Ann Sarah ATKINS , 1882–1983 (aged 101 years)
These recollections were given to Helen Hannah in 1982. Ann was then 99 years of age.
Recollections of Ann Sarah CARMADY
''My parents married very young. It was two years before they found me. I was born at Cedar Party Creek. I had two brothers and two sisters. They were very hard to rear. They got bronchitis. We shifted to Mitchells Island when I was five. I remember playing with stinging nettles alongside the barn and screaming my head off.
I was the toughest. I could talk by the time I was two year old. There was only one year and ten months between me and the next one. Mother set me down at the end of a row of com. She set my sister between my legs. When she came up to the end of the row she'd call out and I'd say, "Didi alright." From then on she got "Didi" as her name.
I know I loved my mother and she had a very bad spin. Her name was Phoebe Moy. She did the farming, same as I did. When I got big enough I had to help my dad. One time I had to help him with a coil of barb wire. He put a broom handle through the middle. There was big rushes [bullrushes] he could step over and I couldn't. The coil of barb wire ran back on me and he was angry.
My mother was bitten by a snake. [It happened like this.] We all killed our own meat, we'd take a quarter each. Each neighbour killed a fat beast in turn. We knew nothing about cutting it up, so we made pieces of it, and it was salted down and put in a cask. We'd make our own brine with salt so a potato would float. Anyway, mother went out and the cask was under a grape trellis. She saw the snake on the ground and knew it was a redbelly. She never said anything to anybody. She went in and got a razor blade. She sacrificed the bite, she put gun powder on it and set fire to it, squeezed it, and she went to bed. She said it was the best night's sleep she'd had for years.
On Mitchells Island we had a double barrel gun and it was shoot, shoot, shoot, if you wanted anything. We grew our own arrowroot. We had a trough made out of a cabbage tree. We would grate the arrowroot. It would run into this trough, then we would wash it and let it settle, do that again until it goes white. Then you dry it and put it in a packet.
We also had lovely porridge. It was very healthy porridge. Grow white corn, pick a nice cob, you shell it and thrash it, put it through a thrasher, then put it through a cracker, then through a sieve, and you make your own porridge. We were reared on that.
The Aborigines had been there. I didn't see any. The corkwood tree just behind the kitchen had holes in it where they used to climb it. The gins used to climb up and cut the honey, and one on the ground would catch it with a sheet of bark. Same with the [koala] bears, they'd cut the tree limbs off, the bears would fall down. They'd make a fire with coals. They'd rub two sticks together to make a fire. They'd cook the bear, hair and all. The hair would be burnt off.
Doctor Loten was our father's grandfather. He came out with two loads of convicts, went gold digging, then came to the Manning to settle. He used to ride everywhere. He got word about a man being bitten by a snake. It was at ScottsCreek in a mangrove. This man was in the habit of grabbing a snake by the tail and cracking the head of it. A whip snake bit him. They sent for a doctor. They were dragging that man up the hills and back again, to keep him awake. It was three days before the doctor got there. He said, ''What are you doing? He'll die if you don't let him have a sleep."
There was an old Mr Blair who lived on Redbank. He had an old sulky. It had a spring at the back. He had a hide, cow hide or bullock hide, on there to carry his goods. He'd put his things in the hide. He had two little dogs. He used to trap wild horses, brumbies, and boil them down for oil.
Another thing I remember was the time that I had my two teeth out. The first double tooth on both sides ached and ached. A traveller came to Croki. It was in the back yard of a hotel. I sat on a kerosene box. All out in cold blood. I got one out. "That's enough", I said. "Get back on there!" mum said. I thought the top was coming off my head.
After I finished school at 14 I was sent down to help this woman who was dying of tuberculosis. She spat on rags and I had to wash them by hand. I was there for three months for nothing. Anyway, my grandma came down to see how I was getting on. She went home and told mother. Mum came down and got me, took me home. There was nothing to do, only housework.
Later, I fell in love with Frank. I don't think he knew. We went down to Harrington on the "John Gollan." I thought he was christmas. We lived mostly on Upper Lansdowne after our marriage. Frank was a bullock driver. I had ten babies. Never had a nurse or a doctor. Sometimes I was in labour milking the cows. When one was born I called down to the servant girl to bring me something and I reached down and dragged him up alongside me, wrapped him in a shirt to keep him warm. It's a wonder he didn't smother.
I raised another baby, too. Mrs Doyle got burnt. She had three little girls and this was the first boy. He was three months old and she was going to bathe him. A breeze came in the door and blew her gown onto the fire and set fire to her. She jumped and screamed till she collapsed and that was it. She lived a fortnight. Septicaemia set in. Frank and I used to see how the children were. The baby was all chaffed around his fat little legs. I said, ''You'd better give me that baby." I didn't think they would on account of their religion. They were broadminded though. I miss him as much as he was my own.
At Upper Lansdowne there was no money for anything. No money for iron for the roof. But they'd split the shingles out of an oak tree. The house was shingle. My older children would spend hours out at night. They'd get the frying pan from me and they'd go along the creek and they'd catch the eels!"