Pop, Paddy and Bill

Some Stories, Verbal Snapshots and Comments

by Patricia Grace Anderson (née Lawrence)
as related Jane Furphy????

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Pop was a quiet, gentle man, who did not talk much and it was good just to be with him. He was much loved by both Jo’s mother as well as father. When Paddy was in labour with Susan, he sat beside her bed and kept her company quietly for several hours. Pop often used to call her ‘Per’ for ‘Pertricia’!

He was incredibly handsome and was used as a model by Wallace Anderson (no relation to Paddy’s husband Graham), a sculptor, who did many war memorial statues and was a friend of the family. There are various plaster and clay models around in the family, and a bronze in the gardens near the Geelong War Memorial. He was also used by a French woman artist as the model for their representation of an Australian digger, wearing the digger’s hat, even though, as an officer, he never wore the slouch hat. This picture still takes pride of place on Auntie Sue’s wall in Kent St, Deakin.

He hardly ever lost his temper or raised his voice, but it was terrible when he did - one of his sayings was ‘Courtesy begins in the home’. But when he did get angry it could be very frightening. He would also subject his loved ones to the silent treatment from time to time when displeased with them, which could be very difficult to cope with, especially when it went on for some time. Jo would send her children (and later her grandchildren) in to communicate with him at such times - she was a great one for getting others to do her dirty work!

When the Ballarat was bombed and sank on his (and his older brother George’s) journey across the Channel in early 1917 to serve in France, Pop saw that everyone got off the ship safely and was the last person off with only what he stood up in, while George got off with all his belongings!

This is a typical story about Uncle George. He married and stayed in England after the war. His wife (Doris) was a Catholic, could not have children (or would not, another story is that she was afraid of the mental illness in the family) and would not give Uncle George a divorce. Uncle George had another de facto family with several children (always spoken of in scandalous tones) one of whom, Julian, Paddy remembers visited Australia and stayed with them. When his mother was dying George wrote to Pop to ensure that he got his share under her will – this was apparently the last straw for Pop and Auntie Faye, who had kept on making excuses for George up until then. There was also some suggestion that George had done something to prevent his father owning or running a small retail business back in England and benefited himself.

Jo seldom spoke of her mother, although she made regular visits to her grave. It was too painful for her to speak about her. Paddy felt her birthday was always a reminder of the death of this unknown grandmother. She remembers being told that her grandmother Beck had been pushed/fallen downstairs as a child and suffered from hemiplegia on her left side, which meant that she limped all her life and the left side of her face had dropped a bit. If she smiled, only the right side of her mouth lifted and her left eye drooped a little. She was self-conscious about this, so that in photos she is nearly always shown with her right profile. Children who first met her would always ask what was wrong with her face, but forgot about it soon after. She was a capable woman – doing the books for her mother’s business (her mother, Ellen Jane Moxon, was a ‘bespoke dressmaker’– anyway a cut above others!). When Susan Grace came to Australia, she provided the business head for her husband and did his books. Her husband patented and then sold particularly effective cough medicine and also won Tatts, which enabled him to buy and then pay off his pharmacy business.

Grandma Slade, on the other hand, was anything but a ghost and a frequent visitor. She was a strong minded, practical woman, and she and Jo often clashed. Paddy remembers her writing very Baptist letters of ‘encouragement’ to her, which she largely ignored. Auntie Dora was also an important person in their lives. William Beck married her not long after Susan Grace died. She was a much younger woman and Jo did not make her feel particularly welcome much of the time. However she looked after William very well, as he got increasingly blind, and after two of the children when Pop and Jo went overseas.

Paddy felt the absence of her parents and her sister very keenly, while her parents were overseas when she was a small girl. (Pop and his siblings must have felt the same when their parents went overseas when they were very little). As a child growing up with Pop and Jo there were good times and not so good times. In the latter, Paddy was often used as a gobetween and also felt very responsible for protecting her sister and brothers. She was always aware of the very strong bond between them and their dependence on each other even during the times when their feelings for one another were often very negative or they found it difficult to say more than good morning. And they became close again when Pop was dying.

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