"I was born on the 31st December 1926 to Margaret and James Wilton at our home in Reservoir. My mother’s maiden name was Moffat. I was the last child in our family; the eldest was Charles, 10 years older than me, sister Margaret and brother James. My mother had twins between Charles and Margaret - a boy William and a girl Helen - who each only lived for a few days. I was called Jean Alice after two of my mother’s sisters who lived in Scotland.
My parents migrated to Australia from Scotland five years earlier on an assisted passage of 10 Pounds. My mother was sick on the whole voyage so the crew on the ship looked after Charles while my father tended my mother and baby Margaret. I don’t remember a lot about my early life. My father was a carpenter by trade and mostly managed to find work, although times were tough and there was no money to spare. My mother (Margaret Hamilton Moffat) had a small shop at the front of our house at Thomastown for a while.
One of my earliest recollections was our house getting burnt down and the fire brigade coming - we had no electricity in those early times and my father had slipped on the polished floor whilst carrying a kerosene lamp, so the flames quickly spread and few things were saved. So we had very few photos etc of our early life. My father rebuilt the house while we rented elsewhere.
Our house was next to the school where I stayed until the 8th grade. My school days were reasonably happy, although I had lost the sight of one eye and often had to wear very dark glasses which the otherchildren teased me about, but I survived with little harm done. I was a very average scholar and no good at sport, so naturally I was the last one to be picked for the side on sport’s day.
Charlie got a job at Fowlers Pottery nearby, and went on to have his own pottery in later years. Margaret became a tailoress in a suit factory, and Jimmy became a motor mechanic. I worked in a small “arty” place called Jean King novelties in Melbourne. We painted wooden boxes to hold gloves, handkerchiefs, jewellery, children’s plates, beakers etc. I quite liked the work, and stayed there until I married Fred (Raymond Frederick Redenbach) in 1945, a month short of my 19th birthday.
During the war years, 1939-1945, our work was called an unessential industry so we had to do book binding for several hours each day to please the authorities. My brother Charlie spent time in the Air Force and my father also enlisted, but neither were sent out of the country. The war was a sad time for everyone as so many young people lost their lives. When anyone in the district joined up the locals put on farewell party in the local hall. When we heard of the loss of someone we knew, it affected the whole district.
On the 24th November 1945 Fred (Raymond Frederick Redenbach) and I were married. The war was over by then and things were getting back to normal. We lived in Reservoir where Paula and John were born. Then we bought a farm at Kawarren where we had Glenn. We shifted into Colac later where we lived for quite some time."
"I was born on the 31 December 1926 to Margaret and James Wilton in a house in Reservoir, Victoria. My father and mother had migrated from Scotland about 4 years earlier. Our family consisted of 2 boys and 2 girls, with Charlie being the eldest, 10 years older than me, Margaret, 5years older, and Jimmy 18 months older.
My father, who was a carpenter, shifted our family to Thomastown where I lived, except for a short time away when our house was destroyed by fire, until my marriage in 1945. Our father built a new one on the same site. He also added a shop front where my mother ran a grocery store.
We lived next door to the school where I did all my schooling as I never had secondary education. I left school at 14 after gaining a Merit Certificate. I helped my mother in the shop until I got a job in Melbourne in a small novelty workshop, where we painted designs on children's cups and plates, and also boxes (glove, handkerchief, jewellery boxes etc.). As it was wartime, and this work wasn't considered essential, we had to spend half of each day doing bookbinding which was most unpleasant work. My brother Charlie was in the Air Force, and he was a potter by trade. Margaret was a tailoress and Jimmy a motor mechanic.
I never played sport or had many hobbies but always loved reading. I was never encouraged to do much of this either as I had lost the sight of one eye when I had accidentally run a needle into it while sewing. This accident caused me to have several trips to hospital but my sight couldn't be restored.
Thomastown where we lived was only a small place. The local hall was our focal point. We held dances, community singing and the occasional play or exhibition there. Whenever there was to be a function there, we local girls used to spend Saturday afternoons making the sandwiches and decorating the place.
I travelled to work by train and it was there I met Fred. We became engaged in March 1945 and were married later in the year. We shifted to a house in Reservoir which Fred had bought earlier. It was there Paula spent her early years. Paula was born at the Kia Ora Maternity Hospital in Regent, and then spent the first 5 years in Reservoir before shifting to a farm in Kawarren in 1953. Three years later we shifted to Colac where Paula attended the Colac East State School. Her childhood illnesses were very few, but her tonsils were removed at 3 years which was very traumatic as children were not kept in hospital then. Also Paula fell out of the car once. Fortunately we were travelling slowly and she only received gravel rash.
We had several nice trips away, leaving John with relatives. We had no hope of leaving Paula as she was a child who became most upset with other people in charge. Paula was a very obedient, studious schoolgirl who spent her secondary education between Colac High and the Consolidated School at Apollo Bay.”