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The Avondale Poets
Deanna Norton


Deanna Norton is -
daughter of Dorothy nee Slattery Costello  1924 - 1988
granddaughter of Alice May  nee Buckley  Slattery  1899 - 1974
great granddaughter of Martha nee McLachlan Buckley  1854 - 1919
great great granddaughter of - 
"McLachlan of Avondale" in Australia from 1850

Precious Memories of Times Past

Alice May nee Buckley Slattery with her husband
Alice May nee Buckley Slattery with her husband

I have the most wonderfully happy memories of holidays spent in Oberon with my grandmother - Alice May nee Buckley Slattery,  the twelfth & last child &  third surviving daughter of Martha McLachlan & Edmund Buckley.

I am now in my fifty second year but I can still remember the excitement & anticipation as we drove through town of Oberon, turned  the corner & caught the first glimpse of Grandma's house in Dillon Street --- down the lane & into the yard.   By the time we pulled up ---  there she would be at the top of the steps waiting to greet us --- always so welcoming, always dressed nicely & always wearing an apron with a perfect bow tied at the back - I still don't know how she managed THAT !

There was always so much to do & enjoy.  Holidays with Grandma for my three brothers, Jeffrey, Raymond & Lyndon, & myself, never seemed long enough. There was a big yard with lots of interesting nooks --- great for playing  "hide & seek". There were trees to climb, chooks to feed, eggs to collect & of course baby chicks to be admired from time to time.  A HUGE woodpile was there to explore. The woodpile was  HUGE  because cooking, heating, washing & bathing all depended on wood for the fuel that was essential to make a fire for all those tasks.

There seemed always to be endless visitors. Family & friends coming & going all the time as well as those who lived there.

Sheds were there to investigate  ---  Mr Jackson who lived in the  "loft"  of the big shed & had a talent for woodwork;  especially cricket bats for my brothers. Then there was our cousin,  Eric,  who lived downstairs.

Uncle "Josh"  (Josiah)  Buckley, Grandma's brother,  lived at Grandma's home for many years.  He loved to garden & he grew all kinds of vegetables & flowers. Although he had a wooden leg (result of some accident)  he was most adept at all gardening jobs.

Alice May nee Buckley Slattery  grandchildren - Deanna  Jeffrey  Raymond  &  Lyndon
Alice May nee Buckley Slattery grandchildren - Deanna Jeffrey Raymond & Lyndon

Because Grandma was a widow by that time,  I got to sleep in Grandma's big bed with her --- maybe because I was the only granddaughter.  How I loved that.  It was so cosy & it made me feel so special --- waking up in the morning to the sound of the rooster crowing,  lying there quietly & talking about all sorts of things.

Then Grandma would read aloud from her Bible,  & after that it was time for prayers.  Prayers were always said as we knelt by the bed & this was how every day started --- perhaps the secret to the calm & gentle way that life was lived in that home.  Grandma was of the Seventh Day Adventist religion,  & she lived out her faith daily. There was a sign in the kitchen & it said  ---

"Christ is the head of this house,
The unseen guest at every meal
The silent listener to every conversation."

Grandma had nice things & did things nicely. The table was always set properly for all meals. Tablecloths always were starched & ironed.

Alice May nee Buckley Slattery   -   her nephew - Eric Buckley  -  son of Bill
Alice May nee Buckley Slattery - her nephew - Eric Buckley - son of Bill

She had lovely unusual containers for the foods -- the honey was in a container that was the shape of a beehive, complete with a bee on the lid, the tomato sauce was in a tomato shaped bottle;  & the cheese was always served in the cutest little crockery house.  There was always plenty to eat no matter how many were there at meal times.

Morning & afternoon teas were a treat for us as children.  They were served outside on the lawn, always carried out on a tray;  & included little glasses of homemade cordial & little biscuits & cakes. The little glasses were the ones the vegemite used to come in with the pictures on them. We loved it. Such simple things but they made us happy.

Alice May nee Buckley Slattery   -   her 3rd surv brother  -  Josh  -  Josiah Buckley
Alice May nee Buckley Slattery - her 3rd surv brother - Josh - Josiah Buckley

Christmas was always a special time but more so when it was celebrated at Grandma's place. The tables were set up on the verandah.  When I think about it now,  I realise that was for at least two reasons.  Firstly, there was the heat --- the heat of the climate as well as the heat of the fire in the kitchen to cook the Christmas Dinner.  The second reason was so that there would be sufficient room to accommodate everyone,  as there were always ---"extras".

Presents were never opened until the afternoon --- that is after the Christmas Dinner was eaten,  & the washing up was done. This is a tradition our family has continued to this day.

Alice May Buckley Slattery  -   in middle  -  her dau Dorothy on her left & granddau on her right - great grand dau Jackie on lap of Dee
Alice May Buckley Slattery - in middle - her dau Dorothy on her left & granddau on her right - great grand dau Jackie on lap of Dee

There is so much more that I could write but I won't.  I just thank God for my Grandma,  & her example to us all.  I know that my life has beeen enriched by knowing her.

-written by -
Deanna Norton,
@  Rivett (ACT) Capital Territory of AUSTRALIA
during March  2002


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