Stories

Lesley Frith

Lesley Frith

91, Coroneagh Park

I made a bucket list when I was 80. I was listening to 7AD (the radio station I used to listen to) and they were talking about bucket lists and, you know, what people had. And I said, “Oh well, I’ll ring up 7AD and tell them mine,” which I did. And I spoke to them and they said, “Well we’ll have to see what we can do about that for you.” My bucket list was to go for a ride on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle! So anyway, this woman rang up and heard me on the radio and said, “My husband will take that lady for a ride on his Harley-Davidson motorbike,” which he did! He came out on a weekend and he took me all around the country side! It was fantastic, I loved it. He kept asking if I was ok or if he has going too fast and I said “No!” I was quite happy with the speed he was doing. And someone said, “Did you put your arms around his waist?” and I said “Of course I did!” What else? It was a real good time.

Once I was staying with my girlfriend at South Burnie. I was probably about 15 or 16 and we were going for a walk one night. The other girls must have come too, and they said
“Well, we don’t like that shopkeeper very much,” he wasn’t a very popular person. Anyway so we picked up a rock, didn’t we, and through it on his roof. He came out and gee was he mad! He was going to report us and everything else. We were really scared then. I wouldn’t have done it if I had been on my own. Anyway, he didn’t report us. We told dad when we got back home and he wasn’t very happy with us doing that of course. I think it was one of their ideas, it wouldn’t have been mine. I wouldn’t have dared to do it, I was too good I think. We went back and said sorry to the shopkeeper. I suppose he said, “Ah well, that’s kids for you.” That’s about the worst we would do then. What’s the thought now for the young people? Different story isn’t it. I hate the way the world is. Well, I mean there’s no peace. You’re scared all the time, it’s just frightening. They say go ahead and do what you normally do. Sometimes I wonder if that’s the right thing. I’ll tell you what, the young people with their kids – there’s no discipline now. And that is a great problem because kids need discipline. Even the teachers can’t give discipline to the children anymore. Otherwise the kids turn around and sue them – which they can do. Then the government is stupid enough to give them the money to go and live in a flat. I mean if we told our children that was wrong to do, they wouldn’t do it again.

When I was in primary school (probably 9 or 10 or something like that) we used to wrap up these parcels and put them on a great long string and go down to the main road. We’d put the parcel on the side of the road and we’d wait for the cars to come along. Now this was about dusk, so wasn’t real bright, no sunshine and we’d wait for the cars. Finally a car would stop and think, “Oh! Wonder what that is on the road?” By the time they pulled the car up and stopped, we pulled the parcel and there wasn’t any parcel laying there when they went to look. That was great fun! My kids tell me, “You were too good to do anything bad anyway,” they say to me. Well, it was nice to have done something exciting in your life isn’t it?

When my Uncle Dick died it was a very sad time. It was my mother’s sister’s husband. I was 7 or 8, I suppose, then. Uncle Dick and his wife went to Leith swimming that day. And probably Grandma and Grandpa, and Mother and Father. Anyway, they went off – it wasn’t a good day, sea was rough as Billy-o – and he wanted to go in swimming. And it was never safe for him to go in swimming that day. They weren’t married that long, he might have been 10 or 15 years into their marriage. It wasn’t that long. Anyway, he decided to go in swimming and he never came back. They never found a body, we never knew whether he was dead or not. And we often thought that he intended to do that – go in and disappear – because Aunty wasn’t a good wife. I think she used to play around because it wasn’t long afterwards that she was going out with this other bloke. So we often think that he meant to do that and not come back. Whether he was ever alive or whether he died, we’ll never know. And that was really sad because he was a lovely man, he really was. He was just a kind, considerate, helpful fellow. We just loved him. And he and my dad, of course, were very good friends. They’d married the sisters: dad married mum and Uncle Dick married her sister. Mum wanted to have a double wedding but Aunty wouldn’t have it. She wasn’t going to have anyone spoiling her wedding day. She wasn’t that sort of person. When we were kids and we used to visit my grandma every weekend, we’d go across the road to where they all lived, just over the road. We’d go to play with her kids and we were never allowed in the door, we had to play outside. She didn’t like us coming in the house. She was a funny woman.

I first met my husband Don at the dance. The paper mill where I worked used to run one every Thursday. He never used to get there ‘til after 10 o’clock at night because he had the shop and it didn’t shut ‘til 10. So he used to come down late. Anyway, he asked me for a dance. I hadn’t danced with him before. And they were good those dances, we used to look forward to them. And anyway, the theatre was next to his shop and we used to go to the pictures at the theatre and he was operating the shop next door. I would bus in and go to the pictures. The next night we were standing outside waiting for the bus to come and Don walks out and says, “Would you like me to take you home?” That was the second time that I’d been with him and that was it. Then when he did propose he proposed to me up in Fern Glade. We went for a drive at night. We were sitting in the car and he proposed to me, which I said yes!

I think people just too easily give up and go on to somebody else nowadays, you know? And don’t try to work it out properly and don’t spend enough time trying to work on things and come around and say “Alright now, off you go. Goodbye.” A lot of them do this and I don’t think that’s right. I mean, you make your vows in the first place. I believe that you need to work at it at times.

I always remember when I went off to my wedding and I left my parents’ friends, I stayed at their house before the wedding. And Mr Webster, he couldn’t go to the wedding because he was sick in bed. And as I went out, he wished me all the best and he said there’s one thing that I’ve really got to think about and do. He said, “You’ve got to give as well as take.” And that was the best advice I think I’ve ever had. I always remember him saying that to me.

I think my mother was a wonderful person. And up until then I guess she would have been the most influential person in my life. She was fantastic with us kids and with other people’s children. She just loved kids, no matter what, and they all loved her. She could tell just what was right from wrong. And, oh dear, I don’t know. We just loved her so much. She was the main person, I suppose, she shared affection a terrible lot. My father loved us but he never showed affection. Don was saying the same about his mother, his parents, they never showed affection. Would seem strange but mum was just the opposite. I don’t know whether it was dad being a teacher or what it was but I shouldn’t think that would make any difference. But mum just seemed a lot closer to us.

I was never in trouble, that’s what my kids say to me. You were just too good all the time, you never did anything wrong did you. But I don’t think that was right at all. We just knew right from wrong and we didn’t obviously do things that were bad. We were taught to act and carry on the right way. I don’t think that was bad.