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Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 70 - 01 of 02 (Raw)

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Speaker:
Trish Francie
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Average
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IN 00:00:00 OUT 00:33:14
ns1:author_artist
Trish FitzSimons
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Griffith Film School
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2000-09-03T00:00:00
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70 - 01 of 02
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3 September 2000
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Timecode refers to tapes 70_BC_SP Topics in Bold
ns1:infile_title
INTERVIEW WITH FRANCIE HAMMOND
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Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 70 - 01 of 02
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Laura Duncan Pioneers
ns1:notes
PTA refers to Part A of Tape 70
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Copyright in individual works within this collection belongs to their authors or publishers. Recorded creative work created by permission of the copyright holder.
Contributor:
Francie Hammond
Description
Interview with Francie Hammond. Part 1 of 2. Some water damage evident.
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70_BC_SP_PTA_HAMMOND
part of:
Title
Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 70 - 01 of 02
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36228
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70_BC_SP_PTA_HAMMOND-raw.txt
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70_BC_SP_PTA_HAMMOND#Raw
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Raw

70_BC_SP_PTA_HAMMOND-raw.txt — 35 KB

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                INTERVIEW WITH FRANCIE HAMMOND
                            3 September 2000
                    Timecode refers to tapes 70_BC_SP
                             Topics in Bold
                        TF = Trish FH = Francie

SIDE A


     - No. 70. This is DAT Tape No. 26. It’s the 3rd September 2000. Trish
TF
     FitzSimons recording. Julie Hornsey on camera. And we’re interviewing
     Francie Hammond at her house in Cleveland for the Channels of History
     Project.      70_BC_SP

TF   Francie, can you tell me where and when you were born –

FH   Yes.

TF   And what your name was when you were born?

FH   Birth
                   Yes. Well I was born in Brisbane and ah on the 5th April 1926,
     22:01:25:05
     my mother died when I was born. She was Mary Francis and they reversed
     the name for me. I’m Francis Mary Hammond. My father was George
     Hammond and – you know, one of the Hammond family ….. …..

TF   So your mother came to Brisbane to give birth.

FH   Yes.

TF   But your parents – how, well how long, how long had your parents been in the
     Channel Country or how, how did you family come to be connected to the
     Channel Country?

FH   Pioneers
     22:01:55:12   Well my great grandparents and grandparents came up from
     New South Wales. They, sort of, there was – different ones came. There were
     the Tullys, the Duracks, the Hammonds, and the Hammonds I think were one
     of the, about the second family to came up.       And that was my great
     grandparents and then my grandparents came too, about the same time I think,
     or a bit after, and my grandparents – oh great grandparents, took up a place
     called Tennim ? – it’s owned by the Tullys now. They’ve been sort of, ah
     relations, and - or distant relations, close fam – friends I always say. And they
     own it now and then, my grandparents had Hammond Downs which was
     across further along, you know, the Channel Country. And then my moth –
     my aunt and father were born there. Well I think my grandmother was down
     in New South Wales when my father was born, but one of the things that I’ve
     always remember – my aunt saying – that when the women came up, the
     families, pioneering families came up, they’d all come to one particular place
     along the way. I’m not sure, and they’d have their baby and they’d go on then.
     Baby and all. 22:03:08:12

TF   So the, she was suggesting that there was a particular place –

FH   Yes.

TH   That they had their babies.

FH   Kidds
     22:03:14:20    Yes. One, one of their friends, you know, one of, one of the
     clan or friends would, had this place there, sort of probably about half way
     along. I’m not sure now where it was because as I say, I didn’t listen properly
     but um that was, that, that, that was sort of a you know, they’d have their baby
     there with this particular friend and they’d come on. And my aunt was one of
     the – I think she was the first girl born out there but I’m not sure. But then –
     and my father was born down in New South Wales. My grandmother must’ve
     gone down there to have him. He was the third of the family I think, or the
     fourth. Another one died. And um then there were, there were four aunts and
     my father and they were all, you know, brought up out there. And then my
     mother came up, my aunt married ah James Kidd, you know, that you’ve
     heard of and they had the five children and then my mother came up as a
     governess to these children and met my father who was at Hammond Downs,
     the next property, and married him. And they were married happily for eight
     years and then I was born and she went down to, to Brisbane and um she died
     having me. So that’s how we came to be. ….. …..
TF   So your father’s family then had been in the Channel Country for many
     generations –

FH   Well two –

TF   But your mother -

FH   Pioneers
     22:04:41:10     I was the third – I think we were the third generation. My, me
     – I and the Kidds, were about the third generation but there are other
     generations born since. And I think it adds up to about seven generations if
     you count the little ones.

TF   And, and your mum had come from Brisbane?

FH   Yes.

TF   So what were the kind of – you obviously never knew your mother –

FH   No.

TF   But, but from the older women that you did know, what was the picture of, of
     life for pioneering women – like the women of –

FH   Mmmmm.

TF   Going back to your father’s family –

FH   22:05:10:15     Yeah, pretty harsh. Well my father and aunt talked of their
     childhoods you know, and ah what – as I – um like the foods had to be brought
     up, supplies had to be brought up from New South Wales and it took weeks to
     get there and the flour would be all weevils when they got there and I
     remember saying it was – excuse me –

TF   I’m just going to start that again and then we’ll get it –

FH   Oh. Um, where was I? Ah –

TF   Where I said how were things – you started to talk about the weevilly flour.
FH   Yes.

TF   You can just start it again.

FH   Race Relations: Chinese

     22:05:43:02     Yes, well as I say, it was very harsh and there were – the
     supplies had to come up from Wilcannia in New South Wales and it took
     weeks, or probably months to get there and the flour would be full of weevils
     and the – at one stage they had some candles brought up and they’d all melted
     together and things like that and I remember my aunt saying it was ooh, a big
     deal when I opened up a tin of treacle. And – but she said there was a Chinese
     gardener near, or on the place. I think probably all the places had Chinese
     gardeners and they generally had good vegetables.       Probably only in the
     winter because vegetables didn’t grow well in the summer. But you know,
     and – and ooh, they’d be short of meat at times and, and the cattle – sometimes
     when they sent them to be sold, the prices’d be so low they’d have to send
     money after them to cover the cost. So that was another thing at times.
     Money was awfully short and food was short and you know, they had – I think
     they had a pretty harsh childhood but they all grew up into lovely people.
     Yes.

TF   So what happened to you then with your mother not alive?           Who, who
     provided that kind of mothering role for you?

FH   22:06:54:16    My aunt that I was talking about.       Well I was with my
     grandmother in the city for a time and um I came up when I was about two. I
     came up with my cousin. One of the ah daughters and my aunt’s husband,
     Uncle Jim I always called him, and I came up to Quilpie and went out west
     and I stayed there ever after.

TF   So, it’s a complicated family structure yours.

FH   Yes.

TF   How – what was the relation of the, the person that brought you up? So your
     father stayed in the city then, did he?
FH   City Girls Go Bush

     22:07:27:08    No, no, no. He’s, he had the property out west where he …..
     and ran it and you know, that was the family living. But he married again and
     unfortunately his second wife kind of you know, didn’t take to me and she
     didn’t take to the bush. She stayed on in the city and brought up my half
     brothers and um then um later on, after the boys had grown up, she went out
     west for a while but my father was ailing by that time and he came down to
     the city and my brothers took over the place, Hammond Downs, but it has
     been since sold and they’re living – well, one is down here and another one is
     out at Quilpie. And ah, oh dear! No, and but my mum – most you know, sort
     of the ones I was really connected with, was my – well my cousins and aunts
     at Mayfield, that …..Meg and Bub, the ones I was talking about before.

TF   So it was your father’s sister?

FH   Yes.

TF   That brought you up?

FH   Yes. My father’s sister. Yes.

TF   Right.

FH   And her daughters. And they used to say poor little Francie. She hasn’t got a
     mother. But what I had amounted to four mothers.

TF   So how much older than you were these cousins?

FH   22:08:33:10    Aah well the eldest was 23 when I was born and the youngest
     was, was ah a boy and he was 14 so sort of I was quite a bit younger than them
     but they said said they always looked on me as a little sister and I didn’t know
     the difference between a sister and a cousin. All those cousins anyway.

TF   And so, do you remember, do you think, arriving at, at Mayfield?

FH   22:08:57:12    I do. Well I remember arriving in Quilpie. It was quite funny.
     Um I don’t remember being on the train but I remember we went to the hotel
     to spend the night and it was a hot night evidently and my cousin Meg ah put a
     mattress out on the verandah of the hotel to sleep on and I was sort of dancing
     around all excited. The novelty of sleeping on the floor on the verandah.
     Getting in everyone’s way. And then the next thing I know, I must’ve gone to
     sleep and I heard it raining and I hadn’t heard rain on a galvanised iron roof
     before and I didn’t know what it was. I had a mental picture of little black
     apple seeds falling all over the roof. I was what’s that? And she said it’s rain.
     Go to sleep. And I went back to sleep and then the next thing I remember was
     in a car driving on out, out west you know, and I said when will we be out
     west? And Meg said oh, we’re out west now. We’re going to Mayfield to
     Aunty Fanny’s place. And Uncle Jim, who was a Scotsman, said Aunty
     Fanny’ll be pleased to see a little family won’t she, you know? So I know that
     is an authentic memory because he’s the only person I ever heard one little girl
     referred to as a family. But it most probably is a Scots expression.

TF   And can you describe with child’s eyes what Mayfield was like?

FH   22:10:11:16    As a child, yes. Well it sort of, it became home to me. Well it
     was – it was – there was lovely spreading verandahs and, and white roofs that
     you could see from a distance and ah, all the garden was – what I thought was
     the lawn, you know, there was a lawn – at the edge of the lawn was the, a um
     wooden log and I thought that was the lawn. I was so small. And I remember
     sitting there with my Aunt saying when will I be three? And she said well,
     what she was trying to explain I think was it was three more months to my
     birthday. And she said there’ll be three new moons ‘til your birthday. And I
     had the mental picture of three lovely new moons shining over the roof for my
     birthday. I really thought - I must’ve thought I was a VIP.

TF   And so how did education go for you out there Francie?

FH   Education
     22:11:02:22    Well I was sort of one of the earlier ones for the
     Correspondence School.       They had Correspondence School and I did
     Correspondence School until I was about 14 and then went to boarding school.
     That was the norm, you know? You’d do Correspondence School until you
     were considered old enough to go to boarding school, and I, I was 14, which
     was a bit too old actually, but ah as I – you know, I was a cosseted little girl.
     They didn’t want to part with me.

TF   So who oversaw your education, at Correspondence School?

FH   22:11:30:16    Well first it was a, a dear old great aunt who was staying with
     us. Aunt Anthea. She was, she was – had what they called a good method. It
     must’ve been a very good method because in those days, they had these awful
     little primers they were called. Little blue books, you know? That was the,
     what they called First Prep, Second Prep and um, oh they were the dreariest
     little books. I don’t know how they kept them on for so long because they
     were, they were very old fashioned in my day and um but she could somehow
     make all these dull little stories interesting.    And ah but one thing I do
     remember, and I don’t know if you’ll care to be bothered with this, but she
     was teaching me to make T’s And I was doing T’s and they looked like long
     lanky men in big hats. And I said they look like men don’t they, in hats? And
     she said yeah, yes, and mine were falling all over the place so I said they look
     drunk and she said oh no Francie, you mustn’t say ‘drunk’. It isn’t ladylike.
     You should say ‘intoxicated’. There I was at five or six telling everybody –
     like going around telling everybody they shouldn’t say ‘drunk’. They should
     say ‘intoxicated’.

TF   So where do you reckon you’d seen drunk men?

FH   22:12:40:00       Oh I don’t know. I think I probably imagined it or had it
     described or something because I don’t think I ever did. And then – oh! What
     was I going to say? Then sort of my aunt, well she went back to her place –
     she was just staying us, with us for a couple of months I think, and my cousins
     took over and taught me, you know? But I got way behind my class for a
     variety of reasons and when I went to boarding school, I was way behind my
     class, and I was a naturally gawky girl and, and sort of it was a, it was quite an
     endurance test.

TF   Did you run across – were there other small children that you would see
     regularly?
FH   22:13:17:08    Ah well not – oh, now and then, you know? The – visiting
     children. And then other children – yes – now and then, you know? Made the
     most of it but I was, I was awkward with other children for that reason I think,
     you know? I’d sort of – I’d play with dolls and then it, didn’t occur to me
     when I was playing with other children that they wouldn’t have minds and
     ideas of their own like dolls.

TF   So you were mostly with older –

FH   Yes. With grown-ups.

TF   People.

FH   Yes. Yes.

TF   And would you describe it as an isolated life? The world of your childhood?

FH   22:13:51:06    Not really because there were people coming and going all the
     time. It was, you know, a very lively place. But ah probably rather isolated
     from other children, you know? But not from grown-ups.

TF   So what would have – what would’ve comprised the whole kind of, all the
     people on Mayfield Station, and I’m talking here about workers, family?

FH   Kidds/Mayfield Ladies

     22:14:12:00    Yes. Well there was my aunt and my Uncle Jim but he died
     when I was about five I think, and then there were my three cousins, my girl
     cousins. Kit, Meg and Bub. And two boy cousins, Jim and Tom. And then a
     man that worked on the place called Snowy. And he was, oh he was a very – a
     lovely bloke you know? He was always teasing me and that, you know. Um,
     oh that sounds silly, ah but he, he really was, you know? He was great fun.
     And then my father. He was about – I think about 27 miles across the river
     and he used to come every now and then, you know? At least once a week, to
     come and see me. And I’d talk to him every day on the phone, and so um well
     there were lots of grown-ups and they were all loving and cosseting and all
     that and –
TF   So you’d, so you’d talk to your father on the phone?

FH   Yes.

TF   What sort of telephone was it?

FH   22:15:01:16      Ah well party line. What they called a party line. You’d brrrrr
     – wind the handle, and so many rings for the different places, and it was pretty
     old fashioned but it worked, you know? Perfectly well. You’d could hold a
     good conversation. One of the things I remember when I was a bit bigger, I
     said to Meg, wouldn’t it be nice if you could see the people you were talking
     to on the phone? I was then about ooh ten or eleven I think. And she said yes
     well they’re going to have that one of these days. It’s called television. But
     they say it won’t be in in Australia for another ten years. Well somewhere in
     between the war came because it was more than ten years but it did come but
     we still don’t talk to people on the phone with television.

TF   So was there a sense – did the outside world impinge much on Mayfield?
     Like did your um aunt and cousins keep in touch with kind of um State and
     National and –

FH   22:15:55:18      Oh yes. Well we had the wireless. Yes. Everyone – you
     know, we’re never isolated or kind of way back people and you know, when
     they got the chance they’d go for a holiday and come back and, and ah but my
     aunts, or my cousins rather, ah they did a lot of work on the place, you know?
     The riding and all that. And at one stage, when I was about seven or eight, the
     two, the two younger of the girls, they were at – camped out for about three
     weeks. Pulling out bogged sheep with their brothers and they’d, they’d um
     you know, it was really hard work for them and I can hear my aunt say they
     can’t get any men to stay there. It’s too constant. And we used to drive out,
     my aunt and other cousins. We used to drive out there. There was a little hut
     there where they were camped you see. The girls’ camped in the hut and the
     men outside. But um every night, every evening we’d drive out and take out
     supper for them, or dinner, you know. And I can remember sitting up in the
     back of the car surrounded by saucepans and lovely smells and ah we’d get out
     then and I, I used to think it was lovely, sitting up in this little hut having our
     tea with them all. An um but it, it must’ve been pretty hard on them, you
     know, because it was hard work.

TF   Was there any work on Mayfield that, that would get defined as kind of men’s
     work that women shouldn’t do or, or were these ….. doing –

FH   Gender Relations

     22:17:09:16    Mmm, I don’t know whether – well they were working as hard
     as the men. One thing they were never allowed to was that the um marking,
     you know, which amounts to the castrating of the sheep or the cattle or
     anything like that. It was just – girls weren’t allowed to that. And um I
     suppose they’d be – well it would be taken for granted now but in those days it
     just wasn’t nice, you know.

TF   But other than that, they would be –

FH   Oh yes.

TF   ….. ……

FH   Yes.

TF   Was that unusual? Was that considered, were they considered unusual –

FH   Braided Channels/Laura Duncan

     22:17:47:00    No, not out there. There were other places too, you know.
     Friends, oh quite often they did. Yes. Ah know, but a friend of ours, Laura
     Duncan, she used to go out into the cattle camp and, at night, and Bub went
     out to keep her company one time and, and she and Bub used to like, every
     night, you know, if they were holding cattle, mustering them or anything like
     that, someone would have to ride around the cattle, and she and Laura, they’d
     take this turn. They’d go around together you know, and they’d have to – one
     of the things you have to do when you’re riding around cattle at night, is to
     sing or whistle or make a noise as you go so as not to frighten them. I mean if
     you hear the noise – ah hear a sudden noise, they’d take fright and stampede.
     But um this keep it going. That was one of the things they had to do. But they
     had, they would have the first watch like, and the men would take the later
     ones.

TF   We’ve heard …… with Laura Duncan’s niece and nephew on Wednesday.

FH   Oh well.

TF   Alice’s children.

FH   Oh yes. Yes.

TF   So we’ve, we’ve heard quite a lot about Laura.

FH   22:18:44:20    Oh well, yes. Oh well you know about Laura. And she, well
     she and Bub were great friends. Oh well she was a great friend of all the
     family but she and Bub were particular friends you know?

TF   And like Laura, um none of your cousins ever married did they?

FH   No. I think they were too busy.

TF   Somebody said to us – I forget who – of the kind of, of the Mayfield ladies,
     something like they would no man, no man would be good enough for them
     or, or –

FH   No. No.

TF   Words something to that effect.

FH   22:19:16:16    It wasn’t that. No, I don’t know. No. They just sort of – you
     know, I’ve said, they were too busy and, and out there, practically all the men
     were either your relations or you know, too old or too young or too something.

TF   Because there would only have been a few families, most of whom were
     related –

FH   Yes.

TF   Is that –
FH   Yes, sort of. Yes. Um at that time, yes, it would have been.

TF   And were there Aboriginal people living on um Mayfield?

FH   Race Relations: Aboriginal and White Kids

     22:19:47:20    There were when, before I came, or when the, when the girls
     and those were, were small. Ah you know, they were, there was a couple
     there. And they sort of used to look after them. They’d go out with them and,
     and um you know, wander around the bush and, and catch fish and all that and
     they, they’d say, oh they were lovely.

TF   So just one couple?

FH   22:20:07:00    Yes, that were there then. Yes. And I think, well I think they
     both died. Ah that’s right. I remember them saying when the, when the ah
     when the woman died, the wife died, the old man – he came up to the house
     and he was sort of howling all the way. Crying all the way.

TF   And other than this man Snowy, were there other workers, non-Aboriginal
     workers?

FH   22:20:32:20    Yeah, well from time to time, yes.             There were other
     intermittent ones. He was the permanent one. He, he came there oh before I
     was born and he was a lad and um he stayed on until he died. It, it was sort of
     just part of the place, you know.

TF   And so he was a single man?

FH   22:20:49:08    Mmm. Mmm. He was a nice old chap. He had a heart attack
     and um oh, when was that? Somewhere in the 1950s and he would’ve come
     there as I say, before I was there. Before I was born. And um that was one of
     the things he – you know, it must’ve been two years before I came there or
     two years before I was born, because he always insisted that he was just two
     years younger, older than I was. Which I didn’t believe.

TF   And how about – I think it’s true that in the ‘30s there were some terrible dust
     storms out there. Do you remember?
FH   Duststorm
     22:21:29:06    Oh well there’ve always been dust storms. Um, ooh, ah right,
     right up until recent years – about – because there was one particular one, I’ll
     show you a photo of it later – it came through Windorah and then it came on
     to Mayfield and this – I think it was the worst one I remember. We looked out
     and there was great copper coloured cloud. The sun was shining on the, on the
     dust as it was coming up in a great copper coloured cloud and it went over the
     sun and the world went black. It, well we went into the rooms and shut them.
     It was dark in the rooms and um when it was over the sand was on the floor in
     waves. It was just like beach sand. That, that was the worst one as I say I
     remember but there have been other ones similar to that, but not quite as bad.

TF   What year would that have been?

FH   I’m not sure of the year. It would’ve been somewhere in the – in the ‘50s I
     think. 50s or 60s? 50s I think. Yes.

TF   Ann Kidd I think was saying that um she thought that since you’d, you
     stopped having sheep at Mayfield –

FH   Yeah. Yeah.

TF   That the um vegetation grew on to the sandhills and that that might have been
     part of why there were fewer dust storms.

FH   22:22:43:14    Oh well there’ve been quite good seasons out there in recent
     years but see there would be further – that dust would be coming from further
     west again too. She could be right though because she’s been there since I
     left.

TF   How about floods? How did flood –

FH   Oh well –

TF   From part of the –

FH   Floods
     22:23:09:06    Yes, well floods. Um that was a good flood. There’ve been
bigger ones than that. I think I described it when only the tops of the trees and
the, and the sandhills were out. And I remember we were up in Sandy’s Plain
looking down on this spreading water and ah oh floods, floods are really
exciting, when there was a really big one you know. The house at Mayfield
was sort of oh, on the ridge as I say, above the flat – the spread of the flood
water and every morning you’d wake up and see the flood coming a bit higher
and shining in the sun. And at one stage it came into the corner of the yard.
We were beginning to think it might come right to the house, but it didn’t.
And um there were um one time, there ooh, this was when I was going back to
boarding school. It was in 19, 1941 I think it was, and we had to row across
the Cooper 17 miles because you sort of rowed in and out of the channels as
the water was spread right out. But you had to row in and out of the channels
to get across and um it was, ooh, it took us sort of, I think, most of the day.
We, there were several of us you know, kids going back to boarding school
and other people going and we, we – there two boats. A big one and another
one and it took two or three men to row them, you know. And it had to be just
right – the time for – if it was too low, you couldn’t have gone all the way,
because the, there’d be land up in between, and if it was too high or if there
was a wind blowing, it would blow up waves that could’ve swamped the boat
if the boat – see the boat was well-loaded. And ah so ah we all went in that –
and oh, it was great fun. One of the things I remember, we rowed over ah it
was early morning and then when we got to the Cooper itself, we were rowing
between the lines of the trees like little mountain ranges, and we rowed over
this, this part of the Cooper that – well this sort of a ….. part ah under the trees
where we’d camp. We’d have a, we’d had a sort of a little holiday camp there.
Whole - all the kids of the district under a camp and a tarpaulin and we’d, you
camped under the trees. We rowed over this part where it was and you know,
the water was well, way above. And another time later, again this would’ve
been in the ‘60s, late ‘60s I think it was, there was, was this really big flood
and there were people being rescued in helicopters and brought and some
came and stayed with us and there was a man who got appendicitis and um the
Flying Doctor plane couldn’t land there. The airstrip was too small so Sandy
went out in his plane and brought him in to, to the Flying Doctor’s plane was
in Windorah and we were all waiting there on the airstrip and getting anxious,
     you know. It was getting dark and the plane hadn’t come and Ann, Ann and
     Sandy were engaged at that time and she was there waiting too and then being
     a nurse of course, she got on the plane and helped the man. But the poor man,
     when he got off the plane, he looked so sick. We didn’t know him for a start,
     you know. He was, was really sick and he had to row to this strip, airstrip, and
     his, he was too sick to row and his 13 year old son had to row him to the
     airstrip so, for where Sandy could pick him up. So it was, you know, quite an
     adventure.      22:26:10:16

TF   So there was nothing – floods were no disaster. They were –

FH   No. No. They came –

TF   Welcomed?

FH   Women/Land/Floods
     22:26:15:20     They came slowly and they spread out and everybody pretty
     well had their houses built up you know, out of flood waters reach. Some
     were flooded. There were some places and – at that time. Others, you know,
     they moved their houses. But it was, as I say, it was really exciting. I used to
     love a flood.

TF   How about the drought? What was –

FH   Um –

TF   The worst drought you experienced?

FH   Women/Land/Droughts
     22:26:37:00     Well, they – I doubt know that there was a worst one. The first
     one that I remember as a bad one was when I was 13 and it went on for three
     years and, and you know everyone felt it badly but ah then there was another
     one – oooh, when was the last one? It must’ve been in the ‘60s and it seemed
     to go on and on and on. You know, and you felt – there’s an awful sort of a
     feeling about drought. You kind of feel all dried up inside and I remember
     while it was still on, I was down in the city and I went to see The Sound of
     Music so that’s about the era that it was. When The Sound of Music was
     popular. When it was first in.

TF   ’65. … Yeah.

FH   22:27:14:16      Yeah. Was it? Yes. And I remember seeing, you remember
     that scene in The Sound of Music when she was dancing in the summer house
     and the rain’s pouring down? Well it brought the tears to my eyes. The sight
     of all this glorious rain.

TF   So how, how would life change during the drought? You were saying you felt
     all dried up inside.

FH   Yes. Well everyone was worried and the, the stock were dying and the place
     was dreary and ah you know, sort of it was just a chronic state of worry and ah
     yes, I don’t know –

TF   How about the, the drought of the early ‘80s? How did it compare?

FH   Yes, it was a – yeah, they were all pretty bad. And ah early ‘80s – no, we
     came down here in the early ‘80s. Mmm.

TF   I’m thinking –

FH   I don’t remember it.

TF   Of during that, that Big Country (documentary) –

FH   Mmm. Oh yes. That’s right. Yes. Well that was fairly bad but not all that
     bad. Not as bad as the one I was talking about, I don’t think. No. It was a –

TF   So tell me, tell me then about going to boarding school Francie. Where did
     you go to boarding school?

FH   22:28:18:20      Down here in Brisbane. To Lourdes Hill and um as I said, I
     didn’t, I hadn’t been to school at all until I was nearly 14 and I was behind the
     class for an assortment of reasons that, that oh it’s too complicated to explain
     now, and um there I was, nearly 14, among the 10 and 11 year olds. And I
     didn’t board for a start. I, I went as a day scholar for a few months and then
     went back out west, and then went boarding the next year. But ah I felt so, so
     disgraced among these kids and I was naturally awkward and ohhh, it was
     pretty horrible.

TF   And how did you respond to the city? Was that –

FH   Spinster
     22:29:05:04    Yeah. Well the city didn’t worry me because you know, we
     used to come down here fairly often and stay with our relations and you know,
     have holidays and that. That didn’t bother me. But at that stage, I think with
     the, with the business of, of boarding – oh not boarding. I wasn’t boarding
     then. But sort of the business of trying to sort of fit in at school and all that, I
     really began to get a sort of claustrophobia from the city. But that was um you
     know – then, then the next year I went boarding and that was sort of bad again
     in a different form. And as I say, I felt as though I was behind my class. I was
     naturally awkward, an awful gawk, and um it made me terribly shy and
     awkward in every way, you know? I took a long time to sort of be able to mix
     with people my own age. Even young adults. And I’ve sort of always had the
     feeling that when I was with other adults that I was – sometimes I felt like a
     nuisance child or – and I didn’t know what to say and that was you know –
     I’ve only begun – I’m beginning to sound like it now, trying to explain things,
     but I’ve only begun to become less awkward in recent years. I’ve, I’ve, I’ve
     said one time, I’m probably the only person alive that went from gawky
     adolescence to staid middle age without an intervening period of joyous youth.
            22:30:32:12

TF   So how long did you spend at school? At Lourdes Hill?

FH   22:30:36:20    Mmm. A couple of years actually – all told I, I got down and,
     and see I’d been behind my class. I was 17 when I left and I thought well I
     couldn’t face coming back to school at 18 and so I, I left then.

TF   And what did you have in mind? What, what view of your future did you
     have when you were leaving school and how did it then unfold?
FH   Writing
     22:31:01:20    Well it didn’t. I had a view. Well I wanted to be a writer, but
     ah I got nothing but rejection slips and then I got a ah sort of a – not mental
     block – what do they call it? Writers block. And then oh well, you know, I
     just settled down out west and I did, I tried to write for a time and then I ah, oh
     that was right. I was asked to take over the, the ah religious instruction class
     for the children and I sort of was always making stuff for them in the class and
     that, stories and pictures and that, and I think that somehow absorbed my
     creative abilities. And then when I came down here, I decided to take a course
     in Children’s Writing and ah I did fairly well at that and I’m trying to write a
     kids book now.

TF   Good on you! Where had that dream or being a writer come from?

FH   22:31:50:10    Well I don’t know. I always seemed to have a sort of instinct
     to write stories. When I was, when I was a little kid, the first thing I did –
     when I was starting to write, I thought yes, I’ll write a story. I sat down and I
     put Tom is a good dog. Then I didn’t - ….. …… there’s no other words I
     know to spell. So I gave it up for a while.

TF   I’ve got a daughter who’s nearly 6 who’s just at that stage now.

FH   22:32:15:20    Yeah. And then, and then I’ve had – there’s an old exercise
     book floating around here somewhere. I think we brought it down. But ah I
     don’t know where it is. And it’s got all sorts of little drawings and stories in
     it. I used to draw things, you know, like the Children’s Comics. Well you
     probably don’t know the sort of Children’s Comics that they had in my day
     with little dressed up dogs and that, and I had all those and then I had stories
     that I tried to write in it. And, and in my terrible handwriting. And I don’t
     know where it is now but I’d be ashamed to show it to you if I did anyway.

TF   Had you known other young women to write? Like did you for instance know
     Alice Duncan – Duncan?
FH   No. Well she was older again that I was, you see, so she was you know
     writing. No I don’t know – though my mother’s side of the family were all
     journalists and writers and that so I think I got the instinct from them.

TF   Terry Cavanagh’s Dad –

FH   Yes. He, he was –

TF   He was editor of The Courier Mail.

FH   22:33:10:10    Yeah, and The Sunday Mail and he’s retired now and living up
     north. We were up, up in Isa, went up there and stayed with him. Yes, he, he
     was and, and my grandfather on my mother’s side. He was, he was a um,
     what they call you? Was one of the bards of Ireland back in his youth, you
     know, and then he, he came to Australia and he did a lot of writing here, so I
     think I get it from there. So it was just that – I know, the first thing I’d always
     wanted to do, when I first came to it, a typewriter I thought ooh gee, this is
     lovely. I can write a story on it, but I didn’t have time. It was somebody
     else’s typewriter. 22:33:46:00

TF   So –

JH   ….. change tapes …..

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