Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Book of Me, Written by You: Grandparents - Part A

Today is Week 7 of a 15 month project inspired by Julie Goucher of Angler's Rest.

What were their names?

Where were they from?
Were they related? – Cousins perhaps
Where were they born, another Country or state/area
What did they do?
Did you know them?
What was your relationship with them?
If you didn't know them have you researched about them?

I have written about my grandparents quite a bit on my blog already so I apologise for any repetition.

I only remember two grandparents when growing up: one from each side of the family as the other two had died before I was born.  Let's tackle them one side at a time.

Maternal Grandmother

My maternal grandmother's name varies according to the certificates you read.

On her birth certificate she is called Helen Kate  Forfar.
On her marriage certificate she is called Katherine Helen Forfar.
On her death certificate she is called Kathleen Helen McLoughlin.

Kit (as she was known) died 11 April 1958 at the age of 55 (before I was born) at Gloucester House, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Camperdown.  My mother was only 22 when Kit died.  The cause of death on the death certificate says Pituitary Adenoma.  I remember the story being that they discovered a brain tumour.  She had an operation to remove it, which was successful, but she died of high blood pressure shortly after.  There was also a story about a family picnic in a park somewhere - years before the tumour was discovered.  A tyre was reported to have come off a car and hit Kit in the back of the head.  Family conjecture was that that was the start of the tumour which grew for years, undetected for a long time.  

Kit was born at 23 Bedford Streeet Newtown on 8 December 1902 (my mother's birthday was 7 December) - the younger of identical twins to her sister Grace Isabella.  

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The story of the Forfar family is quite sad.  Kit and Bel's mother died when the twins were only three and they spent most of their early childhood in The Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children with older brother Ernest and sister Dorothy.  When their father re-married in 1913, Kit and Bel were removed from the asylum by their father and taken home to live with their step-mother.  They were eternally grateful to her for this.

You can read more about the Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children here.

Walter William Forfar and his new wife Alice were listed as living at 1 Benahm St Petersham in the Electoral Roll.  Five years later they moved to 230 Old Canterbury Road Summer Hill.  This is not very far from Nowranie Street where my mother spent much of her childhood.

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WW Forfar has various addresses from 1922 - 1925 including:

843 Oxford St Paddington and
163 Elizabeth Street Sydney in 1922
99 Glebe Point Road Glebe in 1923
Owen Street Innisfail in 1925

I'm not sure whether these were all domestic addresses or whether some of them might have been business addresses.  Walter William (or Dick as he was called) was a pastrycook by trade.

Kit's twin sister Belle married in 1922.

In 1928 the girls' father had a rather spectacular accident as reported in this newspaper article.

courtesy of National Library of Australia website Trove

Note that Walter is described as living alone.  His wife Alice is living in Wollongong in 1930 at a place called "Inglebah" in Smith Street.  Upon further investigation it seems that "Inglebah" is a high-class guest house.  There's a badly scribbled on advertisement from the Goulburn Evening Penny Post from 1932 which describes its attractions.  I don't know whether Kit was living with Alice or perhaps with her twin sister and her husband - the Wingfields in Newcastle.

courtesy of National Library of Australia website Trove

I don't know anything about Kit at all in terms of her occupation and this is something that I need to follow up but I'm not sure how or where to begin.  She doesn't seem to appear on any electoral rolls prior to her marriage which makes it somewhat difficult.

Kit married Tom on 4th August 1934 at the age of 31 at St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church Bondi.  How did they meet I wonder????

There are no photos of the wedding to my knowledge.  

This was one of Tom's favourite photos of Kit I think - probably taken when they were courting.

She was described as a spinster and her usual occupation as domestic duties.  Witnesses to the marriage were V McLoughlin - I'm guessing this is Tom's brother Vince.  Helen Reily was also a witness.  I don't know who Helen was and I should follow this up with cousins.

Kit and Tom were married by The Rev. Michael Fitzpatrick.  He died three years later and this is his obituary.

courtesy of National Library of Australia website Trove

Kit and Tom's marriage was what was called a "mixed" marriage in those days.  She was Church of England and he was Catholic and I think it caused a great deal of heartache for much of their married life.  

Maternal Grandfather

In contrast to Kit, I have much more information about Thomas, her husband.

Here is a photo of him as a baby.  He ended up being the eldest of nine children with five brothers and three sisters.

He was named Thomas Joseph Benedict McLoughlin and was born 7th July 1898 in William Street Bathurst.  

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I called him Grandad.  I think everyone else called him Tom.

I have some great photos of Tom growing up.  There's this one.

Tom and John Byrne

Tom and John are described in this article below:
courtesy of National Library of Australia Trove.

There are a couple of photos of football teams

1912 - Tom back row right at the end on the right
1914 - Tom front row on the right

This is a scan of his certificate of enrolment in the Australian Military Forces in 1942.  His occupation is listed as Clerk.

I'm not sure when this photo was taken of Tom but it's a great candid shot.  I'm thinking the 1950s sometime.

I'd like to investigate Tom's working life some more.  He was a clerk, but I'm not exactly sure where.   

I do know he worked for De Havilland for a while and I suspect that it was during this work with engines that he might have become profoundly deaf.

Here is a photo taken I think at De Havilland with workmates.  He is the one in the white coat in the front on the left.

Tom lived to the ripe old age of 84.   The last few years were not happy ones.

  There was an accident I think in 1979 when he was about 81.  My memory is that he was run over while walking across a crossing outside the Leagues Club one night.  Others with better memories may correct me.  He survived the accident but was never the same.  One of my mother's letters from the time says: 

"He cannot walk, except for a few steps...He can say occasional words that can be understood, but they don't necessarily have anything to do with what is going on at the time; most of the time it is incoherent muttering...rarely is there any recognition and he has never answered one question I have put to him since the accident."


"Every third day the nursing home advises me in sepulchral tones, that I must prepare myself, that Daddy is about to go very quickly, after which, he rallies for dozenth time, and away we go again."

In November of that year there was a fire in the nursing home.  Five fire brigades were needed to control the fire.  My mother recounts that they were lucky as there were 100 patients and only three night staff.  The fire started:

 "right opposite Dad's room in a storeroom....everything is under control; he can still use his room and it looks as though no-one will have to leave as the affected patients are being doubled-up in other undamaged sections of the hospital."

Tom rallied for three more years eventually dying at the Nursing Home at Ashfield on 
2nd November 1982. 

I remember my grandfather as very loving.  According to my mother he had a temper but I never witnessed it so maybe he mellowed over the years.  He had a great love of history, books and chess.  

Oh and having a flutter on the ponies I understand. 

He introduced me to Readers Digest and Word Power.  He gave me lots of different books including many sets of encyclopedias.  

He liked a beer at Christmas.  

This is how I will always remember him - reading something of great interest

I'm conscious that this is a very long post so will do a new post for my paternal grandparents.


Julie Goucher said...

Lovely post Alex.

Kristin said...

I have a dictionary as big as the one your grandfather is reading. I got it for 50 cents at a library sale. Of course now it's rarely opened.

Jill Ball said...

So many places that are familiar to me, Alex, especially the beautiful Destitute Asylum building at Randwick. I'm sure it wasn't such a beautiful place to live in as a young child.

Alex Daw said...

Dear Kristin - What fun to have a dictionary that size. My husband and I still use a very battered dictionary of his from school days - the cover is missing but it's still the best dictionary in the house.

Alex Daw said...

Thanks Julie. It took forever to write. Can you tell???

Alex Daw said...

Thanks Jill. Yes my mother and I went back to look at the Asylum when my daughter was a babe in arms. A bit spooky to be walking their with my mother knowing that that was where my grandmother spent much of her childhood. I have a little publication about the Asylum which gives you an idea of what life must have been like. There are photos of the children in it but with no identifying information....we used to try and look for the twins in them but without any real confidence of being able to "see" them.