but Alf later came back and farmed very successfully near Werribee. Win married Eva Craike and they lived near Beech Forest but sadly their third child died of pneumonia and very shortly after WIN died and left his young wife with two small children to bring up. They lived in Geelong and the little girl, Mavis, became my very best friend until she too died in 1936.

Archie or Ark as we all called him became a solicitor and went to practice in Birchip in the firm of Oakley and Thompson which also practiced in Donald and later in Collins St Melbourne.

Uncle Ark died and his only son was killed in World War 2. So there was no one else of that family to carry on. There were two daughters, Margaret and Win both of whom married. Margaret became Mrs McCulloch at Glenthompson in the Western district and Win a solicitor's wife but I've forgotten his name. Their parent’s uncle Ark and aunt Alice lived a very social life in Toorak and we gradually lost touch with them.

To go back a bit, Helen Thompson who became our mother apparently was a very vivacious type of girl who soon attracted the attention or young James Henry Dardel. This didn't meet with the approval of either of their families. Helen's father couldn't stand old J. H. Dardel who led a very active life in the community and actually made that ruination of mankind — wine.

Not only made it but actually drank it himself. And not only drank it himself but gave it to all the men who worked for him everyday too. I believe that each man had a small bottle every day for his lunch. Not only that of course but Grandpa just didn't like the different lifestyle that was natural to Swiss born Grandpa Dardel — his show place, flashy horses and his arrogant autocratic manner. He was quite a small man but never for a moment insignificant. So poor mother and father had to meet when they could but must have managed somehow and when mother was 24 and father 26 they married and took up land at Poowong in Gippsland.

Marcelle and Harry were born there and then father came back to help his father who was getting old by this time. They built a house very close to Paradise and the rest of the family were all born here — all except me being the youngest. Grandpa had died in 1903 at the age of 93. His wife Margarite or Gertie as she was known died in the same year, so our family moved into the old home and it became Chaumont after a little place in Switzerland that father knew well when he lived in Neuchâtel. So Paradise was no more.

ChaumontI was born in Chaumont in 1904. Mother and father had eight children: Marcelle Marie, James Henry, Alfred Eugene, Aurel Louis, Eric Walter, Frank Roy, Doris Alexandra, Marguerite Violette.

Mother never had a doctor for any of her confinements — actually very few country people did. There was always some good woman in the district who would come when needed and they must have been very efficient because I know mother never lost a child, none of us was any the worse for not have proper medical care at birth and mother never stayed more than a few days in bed after the birth. When my turn came, we had a fortnight in hospital and weren't allowed out of bed under ten days. Times have changed. How much to tell you of our early days at Chaumont I don't quite know. Father of course did not have the money that his father had, also a very large family to bring up and educate.

I don't know which year t was that phylloxera was found in the vines in the district and proved the ruination of many growers. They were all obliged to uproot all vines and burn them and were not allowed to grow a new lot. I think phylloxera gets into the soil and makes it unsuitable for vine growing again. Grandpa Dardel cleared all his vineyards and planted two large orchards, growing apples, pears, cherries and apricots with many varieties of each kind.

As children we had all the fresh fruit we could eat and picked it straight off the trees — it was many years before I tasted a "bought" apple and quite a while before I could eat a bought peach or cherry — they tasted so different.

We all went to the little Batesford school and had a few years to "finish off" at city schools. Marcelle being the oldest went to P.L.C. in Melbourne as a boarder, and the five boys all wet to Geelong College, though not all at the same time. Harry and Fred used to drive in each morning and took the minister's two sons with them, Alec and Campbell Houstou. Later Aurie went and took another of the Houstou family. Eric and Frank both went by train, walking up to the Morabool station, crossing the river on some makeshift plank and catching the train at 7.30 am.

Later Frank preferred to ride his bike up the Gheringhap and get the train there even though it meant we had to get there by 7.00 am. Doris and I both had three years at the Hermitage and we used to drive a horse and gig — the horse's name was Georgette and she was almost the last of the progeny of Grandpa's horses. They were all given French names except when you couldn't catch them — then they had many names, Australian I think. There was Georgette's mother Bijou Nanette and I have forgotten the others.

When the war came in 1914 I was ten years old and I can remember mother coming to our bedroom early on the morning of August 4th to tell us we were at war with Germany. I can only remember feeling very excited and thinking that at least there was something exciting happening. I don't think many people young or old had much idea of what the war meant. Harry was in the Navy. He had been in Scotland at John Brown's shipyards while the Sydney was being built for the Australian government so when she was finished and they were taking on a crew, he thought he would like to go with her since he had seen so much of her being built. So he signed on to join the Navy for a period of years. On the way out to Australia war was declared and the Sydney was sent off to serve somewhere else. Harry went right through the war and only returned to Australia about 1920 after an absence of more than eight years.

My memories of World War 1 are rather childish I suppose. I clearly remember Aurie being driven into Geelong to catch the train to Melbourne to go into camp. Doris and I were walking to school when the cart overtook us. Aurie waved until they were out of sight and remarked to Marcelle: "I wonder if I'll ever see those kids again". As gifts to remember him he had given Doris and me each a beautiful leather bound copy of the world's fairy tales and I only wish I had mine now — it was burnt in a fire we had at No 1 Retreat road. During the war many concerts were got up in the district to raise money for comforts for the troops. Needless to say Marcelle was prime mover in all of these and DORIS and I pranced through most of the acts. We also had what we called flag days when all the girls of the district gathered together on horseback and rode around to all the inhabitants selling little silk flags, buttons, and souvenirs to raise more money. I don't know how much we did raise but I should imagine it would be quite a lot.

At the beginning of the war mother organised the Batesford Red Cross. She was a member in Geelong of course and was to become one of the chief executives, but she set aside a room in our house and with the Singer sewing machines there, the district ladies would meet one day a week and make countless flannel pyjamas for the hospitals. We wrote little notes and left them in each pocket. Now and again we'd get a reply which was great fun. On almost every other day of the week mother was in Geelong at Red Cross and at the end of the war she was presented with a gold medal by the Mayor — Dr Howard Hitchcock. I think Marie goldsmith would have that now.

I can remember Eric gradually enlisting but I know he tried a couple of times before he was finally accepted before he was quite seventeen. He went into the infantry. I forgot to say Aurie went into the Light Horse as he was a very keen horseman. Eric went away in 1915 and was at Gallipoli but not at the landing. He stayed with the infantry right up to 1918 winning the military medal in France. He then went to England to the Air Force — or Flying Corps as it was then — and got his wings just as peace was declared. He and Harry met whenever Harry was in English waters and they had several leaves together. Eric was also somewhere Aurie's artillery battery in France when Aurie was wounded. Eric went to the field hospital and gathered up many of his belongings and sent them home as he could see Aurie was not going to need them anymore. Aurie died on the 8th May 1917 and I can remember coming home from school and seeing mother and father sitting on our verandah, Father with his hat over his eyes and the Australian flag at half-mast on our flagpole.

Frank left in 1917 and he too was under eighteen. He went straight into field artillery so that he would be with horses and later got into the same unit as Aurie but the time Frank got to France Aurie was killed — he was acting captain but his rank was lieutenant and he dies at the age of 22. Frank saw service until the end of the war in 1919 and would be one of the youngest returned men from World War 1. After the war Eric wanted badly to go to Russia with the Flying Corps but father couldn't see any future in that and said he'd better come home. Father, Doris and I went up to Melbourne to meet him and were terribly proud of him. He looked so smart in his officer's kit even to the lather gloves. We all went to theatre as we had to wait for a late train home since everyone felt so patriotic towards "our boys at the front" the management put us in a box at the theatre — the first and last time I was ever in one.

Fred was the only one who stayed at home to keep the farm going and at the end of the war, he rented for five years a wheat farm at Corack for Frank and Eric to run and make a living. I left school to come home and help mother, and Marcelle went to Corack to keep house for the two boys. It was quite successful financially I think but neither Eric nor Frank liked wheat farming so Frank came back to Chaumont and Eric went off alone and did many different things, some harebrained and some very successful. He took up a big area of land Nell's Corner which should have made his fortune but somehow didn't. He lived in Melbourne for some years and invented a potato peeling and chipping machine, which today would have been worth thousands, but somehow he must have been no businessman and though he had Coles and Myer as clients the business fizzled out and left him without a cent. He was before his time — now with takeaway food every few yards in every city I suppose he'd never have looked back. He was badly gassed in World War 1, only had one lung and suffered severe headaches from a serious head wound yet he had never a penny from Repat. It just wasn't in operation then and he had to pay all hospital expenses himself. It seems incredible now when returned soldiers can get a pension for almost anything — or nothing. He died in Sydney of a heart attack in 1954.

Frank came back to Chaumont and the grazing property was made into a company with Fred, Father, and Frank Partners. Fred dealt in sheep, buying and selling all over the country. He'd buy in N.S.W. and even Queensland, send the sheep home by rail and Frank would unload them and put them into paddocks till they were ready to be sold again — hopefully at a profit.

It was a busy life — Fred was only home at weekends and Frank was well occupied doing what had to be done at home. Mother at this time had been elected a member of the Hospital Committee and was in Geelong at least three days a week at meetings as she was on the House Committee as well — the first woman to ever be on it. Father used to sit on the bench on the days that mother had meetings and later was made children’s magistrate — work that he loved.

Mother then instituted the idea of hospital auxiliaries and formed No.1 auxiliary which is still going today. From that she went to many country areas, speaking and getting the women interested enough to form branches on their own. I don't think she aver got nearly enough credit for all she did for the hospital.

After father died in March 1933 she never went back to it and in fact was only a shadow of her old self till she eventually died of heart trouble in November of the same year — 1933.

This left Frank, Doris and me at Chaumont. Fred had married Dulcie in 1931 and lived in Geelong on the Eastern Beach. Doris had married Robin Jessop in England about four years before and had two little boys. The Jessops were cotton mill owners who had been bankrupted by the depression and Robin didn't even have a job. So we sent Doris the fare and she came out to see mother and father once more after five years away.

Father died when her ship got to Perth but she was in time to see mother and mother saw and loved her two little grandsons Jon aged three and Michael aged one. We never knew then that they would stay in Australia and Robin would come out later and join them. These years ware dreadful ones all over the world.

The great depression was in full swing — seemingly stable and true businesses now were being shut overnight. There were soup kitchens for the really poor and they could get vouchers for groceries but there was nothing like the organisation we have today and poverty was everywhere. We lost our money due to the collapse of overseas markets and in desperate attempts to keep afloat Fred mortgaged Chaumont, St Blaise the house on Eastern Beach and all their securities and insurances. When the Vic Railways failed to send a train he'd ordered to Albury and his sheep — thousands of them — had to be found agistment and were too late for the Melbourne markets, he sued the railways and lost 100,000 pounds. That was the last straw. Thank heaven father and mother had both died before we had to get out of Chaumont and Fred had to leave St Blaise. It was a heartache but made easier in that we were not the only ones who lost all. You’d hear fresh stories every week of people you had known. The big difference was that we didn't seem to recover as so many others did. Fred got a good job wit Dalgety's and went to live in Albury but died in a few years of leukaemia. Frank went to manage a property called Cherry Tree at Birragurra and I got a job as chauffeur in Melbourne.

I had better explain that when I took my job in Melbourne, Frank was living on at Chaumont with Doris and the boys as he was seeing to all the finalising of sale of all stock etc., and general care of the place until the sale of the property could be arranged. Mother had left all the furniture to me so that had to be sold too. I kept a few things and put them into storage, Doris also took what she needed as she had decided no to go back to England but Robin would come out here.

Unfortunately Doris and Frank did not hit it off so after a couple of months of driving Mrs Burstou around Melbourne, I came home again and we decided that Doris should rent a house in Melbourne and take in about four or five private patients. I went with her to help and managed to live on the proceeds of the various animals I'd had mostly as pets at Chaumont. Doris’s patients were enough to keep her and the boys and eventually she was able to move to bigger premises and later had several quite nice private hospitals and did very well.

I was engaged to Wilf by this time and we were to be married in the December of 1934. In thee meantime I took a few other small jobs and was able to get a trousseau together. We did marry on December the 28th and lived happily ever after here. I had better tell you a little about the name I chose for your father.

When I first met Wilfred Gray, he was an announcer and studio manager of 3GL. Harry and Wilf's brother Rob were at Flinders Naval Base together and Harry had written and asked us if we'll ask the lad out for a weekend as he was a stranger to Geelong and knew hardly anyone except in a business kind of way. This we did, Frank and I went and got him one Saturday and he stayed the night and spent Sunday with us.

Little did we know what was to follow!

I don't know a lot about Wilf's family but his father was Robert Ovens of Oven's Bakery in Essendon. Their firm was a very well known one and the bakery carts all proudly carried the Royal coat of arms on the side as they were under Vice Regal Patronage. By the time I knew Wilf the business had long passed into other hands and Robert Ovens had died.

Wilf's brother was born Alice Jane Jagoe in Wandiligong — one of seven children and she was born on the seventh day of the seventh month in 1867. Her parents both came from England but I don't know what year. I forgot to say that Robert Ovens came from Scotland and Bill found some of the family at Morebathe when he and Dawn were there. In fact they had James christened there. But to get back to Wilf's mother, she left home ad came to Melbourne when she was a girl and found herself a job with Mrs Ovens Senior helping in the shop and doing the books. In these days it was quite common for a girl in a job like that to live with the family who employed her.

Mrs Ovens was a widow and her son Robert had also lost his wife ad he and his young daughter lived with this mother. Naturally Robert and Alice fell in love and married after a few years and Robert and Wilfred were born. Unfortunately Robert's son was a very outgoing type of man and drank rather more than he should have so after a few years they agreed to live apart so that the two boys grew up not knowing their father at all. Nana managed to give them both a good education — Rob in the Navy and Wilf at Caulfield Grammar. Wilf's mother changed her name to Gray when she opted to live alone so the boys did not know until they were quite grown up that their name was really Ovens. After our marriage we changed our name by dead poll to Gray.

After leaving school at the age of 18 Wilf trained as a teacher with the State Education Department as many professions and occupations were closed to him owing to the disability he carried from the age of six when he contracted poliomyelitis. This paralysed one leg from the hip down so a lot of activities had to be foregone.

After about five years of teaching he felt he couldn't spend his whole life in that work so resigned and went to Sydney to see if he could find what he wanted there. Newspapers always interested him and the printing thereof so he used to go at night and help in the printing trade just for the experience. But he needed to earn his living so eventually he entered the advertising world and worked there very happily until the big depression began in the early 30's.

His firm had to retrench staff and Wilf found himself without a job. He came back to Melbourne and in a short time heard of 3GL Geelong and that they were looking for a mean to take charge and get the station on its feet. Even though he had never done work of this kind before he decided to apply and in 1931 came to Geelong as studio manager and stayed for 47 years! Not only did he get the station on its feet, it became the number 1 station outside the Metropolitan area and is still flourishing today. His salary at this time would have been 300 pounds per annum which was quite good money. When I worked for Mrs Burston I got 30 shillings per week which in today's money would be in the vicinity of $3 but of course everything is relevant. We could go to Melbourne by train for 5 shillings return. Trams were 2 or 3 pence per section and cars were only a few hundred pounds. Good shoes could be bought for 25 shillings and most girls made their own clothes and underclothes. We all washed our own hair and visits to the hairdresser were mostly for cutting or a special occasion coming up. In between times we curled our own till much later when perms became common. So living was very cheap. Men's suits were around the 4 pound mark and a good tailor-made one was about 10 pound.

My allowance from my father when I left school was 1 pound per week and that never altered. But on that I could dress quite well and was able to go to Melbourne and stay with Dorothy Lawrence of Cora Rosa and have them to stay with me. We went to dances — making all our own creations and felt we were having a great time.

Consequently living on little money has never bothered me very much. I was never very good at earning money but at least I could do without a lot of things and not get too downhearted. I think the depression was pretty good training for most of us who came through it. Also my mother was a Scot and she thought self-indulgence was a sin.

I suppose the war years of 1939 - 1945 is the period you are most interested in so I'll try and tell you a little of what life was like for us as a family. In 1939 Jenny was 4 and Harry 1 ?.Frank came back to Chaumont and the grazing property was made into a company with Fred, Father, and Frank Partners. Fred dealt in sheep, buying and selling all over the country. He'd buy in N.S.W. and even Queensland, send the sheep home by rail and Frank would unload them and put them into paddocks till they were ready to be sold again — hopefully at a profit.

It was a busy life — Fred was only home at weekends and Frank was well occupied doing what had to be done at home. Mother at this time had been elected a member of the Hospital Committee and was in Geelong at least three days a week at meetings as she was on the House Committee as well — the first woman to ever be on it. Father used to sit on the bench on the days that mother had meetings and later was made children’s magistrate — work that he loved.

Mother then instituted the idea of hospital auxiliaries and formed No.1 auxiliary which is still going today. From that she went to many country areas, speaking and getting the women interested enough to form branches on their own. I don't think she aver got nearly enough credit for all she did for the hospital.

After father died in March 1933 she never went back to it and in fact was only a shadow of her old self till she eventually died of heart trouble in November of the same year — 1933. This left Frank, Doris and me at Chaumont. Fred had married Dulcie in 1931 and lived in Geelong on the Eastern Beach. Doris had married Robin Jessop in England about four years before and had two little boys. The Jessops were cotton mill owners who had been bankrupted by the depression and Robin didn't even have a job. So we sent Doris the fare and she came out to see mother and father once more after five years away.

Father died when her ship got to Perth but she was in time to see mother and mother saw and loved her two little grandsons Jon aged three and Michael aged one. We never knew then that they would stay in Australia and Robin would come out later and join them. These years ware dreadful ones all over the world.

The great depression was in full swing — seemingly stable and true businesses now were being shut overnight. There were soup kitchens for the really poor and they could get vouchers for groceries but there was nothing like the organisation we have today and poverty was everywhere. We lost our money due to the collapse of overseas markets and in desperate attempts to keep afloat Fred mortgaged Chaumont, St Blaise the house on Eastern Beach and all their securities and insurances. When the Vic Railways failed to send a train he'd ordered to Albury and his sheep — thousands of them — had to be found agistment and were too late for the Melbourne markets, he sued the railways and lost 100,000 pounds. That was the last straw. Thank heaven father and mother had both died before we had to get out of Chaumont and Fred had to leave St Blaise. It was a heartache but made easier in that we were not the only ones who lost all. You’d hear fresh stories every week of people you had known. The big difference was that we didn't seem to recover as so many others did. Fred got a good job wit Dalgety's and went to live in Albury but died in a few years of leukaemia. Frank went to manage a property called Cherry Tree at Birragurra and I got a job as chauffeur in Melbourne.

I had better explain that when I took my job in Melbourne, Frank was living on at Chaumont with Doris and the boys as he was seeing to all the finalising of sale of all stock etc., and general care of the place until the sale of the property could be arranged. Mother had left all the furniture to me so that had to be sold too. I kept a few things and put them into storage, Doris also took what she needed as she had decided no to go back to England but Robin would come out here.

Unfortunately Doris and Frank did not hit it off so after a couple of months of driving Mrs Burstou around Melbourne, I came home again and we decided that Doris should rent a house in Melbourne and take in about four or five private patients. I went with her to help and managed to live on the proceeds of the various animals I'd had mostly as pets at Chaumont. Doris’s patients were enough to keep her and the boys and eventually she was able to move to bigger premises and later had several quite nice private hospitals and did very well.

I was engaged to Wilf by this time and we were to be married in the. Dad would be earning between 6 - 7 pounds a week and we were paying 30 shillings per week rent. I've no idea what tax we paid but there was no health insurance or anything like that so it was best not to be ill.

Wilf being in such a responsible position and in the world of communications, especially the broadcasting field was terribly scrutinised by police and his background and family thoroughly gone into from every possible angle. It would have been so easy for him if he'd been so inclined to pass information to ships at sea. And in fact that's exactly what did happen with one man until he was found out. He used to play certain records which to the ones who were receiving them meant certain things. He was giving information to ships at sea — enemy ships of course. Wilf at all time had to carry his identification card with photograph and was responsible for everything that was spoken or played on the air by 3GL. People all had ration cards for meat, butter, groceries and clothing. Some people found this very restricting but it hardly ever bothered us. We could get all the food we needed with our cards and never used half our clothing coupons. I was always able to give away whole cards of coupons because we did not use them.

The hours Wilf worked would be laughed at by today's young people. By this time 3GL had a morning announcer but Wilf went to the office well before 9.00am and never got home for either lunch or dinner but returned after the station closed down at 10.30pm. When we were first married he did the early morning session and got home about 11.00pm at night. I thought married life was about the loneliest job a girl have! However it gradually improved as the years went on but dad never counted the hours or watched the clock. Jennifer and Kerry went to Mrs Seymour's private school in East Geelong — costing about 30 shillings each per term. I made all their clothes — brown tunics, fawn blouses and I even made their ties out of pieces left over from the tunics.

They had both gone to Morongo kindergarten before they were old enough for school. Looing back I often wonder how me managed it but I've kept a diary just for the interest you would all have taken in it. I will never cease to be thankful that you were all healthy as there was no insurance in those days. You all had your dental inspections and proper haircuts — I never cut anyone's hair! I used to make all the boys' clothes until they were four years old — then I figured they needed proper shop made pants and shirts.

Life for us was not hard during the war. We got all the food we needed and learned to eat black pudding instead of vegemite[1]. Aunty Marcelle used to send us great boxes of eggs and cake and often a cooked chook which was a wonderful help. I'll never forget those boxes of food and often think of the work it must have been for her. She was so good.

Marguerite


[1] Vegemite is a dark brown Australian food paste made from yeast extract, similar to the Swiss Cenovis and to the British Marmite.

See also the chronicle about James Henry Dardel written by his great grandson Michael Jessop. Rita was the granddaughter of James Henry Sr.


Famille Dardel

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