Edna Tandy proudly holds the framed letter she received from Prime Minister John Howard on her 90th birthday.
Edna Tandy proudly holds the framed letter she received from Prime Minister John Howard on her 90th birthday.

Future for Wyong pioneering group bodes well

THERE was another large turnout at the annual Wyong District Pioneers Association dinner, held at Wyong RSL Club late last month (October), boding well for a prosperous future.

It was the 101st annual dinner of the association, although for many years it was known as the Brisbane Water District Pioneers Association, which was formed in 1915.

Originally male members enjoyed a game of cricket followed by a dinner but through the passage of time that gave way to the dinner-only concept.

President Anne Lee said 90 members attended this year's function, and she and her committee were always on the lookout for new members.

"We are actually thinking of changing our name to embrace newcomers to the district who have an interest in local history," she said.

"Some think member- ship is only open to descendants of pioneering families but that is absolutely wrong and we strongly encourage new membership from throughout the entire Central Coast region."

The oldest member of the association is 97- year-old Mavis 'Tiny' Bailey.

Another long-standing member is Edna Tandy.

At 91 years of age (Edna celebrated her birthday on October 4) and from true pioneering stock, there's not much she doesn't know about the district. Born in 1926 and still very active, she has lived close to the family's original home in North Rd, Wyong.

A member of the well-known Aitkens family, she remembers the village atmosphere of Wyong when everyone knew everyone, no-one locked their doors and home gardeners shared their food bounty.

"My father, Victor, had a huge vegetable garden and we shared it [the produce] with all the neighbours," the mother of seven, grand- mother of 13 and great- grandmother of eight said.

"I once told him he would send the local greengrocer broke if he continued giving it away but he said what was he supposed to do, throw it away?"


Mrs Tandy worked for many years at Chapman's store in the heart of Wyong, the largest of its type between Sydney and Newcastle.

"It sold everything and was often referred to as Little Anthony Hordens," she said.

The building still stands today on the corner of Alison Rd and Hely St, and has recently been restored.

"We sold groceries, men's drapery, lollies, female hats, hardware, produce; you name it we sold it," Mrs Tandy recalled.

"I remember the produce section would attract rats and mice and to keep them away the manager, Archie McIntyre, brought in a huge carpet snake.

"Like a lot of the staff I was terrified to go into the room but it did the job."

Mrs Tandy also remembers the difficult times during the war years when every house in the town had to be blacked out at night.

From 1942 Australia was under attack from the Japanese and every precaution had to be taken.

"Wardens would patrol the streets after dark and if they could see a light through a curtain they would tap on the door and tell you to fix it," she said.

Mrs Tandy also fondly recalls the Saturday night dances at the old Memorial Hall which people would travel from Sydney and Newcastle to attend; the weekend movies at the Astra Theatre featuring stars like Roy Rogers and Judy Garland; and her dad's Buick car, the only one she knew that had velvet upholstery.

"Things have definitely changed a lot," she said.

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