|The four Parker children, left to right: Colin (the youngest), Jim (next to youngest), Mom (eldest) and Bill (next in age to Mom).|
Mom grew up in Australia, the eldest child of Frank (Boss) and Kathleen (Nanny) Parker. She had three brothers: Jim, Bill and Colin. Mom was born in the small town of Tweed Heads on Australia's east coastal region. (Actually, over 95% of Australia's population lives within 100 miles of the coast, so you can't go too wrong if you describe a native Australian as "growing up not far from Australia's coast"!) When Mom was 3 they moved to Bundarra (where Uncle Bill was born), then later to Nambucca Heads, where Uncle Jim was born. Nambucca Heads was Mom's favorite place, and if you have ever had the pleasure to visit there, you would understand; it is truly beautiful. Quiet, peaceful, right on the ocean, with spectacular views from bluffs overlooking the ocean and beautiful, white beaches (largely empty, as I recall).
|Mom (Joy Parker) as a young girl, with her little brother Bill. Probably taken around 1925 in Nambucca Heads.|
Mom's father (my paternal grandfather) was Francis William Parker, born July 18, 1891 in Gramen, New South Wales, Australia. His parents were John James Parker and Isabella Stamm. F.W. Parker married Kathleen Amelia Schutz (born September 12, 1899 in Beaulieu, New South Wales, Australia) on December 8, 1917 in Inverell, NSW, Australia. Kathleen Schutz' parents were Henry Schutz (Shutes) and Elizabeth White.
Francis W. and Kathleen (Schutz) Parker had four children:
We traveled to Australia in 1962, when I was just turning 10 and Jim was 8. Kathy flew down a couple of months earlier, and Jim, Mom and I sailed on the Canberra from San Francisco. Dad took us to the train station in Streator, Illinois, and we boarded the Santa Fe train to the west coast. While on the way, Jim stumbled climbing up to a table in the observation car and chipped his tooth. Dad arranged for a dentist friend of his to put a temporary cap on it in San Francisco, then fixed it with a crown when Jimmy got home several months later. Santa Fe's insurance paid $300 (the train was in motion at the time he chipped his tooth), and Dad had Jimmy keep the money and start a savings account with it. I have always maintained that is how Jim got to be better at finances that me (it takes money to make money, and Jimmy had the untold fortune of $300 all to himself!) At least that's my story of why he is better at money management than I am, and I'm stickin' to it.
Anyhow, after 3 weeks on the high seas, we got to Sydney to a wonderful welcome by our Aussie family. I wrote in the section about growing up entitled "Hometown, USA, aka Forrest, Illlinois" more about that visit, but suffice to say it was (mostly) a wonderful experience. I say mostly, because we were required to attend Australian school, and in my opinion then (and now too, for that matter!) that was a bad idea. Hated it.
We had already had the pleasure of Mom's mother (we all called her "Nanny") visiting us twice--once shortly after I was born, then again in 1958. Additionally, Uncle Jim and Aunty Maureen had visited in 1957 and '58 during a trip they took around the world prior to starting a family. Uncle Jim, who had his own auto repair business when we went to visit in 1962, had even lived and worked in Chicago for 6 months while here. On weekends they would drive down to Forrest and spend time with us. In any case, we stayed with Nanny and The Boss in their house on 2 Nundah Street, and would go visit the other family members when we could. Mom's travel style is to go someplace and settle in, spend time with family and friends and more or less stay put. She is more interested in the people there than in sights and touristy things, so we didn't do too much traveling around in Sydney, except to see friends or family. Later, when we returned for subsequent visits, we did more stuff like that, driving up to Brisbane or down the coast, etc.
|Francis William and Kathleen Amelia (Schutz) Parker, about 1918, shortly after they were married. He is 27, she is about 19.|
Everyone (even his children and grandchildren) referred to my grandfather as "Boss" or "Bossy." (Mom says it was probably because that was the opposite of what he was--the boss.) He was a kind and hard working man, already pretty advanced in years when I first met him in the early 1960's. (Doing the quick math, he would have been over 70 then). Mom insisted we call him "Grandfather" when we went to visit in 1962, and being the obedient kids we were, we complied. I remember (even as an impressionable little kid) that it seemed kind of stilted and formal, but did anyhow. It probably embarrassed him, as I think back on it now! He had a cluttered shop in the garage of his house on 2 Nundah Street, Lane Cove, NSW (a northern suburb of Sydney), and I remember being very curious about what was in there and wanting to explore it, but afraid I might disturb or break something.
Jim and I stayed in a little cabin in the back of the house, and pretty much had the run of the place during the summer. We were walking distance from Uncle Bill's shop on Pacific Highway (I think the name of Uncle Bill's business was Pacific Tyre and Retread), and it was close enough for us to walk to, although we would often take the bus over there.) Uncle Bill and Aunty Dawn had 2 sons, David and Kenneth. David was Kathy's age and Kenneth younger than Jim, but we would go over there and get into mischief with David on a regular basis. Kenneth was still a "child" (who am I kidding! I was 10 and Jimmy 8, but we still thought of Kenneth as too young and thus beneath our attention--typical attitude of an 8 and a 10 year old!) so we played mostly with David.
All three of the Parker boys must have been given a very strong work ethic along with pretty good business savvy as youngsters, as they were all pretty successful as adults. Uncle Jim had a body shop in a building he had constructed (he called it the "factory"), and every opportunity he had he would add another floor to the building. His shop was still his primary business, but he would then rent out space in his factory to other businesses. Ultimately his factory was several stories tall, and he had a number of businesses renting space from him. He put in an office on the ground floor, and Aunty Maureen ran a travel business from there, that later became my cousin Janine's. Michelle (his second daughter) started a hair stylist business in another space on the ground floor.
The three boys (Bill, Jim and Colin) started a tire sales and retreading business, and Uncle Bill ran it. (I believe he ultimately bought out Uncle Jim's and Uncle Colin's share), but that too became a successful enterprise. It was located right on one of the main north-south arteries of north Sydney, so he got a lot of exposure. Retreading tires was much more popular in Australia than here in the US, so that business went well. Uncle Colin had a taxi as I recall, and if you owned your own cab (as Colin did), it could be quite lucrative.
At any rate, all three of the Parker boys were (and still are) quite industrious, and so did well. Bill has a beautiful home in the city of Gosford, on the coast about 50 miles north of Sydney. (In fact, you can go by boat all the way up to Gosford in protected passages, with only a small portion of it open to the sea. We would go with Uncle Jim to Gosford on occasion to visit Uncle Bill and his family). He was able to get a parcel of land on a point jutting out into the bay with an incredible view. He built his home to take advantage of that view, with lots of windows and large rooms overlooking the water. Uncle Jim's house is just as spectacular in a different way; his is on a bluff about 5 or 6 miles back from the water, but with panoramic views of the ocean.
All the Parkers are extremely hospitable and we thoroughly enjoyed each of our visits with them. Jim and Maureen have more of the "travel bug" than the other brothers and their families, so they are the only ones who have visited us here.
Australian kids have almost a rite of passage that many do; after school they work for a couple of years, save everything, then go on an extensive trip around the world. My cousin David did that, Janine and Michelle, and others as well. I think that is a great idea, because of the way that travel broadens your thinking. My high school principle (Wes Bertram), when I asked his thoughts on going to Australia my senior year, gave his blessing saying that I could make up the work, but that I would "learn more traveling to Australia than I could ever learn sitting in a classroom." I'm not sure my teachers appreciated that, but I think he was right, and never forgot his advice.