Letters & Stories
An Old Parishioner Reflects – Feb/March 2005 Issue
Shirley Marston attended the St Bede’s 100th anniversary and purchased the history booklet in 1979. Recently on reading through the bequests and memorials she remembered many of the names and wrote to our Joan Thomson providing interesting background thoughts and facts. We hope you enjoy reading Shirley’s account of early days in St Bede’s. Our family (3 of us) went to St Bede’s during the time of the Rev. James Welsh and like it says in the magazine, he was a wonderful preacher (or so my mother said). He never ever read from notes and he captivated everyone’s interest. As I grew older was when I began to realize this. He left St Bede’s in 1935 and I was married on 20th November 1937, but by the Rev. Frank Hewitson.
Mother, in 1915/16 was living in rooms with a Mr & Mrs Richard Carter when she came down from Port Pirie as my father Shirley Verdon William Marriott had joined the Army and left for the war around April/May 1916. My mother (Hilda) and my father both left England in 1913 and came out to Australia – I think a very bold decision as my father came from a large family and he was the only one to venture so far. 1913 proved to be in recession and just prior to the out break of war in 1914.
However, Ivan my brother had been born in pt Pirie and I turned out to be a ‘surprise packet’ and was born on 27th December 1916 when my father was overseas. As things turned out mother was always grateful she had me and I was named Shirley, after my father. Needless to say he was called Bill at the war. I have a 1st birthday card written in pencil and sent from France telling me how we would play on the beach when he came home – I treasure this, the nearest contact with my dad – but unfortunately he was killed in August 1918. On one of my trips overseas I went with an English cousin to see my father’s grave which is beautifully kept in Harbonnieres. It was Rev James Walsh who came to tell my mother that her husband had been killed in action. It was done that way then.
Mr & Mrs Carter with whom mother lived went to St Bede’s and mother being Anglican went along with them. I can remember a lot of names that we got to know which would be in the records from early 20’s – Mr & Mrs Wasley and 3 daughters, Gwenda, Daphne and Carlein, Frank and Effie Pickhauer, Mr & Mrs George and Dot George, one of their daughters taught me in Sunday School at Ward Street, also Helen Ranford, Molly Davison who married Chris Gray. I know Marj Wilkinson in her single days – forgotten her maiden surname – just remembered, Marj Lyall. Also I helped teach Sunday school with Mrs McGillicuddy as I got older.
Ivan was in the Choir for a number of years with Mollie’s brother Davidson, Cliff McKenzie, Robbie Davies, Nessie Davis, Rob’s sister was one of my Sunday school teachers. The Blizzard family lived at the back of our house in Ellen St. Mother had a War Widows house built for her at 14 Company St, Semaphore. My brother Ivan died in 1994 and mother died in 1982. She was 94 and lived a healthy life. They were good days when we were growing up and everyone seemed to be happy. The boys and girls from church, as we were growing up, got around together, life was simple, and very few had cars. As I haven’t been back to St Bede’s since 1979 I’m wondering how many of the very old group like myself are still alive.
By the way the Choir boys in Rev Welsh’s day were all very good singers, but like that age group of boys could be mischievous and they sometimes played tricks on poor Mr Anderson who was the organist then and the organ had to be pumped by hand. Mr Anderson was rather timid but a very nice person and two of the Choir boys were sent down to pump the organ and in the middle of it all, they gradually let the air out of the organ tune quickly ran down the scales with poor Mr Anderson calling to the boys to pump, pump! Typical boys who thought it was funny, all except poor Mr Anderson. I remember all the building on at the Altar but not that clearly. (The Choir boys were known as Jimmie Angels!). St Bede’s is a beautiful Church and a wonderful Church to be married in. The wonderful stained glass windows and the beautiful long isle. When I have been down in that area I have tried the front door but naturally it was locked. Not too many churches ~ are kept open these days, due to vandals. I wish you well as I do St Bede’s and hope that we will go full circle and people will become interested in following Church again.