The 5 Ways To Remember by W.E. Pidgeon, Wep’s reminiscences of growing up in Paddington, was specifically written for his sons, Graham and Peter.
Wep first commenced drafting these stories in the early to mid 1950s. In 1975 when Wep could no longer see to paint due to glaucoma and six eye operations, he applied for a Direct Assistance Grant from the Visual Arts Board to publish the manuscript. This was referred to the Literature Board but was ultimately rejected due to insufficient funds. The manuscript remained incomplete. It includes a potential list of chapters or stories, hand written and typed drafts for 14 chapters, an introduction and preface as well as a number of illustration roughs.
These short vignettes and applicable sketches, edited by Wep’s son, Peter, will be published via a series of posts on this blog.They provide an insightful window into Wep’s early childhood and what it was like to be a young lad growing up in Paddington, 100 years ago.
The title, The 5 Ways to Remember is in homage to Five Ways, Paddington in Sydney. Its location is the intersection formed by Glenmore Road with Goodhope Street, Broughton Street and Heeley Street and was the commercial centre of the local community; about 200m from where Wep grew up at 290 Glenmore Road.
Wep’s father Frederick died in 1913 when Wep was only four years old. As a consequence, his early childhood was strongly influenced by his maternal grandfather, John White and the White family. John White, a former Mayor and long time councilor in Paddington was a master builder. He built the row of terrace houses at 290 Glenmore Roadand many other terraces around Paddington including the Paddington Town Hall and a number of railway stations in country New South Wales. John lived a short walk from Five Ways at 11 Gurner Street on the corner with Duxford Street, in a grand terrace house he also built. His home was called Trelawney in reference to the Cornish hero, from where John originated. Upon his death in 1935, the name plaque was relocated to 290 Glenmore Road by Wep’s mother, Thirza where it remained in place adjacent to the front door until only a few years ago.
John White was married to Isabella Garrick McRitchie and they had nine children, seven of whom survived to adulthood; five boys and two girls. Wep’s Uncle Percy was a forward in the Easter Suburbs Rugby Football team that won their maiden premiership in 1911. He died of wounds received at Amiens, France on 24 April 1917. His aunt Isabella Rose was married to Septimus Patterson, a dentist and Captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps during the First World War. It was Septimus who was influential in obtaining Wep a position as a Cadet Newspaper Artist with the Evening News in 1925, through his professional relationship with the editor of that newspaper.
These stories enlighten us about some of the characters that inhabited Five Ways and nearby streets during the war years and early 1920s. Where appropriate, editorial notes have been added to provide context. As Wep himself noted, there is no particular order to the stories; each essentially being self contained. I hope you enjoy them.
Peter Pidgeon, July 2018