Monday, August 20, 2012

A Short Story of Life as a Wife and Mother in Broken Hill - Edna Hazel Palin

Marriage of Roy Herbert and Edna Hazel Palin  24 July 1929
The first part of Edna Hazel Palin's (Hazel as she liked to be called) story finished with her marriage to Roy Clarence Herbert on 24 July 1929 (NSW BDM). Once married, Hazel took on the role of wife and mother, giving up her position as a clerk.

As I mentioned earlier, conditions in Broken Hill post WWI were very tough with many strikes and unions demanding better working conditions for  the miners.  The longest and harshest strike was in 1919-1920 and lasted for 18 months.  However, this prolonged strike brought about change and the unions succeeded in obtaining better conditions and shorter working hours for their members.  The unions joined forces under one organisation, the Barrier Industrial Council (BIC) *. This council became a powerful body which had a great impact on the lives of the people of Broken Hill.  The formation of the BIC also had a historical influence on the life of married women in Broken Hill, including Hazel.  In order to diminish unemployment  the BIC introduced a resolution banning married women from working.  

"For women, the formation of the Barrier Industrial Council had one particularly direct consequence. In 1930, the president of the Council passed a resolution to ban married women from working in Broken Hill. The policy was intended to diminish unemployment by holding clerical and retail jobs open for young, single women, encouraging them to stay in the city. It was felt that a miners' wage was sufficient to keep his wife and family." **

Hazel and Roy Herbert and family about 1937
Hazel and Roy's first son Charles John (Jack) was born in 1930.  Roy was employed with the Zinc Corporation, one of the main mining companies in Broken Hill. In the following years Hazel was fully occupied with the raising the family of two boys and three girls, Jack, Maureen, Joan, Brian and Faye. 

As her daughter Maureen recalls, she was an accomplished seamstress, making all the children's clothes, and often sewing for her friends. 

The young Herbert family on a picnic with their grandparents.
Family entertainment included family picnics on the weekend at favorite picnic spots on the outskirts of Broken Hill.  They would all pile into cars or many would go on motorbikes. Maureen remembers her parents (Hazel and Roy) going to picnics with her younger sister Faye on Roy's motor bike and the rest of the family traveling in the car with her grandparents.

The local swimming pool was also a vital part of the social life of the Herbert family, providing hours of entertainment, fun and relief from the searing summer heat.  Maureen recalls with amusement, Mum (Hazel) could not swim at all "it was a joke  for all the family, how she could not get the arms and legs to work in unison and we all kidded her that she would sink to the bottom.    Down she would go.".

Herbert family with their Cousins in Adelaide
In 1937, the family was to mourn the loss of their son and brother Brian, when he passed away at the age of eighteen months from pneumonia (NSW BDM 12217/1937). The other four children attended the local primary school and then once they were teenagers were students at Broken Hill High School.

 Life for the Herbert children was happy and content, with a house that was always full of friends and family. During the Christmas holidays, the family would travel to Adelaide to visit Hazel's sister Thelma and brother Alf and their families. Hazel really enjoyed these times in the milder climate of Adelaide, catching up with family and sharing her love of music with her older brother Alf who played violin in the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.  Hazel's health was beginning to become a serious problem, and there many visits to specialists, where she was diagnosed as suffering from serious kidney disease. 

* Barrier Industrial Council, viewed 20.8.12
** Unbroken Spirit: Women in Broken Hill,, viewed 20.8.12

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