Margaret Grace

Margaret Grace

Friday, 18 August 2017 09:51

Chiron College Visits Ipswich

In January 1968, Tom Shapcott and I and our three children moved back to Ipswich from our two-and-a-half acre block on the western outskirts of Brisbane. The idea of the move was to be closer to Tom’s work and his family. His mother, Dorothy, was very supportive to me, and I needed that. Our fourth child, Isabel, was born in June that year. We moved into a hundred-year-old stone colonial house not far from the centre of the town. The front part of the house was two-storied, with iron lace clad verandas on all four sides of the upper level. Behind was a single story detached building housing a kitchen and a laundry – both big rooms. There was a covered cement-floored “breezeway” linking the two parts of the house.  The stone walls were up to two feet thick, so the house was blessedly cool in summer and cosy in winter. Beyond the buildings was a long backyard at the end of which was a large weeping fig tree, a mango tree and a big corrugated-iron shed which had once been a coach house.

Tom was entranced by the romance of the house, with its iron lace, red cedar internal fittings and three fireplaces, but I was less keen because everything inside was old and shabby and difficult to keep clean. This was well before doing up old houses became fashionable in Queensland.  However, I was soon won over, partly because we were able to engage Melita, a young girl from a migrant family as a live-in help.  The big old house comfortably accommodated our growing ménage: Tom and me, Katie, Alison, toddler Richard and baby Isabel as well as Melita. And four cats.

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