Monday 21 October 2013

Queenie talks about her family

Transcript of an interview conducted by Chris Wright (in italics) with her grandmother, Queenie - Charlotte Sophie Margaret Anderson, about August 1986, at Queen Street, Redcliffe.
Charlotte Sophie Margaret Drover

Can you remember anything about what your life was like in Scotland before you came here (Australia)?
Well all I remember is coming down the road...I went up to say goodbye to two maiden ladies that had a drapery shop, and they gave me a lump of toffee, and Nettie and Fred came looking for me, and I yelled all the way home because I thought I'd dropped my lump of toffee...that was all I remember of Scotland I think.
What about where you lived...Can you remember what the house was like?
Gilmore Place? No, I don't remember what the house was like.
You were born there though, weren't you?
Were the other kids born there as well?
Yes, I think so...I couldn't be sure. And dad was a musician of course.
What about...your mother was a teacher before she got married. Did she ever teach after she got married?
Oh no, no they didn't do that years ago. I think I've got some testimonials you can have...of hers...when she went from one place to another.
And do you remember anything about your grandparents?
No...I never saw them.
From Scotland you went over to Canada didn't you?
Yes, but Fred and Dad were over there before us, and I held up the boat...
How did you do that?
I was late for the train, and the train was waiting for me and it was late, and the boat was waiting for us. They waited for people in those days...but not now.
Can you remember anything about the trip to Canada?
No. Not over there...see I was only four and a half when I left there...
And do you know how long you stayed in Canada before you decided to...
Four and a half years...I was nine when I got here. I went to school in Canada. Nettie when to school in the Edinburgh Castle School...underneath the castle...she went to school there.
You went to school in Canada, so whereabouts in Canada did you live?
50 Gilmore (sic) Place in Toronto.
50 Bellview Avenue, Toronto, Drover's Home

And what did your father do while you were in Canada?
He was a musician...yes he had his brass plate out.
He taught students?
Yes, violin and cello.
Was he in any orchestras?
I don't know if he was in any orchestras in Canada...he might have been. Then Mum wasn't well, so the doctor advised to take her to a warmer country, so we came here.
And that was the only reason for coming to Australia?
Yes, we came on the 'Osterley' took six came to Brisbane and that's why we came to Brisbane.

Can you remember anything else about that trip?
Yeah, we were sliding down the bannisters, and I remember all the kids (collecting gum?) calling out the world's come to an end - Mrs McGinty's washed her face. I remember that we used to have cocoa and cheese for supper at night on the boat. 
"Queenie" (probably taken in Canada)
But, I remember Canada a bit...and somebody game me a broken alarm clock and I howled because they wouldn't let me bring it...with me...and I used to go to the school there and I used to dress up in my warm clothes and I used to make angels in the snow. I used to lie down and I put my arms out...and make angels, you see...that was the wings..then you get slowly up, you know. I've got a photo of the front of the house there...and Gilbert..and me... We were quite happy there. She wasn't well and yet she packed all the packing, left half a house full of furniture, and left a woman to sell it and send the money, and she sold it and she never sent the money.
What was wrong with your mother?
Heart failure...and false angina she had.
And they thought that the warmer climate might help her?
Yes, well she died when she was 75, and so did he.
Where did you live when you first came to Brisbane?
Petrie Terrace, Kelvin Grove, I've been all round Kelvin Grove.
So you shifted house a few times?
Yes...we went from Kelvin Grove to Vulture Street and then from Vulture Street to West End. That was the three moves for that. Well I've been fourteen moves since I've been married.
Can you remember when the boat came? What month etc?
Yeah 1910...I don't remember the date...might be August 1910, cause I had my ninth birthday here...I think.
You said before that your parents paid their own way?
Oh yes..
Not Assisted then?
Oh no...we went from Canada to Liverpool and Mum had to board us all...six of us....for a week...before we could get a ship out to Australia and we stayed with a Mrs Grant...and I remember Gilbert having one of those whirly-gigs you know and it goes up in the air and sails away you know...the toys.
And did you go to school while you were on the ship at all?
No...don't remember.
And you would have gone to school once you came to Queensland?
Kelvin Grove School.
How old were you when you finished school?
Went to work...and I got the sack and went up the country for twelve months...then I came back and went into Finney's. I was at TC Burns first.
Where did you go when you went up country?
Crows friends....and I used to go to school up there...I went a few times
And then you were at Finney's?
Finney, Isles & Co. Limited in Brisbane, Queensland, 1921 (State Library of Qld)
I was the apprentice...I was there 'till I got married...Manchester department. I made ?? covers, curtains, blinds, carpets...all that kind of thing...loose covers for upholstered chairs and that. I never finished my apprenticeship.
What about your brothers and sister...who was your oldest brother?
Fred, Harvey, Gilbert George Lyle, Jeanette Katherine, then me...
What did the boys do when you got to Brisbane then? Were they working?
None of them were working...they were walking the street looking for a job, A lady that we knew out here said “Come out, come out. There's plenty of work, no trouble at getting work”...and I don't know what they did. Dad eventually got work, and he taught pupils and he played at the picture show, and played at the picture show and played at the Regent until they got a new organ to come up out of the ground (Wurlitzer) and that was the end of that. And then he was on his own of course, he was a teacher the rest of the time. I don't know what Fred did before, but he was a typewriter mechanic...he used to repair typewriters and he went to Mt Isa, and he was up there twenty-odd years...then they came back to Brisbane...and lived at Sutton's beach.
And who did he marry?
Nellie Biggs...and Nettie and Will got married...Gilbert must've got married after me cause there was 18 months between Nettie and I in getting married, so Gilbert must've got married after me. They had George.
Who did Gilbert marry?
So Fred and Nellie...who were their children?
They had four...Richard,. Bill, Frieda and another one..
Gilbert and Annie...they had a son Gilbert too, didn't they?
Yes, not Gilbert...George...Newey was her name...Annie Newey.
Nettie had Gilbert didn't she?
Yes, she had four...they were after Gilbert...the said if she didn't have him she'd have died...he was as big as a three month old baby...he was fourteen pounds.
They had a shop too, didn't they? Where was that?
They had two or three shops, one at Windsor, and one in Adelaide Street, and then Enoggera.. draper...
And did Nettie work there?
Yes, and she helped out...and she never got any pay, but she had to pay tax just the same.
You met Grandpa because he first went out with Nettie, before the war?
I was only fifteen...that's why I don't get the military pension because he didn't die at the war...he didn't lose a limb...therefore I didn't get anything.
When he came back from the war, was it that he came around to see Nettie?
He just came round to see the family.
Charlotte Drover, Sid Anderson and Queenie Drover before marriage

He was a chairmaker, what did he do before the war?
I don't remember...but I know when he came back from the war he was sent up the country...soldier's settlement at Stanthorpe...and none of there were...they were all kids that knew nothing of farming...the worst thing they could have done...they just prepared all the ground ready for the Italians...they walked in and got the lot and are making money out of it.
How much land was that?
I don't know....can't remember...but he got a house built for me....and I never lived in it and never saw it....and he was making a bay window and they said “Oh you can't have a chimney there it'll set fire...” wasn't a chimney, it was a bay window.
He went up after you got married?
And he dug a well up there by hand?
Yes, about 60 feet...beautiful water...he dug it with another man...and the other man used to sit with a shotgun to shoot anybody that took their water...cause he worked so hard getting it.
So you don't know exactly where that land was?
Wait a moment...was it Pozieres...they called it...a lot of places after the war.
After you got married, whereabouts did you live?
Sidney Victor Anderson, William Steedman Drover, Gilbert Drover, Charlotte Anderson 12 Jan 1921 Brisbane

Kangaroo Point, Morningside, West End and then West End again...I went and stayed with Mum after Daphne died...we stayed three years with her.
When was Daphne born?
1928...Paul was born in 1924...No I think she was 1924, cause we were married in 1921.
When was it that Daphne died?
When she was four or four and a May I think she died...that was before cremation...bronchial pneumonia.
There's a photo of her and Paul in a chair that Grandpa made?
In a rocking chair.
Daphne Charlotte Anderson, Brisbane

You have told me before about things you did in the Depression...
Don't bring that up...nobody wants to know about that...
People don't know how hard things were...
That's right...They don't know and they don't care...
Whereabouts were you living during the Depression?
With Mum...and then after we moved...we sold some things and then got the money to move...that's where my engagement ring went to...and his signet ring and anything else we could lay our hands on...we got nine pounds for the lot...and we moved out to Herston...and we were there about seven years I think.
And did Grandpa have work during the Depression?
Oh, he had an odd...oh yes he cost us six shillings a week for the rent and we had to work it off...see we didn't pay money....I did the washing for the woman and ironing....and I did sewing...I made three little girls frocks in a day and all the mending as well and she asked me for change of two bob...and I never had change of a...she never gave and change...I had to walk over from Herston right to opposite the gas tanks used to be, way up there with Paul a little fella...then I had to walk home again and get the tea.
Tell me about when you lived and home and your Mother took in Boarders and there was a fire.
At Kelvin was a double storey house we lived in and that's when we first went there...oh about three or four years after we were there I think, because Dad was out practising his orchestra in a hall in town and I was left home with this woman...she was an elderly lady...she said “I can't get the lamp to turn up”, and I went in and the flames were rising up out the chimney and I had the teatowel in my hand...and outside was like earth outside...and a tank...and I thought if I put the lamp down it'll burst if I put the tap on and I'll get my legs all...I was concerned about getting glass in my I bent down and got earth and filled it up with earth...but I had a job pulling it was an extension one that went up and down...a lamp...and I put it out that way...and of course I innocently told Mum and Dad and they said you're not staying any've got to come and do your homework with that was that.
So she was a boarder?
No, Mum just let her a room...that was all...she had to for something to do when we first went there...must've been early in the piece when we went there that she did that...all the family was out...they were all in the orchestra you see...and I wouldn't hurry up...Nettie used to say if you hurry up I'll dry for you, and away she'd go...she had to go dancing of course...that was the end of me...I was left with all the dishes, but I used to push al the glasses with milk in at the back and egg that went down the side...and pushed them...and they got washed up on their own...cause it was all lamps in those know...a tin lamp hanging on a nail on the couldn't see well at all...
How long was your father playing in the Orchestra?
Ever since he was a young man.
Can you remember what orchestra he was in here in Brisbane?
No, he had his own orchestra...and he fell off an open jetty, he only had one eye, wouldn't you have thought somebody would have taken his arm and helped him? Over he went, and hurt his back, and he had to go to hospital.
About his one said something about a snowball or something?
Well, I thought it was a snowball, but I've heard since it was something different, I don't know what it was. He had it removed anyway...Dr Taylor.
So when would that have happened? Here?...or?
I don't know, no idea. Might've been here, I'm not sure.
You also said one time about when they lived in Scotland, they used to have servants...
Oh yes!
How many would they have had?
One or two.
Just like a cook or something like that? And a housemaid? They must have been reasonably well off then.
Now before we were talking about the Depression, Mum was born after the Depression wasn't she?
Oh yes, we wouldn't have babies before then, we said it wasn't worth bringing them into the world.
So were you still living in the same house at Herston after the Depression?
No, I know we went over the bridge, you could see the bridge, it must have been Herston. I've got an idea we lived at Herston at two places, it must have only been one. It must have been near Mrs Brunts at Herston she was born, 'cause I remember sitting up in bed like this and watching people go along the road.
So Mum wasn't born in a hospital?
Yes she was born in Boothville Mother's Hospital, a Salvation Army home. And they said “Oh you'll be back” and I said 'Never!', I used to take a pillow to bed with me, and I put it down beside me, and the Doctor would come in and think I had the baby...hiding the baby...I had to show him I didn't have the baby.
It was your baby...
Oh no they took it away those times, between feeds.
Where did Mum go to school?
Kelvin Grove, and Paul went to Kelvin Grove school.
And they went there for all their schooling?
See we lived on the main road where the trams ran along, then Herston was down at the back of us (gives directions).
So how old would Uncle Paul have been then?
I don't know...about fourteen.
Would he have gone to work then?
He worked in the High School Shop I think, he used to carry on his bike, rows and rows of tyres...for a man...his place..ride here there and everywhere...he had a few jobs, he worked for the picture people... ??? Towers..???
And what year did he get married?
Don't know...fifties I think...
I thought he got married after Mum did...didn't he?
Oh yes, about twenty-eight he was. He might have been more. I used to know but I've forgotten.
And what was Val's name?
Valmai Mary Jordan
And there is only her and Ione?
No they've got a brother. He lives in Canberra. He drives the limousines around with the politicians in. He's got three boys...three sons...and he took them with him I think...and he got married again. After fifteen years he married this other woman.
I've never heard about him...
Oh Yes
There was Ione and Reg and Val.
Now something about Grandpa's family, you said he had two sisters.
Yes, two sisters. They weren't older than him I don't think...they lived in Wales...
Would they have had other family?
Oh yes, Aunts and the aristocracy...carriages and all the rest of it. The Aunty in … she'd send her mother silver ???down her son
So that's Grandpa's sister's boyfriend?
Sid and Elsie Prosser, England

No, Grandpa's sister's son. His Nephew.
Beatrice Addenbrooke, that was one of his sisters?
Beatrice Addenbrooke, Wolverhampton

No Cousins.
Loaded up with Jewellery wasn't she?
Yes, and that was his sister and that boy.
Was there somebody else in the family call Sidney?
I think her boy was called Sidney.
Yes Margery Addenbrooke.

And that was his sister and her husband. Mr and Mrs Prosser...and the boy...21...he died the same illness as the King. Elsie and May they were.
Aunty Jumbo, England
Aunty Jumbo...the one that fell down and broke her neck. She was going to send some silver things. She sent some of these photos otherwise we wouldn't have got them. She wanted them sent back, and she never got them.
Was she a direct Aunty of Grandpa? On his mother's side or his father's side?
I don't know...his mother's side I suppose...I don't know, quality people.
And whereabouts did she live?

In England.


  1. This is a joy to read! It reminds me of the times I 'interviewed' my father (and to a lesser extent my mother). I have started putting some of Dad's memories in a blog called Outback Story. It's a shame that your grandmother didn't want to talk about the Depression. I find it a fascinating topic, and one of my favourite books is Weevils in the Flour by Wendy Lowenstein (a brilliantly edited collection of oral histories telling a fascinating story of the Great Depression in Australia).

    1. Thanks Judy! Yes, I am disappointed too, and I had intended to continue to press some of the subjects with her, but unfortunately she got ill just after this and was admitted to hospital, then died only a few weeks later. I guess it presses the point of 'don't leave it too late'!

  2. Love this blog, very innovative.

    1. Thanks Diane! It is nice that others, who aren't family also appreciate the entries.

  3. Hi Chris, I linked this to my tree and never fully appreciated the story of your grandparents. I have such vivid memories of them when I was young, visiting at Fingal almost weekly at one stage and Christmas celebrations in that beachy outdoor outdoor area at the back of the house. But I was barely 12 by the time Queenie moved to Redcliff and Grandpa Anderson (as we called him) died when I was 10. We visited in Redcliff a couple of times but I think by 1981 there was less contact. It was great to read this story and put the history together. I have the photos and some of the background but this makes them come to life even more. Great memories.