Geoffrey Alfred Boddy (1912-1989)





John Boddy

George Boddy

Alfred Boddy

Alfred Charles Boddy

Geoffrey Alfred Boddy


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Birth

20th November, 1912, Denison Street, Hamilton


Geoffrey Alfred Boddy, c1977

Marriage

(i)Noela Winifred Sticpewich, Hamilton Methodist Church, 10 August 1935

(ii) Helen Glenmire Davidson, 7 June, 1947, Cameron Memorial Presbyterian Church,
Glen Innes

(iii) Patricia Claire Blake, Newcastle Registry
Office, 6 September, 1971

Death

27 October 1989, Royal Newcastle Hospital
NSW

Father

Alfred Charles Boddy

Mother

Lily May Gordon

Children

Deirdre May (1937-2015)

daughter (1942 - )

 

son (1948 - )

Allan Geoffrey (1949-1952)

 

               

 

In 1912, the inner Newcastle suburb of Hamilton was just beginning to lose its emphasis on coal mining. The 19th century settlement of immigrant coal miners was being transformed, its expansion and progress being commented upon favourably in the press . Hamilton was considered "a progressive suburb, desirable because of its neat, well kept streets on flat terrain, its pleasant appearance and quality buildings."   This was the Hamilton the family of Alfred Boddy, a storekeeper,  his wife  Lily  and their three children moved into from their previous home across Newcastle Harbour at Stockton.  The Boddys set up home in Denison Street, near the corner with what later became the main street of Hamilton, Beaumont street.

left: Denison street in 1906, just a few years before the Boddy family moved there

Hamilton was served by a steam tram line (left)

Denison street was probably oversupplied with hotels - 10 of them at one stage in the two kilometre stretch, a feature which the Boddys, who were Baptists,  probably didn't see as desirable.  One of these, a hotel diagonally across the road from the Boddy's home and shop, caught fire one night, an event which distressed the eldest daughter Mildred, who years later wrote in her memoirs that  "It was a terrifying sight to see in the night.  Ever afterwards I said in my prayers "Please don't let the house burn down tonight.

"Another memory is of being sick in the night, and seeing the lamplighter going along the street, lighting the street lamps", Mildred wrote.

Soon after the Boddys were installed in their shop-house, the family grew, to four children, with the arrival of a second boy, Geoffrey Alfred, born in November 1912.
Young Geoff caused some excitement himself - the often fatal disease of diphtheria attacked the child, and Alfred and Lily rushed him to hospital in a horse-drawn cab. He survived, and  the three older children were then given the new diphtheria vacccination, a  medical weapon which was only generally introduced to the wider community in the 1930s.

When Geoff was four years old, the family moved back to Mayfield, and he and his older sisters went to Mayfield primary school.  Mildred sums up how Geoff adapted to school life:

Geoff was very naughty.  Mother would dress him (or see to it) in nice clothes, socks and shoes (or boots), and away he'd go. However, someone told Mother when he got to the school gate, he sat down and pulled off his shoes and socks and went barefoot. I can't remember what happened to him, but he probably got out of trouble.   He was the baby - we all loved him.

right: Geoff, aged about three, and (far  right) ready  for school.

These photos were taken by his aunts, May and Ethel Boddy, who ran a  photographic studio in Newcastle.









below:
Geoff with his older sister Mildred


In the backyard at Mayfield, with the bike, now broken.

By the time young Geoff had entered his teen years, his parents had returned to shopkeeping in Hamilton, and Geoff would have started work there in their store in Lindsay street. He went on to work with the other general merchants in Newcastle, including the prominent firm of Richard Owens, who when the time came for Geoff to leave, gave him a sterling reference.

As soon as he was old enough, Geoff got his driver's licence, and with his sister Mildred, bought an Austin 7 runabout (left) which they shared until Mildred went away to Teachers' College.




In the meantime, he met a young elocution teacher from another inner suburb, Carrington, and in 1935 Geoff and Noela Stipcewich married in the local Wesley church at Hamilton (left).  This church was built in the 1920s, coincidentally on the land previously occupied by the shop-house where Geoff was born 23 years earlier.

 

 

below left: The wedding group when Geoffrey married Noela

below right: Four generations of Boddys in 1936 - Geoff's grandmother Sarah Boddy (1853-1939), Geoffrey, daughter Deirdre, held by Geoff's father, Alfred Charles Boddy (1879-1968)

 

Geoff and Noela first of all went to live in Thomas Street, Mayfield, next door to the house built by his father back in the first decade of the century.  There, Noela and Geoff's first child, a daughter, Dierdre Mai, was born in 1937. Within a year, the young couple moved to Katoomba, in the Blue Mountains, where Geoff worked  for another general merchandising firm, Cato and Moran

The onset of World War II changed their lives completely. Geoff's older brother Eric had joined the Army, and in 1942 Geoff followed suit, leaving Noela and five-year-old Deirdre in Katoomba.  According to his Army records, Geoff although living in the Blue Mountains at the time, actually enlisted in Werris Creek, in the Upper Hunter area.  It seems the reason for this was that brother Eric was then a Major in the Army, based at Werris Creek. While Geoff was busy enlisting in May 1942, wife Noela moved back to the couples' home town of Newcastle and gave birth to their second daughter there in  September 1942.

Geoff's war service was confined to the Australian mainland, with a period of driving Army supply trucks to the Northern Territory capital of Darwin which had come under severe attack by Japanese air raids in 1942-43.  Life in the Army didn't really suit Geoff.  On at least three occasions, he was disciplined for being absent without leave, with penalties of severe reprimands and 14 days 'Confined to Barracks', plus fines of up to £1.  Despite another reprimand for "conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline", by 1944 he had been promoted to Corporal.

The wartime years were also rocky for Geoff on a personal basis - just over a year after the birth of his second daughter, Geoff sued for divorce from Noela, and six months later in December 1944, his estranged wife gave birth to a son, Tim.  Geoff had applied for divorce on the grounds of Noela's relationship with Tim's father Robert Hunt, whom Noela subsequently married.

The war had one bright side - during the war, or soon after, Geoff met Helen Davidson, the daughter of a New England farmer, who had enlisted as a trainee nurse in the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force. Helen was discharged from the WAAAF in early 1946, a month after Geoff was released from Army service.  Geoff and Helen married 16 months later, in the Presbyterian Church in Helen's home town of Glen Innes.

After the war, Geoff didn't return to his old world of grocery stores - instead, he joined the NSW Railways as a cleaner, the first step in his goal of becoming a train driver. By 1949 Geoff had become a fireman, a job which involved shovelling the coal into the steam locomotives, in the days before diesel engines.

At the same time, Geoff had been helping his father Alfred build a simple cottage in Elizabeth Street, Fennell Bay, on the shores of Lake Macquarie, just south of Newcastle. Alfred had had to overcome government regulations to allow the cottage to be built in a time of war-related shortages of building materials. Geoff and Helen soon established a family there, with the birth of two sons, in 1948 and 1949.

His good fortune didn't last long.  In 1951, the polio epidemic which raged around Australia, took Helen's life, and two short years later, Geoff lost his young son  Allan then just under four years old,  to leukemia. So the household in Elizabeth street was reduced to three generations of males - grandfather Alfred, father Geoff and Geoff's five year old son.  Alfred, by then into his 70s, carried much of the day-to-day burden of the household and caring for his surviving grandson.


















   above: Geoff's second son, Allan, who
  died in 1953 from leukemia, one year
  after his mother succumbed to polio..

Life in the 1950s and 60s for Geoff centred around his work as a train driver with its irregular hours, and fishing and building boats in his free time.
            Geoff at the controls of a steam locomotive

Boat building became one of Geoff's major interests.

above: A launch, one of the boats Geoff built in his  backyard, at a mooring in Fennell Bay.


right: work under way on a boat which became the Robin Dee, named after Geoff's two daughters



below: the Robin Dee being transported to launching in Lake Macquarie

 














  One of the boats he built in his backyard came to grief when it was hired out to a fishing group in the early 1970s when hit by a big wave while crossing the bar at the entrance to Lake Macquarie. After that, Geoff's enthusiam for boat building waned somewhat.

 

The end of the 1960s brought two main changes - father Alfred died in 1968, and soon after, Geoff met the woman who became his third wife, Patricia "Claire" Blake.  They were married in the registry office in Newcastle in 1971 (left) and by the late 1970s, they had settled into a life of quiet retirement at Fennell Bay.

 

 

Geoff died in Royal Newcastle Hospital in October, 1989, a month short of his 77th birthday. Claire survived him by less than four years, dying in the Mater hospice at Waratah in 1993.

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