News & Events

Shedding light on village life for two aunts

November 13, 2018

Lorraine Egan stepped back in time during a recent visit to Rushall Park village with her Glen Waverley Probus Club. Walking past cottages in Grice and Fripp Avenues, Lorraine was taken back to another era when her two great aunts lived in the village.

The older of her two great aunts, Amy Ruby Fairlie, moved to the village, known then as the Old Colonists’ Homes, in 1953. Amy, who was known as Ruby, had lived in Parkville with her husband, Archibald, a Boer War veteran, before she made Number 7 Fripp Avenue her home. Ruby’s husband died in 1948 and family lore has it that he never fully recovered after their only son, Ernest, went missing, presumed dead in Rabaul, New Guinea in the Second World War in 1942.

“Aunty Ruby would often go down to Port Melbourne when the troops returned to see if anyone had news of her son,” Lorraine said.

Ruby had to wait almost a decade until family moved in to keep her company. Her sister, Mary Adelaide Isles, moved to the village in 1962. Mary, who was known as Adelaide had lived near her parents in Port Melbourne and she worked for many years at Renee Rose store in the city, sewing and beading their evening dresses, before she moved across town into 15 Grice Avenue.

Lorraine, from Glen Waverley, has fond memories of the regular drive to North Fitzroy to visit her mother’s ‘kind-hearted’ aunties.

“I was only little, but I do remember the cottages being fairly dark, with small kitchens,” she said.

“Adelaide lived a long time in the cottage because I remember coming to visit her in 1977 to mark her 80thbirthday. Our son who would have been about seven at the time, also remembers that visit.”

“When I visited recently nothing looked very different. The gardens are so lovely now.”

Lorraine, who enjoys doing her family tree and finding new connections to her relatives was thrilled to hear from OCAV’s own history sleuth, Ruth Richardson. Ruth, who has worked tirelessly on OCAV’s history for next year’s 150thcelebrations, was able to tell Lorraine where her great aunts lived.

“I suppose Ruby recommended the village to her younger sister, Adelaide, when the time came for her to move. Adelaide never married and had no children of her own,” Lorraine said.

“I still have the teddy bear that Auntie Adelaide made for me , although a bit worse for wear, I can’t bring myself to part with it.   She made many bears for her great nieces and nephews, mainly from offcuts from her place of work.”

“There are lots of questions about the sisters that we might like answered, but we will never know. When we are young we think that time and people last forever and before you know it the time has passed.”

But Ruby, who died at Caritas Christie, Kew on 23 May 1973, and Adelaide on 25 September 1979, haven’t been forgotten and their story is now part of the rich 150-year history of OCAV, which will be celebrated across the four sites next year.

The apartments are beautiful, with lovely, open and bright rooms, and a balcony for growing plants in pots. I am starting to make my apartment into a home.

– Catherine, Leith Park

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