Me­moir fuses sto­ries of life on the land across two gen­er­a­tions

Manjimup-Bridgetown Times - - News - Tari Jef­fers

Me­mories and sto­ries from a Man­jimup re­gion group set­tle­ment have been im­mor­talised in a book, writ­ten by for­m­ers res­i­dents.

Grow­ing up at Boo­jetup was writ­ten by Ellen Un­der­wood and in­cludes the sto­ries of her time grow­ing up in the Group 11 set­tle­ment at Boo­jetup, 8km north-west of Man­jimup in the 1940s and 50s.

The book also in­cludes sto­ries writ­ten by her late mother Jessie, who was part of the orig­i­nal Boo­jetup set­tle­ment in the 1920s.

Ellen said her mother, who died last year, first had the idea to write down her life to give as a gift to her fam­ily.

“She de­cided she would write down her story so her grand­chil­dren and great-grand­chil­dren would know how she lived her life,” Ellen said.

“She wrote it long-hand in an ex­er­cise book.”

Jessie’s story chron­i­cles her life from birth up to the time when Ellen was born.

Jessie’s story be­gins when the fam­ily moved to their farm on Don­nelly Road, in a time when clear­ing of the forest had only just be­gun.

As a gift, Ellen’s hus­band Roger Un­der­wood typed out the book and got it spi­ral-bound.

Last year, when read­ing the book, Ellen said she was sur­prised with how sim­i­lar her life and her mother’s life had been.

“I saw that it was the same as when I’d lived there, just a gen­er­a­tion later,” she said.

“I de­cided to write my life so the fam­ily could also read more about where they came from.”

As part of her ad­di­tion to the book de­tail­ing life in Boo­jetup, Ellen said she had been able to in­clude in­for­ma­tion about her fa­ther Al­lan, who had been on HMAS Syd­ney when it went down in 1941. “He died be­fore I was born and in 2008 when they found it, it was like a full stop on that chap­ter,” she said.

Ellen wrote her side of the story in Jan­uary, which told the story of grow­ing up on the same farm as her mother in the 1940s and 50s.

The book of­fers in­sight into life on a pi­o­neer­ing Man­jimup dairy farm from the 1920s-50s.

It cov­ers the strug­gles and hard work, bush­fires, the rab­bit plague and sons go­ing off to war.

It is not all gloom though, and also cov­ers the gen­eros­ity of spirit and the friend­ships, loy­al­ties and work ethic of ru­ral WA res­i­dents.

She said it had been won­der­ful to see her words along­side her mother’s.

“It was a lit­tle bit sad, with Dad be­ing dead and Mum hav­ing to deal with that alone while liv­ing in Boo­jetup,” she said.

“Be­ing 21 with a child would have been dif­fi­cult.”

In writ­ing her part, Ellen said the process trig­gered me­mories of her child­hood, in­clud­ing the time she spent at Man­jimup Pri­mary School.

Ellen was also a teacher at Pem­ber­ton and Dean­mill.

The 153-page book is avail­able at the Man­jimup Newsagency and Ellen said she hoped peo­ple felt a con­nec­tion with the story.

“Peo­ple who lived in the area would recog­nise names and things that hap­pened,” she said.

“There are a few things I didn’t know about my mum’s life but I knew a lot be­cause she was open about her life. My grand­chil­dren and great-grand­chil­dren will read things they didn’t know about me and her.”

Ellen said she be­lieved her mother would have liked to have seen their sto­ries to­gether and rounded off.

“If the wider au­di­ence gets a smile out of it too, that’s won­der­ful,” she said.

Pic­ture: Roger Un­der­wood

Ellen Un­der­wood with the book con­tain­ing me­mories on grow­ing up in Boo­jetup, about 8km north-west of Man­jimup in the 1920s-50s.

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