Went to see Steve McL at the library about visiting people in the community. She is interested in lending large-print books to old people and doing activities with young people.
Those interested should help with Meals On Wheels (M.O.W.) to have contact and a raison d’etre. One or two women will be organisers and contacts. Lectures and films could be shown to help educate and entertain helper groups. We decided to meet next week to sort out the committee and roster for M.O.W.
A few of our potential recipients:
Mrs A is psychotic and almost everybody avoids speaking to her. She grew up in Emu Park. Horse-whipped her kid once and he is now middle-aged, an alcoholic, collects antique furniture and will not do anything for this woman. He hates her. She is completely un-loveable, very much the grand lady.
Mr B lives in a caravan and seems to have no-one except the people who own the weekend home whose garden he maintains. Very lovely, going blind with possible kidney trouble.
Mr C has a senile wife. She interferes when he cooks and he doesn’t get much sleep. An old friend helped by taking his wife out for a drive while Mr C had a sleep or went for a walk. His wife is now in a home. It’s very sad but he is a different man after regular sleep.
We called a public meeting. Priests, representatives of various organisations, a social worker and a community health nurse were all present. The chairman was good, everyone was in favour of Meals On Wheels. A very successful meeting.
6th Sep 1975
The school fete is on and it’s a cold and windy day. No rain though. In the morning I went with the kids to help at school. Everyone was rummaging at the White Elephant stall. Much excitement among the kids. In the afternoon there was a very good crowd. During the speeches, various people traced the history of Emu Park School. I worked in the tea stall.
In the evening we had dinner with Margo and Norman. The discussion centred around how to find out what the Aboriginals did around Rockhampton. Norman to find out what is needed. Margo to help with homework at One People of Australia League.
15th Sep 1975
Meals On Wheels started. Many did not want to get meals; hope they change their minds later.
16th Sep 1975
“What do you think of the kedgeree, Gareth?” I query.
He says, “Oh, the flavours don’t go well together. Those flavours don’t go well with the tomatoes.”
There was a sad incident on Sunday. Got a call from the neighbour about Mr E.
Mr E was expecting a meal from M.O.W. – kept looking out for it and getting quite agitated. When I called by, he walked down to the vehicle and peered in. It was 1pm and all the meals had been delivered. So the neighbour, kind soul, made soup and put it on a tray with cold meat, bread and a sweet. She walked the food across to Mr E’s house.
Mr E’s house was a shell and barely liveable. A strong urine smell was everywhere, especially in a room which seemed to serve as a kitchen, dining room, bathroom and latrine. The latrine was a blue plastic bucket. Meat was rotting in the frying pan; near which was a lump of dripping and over 15 egg shells, egg cartons and egg smeared plates. It was absolute squalor. Empty jam jars and dirty towels lay strewn on the benches and floor.
The house was described by some as “the funniest in the street” and the occupant has always been a mystery. He has no friends, speaks very little English and people suspect he knows more than he lets on.
Strangely, Mr E has a lovely golden dog, called Laddie, who is in prime condition. He spends most of his time at the pub. Every afternoon the pub people tell him, “The Meals On Wheels people are going to your house now.” To which he downs his can of beer, scoots out, races along the street, gets home and sets himself at the table. Some days he eats a slice of bread while waiting.
Mr E has a round face, youthful complexion and a freshness about him. His eyes give nothing away. He is 82 years old, lights a pipe that is not there, puts burning mosquito coils on top boxes of matches and drinks a lot of beer.
Mr E loves his dog Laddie. He is regal and seems to do you a favour by just being and allowing you to do things for him.
3rd Oct 1975
The Welshman was a smoothie, very charming with the women and drank heavily. He would offer to help with some job around the house, look around and then steal. Usually timber, paint or some other building material.
One day he was drunk and announced, “If anyone annoyed me, I’d burn their house down, just like that, no messing around… wouldn’t be the first time either.”
He was suspected of having burned down the community hall, the school and even a second community hall. He was Master of Ceremonies (M.C.) at six-penny dances that were run to pay for the community hall. But one night he arrived drunk so the people refused to have him as M.C. That was the night the community hall burned down.
Letter to The President of the RSL
[Emu Park, October 1975]
We need your help! Not your money! A group of local people have organised MATTARA* to seek out anyone in the community needing care; not medical care, not charity, just contact with other members of their community.
Some elderly folk are fit and well, others have helpful relatives or neighbours. Some, however, lead very lonely lives, others need practical help in small but important matters. Some, for example, have weak eyesight and cannot even read a newspaper; some are too frail to catch the bus and need to be taken shopping for necessities. Others have electrical fittings which are faulty and deteriorating. The main need on their part is for a little human contact and on our part to be able to find out when help is needed.
Younger people, too, may run into temporary difficulties and may need similar kinds of help. We do not seek out any specific age group, just people in need of care.
We have no doubt that your organisation will wish to share our concern and we shall greatly appreciate your nominating one of your members to join our group – not necessarily for visiting – advice of those needing care will be of tremendous assistance.
[Eight members were listed, including my mother, with three as contact people]
A meeting will be held at the Library on Thursday, 30th October at 7:30 pm. May we welcome your representative then? If unable to attend please telephone to convey your willingness to help us.
*MATTARA – an Aboriginal word meaning ‘hand of friendship’
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