I’ve been thinking about this image, and how to write about it.
so many stories that go way back , but this page isn’t about that. This page is about my mother, and this image of 4 scruffy girls that she rescued.
Mum is a force. She has so many stories, that I will endeavour to record, even though she protests that she remembers nothing, she will remember with the right prompts.
Mum is a feminist, although today she might poo hoo that. Born in 1932, baptism of fire during the Great Depression, her dad struggling for many years with the poison of alcohol, but that isn’t the story. Her parents , like many of that time, were forced to take work where they could, and this included leaving the two girls in safe boarding houses when they were children, so that they could work on the road. His only source of income during these dark times was as engineer/surveyor, in tent cities.
Mum and her sister, 6 years younger, have many stories to tell of these houses.Mum doesn’t remember how many schools she went to , as there were too many, and she didn’t make the normal school friends, as they were always on the road; sounds like the circus life.
When she wanted to continue study, her father advised her to just do a simple secretarial course as she would marry someone with a career. After he made her leave school at 15, she put herself through night school, to achieve her Leaving certificate in the required English, Maths and all the Sciences. (Apparently quite a whiz at Chemistry etc, who would have thought) Studying full time and working full time allowed her to enrol in Teachers College at Armidale where she met Ken McFadzean, who she would marry.
They went to New Guinea after some years, with one child, and sadly Ken would die in 1962, leaving her alone again, but this time with 4 children and no government support.
This was the beginning of our mother (Ann Audrey Hassall) saving her four girls. Every decision from that day on was one that was made only with our future in mind. Some of these decisions may not have been the best, but they were made not for herself, but for the four girls that she had to raise.
Mum raised four strong women, as you might see in this ridiculous photo, where we look like 19th century street kids. I remember helping her on weekends setting up class rooms in Queanbeyan, and when she introduced non sexist reading literature to her school back in the early 70s. I also remember her setting up special courses for children of immigrants, who struggled to fit in to the Australian way of life.
Mum is a shining light, not only to her four daughters, but all the women, men, students who were fortunate to work with her over 50 years of educating.