I went up to Auburn again this week, spending a few days with dad and enjoying the pleasures of country life. On Friday we went to Undalya again to have a look at the old cemetery there, on the site of the old Catholic church, which was demolished decades ago. It is not quiet there – noise from the main road floats up, but it is still. A family of kangaroos drifted through the trees – big buck, with a female and young one.
The gravestones contain many names I don’t know – product of it being a place that hasn’t been used much for many years, but one that I did recognise was Edwin Horace Cogan. Seeing his stone there brought back memories for both dad and me. Ted lived next door to us, his house facing Port Road beside our paddock, and his paddock next to our front garden. His wife was Auntie Georgie; she died when I was very little and I don’t remember her – dad says she was lovely though. She was the actual aunt of my aunt, so not just called ‘Auntie’ as so many older people were in those days. In the early days, the Cogans kept a cow, Myrtle, in their paddock, and gave us milk from her every day – what a kindness. Sometimes they were visited by their daughter and little grandson and the little boy would bring the milk and get a treat from my mum, dad tells me.
By the time I remember him, Ted lived alone and was a grumpy old man from the kids’ point of view. My main memory of him is getting squirted with his hose when we kids used to sneak through his garden to take a shortcut home. My sister Jane, cousin Mary, brother Richard and me would come home for lunch most days. It would have been quicker to come down from the school, through his gate and into our paddock, then through the chook yard to the back door, but Mr Cogan wouldn’t have a bar of it. No doubt we were cheeky to him, but he would get very cross when he saw us and chase us round the house with his garden hose.
He died in about 1970 as far as I remember (and my memory isn’t fantastic, so the dates may well be out), when he was 90ish – which seemed an immense age to me, and would mean he was born around 1880. He worked as a labourer dad tells me, doing heavy work, making wells, digging dams, lots of hard physical work. His ‘clearing sale’ after his death, was held our back paddock – I clearly remember all his bits and pieces spread around the yard.
There are few reminders of his life – hopefully that little boy who brought the milk over may still be alive, and perhaps some of those wells and dams are still in use; his simple headstone has no dates, and I have no photos of him. His house is still there, and Myrtle’s paddock, and there are some memories, gradually fading, for dad and me and others from those days. In this he is like so many people – unassuming lives, but lived vividly and in full colour at the time, disappear as time goes by. But he did live, he played his part, and it is good to think of him… Here are some photos of the cemetery, the kangaroos, and of Mr Cogan’s place (click to enlarge as usual).