Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Happy Birthday to ...

... ME.

This story, relating to my birth, is the first story I wrote when I began writing my life history a couple of years ago.

The World was at war in the summer of my birth in 1944, with Peace yet another 20 months away. The effects of the war were felt even in the small community in Victoria’s South Gippsland, into which I was born. Families were missing relatives and friends, some never to return from battle, whilst even at home the rationing of petrol and food and nightly blackouts were felt by everyone.

My father, who had migrated from England in 1929 and spent several years in the Australian Army Militia, akin to today’s Army Reserve, was trying to eke out a living with my mother and two older brothers on a steep, blackberry-infested dairy farm in the Strezlecki Ranges. The walls of the house were covered in newspapers with hessian pasted over, and for a time, Mum cooked meals over an open fire until they could afford to buy a stove. But it was their first home together since the War began, and offered a place of stability after moving house seven times since then.

I was born in a small private hospital called Cooinda in the nearby town of Warragul. Cooinda, meaning Happy Place, was an old homestead with wide verandas, surrounded by a vast garden of big shady trees, lawns and flowers. Many years later, long after it ceased to be a hospital, I longed to own this beautiful property.

I was named Frances, after my father’s mother, Edna after my mother, and Beverley was added for good measure, which has ensured much confusion ever since. My parents were pleased to have a daughter, though I don’t know what impression I made on my brothers – Geoffrey 5 and Ormond 3½. When just a few days old, Mum told Ormond that it was time to feed the baby and asked, “What should I give her to eat?” He thought for a while and said, “Well, give her a scone.”

Two and a half years later we moved to another dairy farm in West Gippsland, which remained in the family for the next forty years. A boy and 3 girls were added to the family in just over four years. Although money was scarce and today’s mod cons non-existent, I lived a happy, healthy and carefree childhood.

30 comments:

The Anointing said...

Happy BIRTHDAY!!!

ms*robyn said...

and a happy birthday to you ms*Alice ! hope it is alot cooler than mine was. Loved the birthday story :)

I wonder if there is something in that many bloggers seem to be Capricorns?

shellyC said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUM!!

HAVE A GREAT DAY AND WE WILL SEE YOU LATER!!

LOVE M,M,Z,S & L

Sonia said...

Happy, Happy Birthday!

Kathy said...

Frances, Edna, Beverly? How did you come to be called Alice? And a happy birthday to you!

Dawn said...

Do have a wonderful day!!!
Great story...

Alice said...

See, Kathy, I told you it was confusing! Actually, when I started this blog I wanted to be annoymous, so I chose the name 'Sweet Alice', which is a common name for one of my favourite flowers, Alyssum. After a while I dropped the 'Sweet' because I felt that unless people knew the reason behind the name, they might think it was a bit over-the-top calling myself sweet. So now it's just Alice, which was my Grandmother's name and one that she hated so much that she made all her children promise not to use it for any of her children; and they didn't.

Peggy said...

Happy Happy Birthday my friend! Lots of Hugs being sent your way

Alice said...

Re my last comment - that was meant to be 'their children' in the last sentence! Dhurrrr ..

Motherkitty said...

Happy birthday, "Alice." It's nice that you have put down on paper the story of your birth and growing up for your children and their children. Do you still like scones? Thanks for a charming story.

Kali said...

Dear ms*Alice ~ I've just heard on the 'blogvine' that it's your birthday...HAPPY BIRTHDAY dearest. Many happy returns for a wonderful year! **Hugs** Kali.

Shell said...

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy birthday deeeaaar Frances
Happy Birthday to you!!!!

=)

jellyhead said...

Happy Birthday!

But what to call you now? In my mind you are Alice, but now you are also Frances! Which name do you prefer we bloggers use?

ms*robyn said...

oh she will always be Alice to me !

Calidore said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY dear. I hope you have a wonderful day

Love from all of us here in Swan Hill.

SueeeuS said...

A very happy birthday to you, Alice!! I like your story - especially that you were born in a happy place. That's precious. :)

Tanya said...

Happy birthday, Mum. Wish I could be there. Sending hugs and kisses and lots of love to you. Tanya. x

abe/happy said...

Happy Birthday Alice pug hugs and kisses from us x0x0x0

Carol said...

A very Happy Birthday dear Alice! I'm so used to call you Alice, althoug I knew already from the postcard swap that your real name is Frances, and today I've learned it's even Frances Edna Beverley! Oh and you have so many siblings, what a big family!Hope you'll have a fantastic day! Love Carol x

Wendy A said...

Have a great Birthday Alice. I love the history. It is lovely to know where people came from and where they ended up.

Jude said...

Just time to wish you a happy birthday before the day is over. Hope it was a happy one! Rather nice to be starting a New Year and your own personal new year in the same week.

judypatooote said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALICE;
I can remember some of the stories that my mom told me about her childhood....but i never wrote them down at the time.....and now that she is gone, I want so bad to ask her questions about different things.....she was such a smart lady....and same with my dad coming from Germany....I can remember some of his stories, and some I have written about on my blog, but never enough.....I loved reading your story......oh for those wonderful memories....Scones huh......LOL Again Happy Birthday

susan said...

Happy belated birthday! Hope you had a good one. Thanks for sharing your story.

Takoma Gardener said...

VERY interesting - thanks so much. Made me think about my parents lives at the time I was born a world away from you. Susan

my vintage days said...

Happy Birthday.
Your writing and words come out beautiful. Wish I could do that...LOL
I wish you a happy year, may this be the best yet.

Kathy said...

I don't think alyssum is known as Sweet Alice in the 'States; it's always sweet alyssum. And what fun to choose a forbidden name for a pseudonym. My grandmother's name was Ottilia Wilhemina, and I was actually considering naming one of my daughters Tillie, but when she got wind of it she most emphatically objected, and so I dropped the idea.

Do you just like writing family history as a story, or do you gather data as for genealogy as well?

Sandy said...

I don't know where I have been to be so tardy in wishing a Happy Birthday! Best wishes!

Seeing Anew said...

Happy Belated Birthday, Frances! I enjoyed reading your birth story. I would really enjoy reading more about your childhood on the farm. I grew up 17 miles outside of New York City, and often longed to know more about farms. I love reading that your childhood was happy, healthy, and carefree -- that's my idealized notion of childhood on a farm.

Val said...

Now how is it that I missed your birthday post?!? A belated happy birthday, and it was so interesting reading about your childhood.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday. I just did a google search because I have bought an old stone house with a wide veranda called Cooinda and I wanted to find out what the name meant. Coincidence. Loved your blurb, it was really interesting.
Jodie