Looking Back: Doing it tough in the Depression years

 Bega Pioneers' Museum has countless files on people and places. This one was written by Len Spindler about his life in the Valley. This extract is set in the depression years.

Struggle street: A Bega street in the Depression years not far from Poverty Lane where Len and his family lived.

Struggle street: A Bega street in the Depression years not far from Poverty Lane where Len and his family lived.

DAD and I got work from Perc Waterson putting up  a wire fence.

He paid one pound per chain.

After my tobacco that Mum bought me, my share was 11 pounds and with that I went to Sydney to see Eva.

I was nearly 21 and we were married at the registry office in Sydney for two pounds and came home to live with Mum and Dad at Tathra.

Then things started to get really tough. The only work around was timber cutting.

Now and then we would get 100 posts to split for Billy Russell or Gowing at 38 shillings or two pounds per 100; a hard week’s work.

Our first baby was due so we lay-byed a dozen nappies and a shawl at Mrs Rood’s store in Bega, for two shillings down and several weeks to pay them off.

By this time Frank had left home and Joe and Dad were in the timber game at Tathra.

They started a house to house wood supply and built a hand cart using sulky wheels.

They worked hard to make about two pounds a week.

Eva and I moved to Bega, to Poverty Lane, where the old RSL building is now.

We took a room with old Barnett Glass, next door to Ned Clynch and Sharky Rogers.

Bill Lupton the fighter was also there. We played cards all the time as no-one had any work.

Nancy was born at the old private hospital and Matron Merton said, “Like most, I guess you can’t pay either”.

All she got was the baby bonus.

When Nancy was a baby, I thought she was the worst baby ever born. She never stopped howling.

Eva would feed the damn thing, put it in the pram and then it would start.

I used to roll a mat up all rough and jerk the pram back and forth till the bugger would finally go to sleep.

When she was older, Mum would take her down the street in a push cart that I made.

If she stopped to talk to another woman with a baby, Nancy would lean over, tear the other kid’s dummy out of its mouth and put it in hers.

Poor Mum would say “never again”.

From Poverty Lane we spent a few weeks at Aunty Rita’s at Fairview.