This week's prompt caused me to stop and think for a moment - Valentine. February 14. The day where the universal language of love is celebrated world wide. Today's post will be told by my grandmother, who was married to my Pop for 53 years before he passed away in 2008. She wrote down the story of how they met a few years ago, and added to it again earlier this week, so I thought I would combine the two, to paint a complete picture. 

Nan on her push bike in front of her house on Glance Street, c. 1950-1951

I just met Calcidon Cauchi (Charlie) when he came to live with the Maltese people next door to where I lived with my parents and my brother Jimmy. I never had much to say to them as I was only 17 years old and 'wogs' (as they were called then), people were a bit weary of them. Charlie used to live next door with the family and his brother Damien. We used to speak to Damien more than Dad as he was very shy, though he used to speak to my mum alot.

Pop looking very dashing, early 1950s.

I was working at Angliss then. I loved my job. I worked in the pay office and Dad was working at Kimpton's Flour Mills. I used to have a lot of friends, mainly boys who were mates of Jimmy. I used to like 2 boys, especially one called Harry Cuffe who used to look like Peter Lawford, the film star; and Max Booth, who sadly died three years after I got married.

One night we were sitting outside as people did back then if it was a warm night - you get a chair and sit outside your house, the whole street would talk to each other, much different to today. Anyway, I was talking to Dad's brother and Dad was sitting there. He said to me would I like to go out to the pictures with him. I got such a shock as I didn't think he could speak English. I said "no I'm sorry but I have a boyfriend who is in the army in Korea" (as the Korean War was on then). I showed him a picture of my 'boyfriend' in his army uniform, but it was really my cousin Leslie Silvey (I loved my cousin. We were great mates since we were kids as he was the youngest son of Maggie and Ted Silvey). Anyway, Dad just said sorry. He used to play Slim Dusty and Johnny Cash cowboy songs early every morning, and as the walls between the house were like paper, it was very noisy.

Les Silvey at Puckerpunyal, c.1950s

Dad used to follow me to the pictures when I used to go with my friends and sit behind me, and even then, go to sleep. One night he took the girl next door to me to the pictures. She was a 'loose girl' [I've changed the words here as the word Nan uses was a little more controversial!] and was only using Dad to make this Italian bloke she liked jealous, so I tried to tell Dad to be careful with her, he said I only took her out to make you jealous.

My mother used to talk to Dad and his brother and she used to say to me how nice they were. So one night I finally said yes and went to the Newmarket pictures with him. We sat in the back row, but there was no kissing back in them days.

He started to come and pick me up from work and ring me up. I took a lot of crap from people for going with a wog in those days, but when people met him they all liked him. In those days Australians didn't like "New Australians" coming to this country and if you went with one, he coped a lot of flak.

Nan with her mother, Elizabeth Shorten (nee Maguire), c. early 1950s

When my mum realised I was getting serious with him, she said I wasn't to go with him anymore. So I had to lie. My dad knew and he used to come out with us and we took him to see his dear sister Jenny (Jane) Pollock who was in Mont Park Mental Home that her rotten son had put her into when her husband Bob had died.

Dad moved out to go and live with his other brother Frank in Canning Street in North Melbourne. He brought a motor bike - a Thunder Bird - I would never go on it! I used to go to his place to help with his washing and cleaning as it was a few other young men living there. They were all good and I was treated like a queen.

Pop on his Thunder Bird motorbike, early 1950s.

My dad was the first one I told when we got engaged on 18 September 1954, he said "you have to tell your mother yourself." When I had to tell my mum she said "wait until your father hears this!" and I told her that he already knows. I told her I'd leave home but afterwards things got ok with her and she loved Dad very much till the day she died. My dad used to call him Charcoal, and loved him. Dad loved him too.

Nan and her father, James Goymer Shorten, on her wedding day, 30 April 1955

We were married on 30 April 1955 at St. Brendan's Church in Flemington. I loved him as much as I know he loved me from the start til sadly he passed away. I miss him more and more as I get older. We had our ups and downs but the love was always there with our family and later on, our grandkids whom he adored. God bless you my beautiful boy from Xewkija, Gozo; my Dad's Charcoal. Rest in Peace with our dear son Paul til we are together again. Love always, your dear wife, Pat.

Nan and Pop on their wedding day, 30 April 1955


  1. Hi Louise,
    I help manage a Facebook support group for Australian Local & Family History Bloggers. We would love to have you join our ranks.
    Kind regards,

    1. Thanks Jenny, I've put in a request to join. I'm very excited to join.

  2. That is such a lovely story Louise. How lucky you are to have it in your Nan's own words.
    They were certainly a handsome couple. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  3. That is so beautiful and sad at the finish. How lovely to have Nan there to write it all out.

    1. Thanks for reading Isabel. She's my only surviving grandparent so I'm encouraging her to record her stories as often as possible. I'm blown away by how much she remembers!


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