I was worried about Ricky and asked Mummy to ring his Mum Helen, and make sure he is alright because when he got on his bike yesterday to ride home he was in tears.
Mummy said, “I saw what happened and had already warned Helen to talk to Ricky and explain things to him.”
I replied, “Can I ring him to make sure that he is ok Mummy?”
Mummy said, “I suppose so, otherwise you will be worried about him for the rest of the day."
I talked to Ricky for about an hour and he was ok, He said his Mum sat him down and he understands and he just doesn't want to lose me as a friend because of what he did.
I know I shouldn't have but I said, “I love you Ricky.”
Mummy had set the date for the big day. It was the first Saturday on September the fifth which was only eight weeks away, 'See I can do sums when I have to.'
I was already in the kitchen giving Fluffy a bottle when Mummy walked in and sat down at the kitchen table and said, “Carla sweetheart, you will kill Fluffy with motherly love if you are not careful, you should be trying to get her to lap milk up out of a bowl.”
I replied, “But if I don’t feed her she might die.”
“I doubt that will ever happen in this animal loving household.”
Uncle Tony and Daddy were both rubbing the sleep from their eyes.
“Ok” said Daddy, “How about feeding the workers instead of pandering to the little ball of fluff which should be drinking from a saucer?”
I said, “I know Daddy. I will wean her off the bottle in the next couple of days.”
Bella and Rita walked in to the kitchen. It was the only warm place in winter in those old houses. Western houses were built with high ceilings and breeze ways to cool the house in the hot dry summers.
Bella started to prepare breakfast for all of us. She said that she was feeling bored and would do the cooking while her and Tony were staying at our house for a couple of days, because the painters were doing some work that she wanted done before they moved in. Daddy and Uncle Tony were going down to the house that night after after work to get the television hooked up to the big antennae in the back yard. We knew we could probably have to take their tea down to them because once the television was working they would want to watch all the replays of the football over the weekend. I liked to watch 'Skippy the Bush Kangaroo' which I watched while we were in Brisbane.
I was hoping to be able to go to the state school once my birth details had been fixed because I was getting bored with being at home by myself. So I am putting the pressure on Mummy to talk to father Brian to hurry things along, as if they would take any notice of a ten year old girl 'ha!'
They all took off except Aunt Bella, who asked me, “Carla how long does it take you to do your school work?"
I replied, “That depends on what subjects Mummy and the School of the Air have set out for me for a whole week.” Aunty Bella was still in her warm dressing gown having a second cup of tea. She liked tea instead of the strong coffee that the the Italians usually drink. She said that Uncle Tony liked his coffee so strong that the stirring spoon would stand up by itself in the cup one day.
She then said, “Well I know you have your little birth defect but what is the problem? It's not as though you are going to be parading around with your knickers down around your ankles is it?”
I got a fit of the giggles at that and Aunty Bella did the same and spilt her tea over her nice white fluffy dressing gown.
“Oh shit! I will have to sponge that out straight away or it'll leave a yellow stain,” she said.
Once I stopped giggling I said, “I can usually do all my set work for the day in about three hours Aunty. Why do you want to know?”
“Well” she replied, “I am going to your friend Mary Winton, you know the lady that gave Rita that pretty outfit on Saturday,and I would like you to come with me to choose the material for the new curtains I want to sew to make the place more my style.
“Well” I replied, “If I start now I can be finished by ten o'clock, or I can just leave my school-work until we come back from the shop, but Mummy likes me to do all my stuff in the morning because she reckons that if I don't, I will not do it in the afternoon and play with the animals instead.”
Aunt Belle said, “Yeah she is probably right, with two dogs and a cat, I can see where she is coming from Carla. Alright, you get stuck in to your school work and I’ll clean up the kitchen and have a shower.”
I did all I had to do and was finished at nine thirty, so off we went to Mary's shop to choose the material for the new curtains. Of course there was a lot of pink material. Just as well Aunty Bella likes pink too. When we arrived home, Mummy's car was there and so was Father Brian's. Aunty Bella parked the new Land Rover in the shed and we made our way over to the house. I could hear Mummy crying and I ran inside to see what had happened. Father Brian was sitting next to Mummy rubbing her back saying we can work something out.
I went straight to Mummy's side and said “Mummy what is wrong did some one get hurt?”
She replied in between sobs, “I can't marry Bill in the Catholic church because of me being a divorcee.”
Aunty Bella said “I could have told you that Donna, but Bill can marry you in any other church so all is not lost.”
Brian said, “I'm good friends with the Lutheran minster and will have a word with him when I leave here Donna.”
I gave Daddy a ring and told him that Mummy was upset and could he please come home and talk with her about the wedding? He was there within ten minutes and sat down beside her on the lounge, put an arm around her and said, “Everything will be ok Darling. No bloody church is going to tell me who I can marry."
I then asked him, “What about me? Can I still be christened?”
“Yes of course you can, just not as a Catholic”
“Oh is that all?” I said. Anyway Daddy didn't go back to work because Uncle Tony was now running part of his business, which let him take things a little bit slower. Brian and Daddy went into the office and closed the door behind them, so I guess it had to do with the paper work that had to be sorted out about my birth certificate and also the process about wanting to adopt me and Rita so we could have his surname as well as Mummy when they got married.
Mummy and Bella were in the kitchen preparing lunch so I decided to have a go at making Fluffy drink from a saucer I carried the little ball of fluff out onto the verandah, put her down and put her nose down to the milk and to my surprise she started lapping at it. Of course Ginger and Goldie were there as well so I thought I would give them both a treat and gave them a bacon bone each. It wasn't long and Mummy called me to come and have some lunch. It was one o'clock, and I was wondering why my tummy was rumbling.
Before we sat down to eat, Daddy said, “Ok, some things have been sorted out so listen up ladies. Brian has spoken with Pastor Miller at the Lutheran church, and the church has been booked for Saturday the fifth of September.” He was looking at Mummy when he said it with that silly grin on his face. Mummy jumped up and wrapped him in a tight hug and let all her emotions loose and cried into Daddy's shoulder.
All I was worried about was my birth certificate being changed so I could get christened and be able to go to a normal school.
I went up to Brian and asked him straight out, “What about me Father, what happens about me? Can you fix up all my stuff too?”
Brian replied “Carla, I have been working on 'your stuff' as you so elegantly put it, for a couple of weeks now, and it is all in hand ok?” That shut me up for a few minutes, and I sat down and ate my pea and ham soup that Aunty Bella made earlier.
So the rest of the day was spent with all the adults talking about legal stuff and I left them to it. I had a basket on the verandah for Fluffy so she wouldn't wander off and get lost, and put her in there while I took Ginger and Goldie for a walk down to the park. It was getting close to school being let out, so I hung around the park a little bit longer in the hope that my friends might turn up after school. I didn't have to wait long all three girls turned up and were still in their school uniforms, which I hoped to be wearing soon as well.
If all goes to plan, once I get some papers signed from Doctor Rose and Jim Ryan after the next Brisbane visit, I’ll be able to attend a normal school. Because I look almost like a normal girl down there I will even be able to go to the girls toilets, 'it's not as though I am going to walk around without my panties on is it?' I thought to myself.' We all played with the two dogs for a while and the girls said they had a lot of homework to do so we all hugged and said bye. It was getting late so I walked home with the dogs.
When I got back, Rita was sitting on the verandah in a squatters chair playing with Fluffy.
I said, “How come your home Sis?”
Rita replied “Uncle Tony said he had done all his catching up at the service station and he gave me a ride home, seeing Mummy was home already.”
I said, “Have you been told all about the wedding in September at the Lutheran church?”
"Yep, Aunty Bella has told me all about that and also how we are going to be baptised before the wedding, so we can then also be adopted and change our name to Dad's surname.” She continued and said, “I can't wait to be called by another name Sis, what about you?”
I replied, “I don’t care what they call me as long as I am a girl. Who cares?”
Daddy came out onto where Rita and I were sitting and said “Carla, there is someone on the phone that wants to talk to you sweetheart.”
I replied “Who would want to talk to little old me?”
“Well it's long distance, so move it.”
“Yes sir, Daddy.” I replied, and as I ran past him I got a small pat on the bum, and kept running and giggling and almost ran into the wall.
Rita said, “Stop being silly and answer that phone. Hurry up!”
I got to the phone and said “Carla speaking.”
“Carla, it's Rose. Are you ready to come down to Brisbane on Thursday?”
I replied, “I guess so. Wait a minute and I’ll call Mummy to talk to you.”
She said, “Hang on a minute sweetheart, I want to talk to you first.”
I replied, “Is there a problem?”
"No Carla, on the contrary, but I will want to talk to you and your Mum and also Bill so we are all clear on what's involved in your future treatment. I have spoken with Bill and he has agreed to come down to Brisbane as well.” She then said, “You are a very lucky little little girl Carla, Bill really must love you to do this for you."
I replied “Yeah he loves all three of us girls.”
Rose laughed and said, “I'll see you on Thursday. 'Bye.”
I looked at the phone and was day-dreaming when Mummy came in and said, “Well!!”
I said, “Mummy what was all that about?”
She replied, “Well darling, you will just have to be patient till we get to Brisbane wont you?”
I replied “Aww why can't you tell me now?”
“Sweetheart, I don't know a lot more than you do but I think they will be talking to us about some sort of surgery a little bit further down the track."
I said, “Ooh Mummy will it hurt?”
“Darling you wont feel a thing because you'll be asleep when it's being done.”
I went and sat in Daddy's big old lounge chair that I reckon must be at least a hundred years old because it was left to him by his Dad and had been reupholstered a few times but he will never throw it out. Anyway I was daydreaming about being a bridesmaid at Mummy's wedding when Mummy said, “Ok, we are going to leave for Brisbane tomorrow because Bill has some business to attend to there as well."
I sat up straight and said “What?”
“Carla, you really have to stop daydreaming all the time and listen to what is going on around you or you will be left behind."
I replied, “Sorry Mummy, I was thinking about your wedding.”
“Don't remind me! We have a lot to do before then, so go and pack your clothes to take to Brisbane and remember it's winter time so jeans and warm tops ok!?”
Daddy came into my room while I was packing a bag with winter clothes and said “Carla I have a chartered plane coming in the morning at eight o'clock so it will be an early start ok?”
I said, “Wow Daddy, are we going to fly from here?”
“Well from the air strip anyway Carla so get to bed and get a good nights sleep. It's going to be a big week for us all."
Aunty Bella was going to go with Rita to the restaurant to help out while we are away, so Mummy gave her some last minute instructions of what menus to use, not that Rita didn't know what to do but to make it easier to manage the restaurant. Uncle Tony drove us to where the six seater twin engine plane was parked and ready to take us to Brisbane. The pilot was doing his final checks outside the plane when we arrived. He opened up some doors on the side of the plane and put our luggage inside the luggage compartment. He was looking a bit worried when he saw how much we were wanting to take, because the plane had a weight limit. Anyway it must have looked heavier than it was, and it was all coming with us. We boarded the plane and it was more comfortable and bigger than it looked from the outside. There was no control tower at the strip but the pilot must have been talking to some one because he was on the radio asking permission to start the flight.
Then the engines started and within minutes we were airborne and on our way to Archerfield airport on the outskirts of Brisbane. I think it took about two hours and we were touching down at an airport that did not have any big buildings because it was only used for smaller planes and mainly for private planes. I saw a few helicopters parked outside some hangers. The pilot taxied along the runway and to a building near the road where we had to get a cab into town. Daddy talked to the pilot and arranged for our flight back home when we were ready. Mummy said if we did a lot of shopping it would have to be put on the train to send it home because we right on the limit for weight on the plane as it was.
The guy that was in the building where the plane stopped, rang for a taxi to take us into town.
I said, “Where are we going to stay while we were in Brisbane this time Daddy?”
He replied, “Donna, you can tell Carla all about what you have arranged.”
Mummy replied, “I rang Samantha’s Mum last night and I am sure you wont mind spending some time with her will you?”
“It'll be real nice to see her. Do you think she'll be allowed to go shopping with us too?”
“Sweetheart, first thing first ok? Let Daddy sort his stuff out first and then we can work out what time we can spend shopping.”
The yellow taxi arrived and we loaded all our things into the boot and got into the car. Mummy gave the driver the address to take us to and it was only a block away from the Mater hospital on Stanley street. The driver stopped in front of an apartment building. We got all our things out of the boot of the cab and Daddy paid the driver.
Mummy went up the steps and pressed a button of an intercom with a number on it and I could hear Samantha’s voice come out of the speaker she said, “Samantha Aldridge, who is it?”
Mummy replied, “Samantha, it's Donna. Can you press the unlock button on the entrance door so we can get in off the street.”
The door clicked and it was unlocked, 'It must be a security thing' I thought.
I said “Mummy, I don’t think I could live in the city if you have to lock yourself in like this.”
She replied, “Don’t worry darlin,g you're not the only one who doesn’t like the city for any more than the shopping.”
Daddy rolled his eyes and said, “Yeah well once a year is enough for me. I'm always glad to be on the way home.”
By the time we were in the foyer of the building Samantha was coming out of a lift and jumping up and down with excitement and grabbed me and gave me a bone crushing hug.
I said, “Where are the stairs?” and she pointed to a door next to the lift. I think she knows that I worry about getting stuck inside a lift if it breaks down.
She said, “Don't worry Carla, there is a panic button if that happened and it lights up a light in the building superviser's office."
The apartment was on the second floor, so we were only in the lift for a couple of minutes. The apartment was as big as a normal city house only you had no outside apart from a little balcony that fronted a busy road and all the car fumes came up from the road. Samantha’s room had a television in it, so I was thinking I might be able to talk Daddy into putting up a big tower like Uncle Tony and have a television too. We settled in and Mummy, myself and Samantha went for a walk to a little restaurant and ordered a meal. Daddy went off on his own to deal with the business he had come to Brisbane to sort out. We had our meal, walked back to the apartment and settled down and watched a girlie movie.
To be continued.
Next time: the Hospital visit, papers signed, and a look at the city from Mt Cootha.
South Brisbane in 1959.
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