LAI­D­LEY WILL AL­WAYS BE HOME FOR AGNES

Long-time lo­cal’s life story.

Gatton Star - - Front Page - By FRAN­CIS WITSENHUYS­EN

ONE Lai­d­ley lo­cal of 88 years opens up about liv­ing abroad, meet­ing the man of her dreams and how the Val­ley has ex­panded in her time. This is Agnes Walker’s story.

Liv­ing in Lai­d­ley was “won­der­ful” for Agnes.

“It’s such a quaint, lovely lit­tle town but it was ex­cit­ing to have the chance to see some of the world when I was a young woman,” she said.

Agnes moved to Pa­pua New Guinea with her hus­band, Jim, when he got a job as a trans­port worker for the New Guinea Gold Fields.

“We lived in a place called Wau in New Guinea, from 1949 to 1957,” she said.

“It was a pretty prim­i­tive place back then and I was only go­ing on 22 years old.

“But I was young so I coped.”

Agnes re­called with a smile how the na­tive’s pid­gin English was chal­leng­ing yet com­i­cal.

“The way they talked was the hard­est part to get on with,” she said.

“I re­mem­ber we had break­fast at a ho­tel in Lau be­fore go­ing up to Wau and I or­dered some­thing and I wanted some tomato sauce. So I asked the boy if I could have some.

“To which he replied, ‘Oh mis­sus, you like some red fella sauce?’ “I’ll never for­get it.” An­other chal­leng­ing part of Agnes’s life was go­ing off to Bris­bane to work when she was 15.

“Get­ting my­self around and lost in Bris­bane was scary,” she said.

“It made me stronger that’s for sure and was a big deal back then.

“Coin­ci­dently the of­fice I worked in was on the top floor and there was a lady who used to come up in the lifts with me.

“When I came back to Lai­d­ley, she was here too. “It’s a small world, truly.” Agnes and Jim had three chil­dren while liv­ing abroad in Pa­pua New Guinea.

“Then when we got back to Lai­d­ley I had my youngest child here,” she said.

Agnes was born on May 5, 1927 by home birth with a mid­wife on John St in Lai­d­ley.

Agnes re­vealed coyly that she and her hus­band met on a blind date.

Jim was in the Air Force in Lowood, driv­ing trans­port for them.

“It was all or­ches­trated by my sis­ter, who met Jim at a dance in Lowood,” Agnes said. “She met up with this Air Force chap and wanted to go out to the pic­tures, with the stip­u­la­tion that she would only go if I went too.

“Well, we hit it off. You can’t fight that kind of thing.”

Agnes said af­ter their date they lost con­tact as Jim was still in the Air Force and had to go to Rock­hamp­ton.

“Af­ter the war was over, he came back ... and must have de­cided he wanted to get in con­tact with me be­cause he rang me up and turned up where I worked,” she said.

Agnes and Jim mar­ried on April 30, 1949 in St Saviour’s Church, Lai­d­ley.

Agnes said in her eyes a lot of things in the Val­ley such as farm­ing and schools, had ex­panded.

“The farm­ing has changed, every­thing is on a big­ger scale and get­ting big­ger,” she said.

“I went to Lai­d­ley North School, that’s grown and the smaller schools seem to have closed.”

Agnes said she had loved liv­ing in Lai­d­ley and was thank­ful her chil­dren vis­ited her.

“It’s so lovely when they come, I also love spend­ing time with my grand­kids and great-grand­kids,” she said.

It was all or­ches­trated by my sis­ter, who met Jim at a dance in Lowood.

PHOTO: FRAN­CIS WITSENHUYS­EN

WON­DER­FUL LIFE: Agnes Walker re­flects on her 88 years in Lai­d­ley, with the love of her life.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

WED­DING DAY: Jim and Agnes Walker mar­ried in St Saviour’s Church, Lai­d­ley, on April 30, 1949. The cou­ple cel­e­brated their 60th wed­ding an­niver­sary in 2009.

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