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Oral History

Myself and Dad on his 92nd birthday, taken August 2019 at Warwick, Queensland

Preservation of Life.

Hello there,

Back in 2016 when I was studying for my Diploma in Family History I decided to put my studies to the test and do an oral history interview with my Dad, Jack Apps.

Dad was 89 years old when I interviewed him. He worked for another year before he retired.

I find it very comforting to listen to him talk about his life, especially now that he is no longer with us.

1926 International Truck with 1800 dry sheepskins loaded
This is the truck that Dad talks about that has 1800 dry sheepskins.
This is the coal truck that Dad spoke of that he drove for R. W. Miller. The little boy is my older brother, John. Taken about 1951 at Bay Street Botany.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed listening to his stories. Click on the triangle at the left of the box below to listen to the recording that is 33 minutes duration.

This is an oral recording of my father, Jack Apps, recorded 8 December 2019

It is my intention to collect more oral history stories.

Blogs

Charles Gordon Parker

Charles Gordon PARKER

My maternal grandmothers brother.

11 June 1900- 28 November 1938


Charles PARKER was the fourth son and seventh child to Thomas PARKER and Jane WILLIAMS. He is my grandmother’s brother, my great uncle. I never met Charlies. Actually, I didn’t even know of him until I began my family research. As usual, I wanted to find out as much information I could on my maternal grandmother’s family. They were so interesting and every turn I made I seemed to unearth another story of another ancestor.
In 2019 I received my Diploma of Family History from University of Tasmania. During the Writing Family History unit I had to write a story about an ancestor. I chose Charley because I had recently found information about his death. He married, but did not have any children. Therefore, Charley may not be known by any living person today. Charlie needs recognition, so here is the story I wrote about Charles Gordon PARKER born 11 June 1900 at Carcoar, NSW, married Mary Veronica DOHERTY on 15 December 1920 at the NSW Registry Office in Sydney. Sadly, his wife died 15 October 1938 at Kogarah Hospital, Sydney and Charlie died forty four days later on 28 November 1938.
He Couldn’t See the Forest for the Trees!
By Margaret Hope 2018

As Charley shoulders hunched and his head slumped, he began sobbing as he watched his wife slowly succumb to a lifeless existence. He wanted to hold her hand forever. How could he live without her?
He didn’t know how long he had been by her side when a nurse came and took his wife’s cold hand from his grip when he heard a soft, compassionate voice say “Mr Parker, I am so sorry, but we have to take her now. Can I get you a cup of tea?” He bent down to kiss his wife on the forehead, stroked her blonde hair, knowing that this would be his final touch, he sobbed uncontrollably. The nurse gently took his elbow and ushered him into another room. He doesn’t remember how long he was alone, but his thoughts were interrupted when the nurse returned with a cup of tea. “I don’t know what to do now! My life will be so empty without her; it was just us, no babies, just us. What do I do now?” “Go home and rest Mr Parker, and in the morning, you need to go and see the Undertaker and organise her funeral” replied the nurse.
As he sauntered through the hospital corridors, his mind filled with memories of how they lived for one another, how they snuggled like a pair of spoons in bed at night. How they consulted one another about every plan. Their life was a duet! What was he going to do?
Sleep evaded him as he tossed and turned, wondering where he was going to find the money to bury his beloved Vonnie! They lived from week to week, and he hadn’t been to work for a fortnight as he didn’t want to leave Vonnie’s bedside while she fought incidious cancer in her cervix.
He must have eventually slept. He was dreaming that Vonnie was knocking at the front door when his sleep was interrupted. He threw the sheets from his body as he leapt out of bed yelling, “Alright, alright, I’m coming!” As he opened the door, he saw his landlord standing there. “I’m here to collect the rent Charley, you’re two weeks behind, and I can’t let it go any longer. You’ll have to find another place, I’m afraid”.
“Please, just give me a couple of more days. Vonnie passed away yesterday, and I have to organise her funeral today. I’ll have a cheque for you next week”. The landlord’s head dropped as he gave Charley his condolences but told him he would be back next week to pick up the rent money.

Closing the door, he walked back into the bedroom as he scratched his head. He was in such a dilemma as to how he was going to get out of this financial mess. Where could he get the money for the funeral, let alone the rent?
He found the chequebook and although he knew the bank balance was almost nil, he decided to write a cheque for the funeral and worry about where the cash would come from after he buried his wife.
Vonnie’s funeral was just a blur, the sickly scent of flowers made him feel ill. It was an occasion when Charley just wanted to curl up like a baby and sleep forever. He was lost and couldn’t think logically.
Two weeks after the landlord was rapping on the front door once again. Charley gave him a cheque for rent owed but said he didn’t have any more money to pay rent in advance. The landlord told him to find other accommodation and gave him five days to get out!
The following day Charley answered a rap on the door. There stood the Undertaker. “The bank dishonoured your cheque, Charley. You’ll need to find cash to finalise the account.” He broke down and told the Undertaker that he didn’t have the money. He said, “I don’t have a job I don’t have a wife, and I don’t have any money”. The Undertaker replied “Life goes on Charlie. You must honour your debts, I’ll see you in court”.
A few days later, the Sherriff arrived at his door with a summons to appear before the Court. The Undertaker wanted his money!
Charley just wanted to run away in the hope that he may escape this horrible life. He couldn’t see his way out. He had no money, no food. Life was not worth living!
On Monday 28th November 1938, the day before he was due in court, it was raining, and the southerly wind was blowing when Charley boarded the train late in the afternoon at Sutherland railway station. He watched the rain beating on the window, getting harder and harder as the train gathered speed. His destination was unknown. His body was numb, his heart was broken, and he was hoping this train may lead him out of his black hole.
The next day, the evening paper announced that when the official at Kogarah Court called Charley’s name, a Detective informed the Magistrate he had been killed at Central Railway Station when he fell under a train. The court papers were marked ‘defendant deceased’.
Charley left a suicide note in the band of his hat saying that he could not go on. He loved his wife and their people, and he knew they loved him, he left whatever money he had to his brother, Arthur. The last words he wrote were ‘don’t forget me’!

Maitland Daily Mercury Thursday 8 December 1938 p.10


Note: His wife had an older sister named Eliza. I have no idea who Ron was.
Another article published in Truth (Sydney, NSW : 1894 – 1954), Sunday 11 December 1938, page 15

LEFT MESSAGE IN HIS HAT
Suicide Worried Over Money
LEAVING a farewell message in the band of his hat, Charles Gordon Parker, 38, laborer, committed suicide by diving in front of a train on November 28 last. He was almost decapitated. The City Coroner. Mr. E. T. Oram, was told that Parker had been worried over money matters, and was to have appeared at Kogarah Court on the day following his death to answer a charge of forgery. Parker’s last message read: ‘I want to say goodbye to all. Tell them I never touched that, book. Goodbye. Eliza. I love you. I loved all her people and I know they loved me, I can-not go on. Give Arthur all my money Arthur, get drunk on the day. son. don’t forget me.— Charley Parker.’
May you rest in peace Charley Parker along with your beloved Vonnie.

After reading this story, I hope you won’t forget Charley. 💞

Blogs

The Simple Things

Whilst standing at the sink washing the dishes memories flood back as I pick up the jug and immerse it into the suds.  It’s just a microwave jug with fluid measurements along the inside wall.  I turn it upside down to investigate the creator of this vessel. There is no brand name, place of creation or anything else identifying the vessel.  It is just a jug!

The Jug

Whilst holding this jug my mind is taken back to several years ago when my father lived on the hill in Warwick. In my mind, I can see the pantry door open and Dad getting out the Deb Instant Mashed Potato packet and placing the contents in the jug with some water, placing it in the microwave, closing the door and pressing the buttons for the desired time to cook. Beep, beep, beep, beep!

Oh, how he loved his Deb!  “The best thing since sliced bread,” he told me so often.  

He enjoyed cooking and he loved a quick and easy recipe.  His fruit cake made with just a few ingredients including chocolate milk was one of his favourites.  He also had a treasured signed book from the 4 Ingredients authors that he used on several occasions too. Yes, that one I have also.  

I remember when Dad went into care my sister and I had the job of clearing out Dad’s house which was opposite the racetrack at Warwick and when I opened the bottom cupboard and saw the jug, I put my hand on it and said to my sister, “ I want that jug!”

It’s just a 1.3-litre microwave jug but it was something my father used often. It was an object he favoured. I had to have it! It doesn’t sit on a shelf as a monument to my father. It lives in the bottom cupboard with the mixing bowls and gets used often. Every time it is used it creates memories of Dad and Deb! 

When a loved one is no longer with you it is comforting to have an object that they used to create those good-time memories that allow you to become reminiscent of that person’s being. 

Do you have a valueless piece of something that belonged to a loved one that is treasured?

Blogs

Young Memories written by Jack Apps 2005

Jack Apps. 1927 – 2020

Jack Apps 1927 – 2020

I was the first baby for mum and dad
This made them very happy and glad
To have a boy- their very first.
Dad opened a bottle to quench his thirst.

Two years later when
I had a little sister we called Gwen
I cuddled that little sister, she was mine
I tried to sing her to sleep but didn’t know a line.
Gwen and I were happy by large
Then along came a baby we called Marge
So that made three
For the family tree
Devoted girls to each other
Made life happy for our mother.

Sometimes I picture through life’s haze
The real old house of my childhood days.
The bare timber floors and the three quarter bed,
Where the young children lay their head.

Newspapers stuffed in the window sills
Keeping us kids from getting chills
Chaff bag blankets that kept us warm
And the old roof leaking when we had a storm.

Kerosene lamps we had for light
Candles used ‘cause money was tight
The ice man that came twice a week
And the trail in the hallway from the ice that would leak.

Specked fruit and veggies mum would buy
And a party time when we had rabbit pie
Cheap broken biscuits our mum would buy
O’ how I think of the days gone by.

The non-sewage dunny down the back
Getting there at night was really black
The lavy’ man , he was a stern old man
He’d call once a week to take away the pan.

He’d leave a new one it was by far,
clean inside and coated with tar.

The Baker called to sell his bread
With that hygiene we should be dead.

The milkman, he called every day
With his horse harnessed to the dray
The milk he had straight from the cow
I wonder if we would drink that now?

Another man with his horse and cart, would yell
Clothes props – to the ladies he would sell
They’d buy from him and affix to the line
And hope to the Lord that the sun would shine.

O’ how I think of the times we had
Maybe they were good and also sad.

Dad would wake in the early morn’
To work he would go before the dawn
He wouldn’t return till the dark of night
In a work worn state and a sorry sight.

Mum would heat the water for the bath he would need
Then cook the food for his well earned feed
Then us kids would get fed too
And lick our lips on dumpling stew.

In the morning to school we’d go
Walk two miles to and fro
We loved that school, our teachers we met
They were hard but fair and called us ‘pet’.
If you played up and acted insane
That teacher would surely give you the cane.

I really remember one day when
We had some chooks and the little red hen
Laid her eggs on the straw floor
And we all hoped she’d lay some more
Cause mum would use those eggs, you know
To mix with flour and water to make some dough
She’d make some pikelets and with some yeast
Boy oh boy, we’d have a feast.

Now our family expanded with a whirl
Mum gave birth to another girl
We were all happy and with rejoice
We maned that baby our lovely Joyce.

Our parents taught us to do the chores
To wash the dishes and sweep the floors
The old fuel stove cooked meals so good
My job was to crack the coal and chop the wood

I was the first baby for mum and dad
This made them very happy and glad
To have a boy- their very first.
Dad opened a bottle to quench his thirst.

Two years later when
I had a little sister we called Gwen
I cuddled that little sister, she was mine
I tried to sing her to sleep but didn’t know a line.
Gwen and I were happy by large
Then along came a baby we cared Marge
So that made three
For the family tree
Devoted girls to each other
Made life happy for our mother.

Sometimes I picture through life’s haze
The real old house of my childhood days.
The bare timber floors and the three quarter bed,
Where the young children lay their head.

Newspapers stuffed in the window sills
Keeping us kids from getting chills
Chaff bag blankets that kept us warm
And the old roof leaking when we had a storm.

Kerosene lamps we had for light
Candles used ‘cause money was tight
The ice man that came twice a week
And the trail in the hallway from the ice that would leak.

Specked fruit and veggies mum would buy
And a party time when we had rabbit pie
Cheap broken biscuits our mum would buy
O’ how I think of the days gone by.

The non-sewage dunny down the back
Getting there at night was really black
The lavy’ man , he was a stern old man
He’d call once a week to take away the pan.

He’d leave a new one it was by far,
clean inside and coated with tar.

The Baker called to sell his bread
With that hygiene we should be dead.

The milkman, he called every day
With his horse harnessed to the dray
The milk he had straight from the cow
I wonder if we would drink that now?

Another man with his horse and cart, would yell
Clothes props – to the ladies he would sell
They’d buy from him and affix to the line
And hope to the Lord that the sun would shine.

O’ how I think of the times we had
Maybe they were good and also sad.

Dad would wake in the early morn’
To work he would go before the dawn
He wouldn’t return till the dark of night
In a work worn state and a sorry sight.

Mum would heat the water for the bath he would need
Then cook the food for his well earned feed
Then us kids would get fed too
And lick our lips on dumpling stew.

In the morning to school we’d go
Walk two miles to and fro
We loved that school, our teachers we met
They were hard but fair and called us ‘pet’.
If you played up and acted insane
That teacher would surely give you the cane.

I really remember one day when
We had some chooks and the little red hen
Laid her eggs on the straw floor
And we all hoped she’d lay some more
Cause mum would use those eggs, you know
To mix with flour and water to make some dough
She’d make some pikelets and with some yeast
Boy oh boy, we’d have a feast.

Now our family expanded with a whirl
Mum gave birth to another girl
We were all happy and with rejoice
We maned that baby our lovely Joyce.

Our parents taught us to do the chores
To wash the dishes and sweep the floors
The old fuel stove cooked meals so good
My job was to crack the coal and chop the wood