Teenage Years

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    I went to Mount Lawley High School for 5 uneventful years. I won tickets to the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games held here in Perth in 1963. For this occasion my Dad brought our first TV and my school grades fell dramatically from then on.

    I had no burning ambition to be anything in particular, [but I did Not want to be a teacher, a hairdresser or a nurse] and son on passing matriculation I decided to study Radiotherapy as no students were accepted in this course the year I finished school . So I could have a year off and work on a dairy farm and ride Horses!

    I had a boyfriend Phil, his grandma lived opposite us. She was Catholic and I knew my mother would have objected to me going out with Phil [like she had erupted when she found out I was smoking!] so of course I didn’t tell her.

    I went to work on a farm at Serpentine. I worked from 4:30 in the morning till 6:30 at night 7 days a week with 3 days off every 4 weeks. I was paid $2 a day and board was deducted from that. But – I got to ride the Horse everyday so I was happy! Phil used to come out on the weekends and visit me.

    Soon I was in BIG trouble. I was pregnant! Even if I got married straight away people would count the months till the baby’s birth and I would bring shame on my family. I wrote to my brother Bill to see if he could get me a job up north or in Melbourne where I could disappear until after my baby’s birth and adoption [I must have seen a 4 Corners program on single mothers and Adoption..] Bill’s reply was intercepted by my mother, who was devastated by the news.

    By this time I was no longer just thinking of the trouble I was in but also of my baby and how much I loved it. Phil and I were splitting up and there seemed no way I could keep the baby as there was no Sole Parent Pension in those days.

    My mother arranged for me to go to Newcastle and stay with her cousin Meg whose husband had just retired to Hobby farm and had about 12 cows to milk. It was a sad and lonely pregnancy but my Aunty Meg and Uncle Allen were lovely people who never shamed me.

     

    No one suggested a way for me to keep the baby. Adoption was the “only” and “best” plan offered. It would give the baby security and a good two parent home and remove the stigma of illegitimacy. It would hide my parent’s shame. It would give me a new start. It also broke my heart.

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