* a collection of stories and memories, in no particular order, from the life and times of John Clarke, who served as a policeman in the Australian Police Force, a great practical joker, he also had a great affinity with people and wildlife, was a champion swimmer, snooker player, loved golf, still loves fishing and is also an artist. I hope you enjoy his recollections - cheers, karin (his daughter)
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This memoir is written by Sue Griffin, the half sister of Joan Clarke (my mother) regarding our mother Zillah, there is mention of our Jewish line and gives an excellent insight into Zillah's character and privileged lifestyle! A wonderfully interesting look at domestic history also, it shows that when she was going through hard times, Zillah was not afraid of hard work and made a good life for herself, independently - Karin
MEMORIES OF OUR MOTHER
After reading a great book called "Hanna's Daughters" by Marrianne Frederickson' I thought it time my two sisters & brother tried to record some recollections of our Mother Zillah Louise Hyman
She said she was never registered at birth, in Tamworth, NSW Australia. She died in 1976. To the best of our knowledge she was then 84 years old. The cause of death was kidney failure. She had been ailing for some time, with varying degrees of confusion and blackouts.
She came in the middle of nine children. Her Mother, Sarah, died in childbirth, when Zillah was six or seven years old. The children were cared for by a nanny/governess called affectionately 'Poor Winnifred'. Mum said her Father, Lewis, was not kind to Winnifred and he had a vile temper. He owned teh General Store in Tamworth, the store was sold when mum was 16 years old. He was a self-made man, sent to Oz when only fourteen years old, to work for two Uncles who owned the flour mill in Tamworth.
Mum was at school in Sydney, at Ascham. In those days it was a very small boarding school, started by Mr & Mrs Carter. Mum loved them, she was very happy there. Later on the school increased in size taking both boarding and day pupils, becoming one of the best schools in Sydney, Mum was of course a boarder. After the sale of the shop, Mum and her elder sister Ehtel, with their Father, travelled to Europe, by sea, there was no other way then. They visited two younger sisters, at school in Switerland, Stella & Gladys. Mum then went to finishing school, near Paris, for a year. The girls there were amazed she was white and spoke English. She learnt to speak French and ? to behave in a ladylike fashion, she enjoyed it all enormously. Zillah then joined her Father in Eastbourne (England). He had acquired a lady friend whom Mum disliked intensely. Partly because of this and also he thought her flighty, he cut her out of his will. He died shortly after, of pneumonia, no antibiotics in those days.
Zillah and Ethel then returned home. Arthur, Mum's eldest brother, later had her reinstated in the will.
Zillah married Alec Myers, a New Zealander, when she was twenty. They went to live in Napier. Betty Joan was born two years later. Alec, a Boer War Veteran, died when Joan was 8 months old. Mother's favourite, elder sister, Vera went to NZ and brought them home. (to Sydney, Australia)
Mum lived in a unite called ? Karrorie Flats, at Elizabeth Bay, Sydney. The first World War started in 1914, our Father Neville Kingsbury Edward Purcell Cohen joined up. He must have been on 23 or 24. He had known Zillah before her marriage - the Jewish community at that time being quite small in Sydney.
Before he was sent overseas, they were married, seemingly, three times, once in an Anglican Church, in Musselbrook, where Dad was stationed? In a registry office in Sydney. The third time in the Great Synagogue in Sydney, otherwise father's Mother Mollie/Minnie, would not recognise the marriage.
Jill was born in 1922, after Nev returned from the war. He had a shrapnel wound in his thigh, he had seen active service at ? Ypres. Sue followed in 1925. Neville Junior, in 1931, to the great joy of his parents, Mum was 45.
In nineteen twenty five the family moved to a lovely home, called Mont d Or, 10 Fisher Av., Vaucluse. It had sweeping views down the harbour to what was later the site of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Later we were able to watch it being built. We could also see all of Rose Bay which became the base for the Sunderland Flying Boats. The Harbour provided endless entertainment, there were always ferry boats going to and fro, yacht races, liners, cargo boats and beautiful sunsets to be viewed.
In the early days at Mont dOr, Zillah and Nev were both great gamblers. The loved horse races and poker. Mum would get all dressed up to go to the races on a Saturday. She was very superstitious and would never wear green, walk under a ladder or sit down with 13 people to a meal. Many times there was doom and gloom when they had lost all their dosh. Things would get very stressed for the whole family. Eventually instead of the races, they would listen to the meets on the radio and bet by phone with starting price bookies. The kids, Jill, Sue and Junior would be sent off to the cinema every Saturday afternoon, of course we were more than happy to go, we had a great time, Westerns, Tarzan and what seemed to us wonderful movies, the days of silent movies were over by then. Mum and Dad had no interruptions to their exciting pursuits!
Zillah spent a lot of time cleaning and polishing her home. She was an excellent cook. In the late twenties and thirties she had quite a lot of help in the house and garden. A maid helped with the cooking housework and children. She was provided with a uniform and cap to cover her hair. All meals were taken in the kitchen, but, she ate the same food as the family. If she married, she had to leave and a replacement was quickly found. Arthur would come each week and keep the garden tidy. He would bring his own sandwiches, which Jill sometimes shared, much to Mum's horror.
A laundress did the washing and ironing, always on a Monday. She would sort the washing, in the laundry, under the house. The house was three stories, due to the sloping site. The dirty clothes and linen were thrown down a chute, upstairs it was accessed through a large walk in linen press next to the bathroom. Downstairs the chute was outside the kitchen door, in a small porch, which also housed a fly screened cupboard where a jug was left each day for the milkman, who came in a horse and cart, to leave the milk. Potatoes were also stored in a basket in this cupboard. Down a few steps from this porch sat the dustbin. All rubbish was neatly wrapped in newspaper, a supply of which was neatly folded and stored in a cupboard in the kitchen. Back to the Monday wash day - Mrs Jones and later Mrs Neville would boi up all the linen and towels in the gas copper. They were then rinsed in the large tubs and put through a hand operated mangle. When all the clothes were washed they were carried in a large wicker basket up and down two flights of steps to be hung on the parallel wire clothes lines, held aloft by wooden clothes props. The laundress would then have a good lunch in the kitchen, after which she would bring in any washing that was dry and start on the ironing. This was done on a wooden table in the maid's bedroom, under the house next to the laundry. When it was complete she would carry it all upstairs and lay it out on Mum and Dad's fine double bed, to be put away.
1939 The start of the second world war, our circumstances had changed a lot. Father had an affair and gotten the family into quite some debt. Mother moved to Cooma, where she stayed until Father died.
At this time Zillah decided to change her name to Zillah Carr from Cohen. (shortened excerpt)
Zillah was not afraid of hard work. Finances were strained so she took in two paying guests, cooking them breakfast and dinnner at night, which they ate with the family. During the war she had two women guests. Mrs Buchanan, an Oz woman who had left her husband. She ran a coffee shop in the city. Mrs Riley, an, Englishwoman, who escapted just before Singapore fell. She didn't know if the husband she'd left behind was dead of a POW of the Japanese. They were both delightful women and added greatly to our everyday lives. After the war, Mrs Buchanan returned returned to her husband and Mrs Riley to England, where I think she was reunited with her husband and daughter. Mrs Martin came down from Hong Kong just after the war with her son Peter, she only stayed a short while, Peter occupied what had been the maids room. I am not sure how long he stayed. I think he was still at Cranbrook. They were followed by Jack Palmer. He was a widower who had been a Magistrate in India furing the war. His wife was Russian, she had two children by a previous marriage. He planned to start up a law practice in Sydney, but found there were too many barristers already so eventually went back to England. Connie jacks step-daughter stayed with Mum when she finished school, for a while. The last boarder was Mr Granger he came from N.Ireland and was quite a young man. Mum doted on him. Sue had gone abroad a while before, she too was now married and living in Nigeria.
Joan had two children, her husband Jack were transferred to Katoomba, in the Blue Mountains and Zillah decided to sell Mont dOr and move to the Mountains to be near them. She sold Mon dOr for eleven thousand pounds (now probably wrth a couple of million). She bought a small bungalow called Greenaway just over the road from Joan. Mum spent twelve very happy years there. Bought herself a Morris Minor car, played bowls and enjoyed her grandchildren, as well as the company of Joan and Jack. Jack worked in the Bank of NSW.
He was eventually transferred to Kandos. MUm had made a new life for herself, she stayed on in the Moutnains until she was seventy. Joan and Jack were then transferred to Sydey. They bought a house in Sydney. Mother was persuaded to move back to Sydney too. She bought a unit in Turramurra not far from Joan. Once again she settled in and made a life for herself. Being close to public transport, Zillah was persuaded to give up her beloved Morrie.