05 October 2012

Noel's Commentary on George's Letters, Part 1

Noel in 1982
Since we are 26 letters into this project and have passed the one-year anniversary since the project's inception, I thought this would be a good time to share a document written by Noel in the 1980s.

When Noel was putting together a family history, he used the saved letters from his father, George, as a resource. After the long job of condensing the letters down to just the family history, he was able to look at them anew and paint a general picture of what he saw happening.

I'll only share the first part right now, and save the second part for when we get a few more years into the letters.

Here it as as Noel wrote it:

Commentary on Dad's Letters

The following was written by Noel in 1984 after having read Dad's letters of fifty years ago. There is no intention to be mundane or emotional, but to say it as I see it with the perspective that the years give.

The first several years can only be characterized as very difficult ones for Dad particularly.

Economic conditions were chaotic making the financing of the "Y" almost impossible. The membership decreased significantly, occupancy of the residence declined to less than fifty percent causing Dad untold strain to keep the Association afloat. Salaries were cut several times resulting in a bare bones existence for Mum, Dad and the family. There was a period when the difficulties were so extreme that it was a question whether Dad would continue as General Secretary. However, times became a little better about 1934. The strain of the days showed up in Dad's health. In reading his letters it was obvious that his health had deteriorated considerably, even though he had minimized his illnesses.

Keith too had a difficult time. He was unemployed for most of five years. Fortunately he was able to secure casual, short time jobs with the Texaco Company, the Dryfus company, the Wheat Commission and others which did give him a very limited but undependable income with long periods of famine up to the time he secured permanent employment with the Myers Emporium.

Ruth also had a difficult time when she began nursing -- the long hours, the demands of the hospital and the exacting nature of her work also showed up in the continuous string of illnesses she incurred.

1934 showed the beginning of better conditions and a less stressful living for the family.

Of course Noel in a foreign country, without any financial backing, struggling to make ends meet, particularly in the years 1931 to 1933, and going to college, also caused some turmoil for Dad.

The bright spots in the family during these years were, as Dad characterized them, the "kiddies". They were full of life, vim, vigor and vitality -- shafts of sunlight in the dismal days -- a source of great enjoyment to both Mum and Dad, Keith and Ruth.

Speaking of the two girls, they were opposites in temperament, but in their pre-teen and teenage years pursued similar interests in church and school activities. Edith was more eloquent and excitable, and to quote Father, "Edith is getting more boisterous than ever, greatly to Joy's annoyance. As you know, Joy is much quieter and less demonstrative than Edith, and is consequently reprimanding Edith for her noisiness. However, the two of them get along very well together". "....... going along quietly, that is, as quietly as Edith can go!"

Also, Chas. F. Crosby was a great friend for on many occasions he made his Summer home in the Dandenongs available for the family to have a holiday in the country.

Part 2 to be published at a future date.