I wrote this piece for a recent assignment. I passed – not quite as well as I would have liked to. Oh well … It was based on research from the newspaper on the date of my birth.
2 NOVEMBER 1954
My sanity is slipping away. It wounds my pride, but I call Mum on Sunday, 31 October 1954 and beg her to pick Peter and me up from the farm the next day. My Mum is thrilled I have come to my senses.
Jack breaks down when I tell him I am leaving him. He is devastated. He says, ‘My life is nothing without you and Peter.’ He slowly turns away and Peter follows him to the kitchen. I think Peter is with Grandma Irene but Peter trails a few metres behind Jack. Irene is preparing for the Melbourne Cup BBQ on Tuesday and sees them both heading for the scrub, and smiles.
Jack returns alone around 11.00am.
‘Jack, what have you done with him?’ I screamed, as I pounded his chest. ‘How could you even think I would do anything to hurt Peter? You and Peter are my life,’ he replied. ‘He is only a baby – two and half years old, for God’s sake! Where is he?’ I shrieked hysterically.
Jack and I met on New Year’s Eve 1950. He was twenty-seven and I was nineteen. He is 5’8’’, slim build, fair curly hair, and deep brown eyes. His sister, Hazel, and I were nursing at Princess Margaret Hospital and she was a matchmaker. Jack was in Perth to enlist in the Army to fight the communists in Korea. It was the start of an incredible, magical romance.
My parents disapproved of Jack and said, ‘He is an uneducated, farm labourer and not good enough for a Claremont girl.’ I turned my back on them and married him in June 1951 in the Anglican Church in Boyup Brook. Jack worked on their small sheep farm just out of Boyup Brook, population around five hundred. We stayed with his parents.
His parents supported his decision to fight Communism and he would earn about £12/6 a week. His first posting was with the 3RAR, based in Japan. He left us on 1 October 1951 knowing we were having a baby. I was distraught. I was not ready for this! Especially with Jack away and living with his parents. Regardless, Peter was born, healthy, on 17 June 1952.
A telegram arrived not long after with the disturbing news of Jack’s capture by the North Koreans. He remained a POW until the war ended on 27 July 1953. When Jack came home in August ’53, he was a broken man – just skin and bone, sullen, and withdrawn. He took solace in drinking each day until he passed out.
If I keep loving and caring for him he would get well surely? I would find a quiet place and sob my heart out. I missed my friends and family in Perth. They wrote infrequently about their dances and trips to the theatre.
News spreads that Peter is missing. Jack’s father calls the police and asks the neighbours to help search in the thick scrub beyond the farmhouse. By midday there are around one hundred people scouring the nearby scrub. Peter is wearing summer shorts and singlet. It is around 69 degrees with a chance of rain. I stay at the house while the men search the scrub, I pray, ‘Oh my God, find him please!’
Hours pass and the searchers return with no news. It is nearing 6.00pm when they see Peter running through the bush towards them. Jack and I quickly race towards him and we both hold him and each other, sobbing with relief.
Just at that moment, my parents arrived in their BMW …