Gladys Turner’s Story

Gladys Turner 14th September 1918- 14th April 2019

Glad’s story in her own words at the time of her 80th birthday is:

I’m sure colours touch and affect our lives, the shadows we work through and overcome, the rainbows our rewards.

 We are very fortunate when born to loving caring parents, and the 8 children – 7 girls and 1 boy born to Sarah and Les Mudford in Rozelle were indeed in good hands.

We were all born at home with Nurse Constance at the ready and when I decided to show my head the nurse asked if I should be sent back – another girl and another redhead (3 in all)! I survived. Why Mum didn’t give up after Les was born I’ll never know. I was next then Jean the baby. We were a happy family punished if wrong. Five girls of us are still living – females still great friends.

Mum and Dad worked very hard raising their brood. Dad died at 69 and Mum went on to be 90. Mum had even been in service to a Methodist minister at 14 and there were no modern conveniences in our home in Rozelle. The older girls were expected to help with the younger children. Grace blames me for her lopsided hip carting me around. Apparently as a baby I used to cry and hold my breath until I was blue in the face, so it was under the tap for me! I’ve been floating ever since! The older girls were educated in Balmain and were all fairly bright. They often reminisce of happy hard days and were eventually all in office jobs. They recall taking their go-carts down around White Bay picking up pieces of coal and timber fallen from trains delivering to the White Bay Power Station.

Grandma Miller (Mum’s mother) lived at Lilyfield and we remember our visits – there always seemed to be a slice of plain butter cake or a piece of apple pie that appeared out of the sideboard. Grandma was strict – I liked to whistle, but she thought it wasn’t ladylike!! Dad’s father lived at Lansdowne or Upper Bankstown – train to Villawood, met by horse trap to farm – lots of citrus – Seville Oranges.

We moved to [Blaxland Road] Eastwood in 1924. Mum and Dad travelled in the removalist van. The older girls were responsible for the rest of the family travelling by tram from Rozelle to Top Ryde then bus to Eastwood.

Dad never owned a car, so public transport & shank’s pony [ie walking] played a big part in our lives. We were close to 3 shops – grocer, butcher and greengrocer. Jean and I liked to pay the bill at Fairburn’s the grocer because we would get a free bag of boiled lollies and zu zu mixed biscuits.

Dad love fishing and his vegetable garden, fruit trees and especially his roses. He had one big bed with 3 rows of 6 roses. These were my pretend school children. I used to address them regularly and take the ruler to their trunks – mad of course.

Our house, brand new, had 3 bedrooms, lounge, breakfast room and an open veranda at the back. The laundry had concrete tubs and of course, the copper. I still have Mum’s. It reminds me of the many sheets yanked out from the boiling copper. Three girls slept down one end of the veranda and Les the far end. We got plenty of fresh air. Our only protection from the weather was a big canvas blind, let down when it rains or if the full moon kept us awake.

Gwen slept next to me and she was up and down like a yo-yo in the night – the potty was under the bed, so she often kept us awake. Our toilet was in the backyard.

Eastwood in 1924 was countrified with green hills with lots of spare blocks. It was a good place to grow up. There was vacant land next to us for many years and this land and two tennis courts was owned by the Allars family. I met Phil when I was 8 and together with other children we played Red Indians, rounders and many games there. Later we played tennis after school then on to competition tennis with the ETDA [Eastwood Thornleigh District Association]. Four boys and 2 girls to a team. Many friends were made and we had great afternoon teas.

Phil’s house was on the opposite side of the road to ours and had a magnificent peppercorn tree in the backyard. We had a great cubby house in this tree and spent many happy times dressed to the hilt in my sister’s long dresses and high heel shoes. We’d traipse across Blaxland Rd in our finery. My sisters had some lovely long frocks, shoes etc. Grace had a flair for sewing and Nell always had a love affair with clothes, everything to match. I can remember one of our cats having kittens in one of her best hat boxes. She wasn’t very happy. Phil and I went to Sunday school together then Comrades.  7 of us who went to Sunday School together still meet once a month in alternate homes. No fuss. We’ve celebrated our 70th birthdays and this year our 1st 80th.

Phil’s father had a Buick car and quite often called for us after Sunday School, taking us for a drive. I thought it was Christmas.

One of our annual outings at Xmas, arranged by Comrades, was to take the Harold Wheen Kindergarten children from Redfern to the Zoo. The tram would pick them up and take them to the Quay, ferry to Taronga Park, then tram to the top. We fed them, then, with at least 3 on each hand wandered our way through the animals. They went on the train ride or elephant ride as well. By the end of the day we’d all had it. Especially if it was hot. We also helped the children at the Manly Far West Home and Jean and I used to help out after work at the soup kitchen in Palmer St City. I remember a beaut cake shop in Elizabeth St close to Liverpool St and we’d buy a box of cakes for a treat for the men.

I have happy memories of East wood School from kindergarten with Miss Wilson to primary with Miss Smith the headmistress. Miss Smith loved using her ruler on your hand when questions were answered incorrectly. Miss Short used to fiddle with her ruby coloured beads. Mrs Mann was our sewing teacher. I left school after passing the Intermediate. I was glad that Dad could afford my 12 months at Stott and Underwood’s Secretarial Book Keeping Course.

Dad had a senior position with the NZ Insurance Co and later became their manager. He was highly thought of and later became a member of the Workers Comp Board. He needed a reasonable job to pay for his daughter’s marriages and help us all through the Depression. Grace from James Hardies, Gwen from Beard Watsons. They took domestic jobs. Gwen with a family on the North Shore but the husband had other ideas for Gwen so she hot-footed home.

My first job was in the old fruit markets in Quay St adjacent to the vegetable markets which became the Paddy’s Markets at the weekends. From the Markets I went out to Australian Glass Co at Kensington, travelling by tram from Central. I had a good social time there, apart from my work.

I played “city houses” night tennis and met some great people from Snows, The Hub, Dymocks and other “houses.” I would catch the 12.45 train from Central for home and walk home from the station – not done today.

In March 1939 I came back into the City and started at Pharmacy Press in Day Street. We printed labels for the chemists in most states, New Guinea, Solomon Island and Fiji. I was the only girl in the office for many years. The building was dreary and old and belonged to the City Council – a real fire trap – huge wooden beams. I doubt that the modern office girl would tolerate these today. We printed some strange concoctions, one I remember for the female dog – a spray to deter the male’s enthusiasm. I bet the male won out. A lady chemist from Queensland must have been a winner with her “Infant’s Friend” for teething problems. We’d print 10,000 labels at a time. I’m sure if I had children I would have availed myself of some. I stayed with the Wilson family, a private firm and the owners of Pharmacy Press for 12 then 17 years. Part of the establishment! They moved to Flemington eventually. Good printing paper was hard to come by during the War years and believe me some of the gummed paper was putrid to lick.

I married Reg in 1948 and hopefully next year we’ll celebrate 50 years together.


We moved to 6 Burns Road South] Beecroft in 1949. Our shadow in life was not having children but we were surrounded by neighbours’ children. There must have been close to 30 with their families a great joy of camaraderie was bonded. Kids flowed through our back gate to play in our yards and the bush. The men were always there to help one another when a job was to be done. Xmas time especially exciting. John Nance, Reg and Max as clowns would walk the streets close to us delivering popcorn and taking orders from kids. John even promised fur coats to mother – he was a real devil.

Reg and I have had some fabulous holidays. Some memories never dim – a magical moment under the stars in outback Australia under the She Oaks and Mulga with the camp fire burning and good company. Glimpsing special stars through a telescope; toddling up the colourful cliff face gorge in Lawn Hill National Park very early in the morning; listening to the Peace Dove in the distance; eating freshly cooked Barramundi from the open fire and enjoying prawns from the Gulf. Experiencing the colours of many of our National Parks by walking in their midst and then cooling off in a wayward stream.  

Remember a sense of humour and a laugh is like a set of shock absorbers – helps us all over a bumpy road.

The story continues with words from Glad’s niece Jenny MacGraw.

Five of the girls in Glad’s family lived into their 90s and a very proud Glad celebrated her 100th Birthday with 84 family and friends at Pennant Hills Golf Club. Glad received congratulatory messages from ; the Queen, the Governor-General, two Prime Ministers, as her birthday was at the time of the latest  ‘spill’,  the Premier and various government officials. Legacy also honoured the occasion with a certificate and flowers putting teh photo of the occasion in their magazine. Glad was a long – time supporter of Legacy and was a War Widow after the death of her beloved husband , Reg, some 12 years ago.


Glad with the family on the eve of her100th birthday surrounded by her nieces, nephews and spouses and her baby sister Sarah Jean Fitzgerald in the foreground.

Glad was a very social person whether it be with family or friends but also neighbours who have lived beside her, down the road or behind her at some time in the 70 years she was at 6 Burns Road South. No matter where everyone is now living she has kept up with them or with the children in some way especially the “Kedron Kids” as she called them. Whenever she was talking to any of us everyone was spoken of by their name although we often had no clue as to who they were.

Glad and Reg looked after the ‘girls’ especially after their husbands passed. Poor Uncle Reg was coerced into taking the girls, Grace Gwen and Nell on numerous trips, some to Shoal Bay for holidays or a couple of times for longer trips to South Australia. But Glad and the girls loved to visit OP shops and Reg was required to stop the car so that they could ‘have a look’, then he would have to find more room for their purchases. Over the last few years Glad has been coming down to my house for some holidays but only during Bridge holidays. She called my place her holiday cottage but one of the requisites was that I take her to the OP shops nearby where she often purchased an item at a ridiculously low price then had to pay to get it altered.

Glad and Reg were unable to have their own children but Stephen and Judith Nance who grew up next door, were regarded by Glad as her children. In fact it was Stephen who organised both Glad and Reg’s 50th Wedding Anniversary and Glad’s 90th Birthday for which Glad was forever grateful. Judith has also been a great support to both of them and in particular to Glad over the last years.

Glad was always watching a sport on the television. Tennis was her favourite and I can remember getting a frantic call recently when she couldn’t find what channel one of the overseas Grand Slams was on. The channel had changed and then it was on much too late. She wanted to ring the TV station and ask if they could put some earlier matches on more likely so that she could tell some of the top players what shot to make to win a point. Cricket and golf were other favoured sports. Of course since Reg’s passing Bridge has become a big part of Glad’s life playing at least twice a week and sometimes three. She has taught many to play, her latest pupil being Judy Nance.

Glad also was part of a walking group who went on many bush walks around the Sydney metropolitan area.  Over the latter years Glad also joined not one but two bridge groups at Carlingford and here at the Uniting Church in Beecroft.  She loved her bridge days and would never go away for holidays unless it was bridge holiday as well.

In the last ten years Glad has encouraged we three girls (her nieces, Helen from Darwin, Robyn and myself) originally from Darwin to reconnect and this has proven to be the beginning of many visits to each other’s houses, taking Glad along on these trips. These visits have been a joy to all of us and, in fact, all the cousins who you have seen or will see participate in todays service have reconnected through Glad’s efforts. She has truly been the “glue” in the family over many, many years.

Glad was a ‘networker’ before most people knew what that meant. She had a Birthday calendar which is falling apart but everyone’s Birthday was recorded and cards sent. She would often buy several cards at once so that she had a supply on hand keeping everyone up to date on what was going on and informing us of when we needed to send cards or be somewhere.

Glad was very fortunate to have been in her house until a couple of weeks before her death but this would not have been possible without a lot of help from her nephew Robert Mudford “Oh Robert while you’re here could you fix…”, her other Sydney nieces and nephews but in particular her friends from all her activities who would drive her here and there. Her neighbours were a huge influence in her ability to stay in her house – John Maguire and Colin & Linda McKenna especially for checking up on Glad to make sure she was OK, driving her to various appointments and her precious Bridge days and would cook that little bit extra to take to Glad so that she had a decent meal.

As Glad used to say to her niece, Helen, at the end of a phone call, “Love you, Toodle Pip”.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Glad and Reg at a family wedding in 2007