Dear Dorothy

Dorothy was born in the Rosslyn Private Hospital Arncliffe, Sydney on the 29th May 1931, to parents Leslie Joseph Robinson & Eileen Jospehine Moran and the family home was located in the adjacent suburb or Marrickville.

Only 2 years after the start of the great depression, 1931 Australia was still struggling and challenged by unemployment, reduced wages, and all levels of austerity. Dorothy’s family were relatively secure but home life was difficult from the start.

She recounted memories of the WW2 bunkers being built and used at various time, particularly during the midget submarine attack in Sydney Harbour, recalling the sound of explosions and the excitement of adults racing to manage their emergency plans.

In her teenage years Dorothy worked from a young age, primarily in a local milk bar (fast food cafes of the 1940’s onward). She spent a lot of time there and as it happens this same place in was the regular destination for a person who would turn out to be Dots lifelong friend 30 years later in Adelaide, the gorgeous Gracie Harnett.

Dorothy didn’t like to talk much about her home life and family as it was a troubled start. Leaving home around 16, marrying before she was 19, and then having her first 2 children, Ron and Maureen. Sadly her first husband became the first of a number of abusive partners, and in a final act she was hospitalised from severe physical abuse, suffering a miscarriage. Dorothy had the presence know, the will to act, and the determination to survive, so she separated and began a new chapter in her life. While the details remain unclear, the husband retained the son and Dorothy was able to keep her daughter. She son later went to live with his grandma, Dorothys mother in Marrickville.

In the context of the era, and for the following 2 decades it’s important to acknowledge that women had few rights in relation to children, to money, and even to their own bodies, certainly in comparison with men of those times. Dorothy would go on to challenge those limitations and become a strong, independent, and successful women of her time.

In the early 1950’s Dorothy met her second partner, and Englishmen who was willing to take in a single mother and later marry Dorothy with a view to returning to the UK with her. He was aware of the hardships she endured, and to a degree took pity on her. Dorothy had 2 beautiful girls through this marriage Anne and Cheryl, both born in Woy Woy, NSW. Some years after there marriage and for reasons not entirely clear, Dorothy and the 2 daughters were sent to UK via ocean liner (Dot always did suffer terrible seasickness). The intention was to live with her husbands parents and so she did for a brief time, but circumstances led her to leave abruptly, and this was apparently unknown to the husband who remained in Australia for a long time after the family migration. On his return to UK Dorothy had departed and his parents were unconcerned, even unhelpful.

Dorothy had taken her 3 girls, and moved to Scotland to connect with a 3rd ‘rescuer’ partner. After some time had passed the girls father went searching and located them all. He abruptly removed his 2 children, leaving Dorothy and Maureen, with the new partner. Again , in context, of the 1950s’ UK, Dorothy had no rights, and the father was supported by law to remove his children. She was told she was never to see them again. Without knowing the full details, historical accounts from family indicate the second husband was capable of extreme anger and behavior which would be entirely unacceptable in our current lives. His Children, Anne and Cheryl both left home at an early age.

Dorothy was to bare a 5th child to her Scottish partner, the new son was Brian. Sadly Brian’s father was a new personal challenge, abusive, irrational, and most likely perpetrating alcohol induced violence and danger. Timeframes are a little vague, but within a short period, entirely due to abuse, and out of a need to protect her children, Dorothy ran away again.

The cold hard reality of her situation was that she had no money, no resources, living in a foreign land, in dire need of help. Dorothy put her pride aside and she contacted the husband who had brought her to the UK, the father of the 2 girls. To his credit she gained his help in the form of a short term billet back in southern UK with his family, under the strict proviso no contact was to be had with his daughters. She accepted and she escaped Scotland.

This opportunity gave Dorothy time to seek work, and plan for a new future. Dorothy clearly embraced a word we are so familiar with in our current unpredictable world. ‘Pivot’

Dot was never one for accepting rules, or being controlled by others. So a funny but at the same time terribly sad story was through one of her first UK jobs. She conceived a plan to work for an Ice cream van delivering throughout the local community, knowing fully that one day she might have the chance to see, or even serve her 2 girls. The moment did indeed come to pass and she was fortunate enough to embrace them one last time before the children’s great excitement alerted there father whereby he raced to snatch the kids away and of course threatened his ex partner. It would be approximately 43 years before they would reunite.

In a further twist, it was around this same time that the Scottish father came to take Brian from his mother, he was entitled to do so, however he virtually dumped Brian with his mother, and Brian was separated to have his own challenging upbringing and life. Again nearly 43 years would pass before reunion. Dorothy had now lost 4 children, retaining only Maureen throughout the ordeal.

Dot was now about 31 years of age, and furiously trying to survive.

a new era is . . . . . .’to be continued’

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