BOOK HONOURS TWO GENERATIONS
Memoir fuses stories of life on the land across two generations
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.
Ellen Underwood with the book containing memories on growing up in Boojetup, about 8km north-west of Manjimup in the 1920s-50s.