Fa­ther fights to keep his triplets

The Advertiser - - BOOMER -

DAVID Crolla had no time to revel in the birth of his iden­ti­cal triplet sons, be­cause his wife was try­ing to give them away.

This week in 1954, the es­tranged cou­ple was locked in a bat­tle for their three­week-old chil­dren’s fu­tures.

Barely an adult her­self, Gla­dys Crolla, 18, re­fused to see the boys, who were at the Queen Vic­to­ria Ma­ter­nity Hos­pi­tal.

She gave var­i­ous rea­sons for want­ing them adopted, in­clud­ing that she was too poor to raise them and that she did not want her hus­band to have ac­cess to them.

The story ran in pa­pers across Aus­tralia and drew adop­tion of­fers from as far away as the US.

“They will need a fa­ther but I’ll die be­fore I let my hus­band get his hands on them,” Mrs Crolla told The News.

“All he thought of was his car. They de­serve a chance in life and I hoped that some­one with money would take them.”

Four weeks later, with Mr Crolla, 21, still re­fus­ing to sign adop­tion pa­pers, Michael, Robert and Stephen Crolla were ready to be re­leased from hos­pi­tal.

The ma­tron had told both par­ents the ba­bies would be given to who­ever ar­rived first.

At 7.50am on Novem­ber 1, Mr Crolla, his mother, He­len, and his 15-year-old sis­ter, Anne, ar­rived to claim the triplets and take them to his par­ents’ two-bed­room Beu­lah Park home.

Three weeks af­ter he picked the boys up from the hos­pi­tal, Mr Crolla is­sued an ap­peal through the Sun­day Mail for Gla­dys to come back.

“I cer­tainly would do ev­ery­thing in my power to make her happy and the ba­bies re­ally need their mother,” he said.

He said he was sell­ing his car to help sup­port his sons.

Now 85 and liv­ing at Panorama, David Crolla has done his job.

He says Gla­dys never came look­ing for the chil­dren through the years.

With the help of his fam­ily, he kept his sons happy, healthy and to­gether.

In the first year, es­pe­cially, the triplets would draw crowds, which made out­ings dif­fi­cult and some­times im­pos­si­ble.

Mr Crolla re­mem­bers his parenting role as “a bit of a strug­gle” and says there was a time where he was away a lot, work­ing as a house painter in the coun­try.

“She wanted to give them away to dif­fer­ent peo­ple and I didn’t want the boys split up,” he says.

“I re­ally can’t un­der­stand why, to be hon­est, even to­day. To just give your kids away like that is re­ally un­be­liev­able.

“I was brought up dif­fer­ent to that.”

Stephen, now 64, also liv­ing at Panorama, says his grand­mother played a large part in rais­ing him and his broth­ers un­til they were four; and that both she and their grand­fa­ther, Peter Crolla, were “fan­tas­tic peo­ple”.

Stephen be­came a plumber, Michael a painter and Robert a tiler, who in re­cent years has moved to New South Wales and started a blue­berry farm.

Robert says their fa­ther mar­ried again but never had more chil­dren and that re­la­tion­ship ended in di­vorce.

“He was al­ways busy with work to sup­port us,” he says.

“But he loved us; there’s no doubt about that.”

When con­tacted by Boomer, Gla­dys McDer­mott’s son from her sec­ond mar­riage said his mother, now wid­owed, did not wish to comment.

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