Teresa is a well liked and respected resident in our street. She was born in Essendon in 1937 and raised over that way as the oldest of 4 children. She had 2 brothers and a sister. She has lived in our street for 19 years and her house is a favourite among many neighbours, a beautiful old California Bungalow enticing guests with charm and character. Inside is much the same as it would have been many years ago with the original picture rails, high ceilings and glass stained windows. It’s a delight to see the windows, light fittings and switches, fireplace and picture rails from when the house was first built in 1939.
We touch on Teresa’s early years, growing up and then marrying and having children herself. You can never do justice to someone’s life chatting to them for an hour, so here is an edited version!
Tell me about growing up in Essendon, Teresa.
Things were different of course back then, there were not the worries of today. We used to walk everywhere because no one in our street had a car. My sister and I used to get the train into town and go shopping for mum, we would have been around 10 or 11! When I was 12 or 13 my dad used to send me down to the bank with his passbook to get some money out for him! No one would think twice about a child going to the bank to get some money for their parents!
Eventually my mum got her drivers licence and bought a baby Austin 7. She had so many lessons and was a terrible driver. She would never take a right hand turn so everywhere we went took longer because she wouldn’t turn right!
What did you do when you left school?
I got a scholarship to go to Uni to do a teacher’s degree. In those days they paid you to go to college! I got 5 pounds a week and you didn’t pay to do your degree!
Where did you live then and what was the price of houses?
We bought a house in East Doncaster in 1959 and paid 2,750 pounds. When we moved to Blackburn in 1995, we paid $159,000 for our 3 bedroom Californian Bungalow.
When did you get married and have children?
I got married in 1958 and I had 7 children. 4 girls and 3 boys. The youngest is 42 now. There was 13 years between the oldest and youngest.
Were you a stay at home mum Teresa?
No I worked full time as a primary school teacher in East Doncaster. I retired at 65, well from teaching anyway. I bought a linen business with one of my daughters and we still run that now. We sell bed linen, cushions etc. I still make christening gowns and I still do some cutting and sorting for the business, not like I used to though.
How did you manage working full time with 7 children?
You just make it work because you have too. My husband was a plumber so at least with my work I could look after the children in the holidays. Life was busy, and we never stopped but you just get on with things.
Did you have a car by then?
We had an Austin Panel van, all children just sat in the back and we probably had one or two in the front. There wasn’t the amount of traffic on the roads or speed then and that’s just how it was. When you left hospital after having a baby, they handed you the baby to hold in the front seat going home!
What do you think is the biggest change in society?
The lack of respect for people, their belongings and people’s safety nowadays. Last year I was robbed and I was angry that someone came into my house and went thru my belongings. Years ago it just never occurred to anyone that their children would not be safe walking miles to places or that someone would have no respect for their belongings, that’s all changed.
What do you wish you knew about ‘back then’ that you now know?
Back then it was expected that you married young and have children. Nowadays people expect children to grow up and have fun, travel, and establish careers before marrying.
What’s your biggest achievement?
Bringing up 7 children.
Do you have any regrets?
No. I would have liked to have played tennis though!
What’s your football team?
Essendon of course after being raised in Essendon.
What are your hobbies?
Sewing and reading.
Where is the favourite place you have travelled?
My sister in law and I travelled to Switzerland a few years ago as my grandmother was from there. I do really like London though, there’s so much to see and do.
Thanks Teresa it was wonderful to get to know more about you and your life. What an inspiring & remarkable woman you are raising 7 children and working. Teresa still keeps active with her hobbies and working occasionally in their family business. We love and appreciate that she always puts out some lights and Christmas decorations on her house for the children in our street at Christmas.
POSTSCRIPT: The beautiful Teresa passed away January, 2017. She will be sadly missed driving past in her little white car always with a wave and a smile. RIP Teresa.