Father fights to keep his triplets
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.