Memoirs - Page 2

I have always understood that my birth (for reasons of which I am neither fully aware nor certain) was a difficult one which, for some time, had the lives of mother and babe in jeopardy. She had, I now know, some six weeks pre-delivery hospitalisation with septicaemia. A contributing cause may also have been the fact that Ethel, whilst pregnant some years before - and following Margaret's birth - had been knocked down by, or stumbled on alighting from, a tram in Melbourne. The incident was, it seems, witnessed by Margaret who was travelling with her at the time! She, I believe, lost that baby, and medical opinion was that she could/would have no more. The arrivals of William - and, later, Vincent - confounded the experts (note, particularly, the ages she bore us!).

It has been a cause of some consternation to me in later life that I have no depth of knowledge about the lives and personalities of my mother and father. I admonish myself constantly about my lack of inquisitiveness (and interest?) in respect of them perhaps until too late a stage to be able to pick up any loose threads. My only excuse/justification is that they may have been shy, unremarkable (perhaps in their view) and private people who lived in times when the projection of self and the recording of personal experiences and events for posterity was not "fashionable". Neither of them, it seems to me, promoted any curiosity about them in their children.

My father died in his 61st year, when I was a lad of 14+ years just finishing school (at NSW Intermediate Certificate level) and embarking upon my working life. My main recall of him was that he was constantly in poor health. I have much later learned that he had been honourably discharged from a short period of (local) service with the Australian Military Forces in 1917 as a consequence of a severe foot injury which he sustained many years previously (about 1910/11) whilst exercising (swimming) and leaping off the back of a milk cart horse on a Melbourne beach. He landed on a broken glass bottle and, being bootless, severed/divided the tendons of the sole of his left foot. With resultant limited movements he was unable to drill. He was classed as a "transports driver" (I should imagine of horse-drawn vehicles - but confess that to be a guess).

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