The story of Carrolup is one that needs to be told in full detail. We must not just relate the story of the Carrolup children and the people with whom they interacted with at that time, but also tell the stories of the impact that the children and their achievements had on those people who followed them.
In developing The Carrolup Story project, John and I also aim to facilitate the healing of intergenerational (and ongoing) trauma amongst Aboriginal people. A key way of facilitating healing is connecting Aboriginal people to their country, culture, family, history and spirituality. We believe strongly that our telling of the story of Carrolup, in the various ways that we aim to do, will facilitate these forms of connection.
In late February, I posted the blog Mrs Florence Rutter Visits Carrolup, in which I included a photograph of the 71-year old Englishwoman with Prince Rudy Dinah and a group of Carrolup girls on 31st July 1949.
Cheryle: I’d been following The Carrolup Story blogs for a while. When I saw David’s blog posting I was overjoyed, because I immediately recognised that one of the young girls in the photograph (second from the left) was my mother, Mildred Jones. Without hesitation, I let David know. I was overwhelmed, as I had never seen the photograph before and knew little, in fact virtually nothing, about my mother’s early life.
David sent me a document revealing that my mother had attended the Katanning Show in November 1946, along with the other Carrolup children. I had seen my mother in a Carrolup school photograph taken in either 1945 or 1946 and she looked so young. I’m not sure when she was taken from her family and sent to Carrolup, but I doubt that she was any older than five years of age.
Mum was sent from Carrolup to Roelands Mission in late-December 1949. She was reunited with her mother in Gnowangerup sometime in her teenage years.
David: After I sent Cheryle the Katanning Show document, Cheryle sent me a newspaper photograph from December 1949 of her mother and Joan Indich taking a little white girl for a swim at Swanbourne beach. I had missed this particular photograph when researching on the newspaper archive Trove.
Cheryle and I started chatting with each other via Facebook messenger and discussed meeting. We had to delay this meeting because of my trip to the U.K. to see my children. However, the day eventually arrived when we met at the Lawrence Wilson Gallery where the Carrolup children’s drawing were being exhibited.
John and I had headed down early, but Cheryle was already there, staring intently at some of the children’s drawings. She spun around when she heard us talking, and we immediately recognised her. It was so lovely to finally meet Cheryle!
Cheryle: On this particular Saturday afternoon, I was feeling nervous, but also excited, about meeting David and John. It was awesome hearing John talk about the exhibits, with David’s input from the side. I learnt so much about Carrolup and these young artists from spending a few hours with these gentlemen, so much more than I had ever known previously. I was fascinated, but also very sad hearing the stories. I wonder what had become of those children after they had left Carrolup?
David: Once we had finished looking at the exhibition and had taken some photographs of ourselves, we settled down together on a sofa. I had asked Cheryle if she would like to see some of my collection of photographs, documents and letters and she was keen to do so. I pulled out my computer and started to talk about the various items I showed her.
I went on for some time! John had to leave, but Cheryle and I continued on with our viewing and discussing. I really hope I did not go on too much, Cheryle.
I asked Cheryle whether her mum talked about Carrolup, to which she replied ‘no’. I wanted to ask Cheryle more about her mum and her family, but I decided that it would be best to do this once Cheryle had spent some time with me and got to know me better. I did not want to come over as prying into family matters when we had only just met. I guess that’s just me.
Anyway, it was a real pleasure meeting Cheryle and it was really obvious that she is a lovely lady, an opinion shared by John. Cheryle mentioned that she was really interested in history, so I hope the viewing of some of our Carrolup collection was of value. It’s going to be great to meet again!
Cheryle: I would like to thank those lovely gentlemen David and John for taking time out of their schedules to walk and talk me through the exhibits and their collection of photographs and other material. I’m looking forward to meeting them again.
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