Friday, 24 May 2013
Another Thing I Would Like...
For some reason when I look at my shortlist of things I would love to get hold of, lots of them seem to connect to my McDermott relations - probably because neither my grandfather or my father were at all interested in keeping anything to do with their families, and Grandma doesn't seem to have been fond of keeping anything to do with Grandpa's side.
Anyway... I'm probably doing this all the wrong way around, but for reasons I will elaborate another time, the McDermott siblings didn't have the world's all-time happiest home life. This impacted on them all in different ways, but the one who seemed to have the most issues was my great-grandfather's namesake, my great-uncle Patrick Francis McDermott, known to all the world as Frank. When I was growing up, the only thing I knew about Frank was that he had killed himself, and for some reason I formed the impression it was over a property deal in Port Broughton which had gone wrong. I was very young when I first heard about this and I could be wrong about the latter. He wasn't mentioned very often.
Growing up, Frank had to take on a much larger responsibility for the family than ought to fall on a child's shoulders. His first appearance in public record was when he was 11. His father had died the previous year, and he is listed in the Directory as working as a blocker (my grandfather would also be removed from school at a similar age, several years down the track). When his mother moved to Adelaide he went with the rest of the family and by his marriage in 1940 he was working as an antiques dealer and living in Brompton. Money must have been tight, and within a few years he was working at the local Gasworks, where he was charged for a minor theft in 1945. Thankfully he did not lose his job though - different times!
Apparently he never lost his eye for antiques, and used to take his step-grand-children rummaging around the numerous local pugholes for beautiful old furniture which presumably he would restore given he was notoriously tight with money yet had a house full of lovely antiques. He loved to fish, and maintained a shack at Fisherman's Bay. Again, different times. Shacks really were shacks, not mansions, and many families seemed to have them. He continued to work at the Gasworks.
Frank was apparently "a troubled man", and on 22 Mar 1961 he shot himself in the head. My grandmother has since virtually refused to talk about him. When absolutely pressed, she said that she didn't know where he was buried but that it was in the eastern suburbs somewhere and that he was married to a woman named Roberta, known as Boldy. Neither of these things are true, but do indicate that Grandma (who otherwise, pre-senility, had an excellent memory) still views his death as shameful and him as a person who Should Not Be Discussed. Sadly, she also threw away all photos of him, and his step-family don't seem to have any either, probably for the same reason.
Out of the many things I would love to get, to see or to own, a photograph of my great-uncle Frank is right up near the top of the list. I would like him to know that someone still remembers him and his story, and that he mattered.
The closest you are currently going to get to a picture of great-uncle Frank