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Friday, 22 June 2012

23. Adult and Adolescent Children in the 1930s

Albert Banksia St
Albert and Grace, Bert's two older children, came to Australia in early adolescence. The first years were hard, as the family hung on through the worst of the Great Depression, adjusting to new climate, new ways - similar poverty in new surroundings.

The experience was very different for them than for Sylvia, who began school in Australia. Albert and Grace had left school behind and needed to find their way to financial and adult independence.

Albert found work at Bailey's tannery and quickly made friends. Albert and Grace joined the Methodist Youth group in Botany and made more friends. As they both got a little money in their pockets they wanted a life other outside the work routines - and expectations - of their parents.

Albert fishing
Albert at Cronulla

Albert and his friends went fishing - staying all weekend in makeshift huts near Cronulla. Albert eventually got a boat, and sold some of the fish he caught.
With his friend Tommy Meahan, Albert took up boxing and practised at home in Banksia St - buying boxing gloves to alleviate the fear and abhorrence that Bert and Nell expressed at the damage they did to each other.

Albert on left, with mates on Manly ferry

One of Albert's favourite pastimes was taking the ferry to Manly with his mates on Sunday - dressed to kill in their striped blazers - going back and forth on the same ticket, listening to the bands that played on the ferry, and flirting with girls.
It was not a life with which Bert had much empathy.

For a while Grace helped out and home, then went into service. She worked for a while at Coghlan's Nursery.


As things improved economically, she got a job at Johnson and Johnson. She rode her bike there - never mastering, according to her sister, the back-pedal brake, and stopping when she got to work by running into the wall.

Grace, 2nd from left

Grace liked to dress up and go out. She also loved the rare occasions when she could visit the country, or places of interest.

Albert and Beryl's wedding party. Grace in pink

In 1938 Albert married Beryl Thompson, one of Grace's friends from the Methodist Youth Fellowship.

Their daughter, and only child, Irene, was born in 1942.

Grace and Sid wedding

In 1940 Grace married Sidney Molloy, one of Albert's friends from Bailey's. Sid had by then joined up and was serving as a stoker on HMAS Australia.

Sid was a Mascot boy, and the couple settled  in Mascot.

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