Joan was born in 1936 as the eldest of 4 children, 3 girls and a boy. She was born in Clifton Hill and lived there till she was 17. In those days Clifton Hill was not the suburb to be! There were usually 7 or 8 people living in the house, a grandma and an aunt during the week who went home to Plenty on weekends due to travel. Incidentally her Aunt worked at the Zig Zag cigarette factory making papers, we laughed at the name of such a business! The house was small, long and dark. With the block of land being only 16 feet and a frontage of 12.6 ft wide, the laundry, bathroom and kitchen were all in the same room. Five people shared one bedroom, a couple of her sisters in the one double bed and her brother in the hallway. That was normal back then to have so many people living in such a small house.
Joan’s dad was a glacier and her mum worked hard as a machinist and dreamt of moving from Clifton Hill to a house with a garden, and when Joan was 17 in 1950 they moved to a Californian bungalow in Ivanhoe.
Joan left school and began work as a secretary at 14 at Gordon & Gotch. She earnt 2 pounds 6 shillings a week and stayed in this job for 6 yrs when she met her husband Ritchie at a Youth Camp. They married in 1956 and Joan left work as you did when you got married!
Ritchie and Joan bought their first house in Preston in 1957 for 3,100 pounds. Joan had 3 children over the next few years, a son and 2 daughters. She now has 6 grandchildren and 6 great grand sons; the youngest at 5 weeks old!
After Preston, Joan & Ritchie over the next few years moved back to Ivanhoe, then to Bulleen, Box Hill, Nunawading, Donvale and finally Blackburn. Joan’s husband Ritchie loved cars and they invested in property in the car yard business and then ventured out into trailers. They built them, sold them and hired them! Ritchie was quite the character, very extraverted, loved being the master of ceremonies and Joan spoke lovingly of him. He also had an unusual but amazing singing voice. He used to yodel to hymns and with this talent he travelled the world doing gospel concerts when he was not wheeling and dealing in trailers! Joan was happy to work with him looking after the children and keeping the business going at home. Ritchie passed away in 1999 aged 71.
After Ritchie passed away Joan moved to a large property in Donvale and with 3 generations of her family they lived there and after a few years she built a house in Blackburn. Joan is happily very much involved in her local church and attends and participates in many events and functions there. She is also a volunteer with Link, an organization that helps out in emergency situations such as mums with newborns, single parents, people with disabilities and elderly with no one to assist them.
I asked Joan a couple of our usual questions:
What do you wish you’d know about back then, that you know about now?
Continue to learn as learning and education are valuable.
What do you think the biggest change in society is?
The lack of authority with regards to parents, school and the police force and the repercussions from this on general society. Children used to fear if a policeman had words with them, but not anymore and that respect is gone.
What’s your biggest achievement?
My 3 children.
Do you have any regrets?
I would have liked to further my education, but it just wasn’t how it was all those years ago.
Any advice for the younger generation?
Keep working at your marriage 24/7 as it’s an ongoing full time commitment.
Joan says she is very blessed and privileged. In her marriage she says she liked that you never knew what was going to happen next and to expect the unexpected!
A brief snapshot of Joan’s life so far. It was a pleasure to speak with such a lovely, friendly lady who continues to give so much back to her community.
Joan is a busy lady and hard to get hold of so thanks for your time Joan!