Interviewee: Mrs Lorna Mulvie Anderson (nee Bennett)
Date of Birth: 15 April 1926
Interviewer: M R Anderson
Date of Interview: 24 July to 12 October 2002
Date of Death: 10 April 2013
Synopsis: M R Anderson
BOHG No: 2003.001
Total Length: 4 hours 7 minutes.
Lorna Anderson (nee Bennett) was born on 15-04-1926 in Kalgoorlie.
Her father, Arthur Lawrence Bennett was editor of the Kalgoorlie Sun, but when that closed down he accepted a position as Senior Finance Reporter on the Sunday Times and shifted to Perth in 1928. He and his family initially stayed with his parents, who lived in Cleaver Street, North Perth. At that stage, Lorna had a brother, Lawrence George; who was two years older; and twin sisters, Rosalie Joy and Daphne Gem, who were born in 1928, shortly after the family’s arrival in Perth. Subsequently, Arthur purchased a house in Alma Road, North Perth.
Lorna attended North Perth Primary School and commenced in an Infants class of 59 students.
She enjoyed her Primary School years, especially sewing classes. At the end of Grade 6, she attended St Mary’s Girls School in Colin Street, West Perth, for two years. It was convenient to cycle with her brother Lawrie, who was attending Perth Modern School at the time. After the two years at St Mary’s, Lorna enrolled at Perth Technical College in the Commercial Art Department. Lorna describes growing up in North Perth as a very happy experience. The neighbourhood was a friendly place and there were numerous children to play with. The Cannon family lived close by and she became friendly with Lillie Cannon, only to be disappointed when she realised that Lillie was set to attend a Convent School and would not be accompanying her to the State School. The Anderson boys, Maurie and Albert, often stayed with their Grandma Fentiman. They joined in many games played by the Bennett children. Lillie’s father was a Police Sergeant and owned a bicycle. Lorna recalls that it was a great challenge for them to learn to ride this bike – as their small height required them to put their legs through under the bar in their attempts to successfully ride the bicycle.
Lorna explains that both her paternal and maternal grandparents played a significant role in her childhood. On the tape, she gives a detailed account of her “Bennett Grandies” (Barbara Charlotte Bennett and Harry Bennett) remarking on their positive influence on her during her early years. Ma Bennett’s first child George was killed in France during World War 1. Lorna said that although she was a very caring person, this event seemed to weigh heavily on her grandmother. Nevertheless, she and Lorna often walked into Perth. This saved the threepenny tram fare and allowed a sponge finger treat for them at Boan’s cafeteria (a big department store in Perth). Her Grandfather was a trained interior decorator and painted landscapes, still life and portraits as a hobby. For leisure, Lorna’s father would often take the family on a Sunday drive. He was a patient man and did not complain even when his mother, Ma Bennett, voiced concern invariably almost as soon as they began their outing in the car, that she was sure that the gas had been left on, or some other calamity was sure to happen at home – he simply turned around and headed back to her home to check.
Lorna explains that her maternal grandparents, Elizabeth Jane Anne Jordan (nee Jones) and Richard Michael Jordan were known as Ma and Pa Jordan. Pa Jordan was born in Victoria at a farming district called Tanagulla, and eventually came to live in Kalgoorlie. As the gold rush abated, he worked as an engine driver in the Kalgoorlie mines. Ma Jordan was born in Bendigo and came to Perth with her parents. It was from Perth that she went to Kalgoorlie to marry Pa Jordan in 1897. They had seven children. Two died in childhood. Pa Jordan left the mines and built several houses and purchased a Handy Food Store opposite the Car Barn between Kalgoorlie and Boulder.
Pa Jordan went prospecting and Ma Jordan’s widowed mother ran the store. Ma Jordan was not interested in running the store, but she was heavily involved in social work in the town. She was a Justice of the Peace; a member of the Justice Association; Secretary of the Kalgoorlie Benevolent Society; and often presided at Court sittings. Her father, James Jones, who was also a miner, was a descendant of a convict named Nathaniel Lucas, who came out to Australia in the First Fleet in 1788 aboard the Scarborough. He was later transferred to Norfolk Island. One of the Lucas descendants has thoroughly researched the family history and published a book outlining the full connections of the families.
On occasions, the Bennett family would travel by car to Kalgoorlie to visit Ma and Pa Jordan. Pa Jordan had a particular shaving routine using his cut-throat razor and also had an addiction to liquorice, which he said, ‘kept him going’. He kept his grandchildren amused with these habits. He went prospecting and would entertain them also when, after a trip, he pounded the rock specimens. More strange was his habit of drinking tea from a saucer – something not understood until Lorna travelled overseas and observed similar behaviour in France. Lorna says that she had regular contact with her grandparents, as her mother would send her up to Kalgoorlie by train to stay there during the school holidays. She recounts that a friend of hers in Bunbury had frequent contact and a long-standing friendship with a Kalgoorlie person. Lorna was introduced to this friend one day and it transpired that the lady was her second cousin. It appears that their grandfathers were brothers.
During Lorna’s second year at Perth Technical College, she realised that employment prospects were limited; and as WWII was in its second year, Lorna took a night class in photographic colouring and obtained a position with Harrison’s Studio in Murray Street. She loved the work. Wartime meant that circumstances were changing. Ration coupons had been introduced. Her brother Lawrie was training as a Radar Operator in the RAAF; and the Anderson boys had also joined the RAAF. Maurie trained as a Telegraphist, and Albert as a Wireless Operator Navigator.
Lorna continued painting with her friend Edith, whom she met while at Perth Technical College. They were fortunate enough to be invited to the home of Claude Hotchin in Darlington to view his collection. He was a patron of the Arts. Although Lorna and her friend were only sixteen years old (under age) they were allowed in to the basement of the Palace Hotel to see the Albert Namatjira exhibition. The exhibition was organised by Claude Hotchin. At this time, Lorna was managing a studio in Fremantle set up by her employer, Reg Harrison. However, after twelve months, she resigned and took up part time employment at La Fayette & Dease Photographic Studios in Perth.
Lorna recounts that although the Allies had taken pretty drastic action and dropped atomic bombs on cities in Japan, the end of the war in itself, was a relief. The ‘boys’ gradually returned home. The family were shocked to notice that Lawrie Bennett looked ‘yellow’ as a result of taking Atebrin tablets. Lorna had been corresponding with Maurie Anderson while he was in Broome and they started going out together when he came back. They got on well together, even taking watercolour-painting lessons together. Lawrie, Maurie and Albert went back to University and Lorna continued working at the Dease Photographic Studio. Their marriage was planned for the beginning of 1949. Lorna describes her wedding day. The weather was very hot. The officiating Minister appeared to have lapses of memory during the ceremony, and was assisted by a young colleague. The Master of Ceremonies was very enthusiastic and persuaded everyone to dance despite the heat. After all the ‘good-byes’ they took a taxi to the Imperial Hotel in Wellington Street. Because of dress restrictions at the time, they couldn’t get breakfast because Maurie wasn’t wearing a coat and tie!
Lorna describes the bus trip to their first teaching posting at one-teacher Marling School. She details their arrival, and unpacking and settling in to a new and strange environment. Neighbouring farmers were very friendly. However, Maurie soon purchased a .22 rifle to deal with the abundance of rabbits, which overran the farm paddocks. They used Maurie’s motorbike for transport to the nearby town of Williams. After two years at Marling, they received a transfer to Menzies, which was also a one-teacher school. At that time, Lorna was expecting her first child. Clifton Maurice Anderson was born on 17th January 1951. Mother and son arrived at Menzies after the commencement of the school year. Their first visitor, Aurie Epis, was the lady who delivered the milk. Aurie invited mother and baby to go down to the Railway Station and meet the train. Not quite understanding the significance of the event, Lorna declined the first invitation, but soon accepted subsequent invitations. Lorna recalls in considerable detail, the scene when a train was due in town. The occasion was indeed a social one, where people dressed up and met and exchanged gossip. This was the hub where one learned all about the surrounding district and its activities.
Lorna recounts many of the activities and circumstances during her stay in Menzies, including her friendship with Mrs Epis. She also met Enrico Isidori who taught her how to make Italian spaghetti. Lorna taught sewing at the school, which led to a delightful association with the Education Department Lady Sewing Inspector. She also mentions a disturbing incident involving a group of aborigines who banged on the windows and doors asking for food. On a happier note, she describes a visit by author Ernestine Hill and her son Robert.
Lorna says that, after three years, Maurie received a promotion to the wheat belt town of Bencubbin and she was sad to leave Menzies. She explains that as their furniture took a considerable time to be transported there, she and Maurie spent some time during the Christmas holidays with her parents in Bunbury. Mr Bennett was then Editor of The South Western Times newspaper. During that stay, the Anderson family bought an Austin A40 sedan and drove it to Bencubbin.
The Bencubbin environment was totally new to her. The town had an air of prosperity, farmers drove new cars, and the school was a hive of activity. School recess time for boys was taken up kicking a football around. The four years posted there were very happy ones. Linley Rae Anderson was born on 7th August 1954 at the Kununoppin Hospital. Maurie commenced further studies. Reductions of golf handicaps were goals to achieve. Lorna tended her own chickens and admits to killing a chook for the first time. She also passed her driver’s licence test. Terri Stella Anderson was born on 16th February 1957. Eldest son, Cliff commenced school. Lorna joined the CWA. Another big event in the scheme of things was the purchase of a single tub Hoover washing machine with a hand wringer.
Dwellingup was the next location and Lorna laments the fact that the school and schoolhouse did not have power unlike the local Forestry settlement. That made her wonderful washing machine obsolete, so it went into storage and nappies were again washed by hand. However, she explains that as Dwellingup was close to Perth, Maurie was able to contact Bert Priest, his tutor in Philosophy. Through this contact an association began with Bert’s wife Margaret Priest, who had designed and made the Pioneer Women’s sculpture in Kings Park. Margaret visited and said that her stay was a very pleasant one. Lorna regrets leaving Dwellingup as she made some lovely friends and while they lived there, the children enjoyed the freedom of the town.
Lorna describes the next appointment, which was to the Junior High School at Brookton. At the beginning of the second year there, in the company of Rosalie and Stan Richards, they witnessed the red glow in the sky from the schoolhouse verandah. This signalled a particularly devastating fire at Dwellingup. Lorna remembers that the school had recently been built, the town had a swimming pool and there were many activities going on. She joined the CWA. However, their peace suffered from possums that shared the ceiling space of the old schoolhouse. They also experienced Jean Messenger’s emus, which she had fostered, seeking her out at a CWA meeting. In one of the years there, Lorna and Maurie won both the Men’s and Lady’s Golf Club Championships respectively. It was also a novelty to watch golf tournaments on TV courtesy of invitations from friends to join them in this activity.
The next appointment was to Pemberton in the South West and Lorna says that she was thrilled to be living in what she describes as an artist’s paradise. Their furniture was eventually shifted in to their residence, but not before Maurie had to locate the Stationmaster and the Furniture Carrier drinking in the local Pub! A description of the Schoolhouse, the local swimming pool, which was dammed upstream, was recounted. This pool also boasted a toboggan chute, which operated on railway lines. It was eventually removed as being too dangerous. The school had commenced in 1922 with two rooms. It had trout ponds at the back of the schoolhouse, a legacy from former Headmaster, Mr Glew.
Lorna comments that the ladies in the town appeared quite shy. However, she was introduced to several ladies, courtesy of Betty Evans, wife of Dave Evans, Deputy Principal at the school. Dave would later be elected to Parliament as the Member for Warren. Life was not dull. Ashes from the kitchen fireplace were buried in the yard. On one occasion, burning ashes caused the washhouse to burn down! Playing golf at both Pemberton and Manjimup was a treasured activity. The Richards children came to stay with their Aunt and Uncle Anderson when their parents, Rose and Stan took Long Service Leave and visited New Zealand. Lorna has always remembered the Pemberton Mill whistle sequence. This outdoor life was so good for the children and much appreciated at the time. Lorna painted a great deal there, and most of her work sold. Unfortunately, school numbers decreased and the school was re-graded – so Maurie was transferred to Beverley.
Before continuing with the interview, Lorna reflects on the present day of 12th October 2002, when terrible news of the Bali bombing was broadcast across Australia. Nephew, Geoffrey Allison, his wife Carol, and their two young daughters were in Bali. Sadly, Carol lost her life in the tragedy. Lorna revisited the past with a description of the Headmaster’s house at Beverley, followed by an account of her experiences on a trip to Singapore in the Centaur during Maurie’s Long Service Leave. Beverley was a great place for children. There was a 55-yard swimming pool and a Swimming Club. Youngest daughter Terri won the Under 8 Butterfly event at the State Championships, setting a record that still stands (as the following year the pool went metric). Lorna, Maurie and Cliff played golf and at the end of their second year at Beverley, another move was afoot. Maurie was successful as the recommended applicant for the new South Bunbury High School. It was eventually named Newton Moore High School in honour of famous Bunbury citizen and one-time Premier of WA, Sir Newton Moore.
Lorna says that, at last, all of the shifting around had come to an end and gives an enthusiastic account of her impressions of Bunbury, its facilities and educational opportunities for her children. The family initially occupied the schoolhouse, but changed to one with a garage in Devonshire Street. There was progress with construction of the new school buildings. Lorna and Maurie helped to design the new School Crest. Newton Moore High School began operating with only Years eight and nine. At that time, son Cliff was in Third Year, so he attended Bunbury Senior High School. Linley and Terri were enrolled at South Bunbury Primary School. The family joined the local Swimming Club and were somewhat shocked by the facilities at the Bunbury Jetty Baths in comparison to the Olympic type pool they had enjoyed in other towns. Lorna comments that she and the girls helped in a successful campaign to raise awareness to have an Olympic sized pool built in Bunbury. At that time, competitors in the Interschool swimming carnivals had to travel to Collie to train in an Olympic size pool.
Lorna describes some of the many activities she has undertaken while resident in Bunbury. Together with Maurie and Cliff she took out membership with the Clifton Park Golf Club. She joined the Art Society and undertook duty at the Art Gallery in Prinsep Street. Taxidermy was another occupation learned from a friend who played golf with Maurie. Items treated in this way, included a gannet brought in to her from Rottnest Island, as well as a Wedge Tailed Eagle for the Eaton School.
Lorna describes the early years living at Eaton as very busy and exciting. Cliff was representative for W.A. in the schoolboys’ golf championship held at Burnie in Tasmania. Maurie took office in the Golf Club; the girls enrolled in gymnastics; they also commenced playing basketball; and Lorna got her first car. The kids nicknamed it ‘The Tank’. Another achievement was acceptance of her design for an Arts Council logo.
Her interest in pottery developed from a class offered at the Technical school and taught by Mrs Collins from Newton Moore High School. This led to a group starting up at the former Stirling Street Infants School, which was taken over by the Bunbury Council. Her own efforts with pottery were enhanced when she built a Raku kiln at home and used a ‘vacuum cleaner’ blower for the burner. Lorna also undertook to teach a class to Certificate standard at the local Technical School. She attended Stirling Street School buildings during the day and a hobby class at night – keeping up her Certificate class until a lecturer, Murray Richardson, was appointed.
Lorna describes various developments in the firing of kilns and the use of glazes. She recalls when the Technical School classes were transferred to their newly built Art Department. In the meantime, Lindsay Stout had organised the building of a pottery room at the Stirling Street Infants School site, which is enjoyed to this very day. The first collective exhibition held by the group was titled ‘All of a Kind’. It was held in 1979 in the Bunbury Civic Centre Hall in Prinsep Street. Lorna continued painting in oils, acrylics and enamels. In 1973, she won the Harvey Art Prize.
Next came overseas travel, which had always been on the agenda. So, in 1976, a trip to England, Greece and Hong Kong was organised to coincide with Maurie’s Long Service Leave. The experiences of that trip are remembered with enthusiasm; especially the art works in England and Holland, and a cruise in the Greek Islands. On return to Australia, she continued teaching the Technical Hobby class. It was during this time  that the devastating Cyclone Alby hit Bunbury. Lorna recalls some of her personal experiences during this event and how the staff coped with the cancellation of classes. At that time, there were not any shops selling craftwork products but Alice Pickworth and Billie Piggott, started small shops, and the market gradually expanded.
The year 1979 stands out in Lorna’s memory because it was the Sesqui-centenary 150th Anniversary for WA. Many activities took place, including a ‘Do’ at Bill Arthur’s Corner set up by Lorna and friends. The year was also significant because Maurie and Lorna became grandparents. By 1988, there would be eight grandchildren in their family.
1983 was also quite significant, as Lorna was privileged to go to Adelaide for the Third International Ceramic Conference. This was full of memorable experiences. They were exciting exhibitions at the Conference, and a drive from Adelaide to Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road. Maurie retired in this same year. That year, Newton Moore’s High School staff dinner hosted the play ‘Dimboola’. Son, Cliff was now well established in his accounting business – ‘C.M. Anderson and Co’.
An account of the pottery activities at a property near Bunbury called Belvedere is full of interest. Lorna also described the advent and significance of ‘paper clay’ as it relates to the development of the exhibitions by the Potter’s group from their first effort of ‘All of a Kind’, to the present day. Today, the Group clean up and use their pottery room as an exhibition venue, which works well.
Lorna tells of her continued activity in golf. She met new friends from Raymond Engineers, developers at the company, Worsley Alumina. She purchased a spinning wheel and learned to spin with her friend, Billie Piggott. This resulted in the formation of a dedicated group of ladies who continue to meet weekly in their various homes for spinning activities.
The Andersons visited former Australind residents and friends, Phil and Holly Nutley in Mount Magnet. There the Nutleys have invited them to share their love of the prospecting life. Lorna has often been introduced to groups of Craft Ladies through other friends. There was a visit to Boogardie Station where rare rocks were found. It was reported in the newspapers that one large specimen was later to be taken to Berlin by the geologist who found it. Other highlights on the visit to Mt Magnet, was meeting Aboriginal artist, Doris Ginginara and the Good Samaritan Nuns.
Lorna describes in detail a visit to Athens. This was a four-day Classical Tour and a two-week visit to the Island of Paros in the Cyclades. She and Maurie were in the company of sister Rose and her husband, Stan, along with Athol Thomas and his wife and young daughter. A few years later, Lorna and Maurie sold their house in Eaton and shifted into a Unit in Harrison Place, Bunbury. Health concerns overtook Lorna as they were planning a later trip to Crete and England. Lorna had a heart by-pass operation, and recovered fitness well enough to travel and enjoy the trip to Crete, a place which is described in great detail.
Lorna now says that her passports have been surrendered. Living in Bunbury is great. She feels blessed with annual family reunions and says life is simply wonderful! She gave up playing golf in 1992 but continues to exercise by walking on the beach always on the lookout for shells to incorporate into her mosaic work. In 1994, Lorna began an interest in oral history and joined the newly formed Bunbury Oral History Group. Her artistic talents came to the fore and she was able to assist by designing and making display banners in the Group colours of black and gold. They have often been used since. After a few false starts, Lorna is now a proficient and prolific interviewer who enjoys collecting the life stories of people.
Lorna was also involved with a specially funded project undertaken by the South West Women’s Health Centre to produce a Calendar and a book, which featured several women who have endured and overcome health related issues. She is the Calendar Girl for the month of June – and her brightly coloured craftwork, pottery, and dolls make an impressive collage on the calendar page. In recent times, Trigeminal Neuralgia has plagued Lorna’s peace, however after an operation, she is confident she is free of the pain from this debilitating condition.
One very memorable event in Year 2000 for Lorna was when she was made a Life Member of the Studio Potters. Her daughter, Linley, celebrated her mother’s achievement by writing and presenting to the audience, a special poem about Lorna’s life and her accomplishments. Later that year, Lorna was honoured to be nominated as a finalist for the Art and Culture Award for Seniors and attended the award function in Perth. It was a fitting tribute to someone who had been associated with artistic endeavours most of her life.
Stimulated by the plight of one particular artist, Lorna recognised the need to find a home for the artistic community to gather on a regular basis to conduct their painting and similar pursuits. Lorna identified the former Bunbury Infants School as a suitable site, and since 1973, she has contributed much to the development of the place now known as the Stirling Street Art Centre.