Annie Norma, known as Norma, was born in Melbourne, Victoria the 10th March 1894 and came to Western Australia at the age of 13. Although there is a photo of her taken when she was 11 in 1905 at a studio in Fremantle, WA. She spent most of her younger years at St Mary’s Presentation Convent in Northampton until her marriage at the age of 21. Norma was a good singer and played the piano when she was at the convent and received certificates in Solo Singing and Pianoforte Playing in 1912. In 1912 she was received into the Association of the Children of Mary. She always said three rosaries every day, one being for the Holy Souls. In later years when she moved to Geraldton one would always find her sitting at the end of the table saying her rosary, but she was forever loosing them and eventually they would be found, stuffed down her front!!! In 1914 while still at the convent she received a certificate for Elementary Typewriting. She was a very religious lady and this would have been due to her upbringing by the caring Presentation nuns. Norma also loved to paint and do embroidery. A special piece of work “Hearts and Homes” was framed and hung in her lounge room in Shenton Street. Her grandson Peter Cripps now has the wall hanging.
Norma became good friends with Maggie Cripps (Woodcock) and would go to Mumby Farm for visits. This is how she met and later became the wife of Tom Cripps. At her marriage, Norma’s father was away surveying so Mr Pres Crothers of the Geraldton Building Company fame, gave her away. He was the husband of her best friend Ivy.
She used to disguise herself very cleverly whenever ‘another’ baby was on the way by wearing a black throw over apron that tied at the sides. The children never knew there was a baby coming.
Norma was always busy and a happy person. She loved a joke and had a jovial laugh. Many travellers would call by Mumby and she loved to stop and talk with them. She enjoyed making preserves and jams for the stalls she ran for the Northampton Convent and the Catholic Church. These were all put into jars called “Battery Jars”. There were endless jars of fig jam, red cabbage pickle and melon chutney and cakes. The fat would be rendered and sold in kerosene tins to the butcher and also at the fetes in smaller tins. Everyone would buy the fat to use for their cooking.
She was a good cook and sewer. All the children remember her sitting at her table in her home in Shenton Street, crocheting or sewing. On the farm she would make bread and her own butter as well as cakes, particularly for Christmas and birthdays, making the best cream puffs, melon pudding, jams and pickles. The cream had to be separated first using the separator, which was quite a chore to wash up. Norma also made Brownie loaves to be eaten for morning tea. All the family would get involved at the garden days held at Mumby for the Red Cross when the war was on.
Norma also enjoyed reading, but the only time she got a chance was when she was breast feeding the baby. She would lie down to feed and enjoy a read, any good ‘love story’. She spent many hours on her treadle Singer sewing machine making the children’s clothes and lovely veils and dresses for the girls First Holy Communion. These were made from lovely silk with featherbone stitching. She also made pants that were buttoned on the top (no elastic then) and did the buttonholes by hand (three for the back and three on the front). Tom’s old work trousers were put to good use and made into crawling trousers for the baby. They looked great on the boys, but not so on the girls and needed to be tough as in the early days, half of the dining room was cement as was the kitchen and verandahs. Norma would also make the girls new dresses for the Show, Norma (jnr) remembered hers being a lovely blue with navy piping.
Norma always had long hair. So long, that she was able to sit on it. She very rarely had it down and was always seen with it tied neatly in a bun behind her head. This photo shows just how long her hair was.
The Sunday before the Show they would meet the Woodcock’s on the sand plain to collect flowers. Norma would sit in the old truck with no doors doing the final touches of hand sewing on the dress and when they had finished picking the flowers, out came the thermos and the scones! Maggie Woodcock always got the prize for the best collection of wildflowers. Norma also loved her pot plants and gardening and would help the children with entries for the Show.
The children were all schooled at different times by a private teacher on Mumby and they had their own special school garden where they grew sweet peas, gladioli and many other different flowers. Her favourite spot was her shade house and she grew her special geraniums at the house Geraldton at 120 Shenton Street. Norma and Tom had 10 children, three boys and seven girls. They all grew up in a happy place, which must be why no one could really remember ever being punished. There were no rules to break so no one really got into trouble.
See more photos of Norma HERE