Mount Morgan has seen many changes over the years and stories told by our senior generations help to keep the town’s history and the life-style of the people very much alive. It is a town that has truly earned the right to stand proud of its vast and varied milestones.
May Hubner (nee Malloy) was born in Mount Morgan on October 29th, 1921. She was a midwife baby, born at
home. “I always remember two of the midwives. Their names were Nurse Hopwood, who used to always ride
side-saddle on her horse and Nurse Edwards who I think might have delivered me”. Before the 2nd world war May recalls most babies were delivered by midwives. It wasn’t until later that babies were delivered at the Mount Morgan Hospital. May is the eldest of four children. She has one sister and two brothers. They all attended the Mount Morgan State School including May who went through to 6th grade.
As a teenager May used to roam all around the mountain. “The mountain was still there then”. She used to love walking around the creeks with her siblings and enjoy the freedom and fresh air. She loved running and playing cricket. “Everybody used to have a kerosene tin and a bat and ball back then.” May reckons her teenage years were the best ever and she loves those memories with a passion. “We used to roam around the bush and my second home was the Big Dam where we’d go racing over the dam wall”. In her younger years May lived at Tipperary and her dad had a prospecting cradle down in the creek. “We used to pour the water in on it. That was when the old swinging bridge was still there” she says as she remembers all the years the bridge was operational.
She remembers the Tree of Knowledge and how it was always a gathering place for people to get together,
even when she was young until the time it came down. “There was another big tree there too when I started at the State School. It was a beautiful Jacaranda tree”.
Her first job was as a cleaner once a week for the Presbyterian Church. She then did cleaning for the
old Olympia Theatre (that is no longer in existence). Staying in the field of cleaning, May then was employed by the Mount Morgan High School where she held her cleaning position for thirty years.
“The first thing you’ll see when you walk around hills here in Mount Morgan is a Mango tree and you can
bet your last dollar if there is a Mango tree there, then a house would have been there originally as well” she chuckles. May points out a hill from her home and explains about Shandon Hill. One of her brothers was born on top of that hill and there are Mango trees there too.
May believes that Mount Morgan has a healthy climate for growing up in. She recalls a time in her
teenage years when a lady, Mrs Maunders, (not sure of spelling) moved to the Mount. May remembers her
being a crippled lady but within six months of being in Mount Morgan she was walking again. “It had to be the climate” she says.
Many of the old remedies used by past generations had been handed down through the years and like many
people, May believes they were wonderful remedies with good results. At a healthy ninety years of age she is true testament to the success rate of not so modern forms of medicine. She says people couldn’t use these methods anymore because of how technology has taken over.
In late 1938 May married the love of her life George. He was a certified lines-man. They were married at the Presbyterian Manse (near the Central Hotel) by Minister Lewis. May wore a dressy suit on her wedding day. “I got married young but I wasn’t pregnant. I wanted to be married”. They had three children, Ken, Geoff and Kay, that all went to school in Mount Morgan. Her eldest son Ken went into the Navy before turning eighteen and Geoff did Army training. May believes in National Service and thinks it would be good for a lot of young ones today. May loves seeing her grandchildren and her home is filled with family memories.
May remembers the times she used to get George to sit out on the patio so she could spray the house because he was asthmatic. She lost George when he was eighty two years of age. George’s father was one of the first men killed up at the Mount Morgan Mine. Back in the days when they used dynamite to blow up the mountain “it was still a mountain then not a hole in the ground like now” the men would stand clear as the blasting was being done. One day one of the blasts didn’t go off and George’s dad went to check out why. As he neared the area it detonated and there was nothing anyone could do to save him.
She also reflects on her school years and the friendships she kept from those days. “Alice Saunders (Bendall) was the most wonderful lady, and when we were having children, we both had them at around the same time. Alice went for a fourth child though but I stopped after three. I shed a tear when I heard Alice had passed away recently. I do get upset when some of the people from here pass on or are in aged care, especially those that can’t remember many things because I went to school with some of them”. Reflecting on times past, May remembers her mums favourite saying “as long as you can throw your two legs over the side of the bed and get out of the bed, you know you are alright”. She says her mum was very down to earth.
May enjoys her independence and still does most of her household chores and washing herself. She keeps a cordless phone near her at all times when inside and takes it outside with her when she goes to collect her mail from the letterbox or is pegging out her clothes on the line. “There are always a lot of snakes around but help is only a phone call away” she says confidently. Her son and another guy help her with lawns etc outside but she likes to mop and vacuum inside . She has Meals on Wheels visit three times a week and says they are wonderful people. Modern technology has never been one of May’s pet likes at all. She doesn’t have a computer and believes things like EBay and places like it have put a strain on many businesses like Den’s Second Hand Dealers, contributing to them closing their doors.
When asked about changes over the years, May says “You can’t stop progress. Things have to change, for better or worse. You have no control over it”. She laughingly states “I’m told at least twice a week, I’m living in the past”. Reflecting on the past May recalls how things were when the mine was fully operational and how things were once it closed. She says “when the mine closed, many of the older Mount Morgan workers went to other mines around Queensland”. She finds it a great thing that BHP was started thanks to Mount Morgan “and it is still going” she says.
At least twice a week May rings a taxi and goes into town to the supermarket and other places she needs to go. She is thankful for the taxi service in Mount Morgan because it gives her the opportunity to get out and about and they are always friendly and helpful. One thing May notices on a regular basis is how the youth of Mount Morgan have always been respectful when she walks past them aided by her wheelie walker.
If they are gathered in a group talking, they always stand aside and let her pass and are polite when doing so. “I’ve not had one of those kids ever be rude to me and I meet them every time I go out”. For the size of the town, May believes there isn’t a great amount of crime compared to many other
places. She feels safe here and enjoys the Mountain in its entirety.
There is much more to May’s life. The war years and modern changes over time are still areas to be hopefully covered in a later issue. Until that time, if you know of anybody you feel deserves recognition for their great qualities, please let the girls at MMPAD know or phone me on 0438135213.
- Profile and photograph by Heather Quarry, supplied to the Mount Morgan Argus -