This is what took my father away at the age of 53. It also helps explain his behaviour and my feelings about his death.
No matter how much I search I can’t find out much about my father’s time in Mildura. My mother said he marketed irrigation equipment to soldier settlers after World War 2. The equipment included portable motors and flexible hoses, obtained at Sydney sales, probably from war surplus supplies. He first opened for business in the old Custom’s House and then moved to other premises, renting houses in 11th Street and San Mateo Avenue.
In 1951 I was born at Mildura Base Hospital. On my birth certificate the accoucheur (obstetrician) was Dr Bothroyd. My father (aged 42) was the manager of the Mildura Irrigation Company and my mother was 33, residing in The Ranch, San Mateo Avenue, Mildura.
According to my mother the source of the irrigation equipment dried up and Linden had no choice but to close the business and move back to Sydney. He opened a second hand steel and piping business on a rented block of land with a house near Silverwater. In 1956 he was declared bankrupt. Alfred Munro came to his aid again and loaned him the money for the purchase of twelve acres in Yerrinbool, a small township on the Hume Highway, 62 miles (100 kilometres) south west of Sydney. The business struggled but my mother loved owning her own home for the first time. The house is the one you can see at the top of this page.
That all came to an end when Linden died of a massive heart attack on the morning of 25th January 1962. He was 53. His death certificate states he died from a) Coronary Occlusion and b) Coronary Sclerosis. The definition of a coronary occlusion is the partial or complete obstruction of blood flow in a coronary artery. (Wikipedia). Sclerosis is hardening of tissue, in this case the arteries surrounding and supplying the heart.
We were well aware that my father had a problem. His doctor had given him the bad news the previous year that nothing could be done. His plans to sell the business and start a truckie food stop in Mulgoa never eventuated. It may have been his illness that caused him to behave irrationally but he sorely tried my mother’s patience. While my mother and I were visiting my maternal grandmother he moved all of our possessions out of the house to a cottage about a mile away. The cottage belonged to Alfred Munro and my father’s mother who was still housekeeping for him. They were both too old to care for each other so my father moved them both into our house. This was done without consulting my mother so you can imagine she was furious. Their relationship was pretty rocky from then on. I can now see that he felt he owed his mother and Alfred a great deal and was trying to repay them.
I had mixed feelings over my father’s death. Although I missed him and I knew he loved me, life was much more peaceful. There were no more arguments between my parents and I could attend school every day of the school year. In the previous year I had missed 54 days of school as my father took me everywhere with him when he was buying and selling steel and piping for the business. We drove for hundreds of miles to country towns in an old truck, staying in country hotels and, as he said, “learning more than you would in school”. He taught me a secret language to use as part of a card trick. We would amaze the locals in country pubs as I identified the hidden card after receiving the signal from my father.
We caught the steam train to Sydney and stayed in old hotels, visiting the picture theatres, Chinese restaurants, second hand bookshops, Luna Park, the Art Gallery and the Australian Museum. We drove to Cooma and took a tour of the Snowy Mountains Scheme. Once we caught a train to Victoria to rescue my mother’s uncle from exploitation on a dairy farm.
Sometimes we just had a fishing break. I caught my first fish at Sussex Inlet in a hired rowboat while staying at a guesthouse on the waterfront.
Meanwhile my mother stayed at home and ran the business. After my father’s death she turned it around and by the time she sold it ten years later she had made enough money to buy a house with a flat attached in the Sydney beachside suburb of Cronulla.