Edith Ellen Rietveld was born on the 16th August 1934 in Collinsville. “I’m what you’d call a local. I got here on my 4th birthday and I’m now 78” she says with pride.
She tells how she had the most wonderful childhood with two brothers (both deceased sadly) and lovely parents. Ellen and her two brothers loved learning all the old fashioned games like Brandy (running round hitting people with a tennis ball). She could play cards before she started school. Grab and snap being two of her favourites. She still has her original fiddle sticks (pick-up sticks) and kaleidoscope from all those years ago.
The first house her dad built for the family was in Gorgon’s Lane. He lived in two half tanks whilst putting all his efforts into finishing the house. It had a tin roof and ordinary floor. The outside was done with white wash bags. The house Ellen lives in now was also built by her father.
Ellen has the fondest memories of her mum and dad. “Dad was five feet three inches tall with a heart of gold. He had to leave school early to rare four sisters. He was a brilliant man who built his family a home. I was four I think when I first saw that house”. He always called Ellen ‘bub’ because she was the only daughter. “He taught us how to clean and fire a gun, how to start a fire and cook sausages the old fashioned way”. He worked on a station for awhile and her mum would help with the cooking and laundry when she got time. “Mum was adorable. She was short but a gorgeous lady”. Ellen smiles as she speaks of each family member and events over the years that stayed in her mind. From day drives to fishing trips, each memory gives her great joy.
School years for Ellen were every bit as fulfilling and memorable as her life on the home front. She started school at the Mount Morgan Convent School and went on to her senior grade at the Mount Morgan High School. School life was enjoyable despite her having trouble with the doctor’s daughter who didn’t like her and always pulled her hair. “One day I called her over and asked if we could shake hands and be friends” Ellen recalls with a chuckle. “I held out my hand and twisted the girl’s fingers back ‘til she was down on her knees. I used to get called to the office every day because of that girl”.
Ellen loved English, Maths and Spelling at school. Musical talent was apparent also with her learning violin and piano. She was quite sporty, enjoying games like tunnel ball, over head ball, basketball and rounders (a game like baseball).
Her eldest grand daughter follows her grandmother’s love of sport and has represented Australia in BMX riding. At ten years of age she came 26th in the world out of 580 children.
When asked about her clothing attire when younger Ellen laughingly says “oh no, I never wore trousers. It was always dresses and when I’d take my daughters to town they were always dressed in pretty dresses, shoes, hats and gloves”. As a teenager Ellen loved dancing. She was in her element when ballroom dancing and knew a few of the dances before she even started school. She remembers walking everywhere because they didn’t have a car. “They had a picture show down across from the museum, but where the IGA is we had an open air theatre. We had old canvas chairs to sit on” she says with a grin.
It wasn’t until after she was married that Ellen finally got her licence. She married at twenty years of age and wore a long white Chantilly lace wedding dress. Her flowers were rosebuds and small tulip like flowers all made from crepe paper and wax. Ellen and her husband were married for fifty one years. With two daughters, five grand children and three great grandsons, Ellen is a doting mother, grandmother and great grandmother.
For Ellen’s 21st birthday she had a party at her home where they played piano. For her 75th birthday she invited everyone to celebrate her milestone. It wasn’t until after the party she realised she was actually 76, which made for a lot of laughter about a missing year.
In a future issue of People in Profile we hope to feature more of Ellen’s life journey covering her children’s weddings, her years in the Four Square store and even some of her wonderful jokes. Due to ill Health Murray Hare’s story could not be told in this issue but will be coming up once he is well enough.
- Profile and photograph by Heather Quarry, supplied to the Mount Morgan Argus -