Eileen

by Kerry Cue

Eileen and Tom Meehan Married 1922

Eileen and Tom Meehan Married 1922

This is a photo of my grandparent’s wedding in 1922. The Australian  Model T Ford or Tin Lizzie (below) was produced in the 1920s. My grandmother, Eileen, is at the wheel. The boy (obscured) in the photo is my father. My grandparents owned a small wheat farm at Lalbert in the Mallee, Victoria [my father was born nearby at – wait for it – Tittybong].

It was a harsh life. My grandfather, Tom, cleared the land by hand. There was no power, just tank water and kerosene lanterns and 4 kids. The car is important because my grandmother, Eileen, mother of 4 at the time, broke both her wrists crank starting it and her sister, Maggie, reset her sister’s wrists on the kitchen table.

My grandmother broke both her wrists crack starting this car

My grandmother broke her wrists crank starting this car

The fires came in the 1930s, burnt the crop and the banks foreclosed as often happened in the Great Depression. My Auntie Dot can remember someone from the bank turning up and not only taking the car, but the bridles off the horses!!!

Life was harsh on the land in the Australia of the depression

Life was harsh on the land in the Australia of the depression

The local community passed around a hat to pay the train fare for the family to Melbourne. My father, 13 at the time, watched his siblings on the beach at St Kilda, Melbourne, as his parents went in search of lodgings. So terrified were the children of losing their boots, they buried them in the sand to paddle in the water. My grandparents lived in Gurner St, St Kilda for the rest of their lives. As a child I thought my grandma was stern, but today I see her as tough. A survivor. She died in 1978.

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