Monday, November 29, 2010

recollections of my mother and her family: John Milton the blind poet

* 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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Mum, Joan (Betty Joan) was born in New Zealand in 1913 at Napier. Her Mum was Nin (Zillah Myers) who was married to Alexander Myers who was a travelling salesman for his family firm of J Myers & co, a big warehouse in NZ.  He died when Mum was 8 months old, so she never knew him.

Mum was a little girl in Napier when the big Napier earthquake occurred and was thrown out of her cot but was not hurt.  When Mum was 3, Aunty Vera Cohen came and got Mum and Nin and bought them back to Sydney.

Sometime later Nin married Neville Cohen a solicitor and they purchased a beautiful home at 10 Fisher Avenue, Vaucluse called "Mont D'or" (Mountain of Gold).  Nin had Jill, Sue and Neville, Mum's half sisters and half brother.  When Neville died, Nin changed her surname from Cohen to Carr.

Mum met Dad (Jack Clarke) playing tennis across the road from Mont D'or and they were married in 1939.

During the war, Mum and I went to live in Cooma to avoid being shelled by the Japanese and then Dad was transferred to West Wyalong where he later joined up in the army.

I remember staying several times at Mont D'or as a kid and had good times there.  I used to walk down to Nielsen Park and fish off the wharf.  I was bitten on the finger there under the wharf by a green eele when I put my hand in a cave to feel around!! Had the scar for many years.

After Neville Cohen died, Nin had some boarders in to Mont D'or to help make ends meet.

My granny, "Gangle" correct name Lavalette Milton Erkin Baker, was a descendent of the blind poet JOHN MILTON who penned Paradise Lost.  She was married in Ballina 1904 to Dad's father the school teacher, Arthur Reginald Clarke.  I think they were transferred to Adelong where Dad was a little boy and then to Camden.

Everybody knew "Gangle" as "Gangle", not just her grandkids.  She was the sweetest white-haired old lady who never said a bad word about anybody.  I believe she was a great bush woman and used to crack snakes like a whip and their heads would fly off!!  What a legend!!!

I stayed at her cottage at Camden a couple of times.  She had beehives in her yard and used to have honey on her porridge, something I have always liked.  She had Eileen, Jack (dad), Walter and Roy.

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