Meet Ruth Apps, born 1926 and gleefully proud of her Irish convict ancestry. Her father lost the use of an arm in Gallipoli and was also mentally affected. During World War II he slept in the yard to avoid bombs. Ruth won a scholarship to a selective girls’ high school in Sydney when few girls were educated beyond primary school. She did well and gained work as a stenographer. She loved going to the ‘Saturday arvo flicks’ and family camping beach holidays. She met a railway guard on a train, but was lectured by her mother because ‘Nice girls don’t go out with boys who are not introduced.’ Despite the lack of an introduction, Ruth married Bill and they lived happily. She left work when she fell pregnant. Their first child died shortly after being born with ‘multiple deformities’. There were no scans available in those days. Subsequently, Ruth and Bill had three healthy and successful daughters. Ruth returned to work when her youngest started school and was called a ‘fallen woman’ by some for this. She loved working, was promoted and respected, and managed to win a battle for equal pay. She felt guilty and wondered if she should have had children, despite loving and caring well for her girls. She was an early adopter of the contraceptive pill. In her youth, there were only two ‘foreigners’ living in their street; now there are only two Anglo families on her block in Westmead, Sydney. One of her daughters ‘married a Pole and a granddaughter married a Lebanese man’.
Agnes Nieuwenhuizen reviews 'Australian Lives: An intimate history' by Anisa Puri and Alistair Thomson
Australian Lives: An intimate history
by Anisa Puri and Alistair Thomson
Monash University Publishing, $39.95 pb, 440 pp, 9781922235787
Agnes Nieuwenhuizen was born in Iran of Hungarian parents. Her family emigrated to Australia in 1949. After many years as a secondary...
If you are a single issue subscriber you will need to upgrade your subscription to view back issues.If you are already subscribed, click here to log in.
Leave a comment
Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.
NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to email@example.com. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.