Mosman Voices - oral histories online

Betty Kennard

Interviewed by Eve Klein on 5th March 2001

Eve Klein. After you worked at the Commonwealth Bank, what made you leave?

Betty Kennard. I left to get married. If you were married you automatically left, you weren’t employed anymore if you got married. I didn’t mind that.

Eve Klein. Was your husband also a Mosman person?

Betty Kennard. No.

Eve Klein. Did you continue to live in Mosman?

Betty Kennard. Yes we did. For the first eight months we were in a rented house in Parriwi Road, a house that belonged to people who had gone to England. I would look across to the other side of Chinaman’s Beach and see how sunny and warm it looked, because Parriwi Road. lost the sun at lunchtime. We then rented a little two bedroom house in Hopetoun Avenue where we lived for 15 years. We lived there for so long because of the Second World War, and we weren’t able to build the house we wanted to build, to have more accommodation for our four children.

Eve Klein. What did your husband do?

Betty Kennard. He’d previously spent many years in the country, in the bush. He was English, but his brothers had started a wholesale, hardware business and wanted his bookkeeping experience and his little bit of capital for their business, so he came back to Sydney. They were building up that business when we got married, and that went on for a good many years.

Eve Klein. What was life like for you as a young married person?

Betty Kennard. I was a very privileged person I think. I thought I needed help when I had one baby, and I did have help. My husband had a car that he used for work, it wasn’t available for me to use, but I played tennis with friends. I was a very conscientious mother taking the babies to the clinic like we did. There were lots of young mothers with young children around where we lived, so I enjoyed their company, and I had a very pleasant life, but then the war came.

Eve Klein. We’re talking now about 1939.

Betty Kennard. My eldest child was born in 1938.

Eve Klein. What was it like when war broke out?

Betty Kennard. My other son was born in 1940 when things were very different and the war was going very badly. It was a terrible time. One week France would fall, the next week it would be Norway. Britain was being bombed, and then there was Dunkirk. It was a time of great trial and uncertainty for our country.

Eve Klein. Was your husband affected by the Second World War?

Betty Kennard. No, because he was 15 years older than me, and he was too old to be in the army, but he was in the Police Reserve. We didn’t use the car much because we didn’t have petrol. He had a motorbike and those were the days of the black out, and he’d get around on this motorbike with a very dim light. If we went out at night, I’d be on the back of the motorbike because we didn’t have the petrol, and I didn’t have the help I was used to having, and of course we had food rationing, and life got much harder. But we weren’t really deprived. Our food and clothing coupons were always quite adequate for my needs.