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Aug 17, 2010

Voices from the Past: Letters of Joan L Palmes

Just over 75 years ago, my great aunt took up her pen and began to write a series of letters to her mother (my great grandmother). She wrote of her experiences living as a girl on the cusp of womanhood in a boarding school in Brisbane. She wrote of her homesickness, and her brother (my grandfather: Bryan Palmes aka Bruno). She wrote beautifully, elegantly, and portrayed a maturity far beyond her then 14 years.

These letters have been stored since that time in a simple cardboard chocolate box. 

Joan Lindsay Palmes's (aka Sarah Bones) words come from a time long gone, and a different world. At the time of these letters, her father had already passed away due to a car accident, and her mother was left to run "Glandore": the family's cattle station alone, whilst her two children were away in Brisbane. The pain this separation caused is obvious in the letters Joan wrote to her mother.

The first letter that I have is dated the 24th of February, 1935. I plan to present these letters as close as possible to the originals, which are in very fragile condition, thanks in part to how they have been stored (as they were sent, often in their original envelopes). As far as I know the reply letters have been lost, which is why we will only be really hearing from Joan. At odd points I will add in the few letters I have from my grandfather, written during the same time.

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Somerville House,
Sth. Brisbane
Feb, 24 th. 1935.



Dear Mum and Aunty Mon, 
                                                            

I hope you had a good trip home, Mummy, and that a car was waiting for you Eidsvold, 

I got my rug yesterday, it is a very nice one. Martha, another girl (Betty Winterbottom) have been lying on it, reading, all the afternoon. 

We had some fun last night. We all went up into the gym and danced and some of the girls recited and one, Betty Fadden, sang. She has such a sweet voice, it takes one straight into dreamland listening to her. 

We went to Church this morning and the service was very good. We go again to night. 

It has been much cooler here the last few days. I suppose it is hot at home. 

Have they finished the mustering, yet? I hope Margot has given "Phantom" a few days work. 

I am reading a book now, which one of the girls lent me. It is called "We of the Never Never". 

Well, this is not a very long letter but I will have to rush now and get dressed for Church.

Please give my love to all, 

from Joan xx



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March 3 rd., 1935

Dearest Mother, 

Your letter arrived yesterday and I was very pleased to get it. You certainly had a very roundabout trip home. 

I am glad Margot is riding "Phantom". Will you please tell her not to let any man, of any description, ride her, not even in the muster. 

Last Thursday night Miss Jarrett was very nice and let us go to an Orchestral Concert in the Town Hall. Three mistresses took us and we had to get a special tram. We are going to another concert next Wednesday I think. 

Last night, being Saturday night, we had a concert in the school. The first item was a dumb orchestra and Martha was the conductor. She was dressed up as a man and played the part very well indeed.

The next thing was called "Scenes de Somerville" and was a little scene, for each day of the week, taken from the doings of the school. I was in "Sunday morning" and had to pretend to be praying a psalm as we do on Sunday. There were quite a lot of things and they were all good. Jessie Simpson is very good on the stage as also are a lot of the other girls. 

I went to Dr Rosentingle last Friday and he pulled out one tooth. He put cokane in it and it didn't hurt a bit. I go in to him again next Friday to lose the other one. 

I cannot swim yet. I still have a slight cold so I didn't go in on Saturday, but I think if I go in every Saturday and try, I might be able to get across the baths in time! 

Please give my love to all.

Your loving daughter, 
Joan

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So what do you all think?

Jo

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lovely thanks ...Mon

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