Reminiscences of Toowoomba Base Hospital employees Winnie Jack and Ann Miller
'My full name is Winifred Martha Jack. I was born at the cottage across from Gabbinbar State School. My mother, whose maiden name was Martha Griinke, was also born in this cottage. Dad's name was Charles Frederick Jack. His stepfather was Johann Gust. The family came over here from Germany. Charles grew stone fruit on the property- apples, pears, plums, etc.
I had 3 sisters: Mil, Hil and Lil and 5 brothers: Wally, Herbert, Frank, Vernon and Vincent. It was a tough life for us as our father was blinded in a quarrying accident. It has been suggested that, because the blindness was caused by a gelignite explosion, the accident may have been more than 'accidental' due to anti-German feeling at the time.
I went to Middle Ridge State School. In my class was Bill Nichol (Jnr) who later became head gardener at the hospital. I went to work at the hospital when only 16 years old in 1923. I started in the kitchen and stayed there! My first duties were in the sink, scrubbing floors, peeling vegetables, etc. I was paid 25
shillings per week which was very useful for my family. Jane Farrell was in charge of the kitchen and Mrs Epworth was housekeeper. The job was only meant to last over Christmas but lasted until 1972
three months short of 50 years! Together with a few other members of staff I lived in a hut on the hospital grounds- where the windmill was. When the hut was demolished I bought a property in Pechey Street. The hospital dairy used to be on the southern side of this row of houses in Pechey Street. The hospital also owned a house in James Street to the northern side of my property. The hospital still owns the land but the house was either moved or demolished. Apparently the hospital staff named 'Halifax' originally as 'Hell' so that staff would say they were going to hell. However the name was quickly changed to Halifax. Matron Mclntosh was very strict but very fair. Dr Freshney was upper crust.
Interviewed by John Clements on 12 January 1994
Notes about the Jack family.
1. In early 1994 Winnie still visited the old Middle Ridge cottage every Tuesday to see her cows and cats. The cottage was on 2 acres.
2. String was used outside the Middle Ridge property so that Charles Jack could find his way around the large area.
3. For further information about Winnie, see Ann Miller's story.
Thanks for help to Mrs Barbara Cooper of Little Mountain, Caloundra, and Mrs Nola Robinson
Ann Marie Miller
I was born at home at Ramsay Street, Middle Ridge on 23rd May 1906. My people had 15- 17 acres of land which had an orchard & grapes. The family made wine and sold it for one shilling and three-pence per bottle. (About 12 cents) My father was employed as a lengthsman on the railways. He was of German descent as was his mother who was Christine Meisenhelter. My parents were married in Ipswich. I was the youngest of 11 children.
I attended Middle Ridge State School where I was in the same class as Bill Nichol (jnr), head gardener at the Hospital for many years. I stayed at home helping my mother until my brother married. As I had sisters who had married and gone to New Zealand, I went over there for two and a half years. When I returned I got a job with T. K. Lamb & Co, then had a job in the hospital as wards-girl for about 18 months.
Mrs Epworth, housekeeper at the hospital, suggested I might like to join the kitchen staff as a cook. I was nit keen but she hinted I might not have a job unless I transferred to the kitchen! Needless to say, I took the job. I left to travel again later. I remember 1932 as being my most exciting time. I was at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge; saw Canberra for the first time, and went to the Melbourne Cup. In 1939 I came back to the kitchen for 9 years. The work was extremely heavy with such duties as lifting cast iron or enamel boilers, scrubbing concrete floors, continually feeding wood fires, cleaning big ovens (wood fed- a real navvies job) etc. I remember Winnie Jack (in hospital kitchen for 50 years) throwing bucket after bucket out through a window because they had holes in them. They were supposed to be mended by mend-its but they were never satisfactory.
Winnie loved animals. When a patient brought a dog in with him he was not allowed to keep it so Winnie fed it, washed it, etc. for a long time. She also looked after a 3 legged cat which hung around the hospital. Winnie was maternity cook and cooking brain fritters was one of her specialties. I grew to enjoy brains and have ever since. Patients were not well provided for at tea time. They usually had bread and milk with a cup of tea. In many cases relatives brought in additional food which we had to cook. On other occasions, for meals, we cooked up stew and it was stew, stew, stew!.
I again went to New Zealand for two and a half years and came back to Toowoonba where I started working in tea rooms, the Imperial Hotel, etc. In 1954 I started working at the hospital laundry - regarded as a better position than the kitchen and remained there for 13 years. Dr Bell, Medical Superintendent, was a delightful friendly person.
I am interested in bridge and astrology. I was involved with the Drayton Bowling Club until recently. I have never married.
My father died when he was about 58 and is buried with his mother in the Lutheran section of the Drayton and Toowoomba cemetery. My mother did not get on with her mother-in-law and is buried separately in the Lutheran section.
The house here was built by my brother and was originally part of 'Hamewith', Dr Horn's property. It was used to house his horses, and horseshoes were everywhere. They were collected and put to good use in my patio.
Interviewed by John Clements on 14th January 1994.