Memoirs of growing up in the Valley

OVER the past few weeks, Hope Biddle has been writing about her childhood in the Clarence Valley ? incidents she remembered and those passed onto her by her parents.

Mrs Biddle, now 93 and living at Junction Hill, lived all of her life at Lower Southgate and only moved seven years ago.

Vois Bancroft from the Lawrence Historical Society has been transcribing the memoirs.

"The Society hopes to compile these memoirs into a booklet form at a later date, but in the meantime we are so pleased to be able to preserve such a priceless firsthand experience of our history," Mrs Bancroft said.

One of Mrs Biddle's memoirs describes the brave actions taken by an aboriginal boy to save children at the Grafton Show:

"When I was a toddler, mum and dad went for a day to the Grafton Show. It was there that a sideshow man had a small merry-go-round, playing music, and drawn by a Shetland pony.

It was fully loaded with youngsters and the man kept urging the little pony on to go faster, and the thing got a big swing up.

It kept bumping the little pony on the rump and she took fright and bolted. Glass and bits of trapping started flying off with the shaking, and the mothers and children were terrified and screaming.

No-one knew what to do, until a young aboriginal lad came forward. He sized up the situation, waited till the bolting mare was in the right position, crawled underneath and, as she went to roar past, he grabbed the reins and pulled her up.

Only an aboriginal could have performed such a feat. This lad was dexterous, agile, fast and brave. Only for his action many of those children might have been killed or badly hurt.

All the lad got was one man took off his hat and handed it round, and they dropped a few shillings into it.

My mother was disgusted!

Some time later he ended up in hospital and died in the operating theatre.

I remember how sad and angry my mother felt over this. She felt he should have had so much better recognition and treatment, because he deserved it."

"The Society treasures these hand written memoirs that Mrs Biddle has sent us, and we urge any other person with knowledge of such incidents to write them down, or to record them on tape so that they can be preserved for future generations," Mrs Bancroft said.

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