Did you know it took two days for a round trip to Horsham? Or that there were two groceries stores, a blacksmith and a post office in Noradjuha?
What a treat you are in for! Jean Taylor born Trotter lived on the Natimuk Creek all her life. Here she is, interviewed by Gianna Sudholz, who is currently working on a Sudholz family book.
Laura Jean TAYLOR nee TROTTER
90 Years Young
(photo Jean Taylor – May 2019)
Born: 19/12/1929 along the creek in Noradjuha
Parents: Harold TROTTER & Chrissy WEST
Siblings: Letty, Margaret, Joyce, John & Max
Married: 14/04/1950 in Natimuk Methodist Church
Children: Murray, Lynn, Diane & Tracey
Mum had me on her own as I was born along the creek in Noradjuha. Dad went to work at Northfields near Noradjuha and the night before they went to somebody’s place for tea in the horse and gig and they hit a stump coming home which threw mum out of the gig. She was alright when dad went to work the next day but as the morning progressed she walked to my Aunty Myrtle’s down by the bowling club to tell her she was in labour. Anyway she didn’t make it to my aunty’s and I was born six weeks early.
I didn’t actually go to school in Natimuk but went to all different schools around the area as dad was a labourer and shearer and so we moved around with him. I mainly went to school in Noradjuha. I even went to Lucindale but I actually started school at Haven before going to Noradjuha. I didn’t have a good education. I was the eldest of six children and in those days the eldest was kept home to help. Mum had twins the last lot and when they were born I hardly went to school after that. If my parents went anywhere they would take one with them and I was left home with the other one to look after. I’m so sad now because I can’t do all my own paperwork. My daughters help me with that.
I remember the mud roads from here (1 Lake Ave, Natimuk) down to the river, not that we went on them very much. If mum and dad went to Horsham the kids were left home. It took two days by horse and gig. They used to put their horse at the back of the Bull and Mouth Hotel in Horsham. It was the same here putting your horse at the back of the Natimuk National hotel. When we went into Natimuk we would put our horse and gig at the back stables of Schurmann’s shop (69 Main St). You’d leave your horse with a nose bag and then do your shopping. We would mainly buy Manchester at Schurmann’s shop. They stocked haberdashery, hardware and groceries. You could buy anything from underwear, jumpers, clothes, material. I would buy all my material there because I used to make all my kids clothes. The two Miss Schurmann’s were just lovely ladies and so helpful in the shop. We shopped at Noradjuha for our groceries as they had two groceries stores, blacksmiths and post office.
From left: Laura Jean Trotter (Jean Taylor) with her siblings Letty, Margaret, Joyce, John and Max.
Dad used to bring his harnesses, dog collars and things like that which needed fixing to Mr Hodges Saddlery shop (74 Main St).
Mr Jack Lackmann’s butcher shop (72 Main St) next to the saddlery used to deliver. You’d leave your order every week and they would deliver your meat to the front gate in a horse and cart. Jory’s baker shop (95 Main St) was the same. The other bakery was Wilkin’s (77 Main St). I remember Dr Snow lived there (1939-1941). It was always a doctor’s house. Dr Snow delivered my younger sister and the twins.
This house (1 Lake Ave) was build by Shammy Bousfield’s father and they were the undertakers here at this place. Lance Cross once lived here and so did Mrs Hahn before us.
Old Kiefel’s Shop
If us kids ever went to Natimuk our treat was a thriponey (threepence) ice-cream from Kirsopp’s shop ‘Kia Ora’ (75-81 Main St). We thought it was marvellous. We used to go to Kieffel’s (97 Main St) to get our hair cut. Old Mr Kieffel nicked my ear once, so I never liked him after that. Old Mr Kieffel used to cut the children’s hair and his son used to do the men. Next to the hair salon the Kieffel’s had a gift shop, as well as a wine bar out the back. I knew all about that bar as dad used to have a drink or two from time to time. Old Mr Knight’s shop (56 Main St) was a grocery store where mum used to give him butter and eggs in exchange for groceries in return. We always had a lot of chooks and cows. I learnt to milk a cow at five years old and had to do that job before I went to school in the mornings. When Mr Knight’s son Alan came home from the second world war he opened a grocery shop where Dr Grenfell lives (87 Main St). I can just remember there used to by a dress-makers shop by old Mr Knights shop too.
The tall silos in Station Street were built when I was about eight years old (1937). We used to drive past the building and us kids were fascinated and would count how many brick sections they had done each time we drove past.
I’ve always known the rotunda as being a memorial for the soldiers. I know when my husband Bill was a Foreman on the Shire he did a lot of work having the rotunda restored when it was in disrepair. I remember when they built the RSL Hall (68-70 Main St) because the ladies and I would make lunch and afternoon tea for the men who built it (1954).
The Natimuk sheep yards are just down the road from our house and there they had an open sheep dip which used to be a horse dip. I had to keep a close eye on the children not to wander that way. Farmers from all over would drive big mobs of sheep to dip them. And on sale days it used to be like Burke Street. Sheep came from everywhere. It was all done by foot in those days with dogs and horses. It was a big event getting sheep through Natimuk once a week.
Dad used to get jobs done at Kubale’s Foundry (111 Main St) and that’s where he got the horseshoes done. Hickson’s was the other blacksmiths shop (80-82 Main St).
I had a go at playing tennis one day when I first came to Natimuk. I was working at ‘Southwood’ and Rudy dropped me off because he was going to play lawn bowls. One woman said “we would have won if we didn’t have to teach that new learner” meaning me. I never went back on the tennis court. Then many years later when Bill and I went to play seniors carpet bowls, the very same thing happened. So I never played sport.
Our neighbour Stan Sudholz (‘Fairview’) still had a horse team when I moved into this house. They used to sow the paddocks behind with the horses. It was called the horse paddock. They even had ponies. Murray was about three years old (1955) and one day I couldn’t find him in the yard. We didn’t have real good fences in those days. I looked up the back paddock and saw the horses all standing around and there was Murray right in the middle of the big draft horses. Lucky the horses were nice and quiet in nature. I stood at the fence and calmly called Murray over so as not to startle the horses. Murray came and wasn’t worried one bit.
Bill Taylor. Bill joined the army in Hamilton at seventeen. Bill always wore his hat tilted to the side, which was not allowed. Not that it stopped him! Jean first met Bill when he came back from Darwin at 21 years of age. She thought he was a “big stuck up thing!”
While Bill and I were courting we were on our way to a ball at Mitre on a motorbike. Of course we went along the back roads and we slipped off. We brushed ourselves down and continued on our way to the ball.
We lived in Grass Flat for a year before we got married in 1950 and then moved into this house (1 Lake Ave). When the train came into the station we could hear it, it was so loud. It would “chug, chug” when it had a heavy load. Dad used to bring us to the station to see Wirths Circus when they came on the train. Dad would say to us kids “if you’re all good we’ll go down and see Queenie the elephant unload the train. Queenie would help the people put the big marquee up. Dad never took us to the circus though, his sister took us. The next day dad would take us back to the station to watch Queenie load the train again. It was magnificent. In those times the circus came every year. Even when my children were young. They use to be at the show grounds and then in front of the commission houses along the creek (Lake Rd).
I remember vising the Lange’s quite often when they lived at Carstairs (46-48 Main St). It was a boarding house I would describe as big and rambly, like a rabbit warren. There was another boarding house owned by the Brays (117 Main St). Old Mr and Mrs Hill took over and managed it. They used to have a lot of boarders, mainly men because the staff from the bank and the post office and places like that used to stay. It had nice little rooms and Mrs Hill would do all the cooking and cleaning.
Jean at seventeen.
When we were young we used to go to a ball every fortnight at the Mechanic’s Institute Hall. They used to have a Catholic Ball, the Church Ball, the Fire Brigade Ball, everything had a ball. And it was a ball and they were big days. Mrs Taylor, Jim Taylor’s mother, we used to call her “Tay”, she always catered and made the coffee in the copper. People used to bring the milk in. Tay could make the best milk coffee ever! It was beautiful. We all used to help her and take food.
I can remember when Con’s Fish and Chip shop opened in Natimuk (75-81 Main St). Murray was a toddler and I was pregnant with Lyn (1955). I got up in the morning, Bill was away working with the Shire so I was always on my own here. I felt awful that morning and couldn’t settle to do anything so I got Murray in the pusher to go for a walk up the street and we ended up at the new fish and chip shop and bought some to eat. Con’s was in the row of shops where the current post office is now. There was Con’s, Wilkin’s Baker shop, Russell Petrie had the bike shop, Miss Watkins had the shoe shop and there was also a taylor who made suits.
The only job I ever had was working at the Sudholz family ‘Southwood’ farm as a cook for about six years before I got married. I lived and worked at ‘Southwood’ starting when I was 14 and left just before I turned 21. I used to ride my bike home to Noradjuha on a Sunday and ride back again. Bob Sudholz and Kevin Homden also worked at ‘Southwood’ and used to live in the cottage there. We used to feed them and everything. Alan Knight was another person who worked there but he lived at Natimuk. Alan was always late so Bob was always telling him off at the breakfast table. I’ll never forget when Bob got his first car, a brand new little Morris. Mr and Mrs Sudholz, (Ian and Florrie) went away for a week leaving me in charge of the men. I had been there for about four years by this stage. I used to ring up Knight’s store in Natimuk and make the order and the boys would go in and get it. Mrs Sudholz said that if I wanted to go to Horsham one day, Bob always went into Horsham on a Friday night or Saturday morning, Bob has offered to take you. Now to travel in Bob’s car there was one condition – we weren’t allowed to comb our hair in the car. He was very fussy about getting hair on the seats. Bob worked at ‘Southwood’ for about a year or two (circa 1947-48). My sister married Kevin Homden and they lived in the cottage. Ray Jennings also worked at ‘Southwood’ back then. Ray and Kevin were a cranky pair together. The lived side by side in Natimuk.
After Ian and Florrie’s daughter Marjorie was born (1946), I had been there for about two years before they had any children, they started going down to Frankston for holidays and they took me with them. The first time we went we travelled in a posh REO car towing a trailer load of stuff and it broke down at Ballan. Ian was not very happy! We did eventually get to Frankston. On one particular trip Florrie went into town to do some shopping so Jessie (Florrie’s sister) and I looked after toddler Marjorie. The house was situated right between the beach and a busy road and young Marjorie went missing. We were franticly running, calling and looking for Marjorie outside when she was eventually found asleep under the bed upstairs. I got a few grey hairs that day.
Ian’s father Rudy Sudholz was there when I worked there. They used to call Rudy “Daddy.” He was a lovely man and very good to me. They all were good to me. They treated me like royalty. Ian’s mother Kate had died (1944) before I arrived to work at ‘Southwood’. Rudy used to pay me to clean his little old car on a Saturday afternoon.
Back in those day the ladies used to have tea parties and of course Mrs Sudholz (Florrie) used to take me with her. We’d go to the Lange’s (Elsie Lange made the flower girl dress for my wedding). Anton and Hettie Sudholz out at ‘Mount View’ were nice people. I went to ‘Mount View’ when Hettie hosted a tea party.
Carl Sudholz was a funny man who would ride his horse from his place ‘The Homestead’ to ‘Southwood’. Carl always wore a white starched collar shirt, tie and suit. When he arrived he’d announce “Morning Florence, I’m here again, is the kettle boiling?” I only ever met Carl’s wife Mary a few times and she was a very nice, petite lady who was always dressed beautifully. She too would host nice tea parties with fancy cups and saucers and beautiful cloths on the tables.
Sophie Sudholz (later Mrs Powell) used to visit ‘Southwood’ occasionally and Rose Sudholz nee Maybery (Herman’s wife) used to visit ‘Southwood’ from Murtoa. She was a lovely lady. After Herman died (1943) Rose used to stay quite a lot just for the weekend.
One day I remember going to watch the Clear Lake football club play a game at Noradjuha with friends and then we went to the pictures in Horsham afterwards. It was a stormy night and when my friends dropped me off at Schurwood’s dam I had to walk across a swamp to get to ‘Southwood’. Alf Edmonds escorted me and then had to walk back to the car in that dreadful weather.
Back in the day I remember everyone would wear their finest to church – hats and gloves and suits. It was the same if you went into Horsham because it was important to go to Horsham to do your business.
To me Natimuk was a lovely, friendly place to live. I never wanted to live anywhere else.
Interview and transcript: Gianna Sudholz, May 2019
You can also listen to an audio interview Jean gave earlier in the month by clicking on these words.
Photos of Natimuk shops were lifted from the wonderful Natimuk Self Guided Walking Tours book available from Red Rock Books and the Visitor Information Center in Horsham, and in various Natimuk Shops.