Mum said to me one day, "Marge,
if I'm not here and you want to marry
a good Protestant
is better than a bad Catholic"...
And she said, "Just the same,
there are some very nice men.
Doesn't matter what religion".
My official name really is Marie Therese.
But somewhere, when I was a 'littlie',
one of my brothers
used to call me Little Margot,
and I think out of it became Marge.
My parents were share farmers
outside of Casino.
I don't know how long they were there, but
Dad used to go into,
I suppose, do shopping in Casino.
It would be on a horse,
there were no cars.
And so when he came home
this particular day, Mum was milking
and he walked over to the bales
and he said,
"I've just bought a hotel".
She threw a bucket of milk at him
and Mum said he roared laughing.
He just stood there.
He was all dressed up in a suit.
She said, "Edward, I can't
lead that sort of life.
I don't know anything about it".
And by then
they'd have had about five children.
Anyhow, so they went in and
17 years later they were still there.
They had the best business in town.
And of course with eleven kids
you need it.
He was quite a comedian, Dad.
And as a matter of fact
he was the business
but she was the one that did
all the bookwork.
All the finance and everything.
And managed Dad as well
'cause he needed managing.
He wasn't easy.
I didn't think he was, but that's kids.
Mum had a fernery
just out back of the hotel
and this fellow
who had been drinking at the bar.
There's always a couple of characters,
you know, in country towns.
He walked out and Mum used to put this hose
and she'd should put it on spray,
you know, for the ferns.
And he walked out and he said to Dad,
"It's raining Ted".
And Dad said "It is".
He said "I'll get you an umbrella"
and Mum said "Edward,
that's your best umbrella.
What are you doing?"
He said "It's worth it for the laugh".
And anyhow, the fellow with the umbrella
striding up the road.
And I believe he lived a long way out.
And his wife
said, "What's with the umbrella?
A beautiful sunny day".
And he said "Ted
Kearney said it was raining".
We laughed about that.
Yes, he was a funny man, Dad,
but then as he got older, he wasn't...
you know, I'd say...
In those days
they worked hard, they played hard.
We kids had our own table over
in the corner
and the waitress would stand there, "Roast
beef, corn beef, pickled pork".
I'd say "Oh I don't want any of that".
And now think I'd kill for it, you know.
We were actually very spoiled.
I didn't do without at all as a child
because, on account
of Mum and Dad
being in the hotel business.
I said, "Mum
what happened during the Depression"?
And she said "The
hotels were the last to suffer".
think beer was threepence or sixpence.
And she said, "But I always had
a big pot of soup on the stove".
And they were all wood stoves,
no electricity in the kitchen and
so she said, "They'd drink in the bar
but I always made
sure that there was some bread
and soup for them when they came out".
Dad and Ted, one of my eldest brothers,
they were responsible for getting into greyhound
racing on the far north coast.
So when the racing was on, everybody went.
"Come on kids, we're going to the dogs".
"I don't want to go to the dogs, Mum".
"Well, you'll be here on your own
at the hotel you have to come".
And Dad would... there'd be a queue and...
You got all the family with you".
And my sister Kath
was standing there with a
sausage, you know.
And she's standing
there and Kath was always vague.
You know, quite vague.
And she's standing there and an
old greyhound just came along and very
nicely took it off her and wandered off.
St Mary's School in Casino were
'The Sisters of No Mercy' I always say.
They were tough
and they were intimidating,
I mean they never smile at you...
Like "Good morning sister".
You know, that's how they were.
the vaudeville show used to come to town.
The tent shows,
and they used to stay at the hotel.
And I said to Mum one time.
I'd be about 12.
"Mum, dear I'd love to go away with them".
And she said, "Marge,
would you live in all that sawdust
and all that carry on?"
And I said, "Yeah, I would".
And she said, "But
you have to go to school".
I said they have school in there.
There was one show, the George Sorlie Show
and I believe Mr
Sorlie used to coach the kids at school.
But ah yes, I'd
I'd love to be on the stage.
I would really love to be in
something like that.
Every Saturday we'd go into Lismore,
into town, with the horse and sulky
and then so okay, we had to sing
and they were always sad songs.
"I wish I had someone to love me..."
You know, they were all dreary songs and
the letter edged in black.
"Come on now, come on 'littlies'".
Yes and they would sit on the seat
on the floor of the sulky.
Oh dear oh dear oh dear.
It was a lovely life.
Yes, I moved to Murwillumbah in 1937
and lived at the Australian Hotel.
Mum and Dad bought a lease of that
and during the war, 41 to 45 I think,
and the whole of the 32nd
were camped outside Brisbane.
Consequently, they used to come down
to Murwillumbah, the nearest towns...
they'd go over to Lismore.
A girlfriend of mine who was running
a hotel in Lismore rang me one day.
She said, "Marge, what are you doing
on the weekends?"
"Well I've got a half
a dozen Americans over here.
Will you come over and help me
entertain them?" That's how it was.
They used to love to get to dance.
They were catered for quite well.
So they stayed a lot at our hotel.
Matter of fact
I had a proposal of marriage.
Will I ever forget it?
And he said to Kath, "I'm
going to ask Marge to marry me".
And Kath said, my sister, "Well
you can forget all about that John.
Just get that idea out of you mind".
He said, "But do you speak for Marge?"
She said "This time I do.
She's not going to America".
It was funny, yeah.
Neither I would have gone.
I remember I was 19
when I got the first smack over my ears.
It was 4 o'clock in the morning
and of course I didn't have a watch
and we were all just sort of sitting
around at Coolangatta
And of course we had no idea...
Who cares about time when you're young
and when I got home,
Mum's room was next to mine
and she came in and she just...
Oh, and of course, the next morning,
I wouldn't speak to her
and that would never, ever, ever happen.
And she said, "Aren't
you talking to me love?"
I said, "You hurt my pride
more than anything.
You have ever hit me in your life".
She said, "I had you dead on the road.
It was 4 o'clock Marge".
She said, "One day you are going to marry
just this thing could happen to you".
I was a flirt.
I was always flirting around...
In country towns you, sort of,
you just didn't see any strangers.
You just had to rely on local people.
But the War time was lovely.
That was pleasant.
Pleasant with all the company.
Officers were camped out at Fingal.
They used to call it Camp Fingal...
the Americans, the officers
who'd come down from the islands
and then they'd come up
to the hotel of a night time and
with their beautiful suits,
you know, that you see, with their buttons
Oh dear they used to look lovely
and they were lovely men.
This business of oversexed and over here.
That was a lot of rot.
They were very, very nice people -
any of the Americans
we had staying at the hotel.
I loved their music.
They would come down with a 16 piece band
in the little old School of Arts
It was a beautiful sound.
They would play on the lawn
of the Coolangatta Hotel.
I just love beautiful music
and Mum would hire a taxi.
There was one in Murwillumbah.
It used to seat nine people, She'd say,
"Okay, put your name down
because I'm hiring a taxi to go down
to listen to the Americans and ohhh...
that was a lovely time.
I was so busy enjoying myself...
I didn't know anything
about what was happening about the War.
And now on SBS,
there's a lot of information
about the Nazis and the camps and things.
And I'm just glued to...
Is that what happened?
This is way I feel.
Yes, it was terrible.
I can remember... the powerhouse when
the signal blew the day War was ended.
And I was getting ready to go to work
and I just grabbed my uniform
and raced downstairs. Murwillumbah
had trucks going all around.
You could get on anything just
to celebrate, you know, the War was over.
And I had
a nice romance going in Murwillumbah
before the war.
I think he was 20 and I was about 19
and we were very fond of each other.
But when he came home,
he'd lost all his hair.
He just didn't look the same.
And what I think, fickle old me,
instead of thinking what a lovely man
he was, I was more worried about his
looks, and anyhow,
I just said I didn't want to continue.
And I can remember...
my sister, used to say, "God, you're...
How could you do that Marge?"
I said, "Well, I couldn't marry him
just for the hell of it".
And he cried.
He was up there and he cried, and
I felt terrible about that
but just the same that's life isn't it?
I did my apprenticeship for hairdressing
in Murwillumbah and then I finished up
salon on my own
and then I married.
A local boy.
Kath, my sister Kath, said,
"I think you married him, married Bede,
because he looked like Clark Gable".
He did a bit too.
I think I stirred the pot a bit
when I came into the family.
one of her friends said to her,
"She comes from a hotel you know?"
She's breaking the news to Nana
that Bede was going out
with this girl
[whose] people had a hotel.
Like I say I was some wanton female,
Yes, that was quite funny.
I think it's far too lenient
now, before marriage.
I don't know how to put it...
It's a difficult question
people are going out together
and they have sex.
It's a personal thing
I think that seems to be...
'try before you
buy' sort of business probably.
But it was unheard of in my day
I remember when I was signing
out in the sacristy and I had to sign...
And I hated losing my name
but they don't today, you know.
I didn't have any objection.
I thought it was rather
changing over to your husband's name.
And that's what you did.
Once you got married,
you didn't go back to work.
You didn't have any money.
But the housewife was well
and truly to the fore.
Well and truly.
But now, everybody...
Couples work don't they?
My first child...
I fell pregnant
on my honeymoon. I couldn't believe it.
And when I came home,
everybody said, "Hello!
How are you?" I said, "I'm pregnant.
That's how I am".
Oh, God, I couldn't believe it.
Well, she was born a Down Syndrome,
which was a big blow.
And because Mom had gone,
she had passed away,
so it was pretty hopeless, really.
And so that part of life was pretty
sad, was a lot of work.
And my husband was no help.
I left Murwillumbah when I was 32.
We went to Sydney, the girls and I.
And there's five years
between Julie and Kate.
But they've been great,
no troubles at all.
Just lovely girls.