History of the Dalls: William Gordon Dall 1894-1972
William Gordon Dall‘s early life is described here.
William Gordon Dall joined the AIF in 1915 at the age of 21, and served overseas.
In January 1918 William Gordon Dall married Flora Fredrika Wenyon in London, where Flora was working as a nurse.
After the war ended and William Gordon was discharged, he brought his new wife back to New Zealand. Flora’s mother (nee Flora Agnes Fraser) was living in Toowoomba, Australia, and the young couple decided to move to Australia, close to Flora’s mother.
In 1920 they bought a small farm near Crow’s Nest near Toowoomba, partly financed by Flora Agnes.
The farm was not a success. In October the same year their first son, Morven was born, adding to the financial pressure. The farm was probably too small to be viable, a series of droughts and poor years followed and William Gordon (along with many other ex-service settlers) went broke, and virtually stayed that way for much of his life. He considered himself too much of a gentleman to undertake manual work and the family suffered accordingly.
William Gordon, Flora Frederika and young Morven moved to Norman Park, Brisbane about 1924-25 and William Gordon found a job as some kind of traveller for Gordon and Gotch, Booksellers (probably working as an encylopoedia salesman, a job not quite so tainted then as it came to be in later years). Their second son, William (Bill), was born in 1926 (St. Martin’s Hospital, Brisbane).
Young William was initially registered as Bruce, but it quickly appeared that this was a bad tactical mistake in terms of the expected New Zealand inheritance – there was a bitter feud between the elder William Dall and his brother Bruce. So the new baby was quickly christened William. His official name should therefore be Bruce William Dall, but the “Bruce” part of his name was never used, and so he was thereafter known simply as William (Bill) Dall.
By the time young Bill was three the family had moved to Ipswich and from there a year later to Cork Street, Yeronga, Brisbane, where they lived for the next seven years.
By 1931 the Depression was at its height and William Gordon was out of work. The family lived on his part war pension and hand-outs from New Zealand (William Gordon’s brother Douglas contributed part of his meagre salary, supplemented most probably by his mother Elizabeth from her own income).
The flat cost 14 shillings per week, an average rental in those days, but it was a struggle.
About 1935 William Gordon got a job and things looked less bleak. In 1937 Flora’s father (Dr. Edwin Wenyon) died and she inherited a little money.
Bill recollected: “We rented a rural type, unfurnished house on 2 ½ acres of lowlying land on Fairfield Road, Moorooka, next to the Yeerongpilly Golf Club. For the first time we actually owned our own furniture and a car. In retrospect it was very basic – wood stove and primus, no hot water, a real hardship as the Moorooka flats were freezingly cold in winter, very open to westerlies, often with frosts and even ice on water.
“William Gordon used the car as a traveller for Norris Agencies, suppliers of things like cattle dip for farmers. The money for the car came from Flora’s inheritance, but she lived to regret it, since W.G. had an eye for the women and used the car for other things besides carting sheep-dip samples around.
“William Gordon stayed with this firm until after the War started in 1939, but by about 1941 had a job with a wholesale bookseller, Pearce. In 1944 old William died of a stroke and left W.G. a few thousand pounds, enough to build a house with then. In 1947 he built a modest weather-board on 19 Grace Street, Corinda. Morven moved out to New Guinea shortly after and I remained there until 1952 with Patricia, when Marilyn was born, but it was not a success and we moved out soon after.
W.G. and Flora remained there until 1967. In the 1950’s he got a job with some kind of rural agency where he remained until retirement, about 1963. At the invitation from Ola to come and live with them, they sold the house in 1967 and moved into a “grannie flat” attached to Morven’s house, where he lived in a state of perpetual warfare with Ola until his death on Nov. 5, 1973.
“As children, both Morven and I were quite afraid of the Old Man and relations were always distant. He never showed any real affection or much interest in us. Mother used to say he got on better with dogs and horses than with his own children. In retrospect probably true, but I do not think he knew how to relate to people at all.
“In all, a very sad life.”
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