GRANDMA FASHAM (ISABEL THORNBOROUGH RUSSELL FASHAM)
By Joyce Muriel Fasham Trimmer, Daughter and Glenys J. Rasmussen, Granddaughter, February 2006©
By Joyce Muriel Fasham Trimmer, Daughter
Isabel Thornborough Russell was born the 1st of January 1899, the third child of Charles Russell and Rosa Florence Alloway Russell.
The night she was born at home in The Parade, Ascot Vale, Victoria, Australia, there was a terrific thunderstorm and Grandpa Russell had to run down the street to find the midwife and bring her back through the pouring rain.
I don't know much about her young childhood - it was never talked about, but I do know that she enjoyed her two younger sisters, Ivy and Rosa and they spent a lot of time together. At about the age of 12 years, the family moved to Thomastown, outside the city of Melbourne where Grandpa Russell worked as a plumber, gasfitter and roofer. They also ran a small farm.
Mum worked at her Aunty Belle's cake shop in Ascot Vale Road when she was 16 or 17, before the family moved again. This time to Barham, New South Wales, Australia. Here grandpa worked with Uncle George Alloway, his brother-in-law on the building of the Barham Public School and other plumbing jobs. [They also moved to Barham because Grandma's health had deteriorated and the doctor told grandpa she needed to be in a warmer climate.] At this time Mum stayed at home and did not go out to work. The First World War was being fought and her brother Charles went to war with the 4th Australian Light Horse Regiment and ended up at Gallipoli where he was wounded and died on a hospital ship on the way to England.
Grandma and Grandpa Russell taught ballroom dancing as did Mum who became quite popular on the dance floor.
Around 1917 when she was 18 she met Dad [Horace Easter Fasham] and they attended socials at the Koondrook Baptist Church. Grandfather Fasham kept a very close eye on them. Dancing was not allowed in the Baptist Church at that time, but social games were and so the young people enjoyed those instead. Their courtship was different from today's rules. They could not be alone with each other and had to keep their distance.
Because Mum lived in New South Wales and Dad was in Koondrook, Victoria, he had to cross over the Murray River by a punt (like a kind of ferry) because the bridge had not yet been built. His father insisted on him being home at 10:00pm - and Dad was 21 years old at the time!!
On June 24, 1918, Isabel and Horace were married at Koondrook. When my Dad proposed he made quite an ultimatum - "Either me or dancing" - Mum chose him!
They went to live in a very small town in Gippsland, Victoria - a place called Waygara - it was a sleeper cutter's tent/shack town. Dad was a sleeper cutter (railroad ties). The train passed through every Tuesday at 4:00AM and because Mum was the Station Mistress and the Post Mistress, she had to be at the station to meet the train and collect and give the train driver the mail and other other needs like food, etc.
Mum and Dad lived in Waygara for 4 years and then returned to Koondrook to the family home. Grandpa Fasham had died 6 months before Mum and Dad married and so Grandma Fasham needed someone to live with her and help her.
When I was about 3 years old, Mum put me down for my sleep in my cot (bed) and I didn't go to sleep. After a while I started calling out "nake", "nake". Mum came in and under the cot was a large snake. She called me to come to the edge of the cot and she reached out her arms and grabbed me. Then we left the house, just down the road was a man working so he went to our home and shot the snake. Another time a snake came through a slit in the wall so Mum played the accordian while Dad got the gun to shoot it.
Christmas was always a wonderful time. Christmas Eve Mum and Dad and I had our Christmas Dinner. On Christmas Day all the families got together for the Christmas feast. The day after Christmas, [called Boxing Day in Australia] the whole family went fishing and swimming in the river. My life was good as a child and growing up.
Every Tuesday while I was growing up Mum, Auntie Rosa and Auntie Ivy went to Grandma Russell's house for the day. We would go after school - they walked each way. It was about 4 miles for Mum and Aunty Ivy.
For my wedding, Mum and her sisters cooked everything and made everything: Mum was the knitter and crocheter - everything I wore was handmade Auntie Rosa was the seamstress and cook - she made my wedding dress and my bridesmaids dresses and cooked almost all the food. Auntie Ivy was the cake maker and she also made lots of other wonderful goodies.
We moved to Melbourne after I was married.** Mum never went into the city to shop without wearing her hat, gloves and best clothes. She worked hard in the Baptist Church as the President of the Ladies Guild. She helped a lot of people with their problems. She also helped with every wedding in the town - and did the hair of the bride and bridesmaids.
Mum and Dad did not move many times in their married lives. Dad built a house and lived in it for 3 years, then Grandma died so we went back to Barham to her house and lived there until 1946. They moved to Melbourne in 1948 [and Glenys would often be found walking from Echuca after we moved there to Melbourne to see Grandma.]
Mum died 19 April 1956 while we were living with them in Airport West, part of Melbourne. She was a wonderful lady and brought a lot of joy into our lives. She could play the piano beautifully. ** In 1951.
Isabel Thornborough Russell Fasham By Glenys Joy Trimmer Rasmussen - Granddaughter
Each night after the dishes were done Grandma would have me sing some songs while she played - that's why I know so many songs, particularly old ones! I loved singing and Grandpa would often sing along or play his accordian. It was really fun and a good way to spend time together. Then we would sit by the fire (in the winter) and Grandma would make special sandwich treats and Grandpa would cook them in the hot coals using a special tool. Grandma was very tall and very beautiful. She had a distinctive voice that always sounded wonderful to me and was a lovely singer.
Grandma Fasham knitted almost all of my underwear! I can still remember how itchy those woolen singlets were! But she also knitted beautiful dresses and jumpers, cardigans and a gorgeous cape and hat for me. She really spoiled me - probably because I was the only grandchild for some years before my sister was born. She used to always tell Grandpa not to give me tea to drink - she said it would turn my skin yellow. However, she knew I didn't like milk and so she never made me drink it - she would give me other things instead. And grandpa always seemed to manage to get me my very sweet tea! Grandma was a very good cook and I can remember her making fairy cakes and lamingtons for my birthday - they were filled with cream and were delicious. I was very fortunate because I lived with my grandparents for about 4 years and then just across the paddock from them until they died, so they were always very close and I loved being with them.
When Grandma died it was a very hard day for me - I wasn't allowed to go the funeral - children didn't go in those days - and so I sat, all alone, outside on my swing in the backyard and cried and cried. I asked Heavenly Father (Grandma had taught me about Him and to love Him as I grew up) if she was alright and if she was well again and if she knew how sad I was. Heavenly Father gave me a very special gift that day - I was 8 years old - and although it was a long time ago I still remember it very clearly. I knew my grandma was happy and that she still loved me. It's always meant a lot to me to know that Heavenly Father will help us our whole lives through if we will remember Him.
Grandma and Grandpa have remained very close to me all these years and I have been given some very special experiences because of them and involving them. Her sister, Auntie Rosa told me several years ago, before she died, that they had a wonderful childhood, that their father was a kind and gentle man who really taught them how to help others and not expect anything in return. He gave up many opportunities to be wealthy because it was more important to him to make people happy and have homes to live in than to have lots of money. He must have taught his daughters well because that's just how they were and Grandma taught me the same things. She taught me about Jesus and how much He loves us. She had so many songs about him and I learned them all I think! She also wrote poetry - some of her poems are very funny and some have wonderful, pertinent messages. I have her poetry book and treasure it. Grandma never liked me to say unkind things about other people and told me to be quiet rather than say anything that wasn't nice. She also expected me to be obedient and thoughtful. Although I was just young when she died, she made a lifelong impression on me and continues to do so. I loved my grandparents with all my heart and I'm very grateful to know I will see them again someday.