Monday, November 12, 2007

Jean Hall (nee Staniland)

My grandmother Jean Hall (nee Staniland) passed away in 2003. Both Jean (nana) and her husband Jack worked with the Postmaster General (PMG) and they married after WW2. Nana had many stories about her time at the PMG in World War 2, including receiving the first telegram that Darwin had been bombed, standing on the roof of the PMG to see the first Lancaster in Australia fly overhead, being driven to deliver documents to Douglas MacArthur, and others that I'll try to recapture over time. I recall her telling me of stories around Croydon as a young girl in the early 1920's, when indigenous Australians still lived near Parramatta Rd, and bullock trains would haul timber into the city from the west of Sydney.

Dad gave a speech at Nana's funeral, and I've pasted it here. As the story comes together, more will be posted on Jean. Her mother was Ruby Amelia EWER (1887 Wellington NSW - 1969 Croydon NSW), and her father William James STANILAND (1886 Glebe NSW -1962 Gosford NSW).

"Mum was born on 10 March 1917 at 12 Burns Street Croydon, which was the house she lived in all her life. She was the only child of William and Ruby Staniland. Her father was a plumber who worked on the railways and her mother was an accomplished singer.

Jean’s early life seems to have been quite lonely and as an only child she had to make her own fun. She eventually turned school age and attended Five Dock Public School. I gather this brought Mum a lot of enjoyment as she made new friends and was introduced to an expanding array of books and sports. She completed her education at Burwood Business College (now Burwood Girls High School) and in 1940 was appointed to the PMG Dept as a Typist.

Mum had many interesting stories to tell about her experiences working at the GPO during World War 2 such as blackouts, air-raid drills in the basement of the GPO and pistol target practice on the GPO roof. She was probably one of the first people in Sydney to know that Darwin had been bombed when she decoded and read a telegram to the Director of Posts & Telegraph declaring that Darwin had been bombed by the Japanese. She also met General Douglas McArthur, leader of allied forces in the Pacific Region, when she spent a few days typing his war reports.

Around this time, Jean met her lifelong partner and best friend Jack. They were married in April 1951 and Jean found herself part of a new large family, which gave her a lot of pleasure over the years. Then Elizabeth was born in April 1952 and I arrived 22 months later. Our mother’s life had changed and as we approached school age she joined a local tennis club where she was to meet some lifelong friends. She played until she was well into her 70’s, and then took up playing bowls.

Mum was indeed a true and wonderful mother to Elizabeth and me. She was also a doting grandmother for Matthew, Christopher, Renee and Angela. Nothing was too good for the family and nothing was impossible to achieve.

Mum had only a small family circle of her own and I would like to thank Lorna and Merv for their constant kindness to her. Mum also made many long friendships. In particular I would like to mention Angela Walker, Kath Williams and Mildred West who have known Mum for many, many years and provided her with great joy - just as so many of you have done."

No comments: