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Spry, Frances

Memories of the Early Days by Frances Spry

I am the youngest of 7 children of George and Adelaide Rainey, who came out to Chermside and settled on a 15 acre block with a little shingle roof cottage on it and a lot of trees. The property was bounded by Rode Road, what is now Farnell Street, Wallace Street and on the other side is now the Prince Charles Hospital area.

Where The Prince Charles Hospital is was owned by German people named Beneke. I remember my mother telling me that Mrs Beneke tried to commit suicide in the water hole down at the front and Mum was able to save her life.

Dad at first ran a lot of chooks; he also had a section in the Roma Street Markets with a partner named John Livingstone and they had a banana section at the top of Roma Street. He used to drive in, in a horse and spring cart, every Sunday morning, to check the gas on the bananas.

Mum and Dad had friends named Hackett in Webster Road, and I had to go across many a time on messages, to this old couple. She always had a jar of sweets on the sideboard and I always knew I would get one. Coming home one day through the bush track, some big bird really attacked me and I remember coming home with hands on my head yelling my head off and crying liked mad. Mum said, "Whatever's the matter with you?" and I said, "A big bird chased me!" My brother Bert was home and he said, "I'll go back with you and we'll see what the problem is." Well, it was a curlew and I had walked too close to its nest. So when I hear curlews, it really means something to me.

I went to school at the Chermside State School and I remember Mr Lee, the headmaster, put on a competition for the most popular one in the school and I won it, and I was presented with a book of fables.

Dad formed the first Sunday School for the Church of England. There were his kids - not me, as I was too young - and the Moody children. Mr Moody was a fisherman at Scarborough.

Water was drawn from a water hole on the property, and when I was about three or four I nearly drowned in there. My brother Bert pulled me out by the hair and saved me.

When I went to high school, I had to go to State High and every morning I would walk to Gympie Road, catch a bus to Woolloowin Station, then get a train to Central, then walk to Queen Street, where I would get a Dutton Park tram to the school. After school it was the same in reverse, carrying a heavy bag all the way.

Our original house was financed by Worker's Dwelling Fund. It is No. 12 Worker's Dwelling. I was six months old when the family moved in and I will be 87 in August.

The house used to face Rode Road. About 36 years ago we moved house to here. Before the house was moved we built two tennis courts. One was a night court and one a day court. They were very popular with the Tennis Association, who used them for their fixtures.

My husband, Courtney Spry and I were married in 1933 and he passed away four years ago. We enjoyed 59 years of married life and had five children, three sons and two daughters. I have fifteen grandchildren and twenty great-grandchildren and more on the way. I have certainly been wonderfully blessed by God.

Written by Frances Spry in Community Voice August 1997

Frances was born in Brisbane on 4th August 1910 to George and Adelaide Rainey of Chermside. She was the youngest of a family of six and attended Chermside State School. Her elder brother, Bert, was a teacher there and refusing to call him 'Sir' earned her a detention. This was also where her very long hair was a problem, worn in a plait. The boy in the desk behind used to dip the end of the plait in his inkwell until Mum learned to sit on her hair. She had a truly loving relationship with her siblings and later with their families.

Frances was one of the early pupils at State High School and on completing secondarysSchool was dismayed when her Dad refused to allow her to apply for any job, even as a journalist. A gifted writer, Frances won several literary prizes.

She met and married her one and only sweetheart for 59 years. Courtenay passed away nearly seven years ago. They had five children. Her eldest son, Brian, who passed away 5 years ago, was ordained a Deacon in All Saints Anglican Church, Chermside. There are 15 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren and she had a great love for each of her sons and daughters-in-law.

At age 55 a determined Frances obtained her driver's licence and driving her MG Sedan, set off selling Tupperware, Americana ware and similar lines by Party Plan from past Gympie down to northern NSW.

Frances was a foundation member of Chermside Ladies Bowls Club and a Worthy Matron of Chermside Chapter of O.E.S. She had been a member for almost 50 years.

For many years she was a volunteer at the Sandgate Masonic Home where she spent her final few months. She passed away on 24th March 1997.