Saturday, 16 March 2013

Needs Must...

No. 12 on Lisa Alzo's Fearless Females is Working Girls - Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home?

Mum left school at fifteen and got a job with a company that made bookkeeping machines. She did very well and speaks quite fondly of her time there. Once she was married life became very busy (see my post on religion "Believe what you will"), but throughout the years Mum got casual jobs to make up the family shortfall in income. When elections came round, Mum would work for the Electoral Commission as a booth worker. This involved marking off people's names as they came in, handing out ballot papers and reporting breaches to the booth supervisor. In Australia we have mandatory voting. Actually we don't - we have mandatory turn-up-and-get-your-name-marked-on-the-roll. But by the time you have done that you may as well take the ballot papers and fill them in. I am sure Mum did other jobs too, but the Election work is the thing I remember most. The work she did in the home, including running an International Adoption agency, is another matter.

Both my grandmothers worked at different times. During the Depression, my mother's mother was in a very difficult situation. My grandfather was away being treated for TB and my uncle was in hospital following an accident and subsequent infection, so Nanna had no income. She took in washing and worked as a cleaner to make ends meet. Not surprisingly, she and Grandpop never talked about this time, and I only know about it through Mum and my uncle.

My father's mother ran a series of shops. The one I remember is the toy shop up in Yamba. My uncle tells me Nanna stocked many other things too, but I remember the toys. Nanna was very crafty and made cards and a number of other things too, way back before paper crafts were popular. She did a good trade with them, too. Grandpa always had big ideas and no real idea how to realise them, so Nanna ran a shop to pay the bills and buy the groceries.

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