Mosman Voices - oral histories online

Noreen Powell (nee Carroll)

Interviewed by Mary Lou Byrne on 13 September 2012
Subject: ,

Interviewer: Today is 13th September and I am interviewing Noreen Powell, Jack Carroll’s daughter.

Let’s go back and talk about family history, where your father came from first, etc. Your father Dalton Jack Carroll came from New Zealand at the age of 10 but his parents remained in NZ.

Noreen Powell: His father was here and he was bedridden. We don’t quite know what with but he was bedridden, living down at Balmoral with his sister, and the sister Ellen Leahy was a very dominating person and she decided to look after him so she brought him over with the two boys and left the mother in NZ. In those days you didn’t ask why. Now it would be that stolen generation because she picked the boys up, one 10 and one however old Sid was, and brought them over here.

Interviewer: Was that house right on the beach?

Noreen Powell: Yes, right on the beach at the northern end of Balmoral Beach. There used to be the amphitheatre there and two doors from the amphitheatre.

Interviewer: Was that their house?

Noreen Powell: Yes, and the house is still there, so it must have been well built. The amphitheatre’s gone.

Interviewer: Did their mother come out eventually?

Noreen Powell: She got a job as a stewardess on a shipping line that just went between NZ and Australia, and she got a job on that so she could come over and see the children, but she didn’t come here to live for many, many years. She’d go backwards and forwards.

He died in about 1934, I think, and we don’t know what he had but there was a photo of him down at Balmoral in bed with a bottle of beer in his hand, which I’d assumed he was too drunk to stand up, but subsequently we find it could have been MS but of course it wouldn’t have been diagnosed then; or he could have needed a hip replacement and they didn’t do that, so we never knew. It was only later on when we found other members of the family had MS that we think maybe that’s what he had.

Interviewer: Ellen was looking after him – where was Ellen’s husband?

Noreen Powell: He was here, too. Beautiful home, beautifully built, beautiful timber floors and architraves, a parquetry flooring which was beautiful.

Interviewer: Was that Wyargine Street?

Noreen Powell: No, it was The Esplanade, because it was right at the end of The Esplanade and then you went down a little track to the right and it was just tucked in there, but I think the address was The Esplanade. Don’t ask me about the number. It’s still there.

Interviewer: On the beach, called Oriana?

Noreen Powell: That’s right, that’s the one.

Interviewer: Did they build that house?

Noreen Powell: I don’t know about that but Ellen owned that house, owned all the land and there’s a little park next door to it and then there’s the Beach Club and then there was a big solid block of flats. She owned all that. She donated the land to the Beach Club. My father started the Beach Club and she donated the land for that. She was a very wealthy lady and very locally minded.

Interviewer: Was she independently wealthy?

Noreen Powell: I think it was probably from the real estate. I don’t know where she was born or where he was born. I have no idea. Irish descent.

Interviewer: Do you think your grandparents split up then, when the children came out here?

Noreen Powell: No, because then she came over here when she retired from being the stewardess on the shipping line and she lived in a unit that her other son owned at Rushcutters Bay. In her later years, she was 79 when she died and she lived with us for probably six or eight years before she died.

I was young and you don’t ask questions; you just accept all these things. Now, of course, stolen generation and these kids’ dad was sent off to – he won a scholarship to Grammar and they called him an apostrophe because his name was spelt with the apostrophe and he didn’t like that so he walked out and took himself off to Fort Street.

I don’t know where Sid went but Sid left home quite early. He couldn’t stand Ellen Leahy bossing him round, so he left home very early, but he was very good to his mother, too, and he looked after her as well, and Dad did.

Interviewer: Just the two boys?

Noreen Powell: Just the two boys, yes.

Interviewer: Sid did work at the real estate agent early on?

Noreen Powell: Yes, but for a very short time and then he started one or worked for one at Bellevue Hill, I think it was, and then he started one over there after the 1st World War.

Interviewer: You said he was killed in a car accident?

Noreen Powell: Yes. That would have been in the 40s. I’ve got all that history; I wonder what I’ve done with it. I’ll dig it out. He drove between two trams out in the Eastern Suburbs, he’d been out with his mates, and of course you could drink and drive then, and he was a very good driver but a bit wild, and he turned right between two trams, so he was sandwiched there and killed instantly.

Interviewer: You knew him then?

Noreen Powell: Oh yes.

Interviewer: Were he and your father close?

Noreen Powell: They were different. They were still mates but not all that close, I don’t think. Sid went to war and Dad wanted to go but Ellen Leahy wouldn’t let him. She said, No, you’ve got to stay here and help. Her husband was dead then. You’ve got to help me run the estate agency; you’re not allowed to go. And Dad always resented that in a way, but she had him under her thumb and he just did what she said and she said, You’re not going to war, and he felt awful about that, as you can imagine. So Sid went to war and came back and couldn’t stand it and went to live in the Eastern Suburbs to get away from it all.

Interviewer: Ellen Leahy didn’t have any children of her own?

Noreen Powell: No, she didn’t.

Interviewer: When your father was first in Council 1915-17 and then he was defeated in 1917, and she asked him if he got in and he said no, and she said, That will do you the world of good, young fellow.

Noreen Powell: Yes, that would be her. I was terrified of her. She was a very formidable lady.

Interviewer: Did she stay in Mosman for the rest of her days?

Noreen Powell: Yes. She died in the house down at Balmoral. We had nurses and things, and she died in the house. I was about ten, so about 1940 she died, round about.

Interviewer: That’s about the time your father took over the real estate agency.

Noreen Powell: Yes. I think he was working for it then.

Interviewer: You mentioned the Beach Club.

Noreen Powell: She donated the land.

Interviewer: I read two conflicting reports about the Beach Club, to do with the ladies’ membership.

Noreen Powell: They didn’t want ladies in it. They fought that.

Interviewer: One version said your father resigned over their admission and the other one said he resigned because he thought they should be members.

Noreen Powell: No, no, he didn’t want them.

Interviewer: Then they said they had to make him a life member. Then I read that Ellen Leahy was the first ladies president.

Noreen Powell: There’s that lovely photograph in the Beach Club of the founders on the ladder.

Interviewer: During WWII Jack had English servicemen billeted at home?

Noreen Powell: Yes, always. My brothers were at boarding school at Joeys so my mother – she won the war, she made pyjamas, she did everything to help win the war, and she said she’d fill the beds up because the boys were at boarding school, she’d fill their beds up with English servicemen. We kept a record of that for many, many years. We got them all to sign a book and they wrote the nicest notes, and we’ve got a photograph which I’ll show you of a man, an Englishman wrote and said, Could we take a photograph of the view from the house at Balmoral? Which we did, and sent it to him, and his letter was published in The Daily. Dad had it published in The Daily. An artist, who was quite a well known artist at the time, said he’d like to do a painting for him rather than a photograph, so he did the painting and Dad liked it so much he said, Would you do one for me? so that’s hanging in my lounge room.

Interviewer: Who’s the artist?

Noreen Powell: I have no idea. I don’t think he even signed it, but he donated it and we sent it off to England to this fellow, and when Mum and I went to England in 1951 we made contact with two of them, because they kept coming back. They were in the British Marines out here and every time they’d get leave they’d be back to Sydney and filling up those beds. It was great. We used to have dances. The local Red Cross Juniors ran dances in our place and we’d move all the furniture out and all these English servicemen would come. They had a place up at Middle Head where the English servicemen would come on leave and they’d come down and Mrs Gale used to play the piano and they’d all dance there. That went on pretty well the whole of the war. It was just the servicemen, whoever was on leave here, and the Red Cross younger set. They loved it, you can imagine.

Interviewer: You joined in?

Noreen Powell: Yes, but I was very young. They weren’t interested in me at all but I loved it. They were such nice fellows, too, and they were young. These two that we saw in England, they were 18 when they were sent out here. They were sent out here after the war had more or less finished in Europe. They used to drive the barges between the landing barges on D-Day. They used to drive those barges, aged 18, drop the troops off, go back to the ship, get another load, drop them off, under fire the whole time. Just 18 year old kids. It was just incredible. They were great boys.

Interviewer: Was your father in a voluntary corps during the war?

Noreen Powell: No, I don’t think so.

Interviewer: Up at Rawson Oval, the Drill Hall there?

Noreen Powell: That’s where the British servicemen were on leave and Dad used to do the cooking for them. VDC. Voluntary Defence Corp. Dad used to cook and he used to use up all their rations. In one night their rations for a week, of butter and eggs, would get used up: We’ve got to feed these boys!

Interviewer: Your father was a great collector – he started collecting because he noticed some things were wrong in the Lands Division?

Noreen Powell: Probably, yes.

Interviewer: Your mother Eileen – did you know much about her family? Did she grow up in Mosman?

Noreen Powell: No, she was born in Nimmitabel, which is down in snow country. She was the second eldest in her family. Her father was a school teacher but he also had a business in George Street, up from Broadway, I suppose Petersham it would almost be. He was Ernest Cairnsdale. She was one of eight; she was the second eldest. The younger ones were born in Sydney. I think, I don’t know whether it’s still there but if you’re cutting the back way past the Children’s Hospital and you hit Parramatta Road, if you look across, somewhere to the left I think it is, you’ll see on one of those old buildings it will be Cairnsdale and something engraved in the top of the building. It was there for many years; whether it’s still there or not I don’t know.

Interviewer: What sort of business was that?

Noreen Powell: I don’t know, but I know he wasn’t a school teacher; he was a school teacher in the country, Nimmitabel, but he wasn’t a school teacher in Sydney and he had this, I suppose it was a mixed business.

Interviewer: When they moved to Sydney, did they come to Mosman?

Noreen Powell: They came to Mosman, Bradleys Head Road, 61, and Mum went to St Vincent’s and then – I don’t know where the boys went. There were two boys. She went to St Vincent’s and her sisters went to St Vincent’s till the last two and they went to Ursuline College, wherever Ursulines are. The boys went to Joeys, that’s right.

Interviewer: When she left school, she worked in the Commonwealth Bank, straight after school?

Noreen Powell: Yes. I think she could have been either late 20s or even 30 – no, late 20s when she married.

Interviewer: She worked opposite the real estate agent where your father worked.

Noreen Powell: At the Commonwealth Bank branch there.

Interviewer: How did they meet?

Noreen Powell: I have no idea. I can’t tell you about that. They didn’t tell me. I didn’t ask.

Interviewer: They would have got married in the 20s?

Noreen Powell: 1924 – May, they were married.

Interviewer: She actively supported various charities?

Noreen Powell: Yes. Mainly during the war she was with the Red Cross and anything else that was winning the war, she was in it. It was mainly Far West when they started in the 1930s. Drummond started the Far West Home at Manly and I think she was Mayoress at the time and she started the committee to raise funds for them because they got no government support for many, many years. That was her main one but during the war she also worked for the Red Cross and she collected, I used to do it with her, for the Prisoner of War Association, going from house to house collecting money. She was very active during the war.

Interviewer: They were married in 1924; then Bill came along and Pat and then you. So you had two older brothers. Do you have an earliest memory of your family?

Noreen Powell: We were living in 20 Awaba Street, only for a few years, and then Dad built the house in Wyargine Street. It was part of the land that Ellen Leahy had. Hers was on the beach but then it went through to Wyargine Street and he built the house there in 1934.

Interviewer: Do you have memories of that?

Noreen Powell: I can remember that quite well. I can remember the friends I had round there, the Copes and different people. Mum used to play tennis up the road, in a house up there. I can remember trivia, little things. People named Cope lived next door and they had two girls. One was my age but the elder one was a very good, she wrote a book on poetry, I’ve got it here, and beautiful artwork in it, little fairies with wings and meticulous artwork, not just big things, but beautiful, and she went on, Gwen Cope, to be quite a famous author and then they moved, we moved away and then they moved away, too. I can remember different people up there.

Two of the people up the road used to work at the Far West with Mum. One was Fielding. She moved then to Beauty Point, Elsie Fielding, and her son is still around, and daughter-in-law. I see them around Mosman. Daisy Ward. There was a group of them. Mum rounded them all up and made them work for her pet charities. One was Nock, she moved up to Stanley Avenue, from Nock & Kirbys, they were there. They were all on that same side of Awaba Street.

Interviewer: Your mother played tennis in Awaba Street.

Noreen Powell: Yes, that was across the road, and little bit further up. I can’t remember those people.

Interviewer: Did you play with the girls around there or did you play with your brothers?

Noreen Powell: I was too young for them; they weren’t interested in me. I used to drive them mad. I was very annoying. They were in the Scouts and the Cubs, and I annoyed them so much one day, when Mum and Dad were out at some official thing, Pat tied me to the clothes post and left me there, all day, and he went off with his mates. I can remember that very well. He came home about two minutes before Mum and Dad and untied me. That was at Wyargine Street.

Interviewer: Did the boys get on together?

Noreen Powell: Yes. Bill always did what Pat said. Pat was the younger of the two but he was the leader and Bill just did what Pat said, all his life, and was quite happy to do that. Pat was always the leader of the gangs.

Interviewer: Were they closer to your father than you?

Noreen Powell: Yes.

Interviewer: Did they go off to boarding school at high school age?

Noreen Powell: They went later. In those days it was four years’ high school, and I don’t think they were at Joeys for the four years, but I couldn’t be sure of that. Joeys would have records of that. They repeated their Leaving because they weren’t 18 and they couldn’t join up for the war, so they had a gap year till they could join up. They were only 17 so Dad sent them back to Joeys and they did their Leaving twice. Had a lovely time then.

Interviewer: Did both of them go to war?

Noreen Powell: Bill did. Bill was in the Air Force. Pat failed the medical, which was a bit of a joke, but they didn’t want people – that was 1944-45, they didn’t want new people then and he’d had pneumonia when he was young and to drain the fluid off his lungs they put a hole in his back, and so the scar was there. So when the Army medical doctor saw the scar he said you’re not fit, but his little friend, Paul Royal, whom they used to call Runty Royal, he got in and that was a blow to Pat who was so fit, captain of the Firsts at Joeys, rowed in the eights and very fit. He didn’t get in and Runty Royal did. Don’t put that in. Runty Royal died in a car accident many years ago, but his family are still around; they mightn’t like that.

Interviewer: Do you remember moving from Awaba Street to the new house?

Noreen Powell: Yes. It was much bigger, I thought. Looking at it now, I went over it a few years ago, and my bedroom which I thought was very big is so small they knocked the wall down between my room and my brother’s room next door and it’s still small. It was lovely. It’s a lovely place.

Interviewer: That’s 2 Wyargine. Balmoral must have featured strongly in your childhood.

Noreen Powell: Yes, and in those days I suppose there weren’t that many people around, you knew everybody your age. They might go to different schools but you knew them all. You caught the bus to school and you knew them all.

Interviewer: At the weekends would you get together with them, or after school?
Noreen Powell: We used to go down to the beach a lot, of course, being there. We weren’t members of the Beach Club. Dad gave it away I suppose early in his – he started it and then bowed out. I learned to swim there and I only took up a membership a few years ago. I learned to swim with Clem Morath. His theory was you put them on the ground and they did their strokes, and they kicked perfectly, and then you put them in the water and they did the same thing, just took off. It didn’t work like that. We just sank to the bottom.

Interviewer: Tell me about your mother and collecting money.

Noreen Powell: It was a Prisoner of War fund which she ran, with all the other things she ran. Looking at it now, I suppose I was 10 to 15 during the war, we used to go door knocking and she’d go up Wyargine Street, Stanton Road, Burran Avenue, and I’d go Edwards Bay Road, The Grove and Awaba Street, that way. I was only young, just with a piece of paper and a pencil, no receipts or anything, and ask them to donate to the Prisoner of War fund.

It started because one of the neighbours in Stanton Road was Roger Cornforth’s mother and Roger was a big Wallaby, a great big, a very good footballer, Rugby player, and he was a prisoner of war with the Japanese. She used to hear from him for a while and then they stopped hearing. All her friends were getting letters from their sons and she didn’t hear and she couldn’t work it out, but what they found out later was the Japanese were starving them, these big ones, to see how little they could live on, and when Roger came back he was so weak and so badly affected he was never really the same again in a way. He was just an awful mess, and so Mum decided they’d start collecting for the Prisoner of War fund. That was how it all started, with his mother. They just collected all this money. When you think of it now, sending a 12 year old or 13 year old round knocking on doors, it wouldn’t be safe these days.

Interviewer: Do you remember much about rations during the war?

Noreen Powell: Yes. We had a very good butcher who used to give us a few extra coupons for meat when we were having the servicemen. He was at Spit Junction, opposite – is the hotel still there? it was opposite that. He was very nice and very good to Mum, giving her extra rations for the servicemen. Then somebody’s daughter, one of our neighbours, got married and so they scrounged a few more clothing coupons to give her a nice dress to get married in, things like that. It went on for quite a while.

Sugar was rationed and eggs and butter. Meat was the hardest one, and clothes, but the meat seemed to be the biggest problem.

Interviewer: Do you remember the barbed wire on Balmoral?

Noreen Powell: Yes. You had to get through that to get into the water. It was on the beach, on the sand. It was rolls and rolls of barbed wire, but every so often they’d have a gap and you could go through that gap to go swimming.

Interviewer: Was that put there after the Japanese?

Noreen Powell: Yes. I can remember the day when the Japanese came because my father was sitting out on the front doorstep, smoking, and he had the attitude that if they’re going to come they’re going to come, so I’ll just sit here and have a smoke and wait for them. The young Englishmen couldn’t understand him doing that because in England the Germans were never going to come, we’ll never let the Germans in England, and here’s Dad sitting there: Well, if the Japs are coming they’re coming. He wasn’t very popular for that attitude.

Interviewer: He would have been mayor when you were very young.

Noreen Powell: Yes, 1934 wasn’t it. I think the Harbour Bridge was opened in 1932 but he was mayor in 1934.

Interviewer: Did you see much of your father?

Noreen Powell: He used to take me out, on Saturday we’d go and buy chocolates for Mum as a treat and he’d go to the pub with all his drunken mates at the Mosman Hotel.

Interviewer: Did he work on Saturdays?

Noreen Powell: No. Nothing was open on a Saturday, no shops were open, and then later on they were open till 12 o’clock on a Saturday, but estate agents weren’t. He didn’t work on the weekends at all.

We’d buy Kerslakes Chocolates, which was opposite the hotel there. I used to sit in the car and have to wait for him, clutching the chocolates, while he was in the pub, and then we’d take them home, as a peace offering, I think.

Interviewer: Was your mother into dressmaking?

Noreen Powell: She was not. She made pyjamas for the war effort. No, she didn’t dress make. She would mend anything but she wasn’t a dressmaker, not at all.

Interviewer: Your school time – you went to pre-school?

Noreen Powell: Kindergarten, that was at 12 The Grove. It was only a short time, probably 12 months, and in 1937 or 38, I went to St Bridget’s in Wudgong Street, next to Cardinal Street. I went there only for 12 months and then I went round to Kirribilli to Loreto.

I don’t remember very much about The Grove. I can remember going there but I don’t remember what I did there. St Bridget’s I would have been – I was looking over some of Dad’s letters, which are very interesting. He went overseas on a mayoral tour with a lot of other mayors from around Sydney and one of the things, he got very homesick and one of the things he said, Oh, you tell me Noreen started school, I can’t believe that she’s old enough to start school, and he was sad that he wasn’t there for it. But in those days, of course, you sent by ship and it was a very comprehensive tour. It was England, it was Europe, Germany, he thought Hitler made wonderful speeches, he listened to one of his speeches and that was very impressive. Then he went over to Canada and America, so he was a way for a long, long while and he wrote, he kept a diary of it all. It was a local government tour.

So how long I had at the kindergarten I can’t remember but it wouldn’t have been more than 12 months.

Then I went to St Bridget’s and they were Mercy nuns and we had a real tartar of a nun with a feather duster that she whacked you with. I was not happy there so I went to Loreto, in 1938. All the Mercy nuns had a name for being a bit like that. They were a pretty tough lot. They were in the country mainly but there a few schools down here of Mercy nuns.

Interviewer: Was discipline at home harsh?

Noreen Powell: With Dad it was, yes. Mum was too busy but I think with Dad he didn’t tolerate noise or fighting and Bill was an awful tease and he’d tease me and I’d yell and Dad would yell and whack you. He had a short fuse.

Interviewer: Bill was a stirrer?

Noreen Powell: Yes. Very quietly so.

Interviewer: Did you get on better with either of your brothers?

Noreen Powell: They didn’t take much notice of me. I was too young. I was four years younger than Pat and five years younger than Bill, so they didn’t really want to know much about me. I suppose I was spoilt, too, by Mum. By Dad later on.

Interviewer: Did you have dolls?

Noreen Powell: Oh, yes. And I used to have friends over a lot from St Bridget’s. I kept that friendship up for many, many years with a girl whose husband was the manager of the bank. He was moved round and she was moved all over the country, and I used to go and stay and she used to come down to my place, for many, many years. She was Genevieve Gwyther. I’ve never heard of another Gwyther. I think it might be Welsh. She lived in Raglan Street, but down the harbour end of Ragland Street. There was a bus that went from Balmoral to Musgrave Street. There still is, I suppose, in a way, so we caught the bus to each other’s places, when we were at St Bridget’s. She stayed at St Bridget’s and then they moved to the country.

Interviewer: Did you catch more buses than trams?

Noreen Powell: I used to catch the bus, yes, because the bus stop was right outside our door in Wyargine Street, so you’d catch that to Spit Junction and then catch a tram to school. One of those old trams. There were trams along Military Road, not buses. I guess really buses along Military Road only came when they pulled the tram tracks up. You couldn’t have both, could you? I don’t know, but the roads weren’t that big.

Interviewer: You were happy to move on from St Bridget’s.

Noreen Powell: Oh yes, I loved Loreto.

Interviewer: Did you know anyone when you went there?

Noreen Powell: I had cousins there, but not really. I’m still friendly with all those girls, after 65 years.

Interviewer: Was it much different from St Bridget’s?

Noreen Powell: The nun at Loreto, she was so kind. She was gentle and she was kind, and we had this Irish parish priest and he used to come with lollies in the playground and you had to jump over his walking stick. Every so often he’d whack you as you went over, so of course we didn’t like doing it much but you had to do it if he said to, and then he’d give you a lolly. Father O’Brien. He was the parish priest for Cardinal Street.

Interviewer: Is that where you’d go, Sacred Heart?

Noreen Powell: Yes.

Interviewer: Church was quite a big thing in your family?

Noreen Powell: Yes, we all went to church on Sunday. For the business Dad had a car. A lot of people didn’t have cars for private use but he had the car and then when he stopped taking us to church my brothers would be driving. Bill would always drive us up the road to Cardinal Street. I think Clifton Gardens wasn’t built till –

Interviewer: I think it was about 1928.

Noreen Powell: We were in the Sacred Heart Parish. It was all divided up, and then later on they built Beauty Point and we went into Beauty Point. Almora Street, I think, was the cut off from the Military Road right down to Balmoral. Everyone on that side was Beauty Point and then on this side it was Clifton Gardens and then on that side it was Cardinal Street. I don’t know what the boundaries are now.
We had the first nuptial mass in Beauty Point. There wasn’t a church there; there was just a house.

Interviewer: That’s where you got married?

Noreen Powell: Yes. Lovely old English house. But that’s many years later.

Interviewer: When friends came over, what would you do?

Noreen Powell: Mainly at my place it would be the beach because a lot of my friends from Loreto came from the North Shore.

Interviewer: Did you ever go to their places?

Noreen Powell: Oh yes. The same thing now – board games, Ludo and all those sorts of things, Monopoly, and card games, we played a lot of that. Colouring in and all the things the kids do now.

Interviewer: Were there school dances?

Noreen Powell: Yes, later on, in Intermediate, school dances with Aloysius boys.

Interviewer: Any romances?

Noreen Powell: Gus Nossal, strangely enough. He lived in Clifton Gardens and he used to catch the tram and all the Aloysius boys could sit on the outside of the buckjumper tram, as we used to call it, and the Loreto girls would be on the inside. He would sit on the outside and get his friend to pass notes to me on the inside, on the way to school.

Interviewer: Did you pass notes back?

Noreen Powell: I suppose I would have. I don’t remember. My cousin was an Aloysius boy, too.

Interviewer: Did you go out with Gus?

Noreen Powell: No. He had a brother, Fred, who turned out to be a journalist. There were three boys and I can’t remember the third one, but they lived in Clifton Gardens. The girls on the North Shore used to meet at the railway station and they’d work out their favourite boy was catching the 12 minutes past 8 train, they’d all wait, let the trains go and they’d get that one. It hasn’t changed. They’re still exactly the same. One of my friends wasn’t allowed to wear lipstick, I think she was probably late school age, 15 or something, and she’s still a past master at putting lipstick on without a mirror. She says, I had so much practice when I’d walk outside the door and going down to the train, I’d put my lipstick on. I don’t know about school uniform but she can still do it perfectly because she says, I had so much practice, because my mother wouldn’t let me wear lipstick.

Interviewer: You finished school when?

Noreen Powell: 1947 – that was the Leaving Certificate. I scraped through with four subjects, just made it.

Interviewer: What did you do when you left school?

Noreen Powell: I went to the tech and did dressmaking.

Interviewer: Is that what you always wanted to do?

Noreen Powell: No, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a sports teacher and my mother wouldn’t let me because I had fair skin and she wouldn’t let me out standing in the sun all day, so I wasn’t allowed to do that. I didn’t want to work in an office, which most of the girls went to secretarial, typing, shorthand, so I went to East Sydney Tech and North Sydney Tech to do dressmaking and then just sort of muddled along. I was no great dress designer, nothing brilliant. I made a living out of it. It was only friends and neighbours. I had enough work and I used to do it from home. So it was a pretty uninteresting life, really, till I made up my mind what I wanted to do, and I still haven’t.

Interviewer: You had a social life?

Noreen Powell: Yes, I don’t think anyone worked – they were receptionists for dentists or doctors or bashing a typewriter or something. Very few went to university, very few of my school friends went to university in those days.

Interviewer: If you’d done the sports teacher thing, would that have been university?

Noreen Powell: I wouldn’t think so. There was Bjelke-Petersen, which supplied the sports teachers for schools: tennis coaching and netball coaching, so you’d go and work for them. It was an institute, so that’s probably what it would have been.

Interviewer: What did your mother do?

Noreen Powell: She couldn’t do anything. She had to go back and they were going to foreclose, sell us up in a fortnight’s time, but we got a buyer. We had 60 pounds over.

Interviewer: Did you go out at the weekends, on Saturday nights?

Noreen Powell: I can’t remember dances so much. Parties. A lot of parties and a lot of local movies. If you had a boy he’d ask you just to the local movie. A lot of parties up and down the line, catching trains. My brother Bill was very good at picking us up at North Sydney station and driving all my friends home to their various places. Pat wouldn’t do it.

Interviewer: Did you drink much at the parties?

Noreen Powell: No, we didn’t. I can’t remember drinking till I went away on a holiday, when I was about 19 or 20, with my sister-in-law. We went to the Hydro Majestic up there and they started to drink then. We didn’t drink as much; girls didn’t drink as much in those days as now, and the boys only drank beer.

Interviewer: Which cinema did you go to?

Noreen Powell: The Kinema. Mainly the Kinema. I don’t know why, because there was one at Spit Junction as well, but not further than that; just local ones and you’d walk up the hill and you’d walk home.

Interviewer: Where did you shop?

Noreen Powell: Spit Junction. Dad used to take us which was wonderful. They started Thursday night shopping and otherwise Mum would just carry everything, on the bus. I don’t know how she did it. She never drove. She couldn’t because Dad would have the car at work, to start with, but she never learned to drive. None of her sisters, only her youngest sister drove. No mothers, when I think of it, I can’t remember any of my friends’ mothers driving. It is strange. You don’t think about it now.

Interviewer: You said it was unusual your father having the car.

Noreen Powell: Yes. There wasn’t petrol during the war so it was only for business that you would drive, that you would have a car.

Interviewer: What was the real estate business like during the war?

Noreen Powell: A lot of empty places, because a lot people moved away, moved up to Springwood and places like that. There were a lot. He always made a living, quite a good living from it. They used to have Monday as collecting rents day and he would need the car for that. He would go round to the houses to collect the rents. A few years afterwards they would come into the office to pay it. Why they didn’t do it then, because he wouldn’t have had much petrol, why they didn’t make them come in then and pay their rent I don’t know.

We’ve got some very nice paintings which you’ll see in the hall of people who couldn’t pay their rent so they’d give them a painting instead. He was quite popular and quite famous for a while but I think he’s gone out of vogue now, the fellow Young, and there was a very good one called Tebbutt and Tebbutt paintings are worth a lot of money now. We’ve only got one. He rented a place in Mosman and couldn’t pay the rent so he gave Ellen Leahy a painting. I remember seeing a painting of Tebbutt’s for sale many, many years ago, before I was married so 60 years ago, and it was something like 200 pounds which was a huge amount of money then. It would be interesting to find what they’re worth now. Young, who painted the horses that I’ve got, which I love, he was quite popular. They go in and out of vogue, don’t they; they’re popular and then they’re not popular. That’s how you work out how much they’re worth. He was worth quite a bit at one stage. I don’t think he’s worth anything now but the paintings will still just hang there.
She had a lot like that who couldn’t pay their rents, round about the 1930s. She got a lot of things in lieu of rent.

Interviewer: Did you have many holidays with the family?

Noreen Powell: A big holiday was going to Canberra. That was really big time and it took three days to get there. I can’t remember when that was. Primary school or was it after? I don’t think it was after the war. We stayed at Berrima the first night and went over the jail, and then we stayed at – oh, it was dusty and horrible and dirty, it was dreadful, and it was hot. It was Christmas holidays.

Then we went to Canberra and we stayed at the Cotter River because the man running the tourist part of the Cotter River – don’t ask me his name – he used to be on the Council with Dad. Dad was a great camper. We had a trailer with the tents on and the rucksacks and things like that. He’d pitch the tent. Yes, it took us three days to get there and three days to get home.

We pitched the tents mainly in camping grounds – Goulburn, that’s the place I was trying to think of. It was dirty and dusty. I can still remember it; it was horrible.
The Cotter River was beautiful. In Canberra we went over the War Memorial, did all those things that people are still doing now. So that was the big one.

My maternal grandparents had a house at Bowral and we used to go down there. We’d go with other cousins to Bowral for holidays and that was good. That was when I was young; that would be primary school days, too – earlier, probably five, six, seven, something like that. I’ve still got photos of it.

Interviewer: Did you camp a lot or mainly the boys?

Noreen Powell: Mainly the boys. Mum didn’t like it, so I was never encouraged to do it, and I loved it. I loved camping. I used to go with Dad and some school friends when I was much older, when I was 16 or 17, we’d go down to The Basin and Dad would take us down. He’d do the cooking and we’d go swimming. I just loved it but I wasn’t allowed to love it when I was little. It wasn’t for girls.

My brothers loved camping, too. Bill had all his tent and he used to take his family. We’d go up to Willowtree, we had an aunt up there, and we would camp. It was a big house, plenty of room, but we would camp, just our family.

Interviewer: Were you a bit of a tomboy?

Noreen Powell: Probably, yes, more so. I don’t know that kids go camping now. Mum hated it and Dad loved it. He used to pitch his tent in the backyard down at Wyargine Street, all over Christmas. The tent would be up then and he’d sleep out there and we’d sleep out there if we wanted to, with friends. He just loved it.

Dad was a great organiser. He had boxes that fitted in other boxes that fitted in something else that turned out to be a stool to sit on. A place for everything and it was all very neat and tidy.

He had a tent made and then he had what he used to call a pup tent, which Bill and Pat had, because they were the favourites. They would just fit their stretchers; two stretchers would just fit in this pup tent. The rest of us would have to go in the big one.

Interviewer: Where was your dad living at the beginning of the Beach Club, in 1914?

Noreen Powell: He would have been on the beach there, wouldn’t he, with Ellen. It would be interesting to check out the families of all those people – you’ve seen the photo, haven’t you, on the ladder? I think one of the Burkes – who told me that? they turned up, somebody Burke. There were two Burkes.

Interviewer: They’d be in that Beach Club book. Do you remember much about birthday parties when you were little? Did you have them at home?

Noreen Powell: Yes, always at home. My mother would make birthday cakes, rainbow cakes, which you probably had. Christmas cake was always at home.

Christmas later on was a cast of thousands because my brothers went in the Sydney-Hobart race and so the people would come to start the Hobart race on Boxing Day and they’d come over to us for Christmas dinner, and sometimes stay. Some of them came from New Zealand, I think. That was after the war. I don’t know when the Hobart race was started, but it’s not that long. It’s post War, certainly, so Christmas was always big.

Interviewer: It was quite a social house.

Noreen Powell: Yes, it was.

Interviewer: Tell me about the Red Cross dances.

Noreen Powell: They had this younger set, the Red Cross younger set. Your mother would remember. There were church younger sets, too, when kids left school, to keep them together. This was a Red Cross one. I can still remember some of the girls from that.

I don’t know what else they did, apart from coming to our dances. They used to entertain the British servicemen during the war and I suppose after the war it was just disbanded.

Interviewer: Your house was big enough?

Noreen Powell: Yes, it was, and the rooms opened into each other. There was a huge entrance vestibule and then dining room, lounge room and a closed in veranda, and then you could come round and you’d have all these dancers going around. We used to move all the furniture out to have all the dancers going around. You often wonder how many romances began there, whether they ever married any of them.

Interviewer: Was that younger set from around Mosman?

Noreen Powell: Mainly I would say Mosman, Cremorne, Neutral Bay probably, that area. It would be interesting to find out. There were some ladies named Northcott that lived down at Cremorne and I think they could have been spinsters, there were two or three of them in a big house down on the harbour side of Cremorne and they seemed to run the Red Cross.

The Red Cross was going for a long while. That aunt of Ellen Leahy, who got the award, MBE or whatever it was, for her work with the Red Cross and the Mater Hospital, that was what she got it for, so it was run for a long while, long before the war, and then I suppose the younger set was a subsidiary of it during the war. I’m sure the Red Cross would have a history of it all.

Interviewer: Did you ever go to dances at the Barn?

Noreen Powell: Yes. It was a bit rough. It all depended, I suppose, what era it was. It was there for a while. Then I think they stopped them, didn’t they, because they were damaging it. It was a historical building and it was getting damaged.

Interviewer: Did you ever go into the city to nightclubs?

Noreen Powell: No. When I was older – Princes and Romanos, yes. And the Hayden, that was another one, because that was open longer than Princes and Romanos, till about five o’clock in the morning. I think the Hayden was in Martin Place but don’t quote me on that. Downstairs, I know.

At that stage that I was going to them, I was driving. We had the car. I suppose I didn’t drink so I could drive.

Interviewer: After you left school, did you have any romances?

Noreen Powell: Yes, of course you did! We don’t talk about that. We all had boyfriends but not like this day and age. I think they were probably students, university students or something like that, and also we married very young. I was the last of my group to marry and I was only just 24. Most of them married at 21. It was a different era.

Interviewer: Your brothers’ friends?

Noreen Powell: No, I was too young for them. They weren’t interested. I might have been but they weren’t. They all had different – not Pat so much; I think Pat was more into the Rugby club and the surf lifesaving club, too busy with that. He didn’t have a lot of girlfriends, but Bill did. Bill was very popular with the girls. He was working at the real estate agency.

Pat was a builder. He couldn’t go to the war and so Dad got him – Robbie Sturrock who was a builder in Mosman, he got him to take him on and he did that. Bill got a scholarship for university but he stayed on.

At the end of the war, they let the servicemen who’d been fighting out first, and people like Bill, who never went out of Australia, he did his training as a navigator but never went out of Australia, so they stayed in longer to let the others come out. I don’t know if he started university but he didn’t want to study then. I can’t remember what he was doing. I think he might have done 12 months and failed hopelessly, because he was having too good a time.

So then he went into the estate agency with Dad, not that Bill wanted to. I think Dad said, well you’ve got to do something, if you won’t do any work at uni. He was very bright, Bill, he was very clever, but just wouldn’t work, couldn’t settle down. But that worked out all right in the end.

Mum was always disappointed because she thought he could have done engineering. He did one year civil engineering and failed.

Interviewer: When did you meet Frank?

Noreen Powell: I met Frank – they started night classes down at the Mosman school. Pat was married first and then Bill was married and Judy was pregnant and she had a miscarriage. The doctor said, you’ve got to find some interest now, they’ve started a night school, do something over there. She didn’t want to do anything and she said, oh you come too, so we looked at lampshades and dressmaking and all these things and then the Sydney Fencing Club was starting an offshoot. We’d never heard of fencing; we didn’t know anything about it, so we said, let’s do that.

So we started that and Frank was a member of the Sydney Fencing Club. They used to come out and teach us at Mosman. Judy became pregnant and left, and I was still there, so that was where I met him. He was in the war, he was in the Merchant Navy because he’s English, and he had come out in 1947 in the Merchant Navy. In those days, in the Merchant Navy, you had to sign on for a round trip. If you were in the Royal Navy you could take your discharge here and his brother was in the Royal Navy, took his discharge here. Frank wanted to come out and join him but he had to do a round trip back to England so they were all jumping ship, naturally, they didn’t want to go back.

Steve his brother had joined the Police force at this stage and he said, if you just stay here in Sydney and jump ship, I’ve got to put you in and that won’t look very good back home, so he lent him some money and he went over to New Zealand and he jumped ship in New Zealand. There were so many of them jumping ship they couldn’t put them all in jail, so they just put them on 12 month bonds.

So he was on a 12 month bond in New Zealand and then came back to Sydney, which worked out all right because there was nothing at home for him. He left school at 12 in England because all the schools in London were closed and the students were sent to Canada or Australia or the country. His parents said no, if we’re going to die we’ll all die together, so they kept them in London and there was just nothing, no schools, so he had nothing, he worked at the post office and didn’t do anything much till he was 16.

Then he put his age up and got into the Merchant Navy. So he had no schooling at all from 12 on, and there was nothing. All these servicemen were coming back to England – no jobs. England was broke and so he just had to get out.

So Steve came and joined the Police force. Frank wanted to join the Police force but he was colour-blind so they wouldn’t have him. He went and worked on the roads. He’s always been lucky. He had a mentor who said, you can do something better than this, and he sent him back to tech to do his intermediate and matriculation. So he was lucky there.

Interviewer: Who was he living with in Sydney?

Noreen Powell: Various places, just boarding places. Wherever his girlfriend was. He’d be living in Enmore and he’d have a girlfriend at Pymble and then he’d be living somewhere over here and he’d have a girlfriend over there, so he moved round a lot. When I met him he was living with his brother Steve at Beecroft. Then he boarded in Prince Albert Street till we were married.

There were a lot of boarding houses round there – not boarding houses as such but just people letting off rooms in their homes. It wasn’t an official boarding house; it was just the Misses Jones and he used to board there, had a room, that was all. That was on the high side of Prince Albert Street, probably near Thompson Street, somewhere there. The Misses Jones were maiden ladies.

That would be the 50s. We were married in 1956.

Interviewer: When did the Mosman evening college start?

Noreen Powell: I have no idea when they started. It would have to be 50s. I gave up fencing once I caught Frank. I was never any good at it anyway. It was different. All my friends married boys from Riverview or Aloysius.

I can remember when we got engaged and Mum was talking to one of her friends. She said, Arlene, how can you let your only daughter – you don’t know anything about him, his parents in England – and of course in England in those days you couldn’t hop on a plane and fly, you just didn’t go, and they were horrified that her only daughter – and my mother’s answer, which I thought was just great, she said, No, I don’t know any of his family but I know Frank and that’s good enough for me. I thought that was great of her.

Frank didn’t go home to see his father die and then by the time he went home his mother had lost the plot, so he never really saw them – he didn’t go home for something like 20-something years. When we were married we couldn’t afford it, and then all of a sudden he got homesick and it happened. He was really homesick; he wasn’t just bunging it on. It was 1970 so that’s a long while after the war, isn’t it. He just had to go home.

There again, Mum was very good. She said, Well, I can understand him wanting to go but does he have to go right now? Because it was a difficult pregnancy with Richard, I was about eight months pregnant, and my father was dying. Dad went up to heaven on the 5th July and Richard came down on the 8th. But he just had to go. It was just one of those things.

His mother, I don’t know whether she knew him or not. He said at times she probably did, but he saw his sisters. He was the youngest of six. He had another brother who was over in England; they were all in England then, so he caught up with all the family and nieces and nephews.

It was one of those things; he just had to go, but it wasn’t a convenient time. He came back a couple of weeks before Richard was born but he couldn’t settle. He was away for five weeks and he just couldn’t settle. I was huge with being pregnant and he just couldn’t cope with five and a half kids and a pregnant wife. It was all too much for him. We all had to hang in there.

I remember one of his friends saying, Just hang in, Noreen, just hang in, he’ll be all right, and he was. It wasn’t the easiest of times. There was a gap between Sally and Richard. We managed. We’re still here.

Interviewer: You organised the wedding?

Noreen Powell: Yes. All our weddings, all the receptions were in Wyargine Street: Bill’s and Pat’s and mine. In those days you had nuptial masses and so you had to fast and the priest had to fast, so the latest you could have a nuptial mass was 9:30 in the morning. Pat and Shirley were married up here and Bill and Judy were married at Clifton Gardens, but we’d just started the parish down there, Father Tozey was the priest, and so we had the first nuptial mass. There wasn’t a church there but it was a beautiful house. It was a lovely garden, great big garden, and at half past nine in the morning, looking out straight through the Heads, it was just magical.

So we had a nuptial mass down there and the reception at home.
With Bill’s and Pat’s and mine, you just got caterers in and they weren’t huge weddings, probably 70 or 80, they weren’t huge.

Interviewer: He didn’t have family here.

Noreen Powell: He had his brother and some close friends. Bill and Pat married, Shirley’s father died in the war or at the end of the war, very suddenly, he was quite young, and her mother didn’t have a lot of money. Judy’s family had separated, her parents had separated, so her mother didn’t have a lot of money. So you just had small, no frills weddings. We were all brides.

Interviewer: Did you have a honeymoon?

Noreen Powell: Yes. We went up to the Blue Mountains. We didn’t have a car. Bill drove us up and left us there. I suppose he came and picked us up; I can’t remember. We had a week up there. I don’t know where Bill and Pat went for their honeymoon. Somebody went to Queensland – Pat and Shirley went to Queensland.

All the weddings were like that. There were certainly no overseas honeymoons. That’s what you were used to. It worked out well; we’re all still married.

Interviewer: After you were married, you lived in Upper Avenue Road?
Noreen Powell: Yes, we had a flat and it was hard to get anywhere. Bill and Pat shared a house, which was awful, with some strange lady down in Middle Head Road, when they were married. They had the back of the place; she had the front. Just one bedroom. There were just no vacancies.

Bill had a flat in Avenue Road, just down from Leahy’s, but that was very small, too. They were lucky. Pat eventually bought a place in – no, he didn’t, he rented, in Middle Head Road for a while and then they bought a place down in Raglan Street.
Frank and I, after much climbing and being nice to the landlord, we got this flat at 49 Upper Avenue Road and it was a block of four. We were there for quite a long while and it was all right when we had one, two, three children, but when we were there with the fourth that landlord did not take kindly to that and he got very difficult. We rented a place that my aunts owned in Middle Head Road, a semi, and we rented that for a while.

Then we bought in Want Street. The block at 49 Upper Avenue Road is still there. I went over it the other day to have a look. It’s right on the junction of Upper Avenue Road and Avenue Road. There’s a halt sign. If you look up you’ll see it. I think it was 91 steps. There were steps going up this way, steps going up that way, and then you got into the building and we were on the top so there were another 20 steps.

It was a big deal going shopping with the stroller and bags everywhere.
Do you remember Jackie Murphy? Do you remember the Murphys?

Interviewer: Christine Murphy?

Noreen Powell: Yes. They lived next door and they had a car, so they were very good to us. Not so much shopping but I think then, of course, Jen started school with David and I used to lie in bed: How am I going to push the stroller and pull the pram? Just before Therese was born we got the place in Middle Head Road and that was marvellous, so we survived that, too.

Then we had Want Street and then we grew out of Want Street. We had Richard and he was in a bedroom with two girls, two sisters, and that didn’t work out. We just didn’t have anywhere to go, so we came up here.

Interviewer: Did the place in Upper Avenue Road back on to Somerset Street?

Noreen Powell: Yes. There was a house behind us. Our block didn’t go right through to Somerset. There must have been a house behind us.

Interviewer: Then you rented in Middle Head Road.

Noreen Powell: 121 Middle Head Road, just down the bottom of Effingham Street. We were only there for about 18 months. There again, Dad organised this house in Want Street. They’d let it off in a flat at the back and there was an alcoholic lady living in the back and the woman in the front, both by themselves. But you couldn’t get rid of people. You couldn’t put them out, if they paid their rent. We owned it but we couldn’t put them out and it went on and on and on.

Eventually they said the only thing you can do is physically put her out, which we had to do. It was awful, it was dreadful. We booked her into a hotel in Manly and paid for that for, I think, a fortnight. She had family. She had a daughter and a son; she didn’t have a husband. We told her what we were going to do and she took no notice, so we had to put all her things out one day. It was dreadful, it was terrible. Poor Frank, I felt sorry for him.

But the son said that was the best thing that happened to her because she wouldn’t move. He said, I’ve been trying to get her to move. We had a place for her, we had somewhere for her to go, and she just dug her toes in and wouldn’t do it.
Then we were left with the alcoholic in the back. Eventually, I’ve forgotten what happened to her.

Interviewer: Was she renting?

Noreen Powell: We couldn’t accept rent from her because once you accepted rent she was entitled to stay, so we couldn’t accept rent from her. I don’t think she was there for that long. I can’t remember. I was too busy. eventually she moved.

Interviewer: Did your father own that house?

Noreen Powell: No, he just advised us to buy it. Mum lent us a bit, Dad lent us a bit, and we bought it. It needed an awful lot doing to it. We had to rebuild everything, but Frank took long service leave a couple of times and did a lot of the work himself, the bathroom and things like that. He did a lot of the work down there. Just finished it and this one came up for sale, so I said, Guess what, I’ve found a new house. I think he could have cried. He said, I can’t believe it. The kids didn’t want to leave, but we were going to go up in the roof because it had a high roof and Bill said, you’re not adding any value to your house, and it had very little land. He said, you won’t add any value, it’s just a waste of money, and it wouldn’t be easy because we’d have to forgo a room downstairs to put the staircase in.

Then this one came up. Mum lived opposite and she heard about it, so we bought this. None of them liked it but once we moved everyone calmed down. They all said, Oh, it’s great, and now they love it.

Interviewer: Was that all in the 1960s?

Noreen Powell: It would have been. Richard was two, so it was 1972 – he was 18 months or so, so say we moved here in 1971. Then we started all over again, knocking out walls, digging up floors. We had to do it. This room got added on. This was a veranda and the kids used to play out here all the time, falling over each other. Pat did all this for us, so that was good. Now I can’t bear to move.

Interviewer: Your mother was close by.

Noreen Powell: She was in Effingham Street, right opposite, number 4. She and Dad moved when I got married, from 56 Wyargine, and then Dad died from over there and then Mum died from there. She died two years after Dad, so 1972, 1973, something like that.

Interviewer: You were still pretty close to them once you got married?

Noreen Powell: Oh yes. They did babysit. Not as good as your grandmother. I was always very envious. She would mind you while they went on holidays. Mum would mind them during the day but not at night and not on holidays. She was older than your grandmother, I think, and she said she couldn’t cope with that. I was always very envious of Jill. Oh, it must be lovely having a break from all the kids!

Interviewer: When your father wrote all those books, was he in Effingham Street?

Noreen Powell: No, it was long before that. It was when we down in Wyargine Street, because I remember they were still paying off the bank loan and Dad was having these books printed, paying to have them all printed, and Mum used to say,
Can’t we pay our debts first? but no, it had to be done, and she could see all this money going into his history books.

Interviewer: Did he do this at night, after work?

Noreen Powell: Yes, he had his own little room down there, he’d bash away on the typewriter, which I told you I’ve got out there. I spoke to Rowan about it and Rowan said, They can have it on loan. He said to remind you that when the history of Mosman photos, when Dad gave them to the Library, they’re on loan. Now I didn’t know that. I think it’s a permanent loan but Rowan said he can remember Pa saying and then Bill said the same thing to the Library: They’re on loan. We don’t want them back. Where would we put it all? I think that’s probably a good idea. Also, you don’t want it cluttering up the place, so it’s there.

Interviewer: If we’re doing an exhibition we can put a bit of paper in there and say this is what the books were typed on. Do you want to talk about the children, Blessed Sacrament – you enjoyed that, didn’t you?

Noreen Powell: Oh yes, and the nuns, Sister Augusta whom we still see. It was great. I think it still is a very good school, I’ve heard. Then they went to Loreto. They’ve all still got their friends from there. They walked to school from Want Street. Therese – I can remember a car running over her toes. She was walking to school with Anne and at the hotel, I still can’t work out how the car ran over her toes but they couldn’t stop because he had to get his wife to the ferry in case she missed the ferry. So I brought her home. They weren’t broken; I took her up to the doctor and they were badly bruised.

I think I put them over the road there and then they’d walk up. Before that, when we were in Middle Head Road, Tim was the only one at school and I’d put him over the road here and he’d go into Mum’s and then she’d put him over the road down there. Then of course when they went to Loreto there were buses. Tim went to Marist Brothers, so that was a bus, too.

Interviewer: Did you do any of the sewing classes?

Noreen Powell: I used to do that in Sally’s era (after you) with – she had a daughter named Jackie – Turner. Sally’s a long way behind you. Somebody Turner, the mother. She was a very good sewer, she was great.

Interviewer: Parents got involved with things. I remember Frank doing working bees.

Noreen Powell: Oh yes, they all did that. Peter Moorehouse used to run the working bees and Frank ran them for years. Do you remember Frank Keaney – they used to mend things. Frank Keaney was a great fixer and he used to mend things in the Convent. They used to do things and then they’d get the grounds all ready for school, when the school started.

They used to paint fences, I think. The fathers had very busy – your father probably came, too. They used to work hard down there. Of course, it’s a different era now. The fathers are more wealthy and they donate the money to get people in. When the nuns were there, they were a fantastic lot.

You lived in the best era, I think. After that it sort of fell to pieces a bit.

Interviewer: You applied to be an air hostess – when was that?

Noreen Powell: It was with my friend Marie McManus who went to Monte. She was a country girl and we both applied and we both got knocked back and we couldn’t understand why. It would have been before I met Frank, wouldn’t it. I’d left school. Her aunt, she was a lot generation, too; her parents – it’s a long story but she was brought up by two maiden aunts who were fantastic women and one of them had a very big job in a timber company but she also had friends in ANA which was where we applied. She was a Tier. She had friends in ANA and why where these two girls knocked back? They said, because they were Catholics and they would want to go to mass on Sunday morning and this would throw the whole system out. They only had a few Catholics there.

We found out later on and Marie went off and got married and lived in the back of Bourke. She was Marie Hall then.

You wouldn’t say it now, but I could see their point. Judy was an air hostess with ANA for many years and she said, yes, it did cause problems because the roster was set and they’d say, Sorry, I’ve got to go to mass on Sunday morning. There were no Saturday night masses.

Interviewer: Thank you for your time. That was lovely.