Friday, October 25, 2013

The Book of Me - Week 7 - Paternal Grandparents

This week Julie Goucher of Angler's Rest asked us to respond to the following prompt in The Book of Me, Written by You activity.

The prompt for week 7 is Grandparents

What were their names?
Where were they from?
Were they related? – Cousins perhaps
Where were they born, another Country or state/area
What did they do?
Did you know them?
What was your relationship with them?
If you didn't know them have you researched about them?


I am going to cheat a little bit with this post as I will paste in bits and pieces I have written in earlier blog posts. 

I remember two of my grandparents and  met three of them. I adored my two Nannas and spent many happy childhood hours with them and their extended families.

My Paternal grandparents were Thomas William Curry and Mary Tierney, my maternal grandparents were Frank Duncan and Ethel Jane Pusell. So that's the vital statistics out of the way. 

Having started writing this post I have realised that what I have to write is way too much for one post so I will write separately about my two sets of grandparents.  You can read about my Maternal grandparents here.


My paternal side is 100% Irish and with a bit of Irish thrown in from my Mum's side that makes me more then half Irish and goes some way to explaining why I have the gift of the gab.

Thomas (Papa) William Curry, twin to Daniel, was born in Cowra, New South Wales to Thomas Curry and Catherine Molloy. Thomas' father died when he was seven and his mother who remarried died in 1904 so young Tom was orphaned at twenty. His extended family lived in the Cowra district so hopefully they supported this young farm worker.

Thomas  met Mary (Nana) Tierney from Dungog in his home town of Canowindra where Mary,a dressmaker, worked in the local hotel. What took Mary to Canowindra I don't know and I guess I'll never find out. Tom and Mary had a quiet wedding in Sydney (I haven't been able to locate any photos) and returned to Canowindra where they brought up their family of three boys and two girls. My Dad, Allan John, was their first-born. Papa Curry managed two local properties, Fairview and Benevento, in Canowindra and the family grew up on the farms. 

Tom and Mary Curry and Family, 1925
After my grandfather retired the family moved to Brighton-le-sands in Sydney and that is where my memories kick in. I can't remember my grandfather as he died when I was an infant but I have many recollections of my Nana Curry.

Mary Tierney 1887-1977

Mary Tierney was born in the town of Dungog to John D'Arcy Tierney, a carpenter, builder and sometime undertaker, and his Irish wife, Mary Kealy. Nana had two sisters, Jane and Eliza, and a brother, Patrick.   

Nana was a gentle lady with snowy white hair that she wore in a bun and she seemed terribly old to me when she was about the age I am now. She was a devout Catholic who was proud of her Irish heritage, I remember kneeling beside her bed and reciting my prayers with her when I went to stay with her. We would always include this prayer:

There are four corners on my bed,

There are four angels at my head.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
Bless the bed I lay upon.

Before my Aunts left home I would sleep with Nana in her high double bed with her statue of Our Lady looking down on me. I was pleased to find out recently that Our Lady is now residing in a glass-fronted cabinet in my cousin's home. 

We used to visit Nana's home by train and bus every Sunday for lunch. Sometimes, after Uncle Kevin bought a television set, we would stay on to watch Leave it to Beaver before making our way home. I remember watching Princess Margaret's wedding on that TV in 1960. Uncle Kevin had a car, one of the early Holdens (FJ or FX), so after lunch all the family might pile in to go for a drive to watch the planes taking off at the nearby Kingsford Smith (Sydney) airport or down south across the Taren Point Car Ferry towards Cronulla Beach. As we lived in a a flat my dinky, scooter and bicycle with training wheels lived at Nana's. I spent many happy Sundays tootling up and down the garden path and the footpath in my vehicles.

My patient Aunts and Uncles played games with me, I especially loved playing Scrabble and was thrilled to get a set (that I still have) as a Christmas present; I play Scrabble to this day but online. Two memorable gifts I received for Christmas or a birthday from the Currys were my Kodak Box Brownie Camera (and a developing kit) and a reel to reel tape recorder. I had great fun with these items, taking photos and interviewing family members. Mum wouldn't have been too happy when she discovered the damage to the carpet under my bed (my darkroom) that was ruined by the chemicals I spilt.  I was the first and only Curry grandchild/niece for seven years so I had a lot of attention. 

Our trip to Brighton was made easier when Dad got his first car. Uncle Kevin was relieved of his chauffering duties but we continued our drives to visit Aunty Lil and Uncle Tom at Sans Souci and Aunty Mary and Uncle Ed at Mortdale.In summer we would sometimes go the the Ramsgate Baths for a swim or we would swim on the beach or in the baths at Brighton.

Nana would cook us a baked dinner or corned beef and vegetables for Sunday lunch. I don't know how the extended family all squeezed around her table that was just 4 feet in diameter, I have had Nana's dining suite for 25 years and use it as an auxiliary table. Every time I walk past it I am reminded of family Sundays at Brighton. For the first sixteen years of my life (until I started getting a social life) I visited Nana nearly every Sunday.

Nana loved feeding me egg flips that she believed to be very healthy, these drinks were made from milk, a raw egg and vanilla essence and after a shake and stir of the ingredients nutmeg was sprinkled on top. I remember them as quite sweet and delicious. Nana used often give me sweets to take home, they were always the same caramels. I sometimes wished for a bit of variety.

Nana, who lived to the ripe old age of 89 spent the last few years of her life in a nursing home. She had an enormous impact on my life.

With Nana Curry on my Wedding Day


Lizzie said...

Great post, loved reading it.

Kylie Willison said...

What's a dinky, Jill?

GeniAus said...

A very small tricycle for pre-schoolers. I have a picture of my daughter on her Cyclops dinky. A Google image search for Cyclops Dinky will bring up some pictures.


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