02 October 2009

Finances and social status

Chapter Two: Finances and social status.

I think it was a big battle financially for a long time, but it helped that they grew a lot of their own food. It was clothing that was the problem - keeping six kids clothed. But Dad was fairly versatile, and there were ways he could get a bit of spending money. There was... I forget what it was called... a Pest Destruction Board or something like that. They used to pay for dingo scalps and fox scalps. Dad used to get a lot of foxes, so that helped. Otherwise he relied on the sale of wool and sheep.

He didn't have any other paid work after he went to 'Plain View'. He worked for neighbours but that was an 'I work for you, you work for me' arrangement. When they had the joint shearing shed at 'Tuen Plains', he was the woolclasser. He was the only one... not qualified as it became later on, but he did have a knowledge of wool. He was the woolclasser for all of the neighbours who used to shear there. For that he wasn't paid, but in return the neighbours would help him when he was shearing.

As children, we knew we weren't well off, but neither was anybody else that we associated with, so we didn't feel superior or inferior. It was just an era when everybody was on about the same footing in that respect. Nobody was prosperous, except maybe a few of the town people. Town children - children of storekeepers who might have been more prosperous than the graziers - didn't seem to behave any differently. I don't think they saw much pocket money either.

The doctor and storekeepers and bank managers might be considered 'the elite', but my parents could mix with them and feel comfortable. There was definitely less distinction then between those who had money and those who didn't. There wasn't as much difference then between the poor and the rich. A few people - managers of the big stations - might have thought they were a bit above the smaller grazier, but their sons and daughters would be mixing with graziers' sons and daughters, and the best of friends.