If you missed the tales of Millicent lad Noel Boyle last Tuesday at the Millicent Library at the monthly history afternoon, you are in luck because Noel has provided it to wattlerangenow for your interest. He is a wealth of local knowledge and presents an engaging story about growing up in Millicent and tells it with passion for all he holds dear; family, friends and community.
by Noel Boyle:
“Jack Kain my Primary School teacher, once told me this area where we are today was once an Aboriginal meeting place because of the high ground. Wattle Range Council still meet on the same site, so the tradition still continues.
Millicent is a lovely name for a town and a number of people would come into the Post Office just to get the name on a Post card to send to a friend who had the name Millicent. Most of you who have travelled interstate or overseas would attempt to explain where Millicent is on a map. How many times have you met a complete stranger somewhere in the world only to hear them say yes I have been to Millicent or know someone who lives in the town. Millicent may be small in the scheme of things but it is well known and you cannot help to feel proud when someone mentions it to you.
Still on the name on Millicent. As you know it was named after Mrs Millicent Glen nee Short. Millicent married George Glen in 1857. The belief in some circles is that her correct name was MillEcent with a E and only one I. Now unless I actually see it in Mrs Glens diary I say it was two I. If you owned all the land around Millicent and the South Eastern Times was spelling your wife’s name incorrectly surely you would say something. Also if your father was Bishop Short of Adelaide I’m sure he would let someone know to get his daughter’s name correct. In the Millicent Public Library in a letter to Joy Melano dated 1968 the Rector of the Holy Trinity Church in Adelaide stated he has seen the original marriage certificate and states it is an I not an E.
So in May 1870 the township of Millicent came into being. Now most of you know the road nearby is called Main Street. In Joy Melanos great book on Millicent, called Walking Tall she states that Millicent North is a separate Town that was surveyed in 1878. I would like to do more research on this fact myself one day.
So where is this leading to? I was brought up in the township of Millicent North very near to this building, and I would like share a few memories about growing up in Fourth Street. Well I used to live in Fourth Street until the P M G department issued Street Numbers in about 1965/1966 and they advised us that as our house was facing Ridge Terrace our address was now 24 RidgeTerrace. So that is what you could call a Clayton Shift. A shift when you actual don’t have one.
Many years ago, just over the road where the Kindergarten is now there once was a tree surrounded by bushes. Now for several days a swaggie was camped under this tree. Each day after school I would have to walk passed him to get home. The school I attended by the way was the primary School where the Family History centre is now situated. The longer he stayed the bigger the stories became of what t he was actually doing there. This particular day I had braved the torts of the big kids at the High School. Now this area was the High School in my early days and the kids would hang over the stone fence and tease me. I could not even see over the fence as in those days I was not very big. O. K., not everyone can be big. Now back to the swaggie story. This particular day I heard from good authority he had a sugar bag with him and he would catch small boys and stuff them into his sack. A modern version of the Once a jolly Jumbuck song but with an “R’ rating. So by the time the tree came into sight I was absolutely panic stricken. I cannot remember how long I waited, but eventually a woman dressed in black came along. I took my school cap off and in my most polite voice I asked if I could walk with her. Years later this story was told to me by my brother and he found out about this episode in my life, because the lady I asked help from was my Aunty Fanny Bratchell.
There used to be a drain running down the side of our property, in Fourth Street that used to go under Ridge terrace into the drain just out the side here. It was not big but I suppose it would have been about 4 feet deep, just big enough to hide in when it was empty. Leading into our property from the Fourth Street was a small bridge that we could cross to get to our property. We would put out our milk billy for the milkman to tip our milk into. When we had to pay the milk bill the money would be put into a jar under the bridge, and as kids we would always check to see if he had dropped any money.
Just up further was a railway sleeper for walkers. As you know a railway sleeper is not very wide. Some times as an act of courage the Postie on his push bike would ride over the sleeper without stopping, although sometimes he would go a little fast and go head first in to the drain. Still on the subject of drains the main drain was a child’s paradise. You had willow trees that you could hold onto swing out in the water and return to the bank, sometimes. Some of the kids from the district would make a raft from tractor tubes and we had great fun sailing in them. Over this main drain was a wooden bridge with a hand rail just so one person at a time could cross. I was nearly across one day when the school bully started to cross. The conversation went something along the linesof, go back because I’m crossing the bridge. I said I won’t because I was here first. The bully said go back or you will be sorry. Any way that is how the bike and I ended up in the drain and I had to receive a couple of stitchers in my forehead from the Doctor.
Lofty Clark , who can remember Lofty or Robert as his parent’s called him. Tall skinny bloke played basketball, long before tall blokes played basketball and was a proud member of the Emergency Fire Service. Well those people who lived in Millicent would remember him arriving at your door for the Eudunda Farmers weekly or fortnightly grocery order. He always seemed to have all the time in the world. Thank goodness they didn’t have time and motion studies in those days. Well one day he left a piece of carbon paper behind at our home, as all his orders were in duplicate. We kids thought it was Christmas in those days to have something like this. Those were the days before ipads. My brother Kevin also worked at Eudunda Farmers and he was always bringing home broken biscuits which my Mum would make into hedgehog cake. You used to be able to go into the shop and ask for a bag of broken biscuits. Sometimes you even got the double ones with cream in them They did not cost much.
Just over the drain in the old band hall I used to go to Kindergarten. Miss Gower was my teacher and I loved it there because we had red cordial and would come home with red lips. They also had tricycles that I enjoyed riding. This building was also used by the Red Cross for a number of years.
Another regular caller was the Watkins Lady. Now can anyone remember her? She used to sell everything and it smelt as though the smell would fix it even if the ointment did not. The cream’s were a miracle worker and actually worked.
My Mother Ivy wrote a few pages of history for me and in her notes she mentions a car trip she went on. In her notes she mentions the garage that was on the corner just over the road. She states when she was 12 years old, this would put the date at about 1927. Her Aunty Tilly who lived at Mount Muirhead had purchased a motor car. One day Aunty Tilly drove my mother home and she knew how to start the car but she forgot how to stop it. So she was driving around the roundabout past the Presbyterian Church and then back past the garage yelling out “ how do you stop it”. Mum said she kept going around the block until she ran out of petrol.
Like most people of that time we had a large vegetable garden and numerous fruit trees so we were fairly self-sufficient. We had our own chooks and ducks. Dad would go out rabbit and duck shooting on regular basis so meat was no problem. Sometimes Mum would pluck possums in the shed or that is what she told us kids. Years later I found out it was ducks out of season. She was frightened one of us would let the cat out of the bag.
We had a curly retriever dog , called Towser that dad was very proud of. It went with him when he went shooting and was great in returning the shot ducks from the swamp. Dad had great faith in his dog and at night time if we had visitors he would give a penny to them and ask them to throw the penny in the tall grass after the dog had been allowed to sniff it. The only rule was that you were not allowed to throw it in the drain. In all the years of returning the penny Towser had only one failure. One night after performing his party piece he came back without the penny. Towser came in really dejected and dad would send him out again to look for it. This happened several times before mum decided to follow him and found the poor dog had stopped for a drink on the way back and had dropped the penny in a bucket of water. All was forgiven. Still on the subject of dogs, after school I would go up the street to Pedler’s Butchers once a week to collect a bag of dog bones in a hessian sugar bag. This particular day I saw my brother Kevin’s ute and knew he would be home soon so I put the bag under his car seat, I forgot all about it and that day was a warm one. After tea Kevin took his girl friend for a drive and took him a while to work out where this terrible smell came from.
One of the very important things we did as kids was the regular comic swap. It was a great art to swap comics and we would spend ages wheeling and dealing, working out should it be the Phantom comic or perhaps a Donald Duck. My little sister thought she was up with the big league so one afternoon unbeknown to us she went over to Alexander Square to swap comics and came back with the same ones we had swapped that morning. Now as I have not mentioned the person’s name I can share a story she told me. When the Father from the Catholic Church would visit them all the kids would sit quietly watching him. This unknown friend was asked after a visit by the Catholic Priest why she was so interested in his visit. Her reply was, “Dad you said he eats so much when he visits us one of these days he is going to bust”
I used to be a member of the Millicent boy Scouts and I was lucky because the meetings were held in Waples shed at 30 Ridge terrace. Many a time I went out bottle collecting to raise money to build the Scout Hall on Stark Avenue. Also did Bob A Job to earn myself a badge. You would spend ages doing someone’s garden for very little money.
Where the Baptist Church is today the Altschwager Family lived and for some reason they had a cattle grid in front of their house. They also had when I was young a washing machine that did everything. Our washing days consisted of the copper where all the work overalls went into. Then into a washing machine until you thought they should be clean, then out into a trough of water to go through a hand ringer to then be put into the other side of the cement trough, for a final rinse. Everyone did the washing on Monday so you knew it was not the day to visit friends. We knew we had hit the big time when we purchased an electric fridge. Up until then we had a Kerosene one which would run out of Kero and quickly defrost. I can still see my brother, Kevin filling it. We would have a large container of Kero and he would put a hose into the drum. Then he would gently try to suck the kero up and let it fill the tank under the fridge. Most times when he would suck it up he would end up with a mouth full of Kero and then he would try to get the taste out as quick as he could.
Breakfast consisted of porridge in the winter, but in the summer we would progress to the Famous Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. I enjoyed them but best of all because you would find a little army figure in the box. These were good for swapping. They stopped putting them in the packets because they thought someone might swallow them. They were too precious to swallow. While on the subject of toys, just on the road reserve in front of our house was a round piece of clay. It was just the perfect spot to play marbles. All the different types of marbles had their own special names. They weren’t just marbles I’ll have you know.
Blue Hills by Gwen Meredith was a True story as far as we knew, that was on the radio every week day around about lunch time We were never allowed to disturb Mum when this was on. When Mum had visitors this was discussed. Just like they do with T.V. shows today.
Well this is my story, your life would have some of things that I mentioned in it. History is not someone doing the shopping in a horse and cart, history is made today. Most of you may have said if only I had asked or if only granddad had written it down. I hope no one in the future will have to say the same about you because you hopefully would have recorded it. So we all had childhoods, played sports went to school and grew up. Things that I have mentioned may seem unimportant but that was life in those days. Even if you write a couple of pages down put it in a drawer, it will make someone happy one day.
In finishing I have made this true statement before but I will repeat it. I said to my mother Ivy, “Mum how much money are you going to leave me when you die.” She replied, “You know I’m only on a pension and have no money to leave you” my reply was “well I would love to receive a couple of pages of your life. Don’t worry about the spelling, don’t worry if it is not in order, the computer will fix it”. So she did leave a number of pages of her life and it is a lot more valuable to me than money. Thank you for being a good audience and putting up with me.”