Meet my Grandparents – Thomas Albert Morrison and Leola Jean Waters
Last weekend was the weekend of the annual Shepparton Agricultural Show. For some reason, not sure why, I’ve been thinking of my memories of the Show as a child. These memories very quickly brought me to memories of my grandparents. My grandfather was caretaker of the showgrounds in Shepparton from about 1950 until about 1975
For us kids, this meant a free ticket into the Show which was a big deal back then. Also there was much excitement watching the “showies” set up their rides and sideshows.
We called our Grandfather Dad, probably because we heard our mother call him Dad. Not to be confused with Dad, he was Daaaad, pronounced with an elongated vowel. Dad spent the week before the show, helping to set up and was always given free tickets for rides which he passed on to us lucky kids. During the show he would water the track with the water tanker that he towed behind a tractor. We spent many happy hours sitting on the back of the watertank, behind the tractor, as it went round and round the arena. After the show was over, there we would be, on the Sunday morning, following Dad around on the clean up looking for anything of value that had been lost.
The showgrounds was our backyard when we visited our grandparents, and we spent many happy hours playing all sorts of games in the pavilions and kiosks. My most vivid memory of the showgrounds is the rabbits. They were everywhere, but we never could catch one. Dad told us that the way to catch a rabbit was to put salt on its tail, and we spent many happy hours trying to do just that. For some reason, we never did catch one of those rabbits. My grandfather passed away suddenly when he was aged 74. It makes me feel sad that he didn’t live longer so my children could enjoy him. He had a very funny sense of humour and would have given them many laughs, as he did me and my sisters and cousins.
My grandmother was a tiny, birdlike, some might think quite frail looking lady. But looks are deceiving, as she was actually as tough as old leather boots. She worked at Cleckheaton woollen mills on the factory floor until she retired at about age 73, riding her bike to and from work every day. I seem to remember she was not at all happy about retirement. I’m sure it wasn’t her decision to give up work. Her passion in life was horses and horseriding. As long as I remembered she always had a horse and would ride it to visit us. She rode until her mid 60’s. I can remember her as always hustling and bustling about and always busy. When I was small I loved having a sleep over at her house as she would cook us poached eggs for breakfast. Never mind that she dragged us out of bed in the dark to eat them. Maybe that’s why I’m an early riser now. If so, she did me a big favour as I love the early mornings,.
We all called our grandmother Othermum. This started when my cousin, as a small child, was trying to differentiate between her real Mum and the other Mum. She became Othermum to all her grandchildren and great grandchildren. As she became older, Othermum would walk down the street to do her weekly shopping. I’m sure there were offers to help, but her independance was important to her.
Sadly when she was in her late 80s, she was run down by a cyclist and suffered injuries that put her in hospital for a time. She was never the same after that accident, and lived a quieter life until she was aged 90.