This week’s blog prompt “longevity’ had me delving into my ancestor’s ages when they died and to find out who made it into their 80s or even their 90s. Thank goodness it wasn’t too hard to find as I have this information close to hand in my Legacy Family Tree database. There are many who have had a long life and there are probably just as many who didn’t for various reasons.
One in particular who stands out for her longevity is my paternal grandmother, Annie Norma Cripps nee Lymburner, who was 95 years of age when she died. I hope she has passed on her longevity to me as she has with her 3rd eldest daughter, my Aunty Norma who is currently 97 years of age and still doing well. Another relative on my grandmother’s maternal side was Jim Cash from New Zealand. He was 100 years young when he died in 1988.
The meaning of Longevity:
- a long individual life; great duration of individual life
- the length or duration of life
- length of service, tenure, etc; seniority
My grandmother, Annie Norma Cripps passed away 21st July 1989. Nanna was known as Norma to all who knew her and Nanna Cripps to all her grandchildren. She was born in Melbourne, Victoria 10th March 1894 to Charles Harry Norman Lymburner and Alice Zenobia Campbell.
Nanna always thought she was an only child, however further research revealed that she had a little brother, Frederick, who was born in Broken Hill, in March 1897, however, Frederick died at just 13 months of age in April 1898 from Enterocolitis. Nanna told me she remembered her mother being sick so they sent her away to live with relatives in Auckland, New Zealand. Was this when she was pregnant or when Frederick was sick? She told me she remembered living in Broken Hill and it was from there that they sent her to NZ.
Several photos in Nanna’s collection were taken in New Zealand, one is inscribed with My Darling, Norma, 10.3.1898. This would have been a birthday photo when she was four years of age. The other is a child, not much older, sitting in what looks like a dinghy. Nanna never knew she once had a baby brother, even though I found this out before she died, I didn’t tell her.
Nanna is someone that I sat down with and had a cuppa and a biscuit. When I used to call around to see her, she’d see me at that door and ask, “now what do you want?” Oh, I’ve just come to say hello. I, fortunately, had the foresight to take a tape recorder on several visits and she would tell me things as we chatted. I record some, others I just remember her saying. Over the years, I’ve been able to piece together the information using the National Archives Records that have now verified some of what she told me.
Like this passenger list of the Waikare bound for Sydney, 25th March 1899. Listed is Mrs Lymburner and child, returning from New Zealand. The date is 12 months after Frederick died, so did Nanna spend all that time with the family in New Zealand?
Nanna also told me she came over to live in Western Australia at 13 years of age. The photo below has written on the reverse – To Father from Norma. Photo taken by M.Nixon – opposite Town Hall, Fremantle, WA. Nanna said she was 11, so that makes this one 1905.
Recently, I discovered a coastal passenger list for the ship S.S. Bullarra, in the National Archives Passenger List, listing N. Lymburner embarking in Geraldton and disembarking at Fremantle on the 24th December 1905. Definitely looks like the family were together for Christmas that year.
Maybe she went back to Victoria and came back to WA a couple of years later. A newspaper article in 1908 titled Marital Misery, Lymburner vs Lymburner reveals a very interesting story about her parents. Nanna’s mother, Alice Lymburner was seeking maintenance for her daughter. The piece about being given credit “even up to £1 per week for lollies for the little girls”, had me gasping and laughing at the same time.
The article mentions a lot of dates but there is no mention of Alice’s time in Broken Hill nor the birth of Frederick, nor about Nanna spending time in New Zealand. So, did Frederick belong to Charles (Norman) Lymburner? I have my suspicions. I’ll tell more about the relationship between Charles Harry Norman Lymburner and Alice Zenobia Lymburner nee Campbell in a future blog post.
Nanna once told me about a china doll that her father had given her. One of her aunties was jealous of her and bumped her so hard when she on the stairs, that the doll fell from her arms and broke. They tried to have it fixed, but it wasn’t the same. I believe I may have discovered who this aunty was and perhaps why she shoved Nanna aside. That too will be a future blog post!
Nanna spent most of her teenage years at St Mary’s Presentation Convent in Northampton until her marriage to Tom Cripps at 21 years of age. She was an excellent singer and played the piano, earning certificates in Solo Singing and Pianoforte Playing in 1912 and Elementary Typewriting in 1914. Nanna was received into the Association of the Children of Mary the same year. She always said three rosaries every day. In later years when she moved to Geraldton, one would always find her sitting at the end of the dining room table saying her rosary, but she was forever losing them and eventually they would be found, stuffed down her front!!
Nanna was a very religious lady and this would have been because of her upbringing by the caring Presentation Nuns. She loved to paint and do embroidery. A special framed piece of work “Hearts and Homes” hung in her lounge room in Shenton Street. Her grandson Peter Cripps now has the wall hanging.
In the school photo, my grandmother Norma is in the back row on the steps, far left and in the boarders photo taken at the convent, she stands in the back row, 5th left. Her best friend, who was later became her sister-in-law Maggie Cripps (Woodcock), is next to her on the left. I have the names of all those in the photo.
Nanna would often visit Mumby Farm with her friend Maggie Cripps and it was here that she met her husband to be Tom Cripps. Her father was away surveying when she married, so Mr Pres Crothers of the Geraldton Building Company fame gave her away. He was the husband of her friend Ivy Williams.
Stories from her children:
Norma disguised herself 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. She was always a busy and happy person, loved a joke and had a jovial laugh. Many travellers would call by Mumby and she loved to stop and talk with them. Norma 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.
Norma was a wonderful cook and dressmaker. When they lived on the farm, she would make bread and her own butter and 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. She made Brownie loaves to be eaten for morning tea and all the family would get involved at the garden days held at Mumby for the Red Cross during WWII. We all remember her sitting at the dining table in her home at 120 Shenton Street, Geraldton, crocheting or sewing for the Nazareth House fete or raffles for St Francis Xavier Cathedral.
Norma also enjoyed reading, but the only time she got a chance was when she was breastfeeding 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, and 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 the family 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 dresses 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 in Geraldton. 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.
One story one of my cousins told me, was that she asked Nanna how come she had so many children. Her response was “Well I liked it”!!
She lived a very happy and fruitful life, passing with her family around her at St John of God Hospital in Geraldton, 21st July 1989 at the wonderful age of 95.
The stories here are those gathered from interviews by myself, Jenny MacKay and from my aunties and uncles who were happy to share their special memories of their mother.
A gallery of nanna’s photos have been put together HERE