Ian and Blanche




3.3.1 Goodbye to Gilella

Soon after the end of the war, wool prices edged upwards. Suddenly it was possible for Ian and Blanche to think realistically of a new homestead, perhaps on Riverview. Ian began sketching diagrams, not of gas producers but of the layouts of sheds and sheep yards. Blanche started looking over house plans.

One day, while Blanche was engrossed in room layouts, Gwyneth, then about eleven, offered her own plan, carefully hand-drawn. "But that’s good, very good!" Blanche exclaimed, impressed—until she caught on to the joke: Gwyneth’s "plan" was exactly that of the much-maligned house on Gilella! Blanche laughed more heartily than she had in years.

Gilella, 1949. Gordon, Dave, Blanche, Pattie, Brian, AllieThe prospect of leaving Gilella was not the only factor behind Blanche’s good humor. At the war’s end, penicillin became available to civilians, and a single treatment sufficed to sufficed to cure her long-standing bladder infection. She felt she had a new lease on life. She laughed and sang a lot. She became more sociable, even consenting to have friends around for barbecues. A visit from Dave and Allie and their younger children was a joyful occasion.

In 1948, wool prices no longer merely edged up, they zoomed. Suddenly, the status of a Tambellup farmer advanced from humble "cockey," subservient to the bank, to independent "wool baron." The pub became more convivial than ever. A wool baron jocularly offered to pay for his schooner92  with a wisp of wool that had happened to lodge in his hatband. The streets of Tambellup, yet unpaved, were graced by luxurious-looking English automobiles such as Hillmans and Humbers. Ian, more conservative than most, bought a serviceable US war surplus Chevrolet utility vehicle and a used Oldsmobile car.

Anticipating that the children would soon be leaving home—Eion had already enrolled at the University of WA and Gwyneth had started at Albany High School—Blanche felt the time had come for a formal family portrait. She made the arrangements to have a photo taken at what appeared to be an attractive fee, but unfortunately the photographer focused more on saving film than on his subject, and had a professional manner about as ingratiating as Blood ’n’ Guts of the VDC at his most bellicose. "Smile!" he barked, and the result was as doleful as might have been expected.

Ian and Blanche and Family, 1948

Ethel remained impecunious, but her fortunes improved in another direction when she met Harold Parsons, a mechanic at Andy Bessen’s garage. Harold’s rugged appearance inspired the nickname "Muscles." He first saw Ethel seated at a table at the pub, and did not realize at once that she was a dwarf. But when he did, he said, "I was surprised you are so short, but I still like your style." Ethel laughed merrily, and soon after the couple were married.

Land prices followed wool prices—up, and up some more. In 1951 the Gittins brothers sold out for more than enough to retire on. Arthur married and went to live in Perth, while Charlie and John and Maud moved to Albany. Charlie and John worked as builders for a time, then put up houses for themselves at Rocky Crossing, a few miles north-west of the town. Others of the Gittins family eventually settled in or around Albany: Ethel and Harold, Bert after Jean’s death and Ron after his divorce.

Ian and Blanche also decided to move to the Albany area, not to retire but to establish a farm there.

Continue reading: 3.3.2 Fulfillment

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3. Ian and Blanche (1929-1975) Blanche (-1988)

3.3 Riding the Wave (1946-1975)

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3.3.1 Goodbye to Gilella

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3.3.2 Fulfillment

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92. A tall glass of beer.