Mosman Voices - oral histories online

Louise Crisp

Interviewed by Eve Klein on 14 August 2000

Eve Klein. Do you recall the war at all?

Louise Crisp. I do, I was a little girl at school and I remember the teachers talking about it to us, and my parents speaking about it. At school, we were all issued with a little canvas bag and in the bag was a rubber-nose peg for the gas, and there was a little rubber tube that you were supposed to bite hard if you were frightened, or if you had some problem. I was amazed at that, and there were a few little biscuits and a little drink and things in this bag. They made little trenches at the school with sandbags. The whistle would blow and we had to learn to quickly get into those. In Cremorne in this Kareela Road, nearly every house had sandbags piled up at the front. Of course, there was the wardens’ post and all our families manned the wardens’ post.

Eve Klein. How was that organized?

Louise Crisp. That was around here in Iredale Avenue and there were phones and you had to go, and the men used to do things like paint all the edges of the steps with white paint so at night people wouldn’t fall. They’d go around and make people have dark shutters down, or blinds down, or paper stuck on the windows so the enemy wouldn’t see the lights from the houses. I always remember the day those submarines came in and my parents did not wake me up. When I went to school the next day all the children were talking about the noise and everything. I didn’t hear any of it, because I had a good sleep through it, and it was quite all right.

Eve Klein. Did your parents and your grandmother and so on, have any great concern and fear?

Louise Crisp. They didn’t seem to. A lot of people in this street sold their houses and went to live in the mountains, or somewhere else, but grandma and dad said no, they were staying where they were, and it would be all right. But there were many, many houses here for sale. That I do remember.

Eve Klein. Do you remember any services being limited, or food?

Louise Crisp. Yes, we had coupons and we could only have a little bit of butter and a little bit of chocolate. All the children saved silver paper, and we made great big balls of it, for the war effort. You picked it up wherever you would see it in the gutter, or anywhere else. Even now when I see silver paper, I have a longing to pick it up and save it.

Eve Klein. A legacy left over. Do you recall any hardship at school? Or with a private school was that not a problem?

Louise Crisp. I don’t. I really don’t. I think some people were very nervous and one of my girlfriend’s dad was a German wool buyer and he was interned and we found that quite hard to understand. And then I know my husband’s family had a lovely Italian man that stayed during the War. I don’t know what you’d call that, but I suppose he was a prisoner in a way, but they just loved him and he made ropes of spaghetti always in the weekends and he worked hard on the farm. When the War was over my father-in-law and mother-in-law went to visit his family in Italy, so it was a friendship rather than anything else.