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My cousins

 

My mother's sisters Bessie and Florrie met two English sailors on a British battleship visiting Sydney; Bill and Frank Evans who were brothers.  They must have fallen in love straight away because they both ‘jumped ship’ (deserted) and if they had been caught would have been given a very long prison term or worse had there been a war on, but luckily for them they got away with it and after a short courtship Bill married Bessie and Frank married Florrie.   

After they all settled down to the Australian way of life, uncle Frank started up poultry farm at Dundas and later raised two sons, Bill and Frank. 

As much as I liked my two cousins I hated their mother, my auntie Florrie, she was a real battle axe.  She would reprimand me if I left too much sugar in the bottom of my tea cup. One day she cooked me some banana custard out of sugar bananas, I hated sugar bananas, they made me sick but I knew if I didn’t eat it all she would abuse me so I ate it all and came close to bringing it all up.  I was too terrified to do so.

They were pretty well off, they owned a poultry farm and a car and we were the poor relations and she treated me as such. 

Another time she noticed three or four bullets in the red hot embers of the fuel stove; of course I got the blame straight away and she really got stuck into me for being so dangerously careless and stupid for doing such a thing. In the midst of all the ridicule, luckily for me Bill walked in and he took the blame.  He noticed some mandarin peelings mixed with the bullets and said he had put his hand in his pocket to throw the peelings he had there into the embers and also had some bullets in his pocket as well.  Do you think she apologised to me?  You’ve got to be kidding!  But that was nothing. 

One day when I was on school holidays it was decided that I was to spend a whole week there and be with Frank and Bill all the time.  I was ecstatic; I caught the motor train of the time to Telopea Station.  The next stop was Carlingford, the end of the line.  I remember running from there to my uncle’s place about one kilometre, jumping up and down in happiness as kids do, firing my air gun into the air, I was so happy. 

When I arrived there I was met at the door by the ‘battleaxe’ and she said to me “you can’t stop here now Rossi we have visitors staying here, you will have to go back home again.”  My whole world collapsed, I have never been so disappointed in my whole life.  It all happened so quickly that I caught the same train at Telopea on its return trip. 

As they became older the two juniors of the family, Bill and Frank, had to decide about their future. 

Billy decided his future was to follow on with the farm raising chickens, but Frank had other ideas and took on something else, at which it turns out he was extremely gifted: ‘chicken sexing'.

One day my uncle Frank had read in the paper that the Japanese were introducing a new way of determining the sex of a chicken when it was one day old with 99% accuracy, which was very important because only the pullets laid eggs and the cockerels were worthless and had to be destroyed.  Only a few were kept to fertilise existing fowls or chooks. 

The Japanese started up an education program at different places throughout the state to teach people with a gift for this sort of thing; that is it took exceptionally good eye sight not only to handle the chickens gently and to be 99% accurate; but to be very quick because as always, money is the name of the game.  At this Frank was the most successful and farmers only employed the best. 

He worked very long hours and made lots of money.  When most people’s wage was about five pounds a week, he was making 100 pounds a week.  But he could only work six months of the year (it must have been seasonal) so Frank made hay while the sun shone. 

Even today he beat the Japanese at their own game and still holds the world record of x amount of day old chickens sexed with 99% accuracy in one hour.  Bill at a later date also took it on occasionally but was nowhere near as successful.  As a matter of fact that is where Frank met his wife Mavis who was also learning the art.  Nowadays there is a more efficient and less expensive method.

 

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