Time Gentlemen, Please
Growing up in the Northwest of Western Australia in the 1900s was a tough life. It was a place where one was wise to pay respect to the harsh, uncompromising climate in this rough area of the coastal towns of Port Hedland and Carnarvon. A picture is painted about life in these towns during this time. My story tells about my father’s life in both of these places. He grew up with his mother and two older sisters, carving out a life without his father. He achieved his dream of becoming a publican. He met my mother in Port Hedland when she went north to work at the Pier Hotel. My story takes you on a family’s journey as they faced resilience and triumph over many challenges growing up in the North of Western Australia.
About the Author
In 2016 after suffering a huge operation to remove a sarcoma cancer from my pelvic region I lay in bed in hospital for some 128 days! I spent so much time lying in the hospital bed thinking about my life, from here on. Changes had to be made in order to walk and maintain balance after losing the use of my right leg and as a result of the surgery to the pelvic area. I now rely on the use of a walker. My cancer has returned to my lungs three times and my pelvic region once since 2016 and I am monitored every four months.
My thoughts went to the things I wanted to achieve before I left this earth. Being so sick and not knowing what the outcome would be, I began to make my list. Number one was to write a book. A school friend had written several books on her family, so I had met with her with the plan of my book and together we made some refinements. My book would tell the story about my father’s life as I always thought how much he had achieved from humble beginnings.
I was one of seven children born to my mother, Myrtle and father, Gordon Meiklejohn. I was born in 1953 as Joanne Patsy Meiklejohn, here in Perth, Western Australia. I had three sisters older born in 1941, 1943 and 1946. I also had two sisters younger than me. My only brother Kenneth had died in his birth year, 1952 of a hole in the heart, so I grew up in this family of six girls. In the early years in Port Hedland the three older girls looked after me when they were home on school holidays as my parents were busy running the hotel. They also looked after my two younger sisters whilst we lived in Carnarvon.
My father Gordon was thirty seven when I was born. This meant doing lots of research within my family and using other sources to cover the period Dad had lived before I was born. Most of his family had died and he’d always insisted there were no other Meiklejohn’s around. As I did some family research I found this to be untrue but maybe he never knew!!! His mother Mary Emma Meiklejohn, born in England had written a story of her life for her three children and told them about their father and their early together. My Grandfather came from N.S.W. He worked in Port Hedland prior to marrying. Unfortunately, he drowned in 1919, when my father was only two and a half years old and his sisters still quite young. My Mother had also written about her early life and her life with Dad and as it happened, my eldest sister who had died had also written her story of growing up with Mum and Dad. So with these records as my starters I began to research Gordon and Myrtle’s Meiklejohn’s life. I grew up with my father as a publican in the time where the hotel’s excluded the Indigenous and in some situations women. Whilst I grew up with power, television was not part of our lives at that point. The impressions of my early life were long lasting and I always wondered about how hard life was for most people. I moved from Port Hedland to begin school in Carnarvon. As the hotel was out in East Carnarvon I had catch a bus to school until we moved into the Gascoyne Hotel in Carnarvon Township. I experienced floods, cyclones and many long hot days but life was good and I wouldn’t have changed anything. After completing my Junior Certificate, I attended boarding school in Perth at St Mary’s Anglican Girls School for two years until I finished my leaving exams. From here I trained as a teacher, married young and had a baby girl. I experienced many different locations as I moved around the state teaching. I spent many years teaching in the Kimberley and at a Remote Aboriginal School and I held positions where I assisted younger teachers in their classrooms improving their educational delivery. My daughter moved to boarding school to complete her education as her father and I continued to teach in the North of Western Australia. My daughter followed myself and her father into the profession. I then moved to Perth and continued my career working for thirty years as a teacher. I never forgot the places I had lived in as all these places gave me such wonderful experiences. Life for me now is full of scrapbooking my photo’s, completing family research, doing some quilting, enjoying my grandchildren, reading about other people’s life experiences and going off in our caravan with my husband to further explore our wonderful country of Australia. Oh yes I have worked on my list and keep adding to it because life goes on, yeah!!!!