Interviewee: Mrs Olive McCamish
Date of Birth: 3 January 1920
Interviewer : Norm Flynn
Date of Interview: 2 November 1994
Date of Death: 4 August 2006
Synopsis: Meryl Gardiner
BOHG No: 1994.001
Total Length: 32:50 min
Mrs Olive McCamish (nee Flynn): Experiences at Worsley W.A. from 1920 – 1938 and at Collie and Bunbury in following years.
Recorded on 26.9.94 Interviewer: Norm Flynn (nephew of interviewee) for the Bunbury Oral History Group.
Born Worsley 1.3.1920. One of 13 children. Born at home with the assistance of neighbour who was possibly Mrs Pickett who helped her mother (Ethel Flynn nee Norris) with such matters. Ranked in middle of the thirteen siblings in age.
House, weatherboard with three bedrooms. Children slept in double beds, three to a bed. Father (Jack Flynn) a timber worker at Worsley Mill and mother took in boarders to support the family. Boarders (timber workers) lived in huts and came for three meals a day at cost of twenty four shillings a week.
She left school at age of 14 or 15 and worked for her mother as waitress. Had started school aged about six. Students all in one room. Timber building. Teachers remembered were Mr Considine and Fred Ranson. One teacher school. Left school about fifth grade and helped her grandparents (Harry & Ellen Flynn) who lived nearby. School students mainly comprised of Flynn, Shannihan and Harnett children. School not far from home.
Worsley had Post Office, store and bake house. Store was run by Lintotts and Post Office by Dinny Connell. Goods were received by rail. Train ran from Collie through Worsley, Fernbrook and down to Brunswick Junction and on. Twice daily service. Her mother visited Collie about once a fortnight to shop and to pay accounts and would take one of her children to assist her. They returned on the train the same day. Collie Co-op visited Worsley supplying groceries and clothing. Bread and paper purchased in Worsley. Train trips to Collie recalled.
Neighbours in Worsley were – Beards, Shannihans, her grandparents and Paddy and Annie Harnett (Anne her aunt – sister of her father). Families on nearby farms were Gastaldos, Forbes, and Bill and Lena Smith (Lena another sister of her father).
Paddy Harnett managed the local mill. Most of the male members of her family worked at the mill. Another mill operated in the bush and this moved to wherever timber supplies were.
Left school about 14. Met Lal (Leslie) McCamish when aged about 17 and they were married in Collie when she was aged eighteen (1937). They built a small weatherboard house at 20 Steere Street Collie where they lived and their first four children were born. House was varnished and though later sold and has been renovated over the years, it still stands.
Children were delivered by Nurse Jones (midwife) who visited each day to bed-bath mother and baby and who attended laundry of sheets etc.
Children named – Maureen, Lesley, Laurel and Ted, and full description given to home birth arrangements. Local doctor named – Dr Smith . Nurse Jones well known and respected in Collie, was 80 when she delivered Ted. Mother-in-law Mrs McCamish lived at 54 Steere Street and would after children at each successive birth. Her husband was Charlie McCamish. Last child born, John, was born at St John of God Hospital Bunbury.
Lal McCamish worked with his father who owned trucks carting timber props for the underground coal mine – Bullfinch Mine. When open-cut mining commenced they lost this work. Lal commenced as contractor to Main Roads Department with his own truck. Lal McCamish’s siblings were – brother Arthur and sisters Bub and Hester. Bub and Hester each married a Harnett, Olive’s cousins.
Shopping in Collie described – the Co-op and Bon Marche. Clothes made by dressmakers. Hawkers visited Worsley selling material and towels. Thought they were Indian. They rang bells to attract customers. Rarely sighted aborigines in Worsley but recalled that there were plenty living on the river bank at Ewington just out of Collie. Cannot recall what work they did but one called selling clothes props. Cannot recall any Chinese living in Collie.
Her children attended Collie State School – primary & high, before leaving the town.
Further recollection of Nurse Jones – arranging circumcision of male babies.
Lal transferred to Bunbury in Main Roads Dept. Family used to holiday in Busselton together with eight other families in tents. Lived there in tent while waiting for McCamish Snr’s house to become available at 54 Steere St. Tent was next to Busselton cemetery and they spent six months there, cooking over open fire. Eldest two girls attended Busselton school during the period. By this time her parents (Jack & Ethel Flynn) had moved to Victoria Park with the younger members of their family of thirteen some of whom found work there.
Her sister May Gray and husband Bill moved from Worsley to Collie where Bill was a benchman on a timber mill then situated near the Collie cemetery. Sister Josie was married and moved to live in Kirup (husband Arthur Kelly, Forestry Department official). Brothers Bert, Ray and Jack went to the goldfields for work. Bert married Mavis (nee Freeman) up there (Agnew).
When she was aged about 12 or 13 family home at Worsley was burnt down. They moved to another house.
After Busselton stint, returned to in-laws house at Collie while husband moved about with Main Roads contracts. Family then moved to Forrest Avenue in Bunbury. No houses then behind them and they kept their own cow for milking and had vegetable garden. Cow would slip its tether and make its way with other straying stock to the Council’s sanitary tip in Little Street. The suburb of Carey Park did not then exist. Recalls drama of parting with bull calf to the butcher. Forrest Avenue neighbours were – Betty and Connie Tuttin, the Underwoods and Jack Jenkins and Mrs Jenkins. Jack would call at the house and cut their hair. Recalled the Plaza shopping centre being built. Walked into Bunbury town centre for shopping.
Further Collie neighbours names remembered – Mrs Milne, Shepherds, Sweeneys, Martins, Reids, Daisy and George Wittorff.
Lal McCamish was a keen log chopper and participated at local shows. Worsley had a large log chop championship each year which she thought was held near the store and the Catholic and Church of England churches. Max Ranson was a chopper and lived near there. His first marriage was to her cousin Stella Larkin, who died. His children by his second marriage were Ross, Pat and Joan who all now live in Bunbury
[Error in details – see footnote***]
Recalled her grandparents Harry & Ellen Flynn who lived in a four-roomed house. He milked a cow. They both had rocking chairs on the verandah. They had raised their family in Worsley – some of whom were – Jack, Lena (Smith), George and Annie (Harnett). Sunday walks to Gastaldo’s. Forbes’, and her Aunt Lena and Uncle Bill Smith, about two miles from town.
After living at Forrest Avenue, moved to King Road, Bunbury, where they lived for eleven years. Son John killed in car accident.
Correction of date of son John’s death – 1971 (mentioned in audio as 1950).
Remained living at King Road for 4 years after John’s death then moved to 15 Hamilton Road, Eaton. Has lived at Eaton 18 years. House on the market and when sold will move to Elanora Villas Lodge, Bunbury.
Interviewer added for family history record, details of family’s birth dates etc, which were provided by Mrs McCamish after recording had been concluded:
Children’ years of birth
John 1950 (date of death 15.1.1971)
Lal’s date of death 27.11.85
*** Mrs McCamish later realised that Pat & Jean Ranson were Stella’s daughters and it was Ross who was born to Max’s second wife.