Meteorology Maps – Thank you (1)
Len was born at his Aunty Rita’s home on Terrigal Road Erina on 24th November 1926. The youngest son of William and Jessie, he was educated at Woodport Primary School at Erina.
Although Len was a studious and talented scholar, his parents couldn’t afford for him to continue on to High School. There wasn’t the money for the books, uniform or bus fare, so at 13 years of age he started working in the bush around Mangrove Mountain with his Father who was cutting logs for local sawmills. Len’s job was to look after, and to work the bullock team. He would round up the bullocks, hitch them up and work them all day dragging logs up the mountain.
It was a tough and lonely life for a young boy living in the bush with his father who was a very hard, demanding, and in Len’s case, an unloving man. They lived in an open-fronted hut with a bark roof and we can only imagine how cold those long nights were up on the Mountain during winter. They worked from dawn till dusk and the only outside contact was with the drivers of timber trucks that came every few days for a load. At the end of the week Len would get a lift home with one of the truckies and return again on Mondays. Despite the lack of closeness between Father and Son, Len said he would always cry when he had to leave his Dad alone in the bush. Over the years when we talked about his childhood, Len would become very emotional about his relationship with his father. He never understood his Father’s dislike of him from a very young age and it tormented him all his life. Len’s eldest brother Alf was also treated poorly by his father but both boys adored their Mother. Many in the family would be totally unaware of this as the boys put it all behind them and got on with their lives.
All the family helped around the property on Terrigal Road, in the orchard which supplemented the family income and in the vegetable garden or milking cows. Some would often recall having to bring the cows in for milking and in the winter when the frost was crackling under their bare feet, they would stand in the fresh cowpats just to keep their feet warm.
Len worked in the bush with his Father for about three years then got a job at a local orchard. A few months after the war ended, and aged about 19, Len and his mate decided to look for work further afield and ended up at Wee Waa in the North West of the State working on a property during the wheat season. Len also sought work in the Riverina. Our family would return some years later to live at that property outside Wee Waa called “Brushy Park”. By now he had met Neryl and came to live at Carlingford and they were married in 1947. Len worked in a sawmill at Parramatta then at HMV Homebush and EMI, pressing records. The record collection began to grow. Then it was back to Terrigal Road where Len and Neryl built a small house and he began cutting and carting logs for a local sawmill. By then they had two very young daughters, Phyllis and Maureen, and Len would come home from work and they would both get stuck into finishing the house working well into the nights.
Australian Sheep-farming … The Australian – Thank you (2)
In late 1952 Len accepted the offer of a job on the property at Wee Waa where he’d worked some years earlier. The family packed up and travelled the long train trip to the isolation of life on a wheat and sheep property where we stayed for 6 years. During our time on the property we experienced two severe floods and we remember watching Len swimming in the swirling waters outside the floodbank towards the wool shed to release some horses that were in danger of drowning. On that occasion, water in the Keepit Dam, miles away near Gunnedah, had been released and it spread across the land like a tsunami. It was a frightening and noisy spectacle as we watched it approaching, knocking down fences and smaller trees. We also have memories of him riding his horse into the distance one night to an adjoining station that was experiencing severe bush fires and we could see the glow of the fire from our front verandah. He stayed on the station fighting the fire and didn’t come home for days. That was life on the land.
He took up wood chopping when we lived in Wee Waa and had many successes competing in country shows. When the family moved back to Sydney he continued successfully competing in wood chopping and sawing events at local, country and interstate shows. Along the way he made many close and enduring friendships. One especially remains to this day – his good friend Toby Davis. Those were the days of being young, strong, competitive and ready for a good time and that was especially so when he got together with the likes of Toby, Reggie Chalker, Garry Smith, Neville Missen, Ron Mahon, Ron Sherriff or Doug and Bill Youd to name just a few. We can’t forget the night after a session at the Club when Toby chopped off the head of a very large Schnapper using one of Len’s racing axes. Not a problem except that he was using the back doorstep as a chopping block. So we lived for years with this big “v” shaped piece missing from the doorstep.
When Len gave up competitive chopping he judged the chopping events at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show. He had a lovely singing voice and his repertoire of Buddy Williams and Tex Morton songs was endless. We could just ask his lifelong friends Toby and Lila – many years ago they travelled with Len and Neryl straight through from Brisbane to Sydney and Toby said to Len “You sang all the bloody way home and you never repeated one song!” Len sang every day and often into the night right up until he was recently hospitalised. On long car trips we can remember Evan as a youngster saying “sing that one about the Drover’s Dog, Dar”.
Len loved his music and became a self-taught organist and would sit and play the organ for hours and he also loved to play his mouth organ. He particularly loved Buddy Williams tunes. When he was just a young boy his brother Reg returned to the family home in Erina with a young friend – that friend was Buddy Williams, and there began Len’s love of country ballads. Buddy lived with the family for many months. Many of you here today wouldn’t recognise the song that was played at the beginning of this service. “A Mother as lovely as you.” It was one of Len’s favourites and it was one of the many Buddy Williams tunes he loved to sing and he sang it in memory of his Mother who he adored.
Buddy Williams Album – ‘A Mother as lovely as you’ – Thank you (3)
Upon our return to the city, Len got a job fencing for a company based in Granville. Then he and Neryl started their own very successful business – Carlingford Sawmilling and Fencing. He had a sawmill at the end of Carlton Road at North Rocks just near where Maureen and Richard now live. The sawmill was located partly on his good friend Ted’s property, and Ted also gave his “permission” to encroach on part of the adjoining Crown land. It’s rumoured that some good logs were appropriated from that Crown Land – but that’s another story.
Len was a jack of all trades and he could turn his hand to almost anything. Whether it was cars or machinery, or stitching up a dog’s belly that had been sliced by a barbed-wire fence or striking shrubs and trees. He loved animals and in particular his dogs. He turned up at Maureen’s work one day with a dog he’d rescued from being put down, wondering whether there was somebody who’d take him. Richard was walking past and Maureen introduced her Dad. Richard agreed to take the dog but couldn’t take him at that time as he was living in a flat. So Len agreed to keep the dog until Richard found a house. The rest is history – Len kept the dog and Richard got Maureen.
Len worked in timber all his life. He was a craftsman furniture maker and the family home is full of beautifully made Australian Cedar furniture which he was always rightly proud to show off. When travelling, he was always on the lookout for trees and would generally comment “There’s some bloody good logs in there.” He loved gardening and always had a fabulous vegetable garden – corn as high as an elephant’s eye, beetroot, masses of cucumbers, watermelons and his very favourite – tomatoes. A few years ago Parramatta Council recognised both Len and Neryl’s contribution to the beautification of the parkland next door by naming the park “Aldrick Gardens”. They had both put in enormous amounts of time and money over a period of more than 50 years to make the parkland what it is today.
Len and Neryl were married for almost 68 years. Their life was at times a bit of a struggle but they also had many many good times. They loved ballroom dancing and would regularly go to the Epping RSL dances with their friends Stevo and Betty or to the local Bowling Club. For several years they had a large caravan on-site at Fingal Bay and together with Phyllis and their pets they spent most weekends there. They both loved fishing and would often stay out overnight in their 16ft boat. Though Len was by no means a perfect individual, he worked very hard and provided well for his family. In his friend Ian’s words, “he was a big man with a big presence”. An amazingly strong man who worked physically hard all his life, but his body certainly paid for it in later life. He was feared by the local “louts” who were out to create a nuisance in the neighbourhood but they soon knew to avoid the area around Honiton Avenue. He was a very generous man and always stood up for the underdog whether it be the Aboriginal population around Wee Waa or someone who was being treated unfairly.
Len’s chief interest in life was his family. He loved kids and was delighted when Richard’s daughter Michelle entered our lives. He was also always keen to hear about Michelle and Troy’s children Zac and Jasmine. He thought Zac’s sporting achievements were marvellous and Jasmine’s dancing delightful. He was also totally devoted to Evan. Evan’s Nanny and Dar never missed a baseball match, a Grandparent’s day at school, a musical performance or pretty much anything Evan was involved with. Nanny and Dar are so proud of Evan’s many achievements in rifle shooting and take a keen interest in both Richard and Evan’s scores every Saturday, probably being secretly, or not so secretly glad when Evan takes out the day, which is more often than not these days. Len was so pleased that Evan found his lifetime partner in the lovely Renee and that he was able to attend their wedding.
Australia – Welcome to Down Under – Thank you (4)
Right up until Len went to hospital last week, he read the Sydney Morning Herald every day and looked forward to reading The Land newspaper every week. He still had a keen interest in politics and was ever hopeful he’d see the demise of Tony Abbott. Prior to Phyllis returning to live at home, Len would so look forward to her coming home for a couple of nights every week. He just hoped it could be for longer. Both Neryl and Phyllis cared for Len in every way. They worked so hard in what was often an extraordinarily stressful situation to make his life as comfortable as possible and it was a 24 hour a day job. As Len grew more and more frail he was very frustrated that he wasn’t able to do the things he most enjoyed as his life was confined to the indoors.
On a lighter note, our family have used the services of our Funeral Director Christopher Timmins on many occasions and perhaps Chris might not remember this, but when Len used to see Chris at various funerals he would say to him, “put the tape measure away – I’m not ready yet”. Well Chris, last Friday he WAS ready. In the early hours last Friday morning we said our goodbyes and in a beautiful gesture of love and respect, Evan combed his Dar’s hair for the last time. Len could never stand his hair being messy. We will miss him terribly but we all understand it was his time to go.
We would like to publicly recognise and thank our wonderful GP Dr Daniel Lee whose dedication in caring for Len and in fact the whole family is so greatly appreciated.
Thank you all for being with us today.
Neryl Aldrick (c) July 2015)
Thank you to Marion Hosking for making this insight into women’s lives through the life of their father/grandfather and Neryl’s husband available to Women’s History Network (WHN) Blog.
ZEntertainment – Thank you (5)
(1) Meteorology Maps – thank you [http://w0.fast-meteo.com/locationmaps/Erina.12.gif (accessed 30 July 2015)]
(2) The Australian – thank you [http://resources0.news.com.au/images/2014/05/29/1226936/360572-66a66624-e6f1-11e3-a93b-3d4546371b68.jpg (accessed 30 July 2015)]
(3) Buddy Williams Album – ‘A Mother as lovely as you’ – thank you [http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51f-BUGDzAL._SL500_AA280_.jpg (accessed 30 July 2015)]
(4) Australia – Welcome to Down Under – thank you [http://i.ytimg.com/vi/_C898SQMB4Q/maxresdefault.jpg (accessed 30 Kuly 2015)]
(5) ZEntertainment – thank you [http://www.zentertainment.com.au/images/dsc01701.JPG (accessed 30 July 2015)]
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