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Doris Wheeler’s Eulogy-

5th October 1922 – 19th March 2021

I have been blessed with a long life and have witnessed many changes  during my 95 years.These are the reflections of my life, Doris Wheeler,  written on the 5th November, 2017.

Some of these early notes have been taken from the book ‘A Life  Together’ which I wrote out of love and respect for my parents.

 My parents were English and after WW1 were fortunate to settle into  the loving and close-knit community of New Mexico, Manilla, where they  raised their family of 4 children. The youngest member of the family  was Les, and he was such a surprise to Trev, self and Beryl that he  could have been found under a cabbage leaf for all we knew. At least we  got to choose his name: Lesley Horace Jack! It was the age of innocence  and we really believed everything we were told, even the cautionary  tale of the little goblins that would pull us into the dam if we went  near, and that would be that!

My parents had many friends; Faulk’s, Bryans, Heywoods and Maunders  were the main ones. Mrs Faulks became our Grandma and Mr and Mrs  Heywood our Uncle and Aunty, so we were by no means deprived in our early years.

Our home was old with no mod cons. The kitchen housed a fairly large  old table, chairs, fuel stove with its embossed ‘lighthouse’ insignia,  an old type dresser and a wireless.

  A mantelpiece, often covered with oil-based baize, was above the  stove. On this sat ‘Griffith Tea’ canisters and an old fashioned clock  with a peacock on its glass front.

The kitchen was the hub of the family. Memories bring back the sight  of an old kitchen table covered with linoleum. It was on this table  that my Dad designed and cut out dresses for us girls and mum used an  old Singer treadle machine to put them together. Dad was the family’s  barber and when very young, we sported ‘basin’ cuts.

Washing up was an antiquated process. A large aluminium dish was used  to wash the dishes etc. The water was heated in a kettle or fountain on  the old fuel stove and the cold water carted from the rainwater tank outside. When all was done, the dish was carried to the garden and the  water thrown on parched plants. The dish was then returned to its place  on the kitchen table and only removed at meal times. The laundry was  open to the elements on the hot western side. It had a dirt floor,  cement tubs and an old fuel copper.

The copper had to be filled by hand and stoked with wood to bring the  clothes to boiling point. The clothes were then transferred from copper  to tubs with a well-worn stick. One had to be aware of the scalding  water. It’s a wonder there were no burnt little people. The plumbing  was non-existent, the water drained from the tubs on to the ground. Mum would be so tired after a day’s washing that  the water would often be left in the tubs. When next wash day came  round, there would be this thick, soapy, dirty sludge to remove. Monday  was wash day and it was the most uninspiring day of the week. Between one  of the tanks and the laundry was placed the separator. Separating was a  task for the children.

Sometimes the old separator would really ‘hum,’ when the handle was  turned very quickly. It was a delightful sight to see the rich cream  trickle slowly and the milk pour out in a steady constant stream. The  children certainly had adequate calcium in those days. But what a chore  to wash the separator! It was an onerous task to dismantle this piece  of equipment and set out the pieces to dry and then reassemble.

The toilet was situated outside the yard fence, some distance from the  house, and placed strategically near the wood heap so that an armful of  wood could be collected on the way back to the house.

 Dad was a natural storyteller and even had the attentive ears of  whoever happened to be working on the farm. At one time the help was a  young English lad but memory of details fail me, but I do recall that he slept in what was called the blacksmith’s shop. Far cry from the rules and  regulations of today! The lad became one of the family. Apart from the tales that our father dramatically told us which  incidentally always held a moral , he loved to recall past events in  his life, one being the sinking of the Titanic 1912.

When a babe, our mode of transport was the horse and sulky, but when  my sister came into the world the family upgraded to a Willy’s car  which had running boards and celluloid side curtains…these were  attached by studs which meant they could be taken off in fine weather.  The tyres had to be encased in chains in very wet conditions.

Some of my fondest memories are of a small New Mexico Church where we  met each Sunday afternoon for Sunday School and a service. When the  congregation came out of church, the men gathered under the shade of the pepper trees, and solved the problems of the world. The women  would gather round the church and cars and no doubt discuss family  matters while the children played. Jack Heywood always brought a canvas  waterbag, a large one at that. Unfortunately the church was burnt down  but the memories are embedded in the recesses of my mind.

  Early education sister and self was correspondence, taught by a  governess, and then later attended New Mexico School with my siblings. It was on the Boggabri Rd about 6  miles from our farm “Clarendon”. It was one teacher, one room school  and pupils sat on two rows of long benches in front of equally long  desks. Several inkwells, which had to be filled regularly by  responsible children, were in the desks. Before the pen and ink, slates  were used and some of these were still at the school. At the end of 6th  class, children had to pass a qualifying exam, which was set was the  Department of Education. There were Arbour, Wattle and Empire Days  which were celebrated. Girls played hopscotch, tips and chasies and the  boys played marbles, cricket and footy. Our means of transport was the  horse and sulky, the horse had to be unharnessed daily, tied under the  pepper tress and given a nosebag of chaff.

Later I attended Manilla Secondary for 3 years, then Inverell High for  12 months where I boarded with the Methodist minister and his family,  and completed 4th form. At this time my family needed me at home, so I decided to put myself through the final year for the Leaving  Certificate. This was a great achievement as there were no courses to be had in those days, and it enabled me to receive a  scholarship and graduate as a teacher from Armidale Teacher’s College.

  I remember, too, my mother shedding tears when King George V died.  This death was soon followed by the short reign of the Prince of Wales,  until his abdication because of his love for Mrs Simpson. Next came the coronation of his brother, King George. Another time I recall Mum being  upset was when WW2 was announced. She shook uncontrollably, such was  her distress at facing another world war.

This part of my life was lived through the depression but were never  aware of the hardships the country was going through nor even thought  about the odd swaggies passing through. It was just how it was. A happy childhood.

That brings me to a time when life altered considerably as the Stanley  kids followed their dreams. It was my good fortune that I chose a career that I really loved,  teaching. A teaching career saw me at various schools, Westdale, Boggabri, Armidale Dem School, Inverell and finally  Manilla. I loved teaching and loved the children. It has always been very heart warming to hear of the  successes of pupils whom I have taught. Every child has potential.

John and I had a long and successful marriage. Seas had been rough at  times but we survived the waves for 65 years. It all began with  friendship from an early age, and we married in 1950. During the year  of 1953 John (who was foreman at Clifton’s Garage) and I branched out and took  on the franchise and lease of Woods Garage, which at that time, was on the other side of the street. There

were many round table conferences, one friend advised that we wouldn’t  know if we were Arthur or Martha such was the challenge ahead. When the  lease was about to expire, we looked around for a more suitable site.  At this time Adie’s Shop came on the market and we purchased and  developed this building to make it suitable for a service station and  workshop. A successful business was built up over time, with John  selling Chamberlain tractors and Austin cars.

During this time of our lives, John, Robert and Marg were born and  grew up in homes in Court and Strafford Streets. They also enjoyed many  happy times on “Clarendon” just as I had done when I was a child. John and I returned to our love for rural life in the 1970’s with the  purchase of our property “Cullane”. The views of “the Bluff” from the  house site reminded me of my childhood and it felt like home. Our son  John was a special part of this journey and we were devastated when we  lost him in 2002. We can thank him for taking such interest in the  plans for the house, while he was studying at university. He planted  the first of many trees, a lemon scented gum, in our so called yard.  That tiny sapling is now a huge, beautiful tree. A passionate  environmentalist, John developed a tree planting program which will  leave a legacy for future generations.

Both John and I are very proud of Robert and Marg and their families,  for being who they are and their achievements in life. They have been  with us on our journey, have enriched our lives, and have been a great support to us.

Due to the encouragement of my family, I have embraced the technology  of the 21st Century in as much as I am able. The publication of the  book ‘A Life Together’ was a highlight for me, and led to me then  taking an greater interest in local history, typing notes from old newspapers on  family, New Mexico School, WW2 and other snippets of interest.

My association with the Red Cross (joined Junior Red Cross in 1936),  CWA, View Club, Hospital Aux, and lastly but not least The D of B Club,  has given me much love and companionship.

I am truly thankful that as I have made this long journey through  life. I have been blessed with many sincere friends who have been like  family to me, good friends and even meeting strangers along the road.

My thanks to you all.