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U3A Writing: A Boy Called Bill

...They gazed in awe at this large house, bigger than they ever seen in their lives. The car pulled up at the front entrance. As they alighted, the front door of the house opened, and three excited children came running out to meet them, followed by a lady...

Rose Perry tells of a family who led fulfilled lives after moving to Adelaide.

Bill heard his mother call, "Bill, come here, I need you."

Bill's father was working outside in his shed, and Bill was left to care for his disabled mother.
For a small-framed 14 year old, this was quite a responsibility, but because his mother was very special to him, he always came at her bidding.

Charlotte was a victim of rheumatoid arthritis from quite a young age, and in the 1920's there was no relief for this debilitating ailment, so pain was her companion day and night.

She had lived in the Western district where the climate was cold and damp for most of the year, and at the age of 32, she was advised by her doctor to move to a warmer climate.

Her sister Jenny decided to accompany her, so they both moved to Adelaide with the hope of some relief for Charlotte's pain.

They made the decision to wait until they were in Adelaide before seeking employment, so on a Monday morning in August 1925, they stepped onto a bus which was to take them to a whole new life and climate. It was exciting for these two sisters, who had never been away from home before, considering they were not youngsters, actually Charlotte was 35 and Jenny 28.

Accommodation was arranged with friends, Joe and Sarah James, who lived in Rose Park.

The bus arrived at 6:35 pm. Joe was there waiting to take them home, where Sarah was preparing a meal. It took them three quarters of an hour to arrive at Joe's home. By then they were very tired and hungry. After sitting so long in the bus, Charlotte's pain was quite severe.

Sarah's welcome lifted their spirits, as this was quite a challenge in the '20s to leave home to go away to a big City, which had only ever been a name to them. She led them to their room, Joe carrying their bags, and left the two girls to themselves for a while to find their bearings, to rest and clean up for the evening meal.

Charlotte and Jenny were feeling quite excited, in spite of the weariness and pain, and decided that the next day, they would begin their search for work.

Their evening was most pleasant, Joe and Sarah telling them about their family and where they lived and what they were doing with their lives. Joe asked them what they hoped to do in Adelaide. They both had not considered what area of work they would seek, because they had lived with and worked for their parents, Jenny cooking the meals and Charlotte looking after the younger children. So, this experience would be quite a challenge.

There were two newspapers to peruse, and Joe and Sarah left the girls alone to concentrate on this, while they retired to the kitchen to clean up after the meal. They told the girls to use the telephone if they needed to.

There was quite a large notice in the Advertiser, which looked quite official, advertising for a nanny and cook for a family of three children. It included a phone number. This seemed too good to be true! The excitement grew, and even though it was 9 pm, they decided to call the number.

With much trepidation, Charlotte lifted the receiver and when the operator enquired for the number she wanted, she discovered that she was trembling, and was quite emotional, but she managed to tell the lady the number.

Very soon a female voice said, "This is the Davis family home. Can I help you?"

Charlotte composed herself, and said, "I am calling about the advertisement in the paper for a nanny and cook."

"Can I ask your name please?" the voice said.

"My name is Charlotte Adams, and my sister Jenny and I have come across from Hamilton in Victoria and are looking for work." Charlotte told her.

The lady then asked her, "What work have you been doing?"

Charlotte explained to her about their lives and how they had helped their parents for many years. She also told the lady the reason for coming to Adelaide.

"My name is Mary Davis," she stated, " I would like to meet you both. Could I send someone to pick you both up in the morning and bring you to our home?"

This was too good to be true, and Charlotte was wondering if it was real. But she composed herself enough to say, "That would be convenient, thank you."

She gave Mary directions to their friends' home, and was advised that a car would be there at 9:30 am.

The two girls were so excited, and when they told Joe and Sarah about the phone call, Joe told them that the Davis family were well respected in Adelaide where they operated a Stock and Station Agency.

Sleep eluded them that night. They both pondered over their lives and the fact that they were now setting out on a new life, and they speculated on their future in this city.

Morning finally arrived. The girls were out of bed at 7 o'clock. After breakfast, they were ready for the day, no matter what it held.

The car arrived promptly at 9:30. Joe and Sarah stood on the verandah as they left with the chauffeur to take them to the Davis home.

It was only 20 minutes later that they arrived at their destination. They gazed in awe at this large house, bigger than they ever seen in their lives. The car pulled up at the front entrance. As they alighted, the front door of the house opened, and three excited children came running out to meet them, followed by a lady, who obviously was Mary, their mother.

Mary restrained the children. She told them to stand beside her and wait, to allow the ladies time to get out of the car.

She welcomed them both, and then the children took Charlotte and Jenny's hands and led them into the house. "Goodness me!" thought Charlotte. "Whatever have we let ourselves in for?"

After they were in the house and the front door was closed, Mary told the children to go to the playroom so she could talk to the ladies. They obeyed her and she invited them into her study, where they sat in large comfortable leather chairs, waiting for Mary to speak.

"How do you like Adelaide so far?" she asked.

"We are satisfied with what we have seen and what you have told us so far," said Jenny, "and we look forward to seeing more."

"Have you any references?" she enquired.

The girls took the documents from their bags, and passed them to her, and sat quietly while she read them.

It wasn't very long before Mary looked at them both and stated very positively, "You appear to be the ladies we need! When can you start?"

Charlotte and Jenny both said "Immediately!"

Mary took them for a tour of house, and their rooms. She explained what their duties would be. Jenny would care for the children, and see to their needs, Charlotte was to be the cook.

The girls were so grateful, and it wasn't long before Mary called the chauffeur to take them to collect their bags, instructing him to take them for a tour around Adelaide en route.

When they returned to Joe and Sarah's house, they were so excited as they related the events of the morning to them. Sarah invited Bill the chauffeur into the house for a cuppa whilst the girls collected their belongings, and after giving Joe a card with details of where they would be living, they thanked them both for their care to them, and then drove away with Sam to their new home.

Charlotte and Jenny settled in to the Davis family circle, and were accepted as a major part of their lives. The children loved Jenny, and Mary and Samuel couldn't believe their luck to find a nanny and a cook as easy as this, and to be blessed with two 'aunts' for the children, as they had no other relatives in Adelaide and the children had always missed out on extended family.

The years passed. The children matured, and life was very pleasant. The family went on many outings and holidays, the two girls always going along with them.

On one of these outings, Charlotte met a young man called Charles, who caught her eye, and he responded.

Within a few months, they made plans to marry. This meant that Charlotte would be leaving the Davis home, and this would leave a large gap in their family, but what a wonderful opportunity for her.
Charles was a painter and market gardener, who had come across to Australia from Northern Ireland and found work wherever he could.

After they married, they moved to Merbein, where he found work on fruit properties. His younger brother migrated too and settled in the area.

Charlotte and Charles had two sons, Kevin and Bill. Her arthritis had worsened, and by the time she bore the second little boy, she was confined to a wheelchair. Charles became a beekeeper and greengrocer. As the younger son Bill became old enough to care for his mother, Bill would stay home from school with her while Charles needed to check the beehives on Avoca station quite a few miles from Wentworth.

Bill's mornings when his dad was home consisted of taking the cow to the paddock, whilst wheeling his bike to school. Then after school he would bring the cow home for milking and make sure his Dad had plenty of wood and that his mother had the help she needed. He did many chores, scrubbed floors and washed dishes, never complaining.

When he was 16 years old he began an apprenticeship, and it wasn't long before he was settled into his work, and was very conscientious.

"Bill, I need you!" his mother called.

When he went to her room, as by now she was confined to her bed, he realized that she was very ill, and he ran out to the shed where his father was working, and told him to come in to see her. It was obvious that the doctor was needed, so they called him. When he examined her, he informed them that she would need to be admitted to hospital. During that night she passed away.

This was a wrench to Bill, as his life had always revolved around his mother. It took him some time to adjust to being without her.

But life goes on with all of us, and with Bill, he finally found someone he cared for. They married and. as the storybooks tell, they lived happily ever after.


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