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Letters to Frank…

March 15, 2011

I have a collection of letters that belonged to my Dad.  They were written to him by his grandmother and his great grandmother, mostly in the early 1950s.  It turns out my dad was curious about his family history when he was about 15 years old.

This is one of the letters.

51 Ward St


Dear Frank

Aunty says you like getting a letter so best I write & tell you the names of the parks that your great great grandfather made, or planned would you say?  Well one is Moore Park – & that is where all the Review’s were held all the years I remember – when the Soldiers wore red coats & while Queen Victoria was queen. Aunty can remember that too – the name of the second park I quite forget but I know there was a Mount Rennie -also a big pond in it – I will ask Aunty Smith if she can remember if the park itself had a name.  The Mount itself was where all the sand, stones &c was put – when levelling the park land – then grassed all over & was quite a place for kiddys to climb up & roll down – how the pond came to be there I don’t know but I do remember when Aunty Smith & myself were kids that was where we were always told to keep away from – but of course never did.

It is a long time to look back on & yet I can remember so well – perhaps it is as one grow’s old it is easier to look backwards than forward.  I can see as plain as yesterday Aunty Smith’s and my hat floating on that lake – new hats they were for school for the Summer – frightened to go home we were but found our mother entertaining people just from England – one had been bridesmaid at Mother’s wedding so by the time she saw our hats they were dry – she was pretty strict was our mother – thinking of the parks bring back such lots of memories. Some good some not so good.  So best I leave the past.  I expect the Canadian stamps are much the same but perhaps you can swap. Do hope you are all well & fond love


My hand is cold so excuse all imperfections


When I read this letter, as I have many times throughout my life, I can see the soldiers in their red coats and the girls running down the hill and their hats floating on the water, as clear as if it was my own memory.  I believe the other park was Centennial Park, although it may not have been called that when Gran was a girl, or when her father was contracted to create it.

John Peck left the Moore Park contract unfinished, in the hands of others when he went back to England to collect his eldest three daughters, but the family’s house at 540 Bourke Street, where Aunty Smith (Alice Maud) was born, was not far away from the park, and they continued to live there after their father died.

In another post, there is a news item about a picnic put on for John Peck and his wife by his employees, when they were ‘leaving the colony’.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2011 6:55 am

    I am always amazed how short these letters actually are when translated into plain old text, they seem to go on for ages in hand-writing. I think my favourite line in this is when she says “my hand is cold so excuse all the imperfections.” THere is something really poignant about it, I can imagine her, sitting at her bureau, getting ink stain on her fingers, writing until she can’t feel her hand anymore.
    Her saying that actually brings the scene of her writing that letter to life.

    • Michelle permalink*
      March 16, 2011 8:11 pm

      Yes – even though her writing is fairly small, the letters still come out quite short compared to the hand written pages. I love these letters too – and these letters are my daughter’s favourite posts. Gran was writing this one in the middle of winter. I wonder if she had heating.

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