Memoirs - Page 18

No chronicle of my life and times could possibly be authentic and complete without mention - and in detail - of the girl and woman who has become an integral part of my life for the past 50 years (74.3%) approximately. I speak, of course of my wife and your mother - born Joan Therese ROGERS, in FIVEDOCK, Municipality of Drummoyne on 6 August, 1935. She is the second child/only daughter of Edward James ROGERS, a wool classer of Western Australian birth himself (born 1909) who married her mother at Fivedock, NSW on 15 October, 1932. She was one Thelma Mary PHILLIPS - 29 years of age when Joan was born - and was herself born (in 1906) and raised in BOMBALA, NSW. Ted died in Sydney (CROYDON) on 13 June 1994 aged 85 years.

I met Joan a week after her 16th birthday (yes shameful even then, but it happened) at a Catholic Youth Organisation dance. Joan confirms that it was a C.Y.O. dance in Lewisham on the 13th August 1951. Various C.Y.O branches/members attended by invitation as did interlopers (predators?) like myself and my friend at the time Sid Lord (somewhat older and far more experienced "in and of the world" than I). He and I had gone in his Willeys tourer with canvas roll down hood and pop up boot "DICKY" seat (for two) in the rear - see photo. The date was 13 August, 1951, and I was all of seventeen. I don't recall a clap of thunder or a flash of lightning "across the crowded room", nor would I dare suggest love at first sight as the ingredients - I was "fresh" and she was lovely. We courted during the remainder of 1951 and through to her birthday in 1954 when we were allowed to become engaged. Much of our courting was from afar, and by correspondence, whilst I completed my compulsory National Service in Canberra (15 September, 1952 to 9 March 1953) and subsequently when I was transferred, in my job, to the Department of Agriculture's Experiment Farm, at CONDOBOLIN, NSW (near Parkes & Forbes) during 1953 and 1954. In both situations I was able to get back to Sydney irregularly to "ply my troth" in person. I returned permanently in November 1954 when I left the Public Service, and Condobolin, to join the staff of the University of Technology (nowadays, Uni of NSW).

See caption

1933 Willys Roadster Model 77. Probably much the same as the one owned by Sid Lord.

Mum & Dad - June 1952.

L-R: Thelma Rogers (Joan's mother), Bill, Joan. June 1952

Mum & Dad - around 1953.

Joan and Bill - c.1953

See caption

L-R: Kerry Rogers (Joan's elder brother), June Lutz, Joan, Bill. 1952.

When Bill and his mother and brother moved into 5 Albert Street Erskineville in the late '40s there was a Mullens family, with a daughter named Joyce, who rented a house directly across the road (Grandma Mullens and Joyce's Grandma Woodhouse also lived in that street). See a photo of that house in the late '40s. Joyce had lived in that house her whole life, and she and Bill became good friends because they were about the same age. They frequently met on the train platform at Wynyard and got the train home together after work. Joyce worked for Caltex Oil at the time. When Bill met our mother Joan in August 1951, she and Joyce soon became good friends and used to often meet at lunch time and so on because they both worked in the city too. Eventually Joan suggested that Joyce should meet her brother Kerry.

Bill, Joan, Kerry and Joyce frequently went on double dates together - Nielsen park on Sundays after Mass, movies, picnics. Joyce and Kerry ended up marrying in October 1955, a few months before Bill and Joan did.

Joyce also recalls that it was Ethel Dwyer who first aroused her interest in Catholicism. Joyce's father was Catholic, whereas her mother was Anglican, and they had to go off and get married in the Congregational Church because their families were opposed to the marriage. There was a lot of religious bigotry in those days. Joyce and her sister talked to their father about converting when they were 16 but he asked them to wait until they were 18 when they were better informed to make that kind of decision. However Joyce met Kerry when she was 17 so became a Catholic because the Rogers family was Catholic.

Source: Joyce Rogers (nee Mullens)

Our courting revolved very much around our being with each other as often as possible. As well as regular lunch time trysts in Hyde Park and the occasional restaurant dinner we embraced the normal youthful activities of films, the occasional concert, dances (I was an awful "strutter"), the beach (I hated the sun, sand and surf - being terribly susceptible to sunburn) and picnics. Much of it was also conducted in her home in Garfield Street, FIVEDOCK, under the scrutiny of her father, mother and maiden aunt (Bernice) as well as her older and three younger brothers, so there was little opportunity or time for any "hanky panky". As the relationship grew and solidified in that environment I, indeed, spent a great deal of time with the family, rather than with Joan, indulging in social endeavours such as cards etc (not her forte) whilst she sewed, knitted, listened to the radio in the adjacent lounge room. Separated facilities - so grand - were not so available at the Dwyer residence in ERSKINEVILLE.

Dad - Blue Mountains 1954.
Bill - Blue Mountains 1954

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