beceh: (Default)
I spent today with my Grandma. She's my Mum's mother. Shirley. I had a really good day. I went over there this morning and we talked for about an hour over a cup of tea while she did show and tell with me, and gave me three new scarves, then we drove into Colac and had lunch at one of the pubs. Grandma had been talked into buying a book of vouchers, which if you were a young family and actually lived in Colac would be super good value, but I don't really think Grandma is going to get much use out of it. But anyway we got one free lunch and a free coffee later as well from it. Had a look around some of the shops there as well for awhile then went back to Corunnun and I relaxed in the conservatory for a little while, looking out over the paddocks and the lake, thinking that I will be very very sad when she sells the place.

Grandma lives at the Corunnun Homestead. It is one of the oldest houses in Victoria, and I think, the oldest still lived in house. But it is not a fancy mansion, so it doesn't get that much attention, just a bus load of historical society folks every so often. There were a lot of them in the Seventies (Grandma has a guest book that she makes most people sign - I've found entries from my very young aunts and uncles and relatives on my Dad's side which was a bit of a thrill!) but now they come out maybe once every year or two. Corunnun was first built in 1844... quite modern compared to many European buildings, but considering that Melbourne was only founded in 1835, it's rather ancient down here! The old part, the core 4 rooms, were built then, and it was the centre of a ginormous sheep station. Over the years the property went through a few transformations - the original estate was subdivided in the 1880's and 1890's and the land was turned to onion and potato farming (mainly onions) and then in the 1950's turned into a dairy farm after some sort of fungal rot made onion farming impossible. The Homestead was gradually made larger over the 1800's and the last major renovations were completed in the 1890's when the bedroom wing was added. Yeah... not a typo... the last major renovations were done 120 years ago!!! Since then it's just been maintaining the original building and rearranging the insides a bit. Currently there are 13 rooms - 4 bedrooms, a kitchen, 2 living/lounge rooms, a dining/billiard room, a 'piano' room (really another formal dining room), the 'old kitchen (Grandma uses it as her laundry now - would probably be the biggest laundry room in Australia haha), an attic (used to be the maid's quarters), an entry room (old breakfast room) and the conservatory. There is also the outbuildings - the original bathroom (1860's), the original laundry with the old copper in it that was still in use up until the 1960's (My Mum remembers having to go out to light the copper and getting distracted by books) and two offices. The two offices are wallpapered in ancient newspaper clippings. It's fascinating.

My family has owned Corunnun since 1919. My great-great-grandfather, Andrew Burns bought the Homestead and some surrounding land (60-80 acres) which they proceeded to farm. Andrew Burns died in 1936 and his son, my great-grandfather, Alexander Burns took over the property, raising his 5 daughters - Olive, Greta, Janet, Betty & Dulcie, and his son, Andy (William Andrew) my grandfather. Corunnun supported a large population of workers in those days and even had it's own cricket and football teams - apparently the footy team won 3 or 4 local grand finals over a few years in the 1920's!

Alexander Burns died in 1952, and my grandfather bought the farm off his sisters, and his mother and one of his sisters, Janet helped him run the farm. Andy married his high school sweetheart, my grandma, Shirley Glover, in 1954. The next year they had my mum, quickly followed by my Uncle Pete and a couple of years later by Uncle Jim. The three of them grew up together on the farm and were a bit surprised to be joined by Auntie Alison when Mum was 12.

For most of their childhood Grandma, Andy (for some reason I call both of my grandfather's by their names... The only men I ever called 'Pop' were Dad's grandfathers) and their kids lived in only half the house - the rooms were completely different to how I know them. What is now my Grandma's bedroom was their kitchen/living room, and what is now the kitchen was one of the bedrooms! Apparently the house got into a state of disrepair and the only reason it didn't get bulldozed in the late 1940's/early 1950's was because my great-grandad was too sick and died before he could go ahead with his plan of building a brand new house nearby. Grandma and Andy turned it into the lovely home that I've known for the past 25 years during the 1970's and 1980's after my great-grandmother Ethel died and Great-Auntie Janet got married to a Swede and moved out. 

Sadly my grandfather Andy passed away (somewhat ironically of a heart attack while on a walk raising money for the Heart Foundation...) back in 1991 so Grandma has been all alone at Corunnun for nearly 20 years. She feels like that is long enough and would like to move into a unit in Colac within the next few years. This prospect makes me very sad, but I know Grandma can't keep on living out there. She's almost 78, and while still very good for her age, it is rather remote and it's a very big house and garden for just one old lady. It is 6km to the nearest milkbar and 20km to the nearest town (Colac) and petrol station. 

While having lunch with her today and listening to her talk about people who were long dead before I was even thought about, I realised how much of the districts, and my personal history we stand to loose when Grandma either dies or looses her memory. She remembers so much. A lot of inconsequential, but it is local, oral history and I personally think it's important. I learnt today that my great-grandmother Rose, Grandma's mum, didn't like to wear jumpers with high necks, just like I don't. I learnt that Andy hated wearing a collar and tie. I learnt that Andy was not a romantic man, but that he was a good husband. I learnt about the woman who moved in with Grandma's dad after her mum died to look after the house and help a bit at the shop (Grandma's dad, George was a baker and he ran the bakery/general shop in Warrion)

It makes me sad that half the things she told me I've already forgotten, even though as I was listening to her  I was thinking how interesting it was and how I needed to remember it. Maybe I should tape her and scribe them...

Mum told me how Andy used to say the same thing about his mother. She apparently had a phenomenal memory. And she used to dance in front of the television to annoy her grandchildren. n

It brought back to me, as a history student, how much of our history is lost when each generation dies. We only get the skeletons passed down to us... Future generations may be different. In this age of technology and the internet, everything is recorded. But things might be lost still, in this glut of pointless information we had.

Grandma said something sad today. She said she feels a bit out-of-date or past her use-by date or something these days now that her family's so scattered. She said when you're a mother you're the most important person, then when you're a grandmother you are still really important. Now her grandchildren are forging ahead with their own lives and she's got 2 great-grandchildren and her youngest grandchild is almost a teenager. Most of us are in our 20's and 30's. She doesn't feel very important or necessary in our lives anymore.... it made me sad. I'm glad I spent the whole day with her today and I'll see her a few more times before I leave.

I'm tired now, I think I'll go to bed...
beceh: (xavier rudd2 - crazyasitsounds-)
If I never have to polish another brass door knob again I will be happy.

I went over to Grandma's yesterday to help her get ready for this open garden/house fundraiser she is having in a couple of weeks. We were going to do gardening, but it was raining nearly all day, so she had me cleaning windows and door knobs instead. My grandma lives in a very big, very old house. There are a LOT of windows and door knobs!!!

But it was nice to spend the day with her. She has some good stories.

---
It's funny how smells can remind you so strongly of things and people. There is one of those male deoderants that I've just had a total blank on the name... anyway it's the one that my high school boyfriend must have used when we were together, because whenever I get a wiff of it I am transported back to being 15/16 and hanging out in his bedroom... and there are my old perfumes that just remind me of what I was doing when I used to wear them, which in some cases spoils the smell. Elizabeth Arden, for example, just reminds me of working my arse off over Christmas at Dan Murphy's...

And last night there was some clag (you know, that glue they use in lower primary school that you can eat if you really want to...) on the table, and of course, I had to smell it.

Instantly transported back to Grade Prep/1/2 and coloured bits of paper....

It's pretty cool how smell triggers memory so vividly.

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beceh

December 2011

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