The Early Years – My First Foray Into Researching Mum’s Family – Her Birth
My mother, Gwendoline O’Keeffe, was born on the 14th March 1929 at “Ardee” Private Hospital in North Sydney, to Edward Montague & Gladys Evelyn Gwendoline O’Keeffe (nee Clugston). Mum was never called Gwendoline – she was always called Lurline (or Lurl for short). This situation came about because her father was not present at her birth. Apparently he was extremely busy in his employment, so much so that he could not travel back to Sydney for the birth. Edward was working in Canberra, which at the time was a fledgling city, with a few buildings sitting out in the middle of nowhere. The “Hotel Canberra” where he was employed in charge of the Food & Beverage Staff, had been expanded from it’s original incarnation as “Hostel No. 1”. It was built to house Politicians when the Federal Parliament moved to Canberra from Melbourne in 1927, and received it’s Liquor License in 1928. Mum said her father was there when the hotel served the first legal glass of beer to be served in Canberra (although I think there had been plenty of illegal ones before then). Late in 1929, the hotel would become home to Prime Minister James Scullin, who refused to live at The Lodge and preferred to live at the hotel when Parliament was sitting.
Note the dirt! Edward Montague O’Keeffe – front and center – & Staff. Very dapper!
Gladys gave birth in Sydney and sent a telegram to her husband, announcing that they had a daughter (they already had a son John born in 1925) and that she was to be named Gwendoline. Edward sent word back that he didn’t like the name, and that the baby would be named Lurline. Too late! The birth had already been registered in the name Gwendoline, but Edward got his way and Mum was in fact always known as Lurline. She complained often that her parents had 2 chances to name her and still couldn’t come up with anything decent! I asked a few times “why Lurl?” and Mum didn’t know. But I was to find the answer later in my search. A short time after Mum’s birth Gladys, with 4 y.o John and baby Lurline, moved to Canberra, where 4 years later in 1933 baby Judith Anne was born to round out the family. I always thought that it was a bit odd that Nana didn’t give John and Mum a middle name, but gave one to Judy?