He was the lad from Euberta, in dusty southern New South Wales. Cricket, tennis, rugby, rowing, scholarships and a packet of Viscount a day were his vices. He was the bomber-jacketed new agricultural scientist on the block.
She was the lass from Werribee. Good Catholic gal, a Sacred Heart boarder, daughter of a leading agrostologist and PA to the manager of the State Research Farm. She lacked any decent vices bar a drop-dead, killer smile.
Wagga Wagga meets Werribee.
Almost like a CJ Dennis poem. But on this day 62 years ago, Jim put paid to his claim that young Maureen was a bit of orright.
As far as he was concerned she was a cracker. So he married her on Guy Fawkes Day to make the point. Sentimental bloke, this one.
They tied the knot beneath the soaring timber trusses of St Andrew’s Catholic Church in Werribee. Maureen’s dad had joined the dearly departed a few years earlier so her uncle gave her away. Jim’s ailing and elderly uncle officiated the nuptials but, sadly, joined ranks with the dearly departed as well a few days later.
After honeymooning in Adelaide, the city of churches, the happy couple set to manufacturing a sizeable clan – eight all up.
They weren’t lucky with numbers five and six – losing the first sadly at birth, the second in a thunderclap of pain just shy of 18. But the others have fared well, even prospered, and they’ve ushered a further 13 offspring into the clan. And a great grandson too.
Without exception, they’re shaping up well and, mercifully, not a one of them’s been lost yet. One did go walkabout in the Himalayas for a spot but, otherwise, all are present and accounted for.
The path of Maureen and Jim’s 57 married years was paved with laughter and sorrow, hard work and achievements, with setbacks and recoveries. The full spectrum of human emotion. Life.
No-one in the family can forget Jim’s famous hat-trick captaining the SRF cricket team, his one and only ton (110 in 38 minutes) with the willow when his second-born entered the world, or the duck the day his fourth-born arrived.
Likewise, Maureen’s fevered battle with the tiger snake in the irrigation channel or patching up her bleeding first-born when he smashed through the glass front door – the whelp deserved every one of his 30 stitches for putting her through that.
Um, yeah, sorry ‘bout that, Mum.
Footnote: Jim joined the dearly departed too, five years ago. Maureen’s still charming us.