Week 16 – Paternal Aunts & Uncles – Ernie, Brenda

Continuing on with my paternal Aunts and Uncles, I’ll introduce you today to Ernie and Brenda.


Harold Johnson, Dad (Charlie) and Ernie Cripps

Ernie was born in May 1926, the second son and sixth child in the family.

Ernie was also a great historian and took pleasure in visiting me whenever he had a chance. Some of the memorable times of his visits, were on Wednesday’s when I would have a group of ladies at my home, scrapbooking. He arrived just in time for morning tea and would sit for hours talking to the women. Other times we would catch up and he and I would talk for ages about his childhood memories of living on the farm. I’ve recorded some of his memories and in 2012, the Oral Historian of Geraldton, Jim Trevaskis, interviewed Ernie for the libraries history. Ernie also wrote a book of his memories and when reading this book, one can hear his voice, that little stutter that he had, comes through on the pages.

Ernie started school at the age of 4 ½ years to make up the numbers for the Assisted School at Mumby with his older sisters Dolo, Margaret, Norma and Phyllis and brother Charlie (my Dad). The government would pay the teachers five shillings a week and the family supplied their meals and board.

All Ernie’s brothers and sisters had a special place in his life. Some special moments were enjoyed while washing and wiping up after the evening meals and any rivalry was usually out in the field, as they all loved being competitive, whether it was at shearing, cutting posts or sewing grain bags.

Ernie enjoyed playing cricket, tennis and football with Charlie and Phyllis. As TV wasn’t around when they were growing up some of his favourite books were The Phantom, Treasure Island and all of Jane Grey’s books.

In 1940 Ernie went to the Christian Brothers College in Geraldton and a short time at Tardun where the CBC boys were evacuated to during World War Two. His best friends were Jim O’Brien, Dave Roberts, Bill McPherson and John Jones.

After finishing school, Ernie went on to be a farmer, earning thirty shillings a week. He enjoyed working alongside his brothers Charlie and Jim and his own sons Michael, Terry and Bradley. He married Barbara Gannon in 1952 and they had 4 children, Tracey being their only daughter.


Brenda & Rita

Brenda and Rita in school uniform at Mumby homestead

Brenda, the life of the party, was born in December 1927. She was the first of the siblings to pass away in December 1990. We all missed Aunty Brenda very much.

Brenda’s childhood years were spent on Mumby, where a governess taught school or by correspondence, then later boarded at the Presentation Convent in Northampton and was taught by the Presentation Sisters.

Brenda loved living on the farm as a little girl. She loved the flowers her mother grew and said her father was a very hard honest workingman who kept them all on the right path in life. She used to help around the farm and as she grew up, Brenda loved to go chasing rabbits with Charlie and Ernie and she remembered when Owen (Jim) was struck with polio and what a very sad time it was for everyone.

Brenda made her First Holy Communion at Mumby with Mons. Irwin who would travel out from Northampton to celebrate the Mass. She recalled her mother having everything just spick and span on Mass days at the homestead and made a big fuss for her children. Brenda loved it when Mother Therese would teach her all about the Catholic Faith.

After school, Brenda worked very hard on Mumby, cooking, cleaning, growing flowers, washing, ironing, cleaning taps and toilets and raking up endless yards around the homestead. When Charlie bought the first washing machine home, she wasn’t too sure about it, so she washed the sheets and clothes in the machine then boiled them like they used to before hanging them on the line.

Brenda learnt to play the piano and organ at school and was often called on to play at weddings. Her embroidery, which she painstakingly did, was very exquisite and she entered these in the Northampton Show. Brenda also learnt cake decorating and did this very nicely. This hobby was a source of income for the family budget.

Living in Geraldton she met David Parker and they were married from the Shenton Street home of Pop and Nanna Cripps, in October 1951. They had four children, Charles, Robert, Joanne and Kathyrne.

Brenda decided to sell Tupperware, she was the first in the Geraldton and Midwest region. People knew of Bren as the “Tupperware Queen.” She travelled far and wide to get to her parties, with her mother accompanying her on trips to look after Kathy.


Next week we will meet Uncle Jim, Aunty Rita and Aunty Leah.



About Jenny MacKay

Just a person who is looking forward to retirement and enjoying the golden years!
This entry was posted in 52-Week-Challenge, Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Week 16 – Paternal Aunts & Uncles – Ernie, Brenda

  1. Joanne Parker says:

    Always a very interesting read Jen. I am enjoying reading
    your blogs

  2. tstatton says:

    Great reading about your family. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I can hear Ernie’s chuckle as I read this Jen…I am sure he and Brenda would be as proud as Punch.

  4. Kerry & Jim says:

    Another great post…thanks Jenny.

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog. I'd love to hear your comments.

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