At 93, Marjorie is funny, dry and very engaging. But it’s a story of hardship, and endurance.
“When I was born, my mother was told I didn’t make it."
They said, ‘I’m sorry, but your baby’s dead’. But when they came to take me away, I was breathing! My mother said, ‘Well, you were meant to be here’. I’m 92 now! Now, there’s a lot of people who only know me as Grandma. They don’t know I’m Marjorie! I’ve even got great, great, grandchildren. Too many – I can’t keep up.”
“I grew up in the country. I grew up in Gulgong. You know where Gulgong is? That’s where you’ve got all the gold. It was the depression - there was no work. So my father used to cut wood in exchange for vegetables. That’s how we lived. We had to walk 3 miles through the bush to school. My father died in a work accident, he was 43.
“I met my husband Bill at Port Kembla. He was in the army."
“But he was in Darwin when the bombs fell. He was never the same. After that, he got a job in a timber yard, and a chimney stack fell on his head. His neck and back bones were damaged - he had a lot of problems then. He started fitting, sometimes he’d have a fall in the street. The ambulance men got to know him, and they’d bring him home.
I got a job down on the wharves. That sounds terrible! But they were busy and exciting in those days, and I was in the café, the waitress. I loved that job. We were still a close knit family. Sometimes, when you’re old, you still think back on those hard times.
“We had six children and we raised four foster children."
“They were friends of our children at school. But they were going to take them away, and put them in a home in Sydney. It was terrible. The children wanted to stay with us. So we went to the courts and everything, and in the end, all four came with us. They stayed with us up until they got married. We lost a couple of our own children, from cancer. In those days, there was no one lovely to come and help you, no services. You had to just look after your own family. That was all you had.
I’ve had some sad times and some good times. But I could always see a lot of people worse off than I was.