Thursday 11 July 2013

Letter from Neil Grosvenor of the Dudawa State School in 1938

In 1938 Neil Grosvenor was the teacher of the small one-teacher school at Dudawa, East Arrino in the Three Springs district. Neil's daughter Lee Evans has kindly provided us with a copy of a letter he wrote from Dudawa to his mother on 14 February 1938. It provides a nice summary of his initial impressions and a sketch of the schoolhouse.

Dear Ma,

      Your letter came on Saturday night. Stokeses, who live opposite, bring out things for us whenever they go to town, and don’t seem to mind. They’re very amiable people and a happy family, so we shouldn't disagree with them.

      Living should be somewhat cheaper here than in Buntine. We've been getting 2 quarts of milk per day (none on Sundays) and it will cost us only 2/6 per week. The Bowtell family returned today and will supply meat at 6d. per lb. They kill sheep, pigs and cattle and are said to be great flesh eaters. The stove here is a [Metters] No. 2 and cooks well - and there seems to be some firewood available within easy distance of home. So far I've just collected dead jam sticks up to 2 inches in diameter.

      The soil is the usual brown clayey business, but isn't as hard as at Buntine or Wamenusking. I’ll be able to start a garden as soon as rain arrives, but the tanks have to be kept for domestic use till then. On the back verandah is a potato creeper on wire netting and I've made a netting roof about 12ft x 10ft out to one corner of the wash house. The creeper is said to grow very quickly and should cover the netting within a year. I've drawn a plan including doors windows etc. South of us is a dam reserve, the dam being about 100 yds to the east. Between us it are York Gums and jam trees growing fairly thickly. There’s a well and windmill west of the school, but the water there is brackish. Stokeses’ house is about 30 yards NE of ours.

      The temperature has been going down gradually and the last 5 days have been 91, 93, 94, 91, 86. at present (10 p.m.) its quite cold, but we have to stay up a little longer as Cath is making bread. With luck we can keep going with the shop bread, but it’s not worthwhile getting more than 3 loaves at a time.

     I don’t think it’s any advantage for Babs to matriculate. The only use of that is as an entrance to the Uni and if she’s joining there she might as well take the Leaving in the ordinary way.

     My watch hasn't yet arrived. Will you ask Girlie to give the man a reminder? He seems very casual.

     I don’t think I told you that Jean Sheppard, my sewing mistress, is a niece of your milkman. The Sheppards here know Fremantle very well, and people such as Doigs.

      Also the Townsend who was the Storekeeper at Arrino according to the directory is Harry Townsend, now of the Newmarket Hotel. He was in Arrino about 4 years, according to information. I didn't know he’d been out of Fremantle for as long as that. He must have made a profit out of the store to have got a pub and Don Sebastian.

     Thursday. We've had mail and papers out since I started this, but no watch has come. Nor
has the February Circular, Calendar and Grouping Scheme Form, which usually arrive early in
the month. Evidently there’s no inspector for this district until a Director is appointed, which may mean that we’ll get Sampson if he slips for the Directors job. He’ll do me.

      Ask Arthur to take the Charities ticket for me and if amiable - Elanage to save the other bet. Amiable is God.

Further information on the Grosvenor, Stokes, Bowtell, Sheppard, Townsend and other families of Dudawa, Arrino and Three Springs can be found within the Three Springs Database on our website.

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