Friday 12 April 2024

Keeping in time

While preparing our files for digitization we recently came across an interview from 1987 with Mr. John Cheeseman on the occasion of him and his sisters donating a beautiful ebony and silver baton of his father's to the Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society.

Arthur & Louisa Cheeseman

The interview, conducted by an earlier Local History librarian, Joan Warton paints a fantastic picture of our area, of a tyrant school teacher and a kind baker. We'd like to share some of his recollections with you.

John's father, Arthur, had worked for the railways in Junee. In 1911 he was transferred to Campbelltown to maintain the automatic signals between the Picton and Liverpool lines.

Upon arrival, he and his wife, Louisa were presented with a little freshly painted cottage between Hannaford's Pub and the Coach house. John recalls his mother saying to the estate agent, "I'm not going in there!"

Taken aback the agent asked, "Why not?"

"There's bugs in there - I can smell them!" Louisa grabbed a stick, ran it along the window sill and held it up. Sure enough there WERE bugs. "They'd painted over them. That was our introduction to Campbelltown," 

"But," John said, "it all turned out for the best in the long run."

After living at Hannaford's pub for a while the family moved into a house in Stewart Street paying rent to Mrs. Munro. They had a huge vegetable patch next to the lane and a hedge of geraniums in which ducks would hide. John recalls every Sunday they would gather the ducks and take them through the gate for a swim in a hollow in (what is now) Innes Street. 

At Christmas, when the bake was done, Crowes Bakery allowed people from the town to put their Christmas roast into the large oven to cook.

One character he remembers well was Mrs. Seymour who lived behind St Elmo's and would get around in an old skirt, black apron, old felt hat and hardly ever with teeth in. But on Sunday's heading to confession she'd be dressed elegantly in Black Taffeta adorned with a beautiful bonnet with a single black Ostrich feather. She still had men's boots on but would also have her teeth in. 

At 5, John started school at Campbelltown Primary School where he had the notorious Miss McGuanne for a teacher. He remembers her, "She wore 4 different frocks that all swept the ground.  You never refused her bidding." 

She'd often get him to carry her shopping which made his mother wonder where he was. She also set aside a time in the school day for "conversation piece" where the children would have to say what had happened at home. "She'd find out all the gossip and scandal in the town." She also made her mark on John when he was fiddling with a pencil in the groove of the desk. Miss McGuanne brought a cane down upon his knuckles breaking a finger.

John's father, Arthur, leader of the Campbelltown band met for band practice every Thursday night at the Town Hall in Queen Street. Apparently, John's mother sent John along to make sure Arthur didn't come home via the hotel!

Arthur and his band played in many processions. One parade John remembers distinctly was the day of the Kangaroo march. In an effort to enlist army recruits for the first World War, a group marched from Wagga through many towns gaining men along the way. The band accompanied them from Kenny Hill playing them into Campbelltown where a further five recruits joined the recruitment drive.

Band Leader Arthur Cheeseman's baton courtesy of the Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society

Band Leader Arthur Cheeseman's baton. 
Photo courtesy of the Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society

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