Ellie flipped through the morning paper as she finished her cup of tea from breakfast. Such a luxury to have the paper and breakfast delivered to her room! She scans the cinema pages to see what other great shows they could attend while in this bustling city. There is a talking picture “The Good Companions” premiering tonight or maybe “Tugboat Annie” at St James theatre in Elizabeth St might be fun too. So many choices in this fine town.
Noises from the city street drift from below. She could discern the trams smooth clack as they made their way down George Street mingling with the horns and purr of diesel engines as the trucks delivered to the markets across the street. The city was coming to life on this September morning in 1933. The new bride enjoyed watching the daily performance from her window overlooking Sussex and Hay streets, their honeymoon getaway.
She looks up as her new husband chuckles to himself. “How does this sound Ellie – I’ll sign off the letter From your knew
brother and put kisses for mother and sisters at the end – that should give them a laugh!”
She smiles and nods “Yes that will make their day”.
Oh how lucky she feels at this moment. Here she was honeymooning at The Burlington in Sydney, enjoying theatre most nights and shopping for furniture to fill her new home with Clem. She knows she has quite a handsome catch there, the envy of her sisters and other young ladies back home.
They first met at a dance at Emerald Hill. The north west sky was a glow of orange and red with the sunset that evening she walked into the hall with her sisters. She spotted Clem and his brother Alan on the stage playing the recorder and tapping out the beat with drums as a few locals stand in small groups around the edge of the hall catching up with friends and the latest news of the district. Girls were giggling and teasing while trying to fill their dance cards. It would be the last dance in the district until after harvest so the hall was quickly filling with people from across the district, keen to have some fun before the hard work of gathering in the grain. She caught Clem’s eye and he winked back as her sister Ursula nudged her in the side.
“Ooh we should try to get a dance with those characters tonight. I hear they have bought the property Bellevue on the Clemisha Line” she suggests, buzzing with excitement.
That was a few years ago now and she is momentarily saddened as she thinks of Alan, dying unexpectedly of a burst appendix and never realising the dream he and Clem had for Bellevue. Clem instead had been left to clear the land and plant the first crops alone. She halts the thoughts and shakes the sadness away. This was their honeymoon, it was to be enjoyed!
“So my Ellie, are you going to write to the folk at home too? Let them know we are doing fine in the big city?” interrupts Clem. “I’ve told them we will head home about next Tuesday. Thinking we might go home on the day train if that suits you. Well, I might go downstairs for a bit now and see what the locals are doing”
Left alone in the suite she reminisces about their courting. The countless games of tennis on Sunday afternoons and group events over the last few years. She had not made it easy for Clem, she wanted to be sure he was the right one. Plus she had to compete with her sisters for his attentions– one of the down sides of such a big family.
As she grabs the paper and pen to compose the letter home she smiles at the thought of Ursula. After a night out at the cinema Ursula had questioned Ellie
“I’m not sure which one us Clem is keen on, he seems to be courting both of us”
“Well did he hold YOUR hand at the cinema tonight?” admonishes Ellie
“No, he didn’t.” Ursula had replied sullenly “Well I guess we know”.
As she begins her letter with “Dear family at home” she reflects that her Da seemed very pleased with her choice of husband. There was some doubt for a short time, until Clem agreed to become a Catholic to marry her. Her heart skips a beat just thinking about the time Da announced he had to change religion first as no daughter of his was marrying outside the church. She didn’t want to be like Stella who had lost her love as he refused to change for her. It had broke Stella’s heart and she still has a sorrowful appearance about her.
Ellie fills the letter home with news of cinema and shopping. She is excited for their trip tomorrow down to the harbour and hopefully a walk across the new Harbour Bridge that opened last year. Wont that be a story to tell when they arrive home!
Clem bursts into their honeymoon suite just as she is signing off her letter.
“Well I’ll be Ellie” he exclaims “you know those workmen we saw yesterday, down on the corner of Kent and Market Street? Just went down and had a yarn to them. They are installing traffic lights, first in Australia. I gather cars will stop when the lights are red and drive only when they turn green. That will be a sight to see if we come back down another time”
“It will be indeed. Maybe I will be able to drive by then” she laughs.
“You will, cant have my farmer wife not being able to help on the farm. Come on my love, grab your hat and gloves we have exploring to do”
His rugged hand reaches for hers, a sparkle in his eyes, only for her and their long happy future. Together.
Next: Part 2 – The letters home
Image sources © Can Stock Photo / washtay; http://www.visitsydneyaustralia.com.au/ and newspaper.com (Sydney Morning Herald September 13th 1933)
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