Some memories of Edna Berry Veitch in the weeks leading up to the Batemans Bay Past and Present event at the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club on May 6th and after party on 7th
Edna Berry Veitch (nee Backhouse) Edna Backhouse was born in 1926 at Nowra, for at that time the family were living in Turmeil. Her father was James Backhouse and her mother Berry Young.Her mothers family moved to the area from Newcastle and settled in Turmeil. Where the family had orchards and ran sheep. In 1915 James Backhouse married Berry Young and in 1926 Edna was born. She attended the school at Turmeil until the outbreak of war when the teacher enlisted and the school was closed. Her and her mother were members of the VAOC during the war spotting and reporting any airplanes that flew over. Edna showed signs of her musical talents at an early age and she had music lessons with Mrs Cork at Burrill Lake and later would travel by bus to the Bay for lessons at the convent school. Edna didn’t last too long there as they wouldn’t let her play the latest music which she loved.At the age of 12 Edna played her first dance for which she was paid (pound) 1.Considering the basic wage was about (pound)4 for an adult she was very happy to continue this music career, which she followed for most of her life, and when Les Harris came to town he asked Edna to join the band, “The Modernists”. This included playing in towns from Cobargo to Gerrigong. Not only was Edna excellent on the piano and singing, but also a great dancer, winning the “Hollywood Waltzing competition”, being presented with a lovley trophy. Her favourite dances were the Quick Step and Fox Trot. At this stage a young man named Arthur Veitch was very impressed by the lovely Edna and persued her from one town to the next. Wherever Edna was playing Arthur would turn up. Eventually his efforts were rewarded when he and Edna married in 1951. They have two children Diane and Marina.Edna was asked to play at “Hollywood Park” a huge ballroom in Ulladulla for the Christmas holidays. That was every night for 6 weeks, which meant doing a days work in the depot office and then travelling to Ulladulla to perform.
They lived in Batemans Bay and Arthur ran the fuel depot (now the car wash Orient Street) and he also drove log trucks. There was a bowser at the depot as well as in front of her house, and they sold “Atlantic” petrol, later ESSO and also BP. Edna worked in the office full time but still kept up with her music, playing at wedding ceremonies and receptions and the clubs for their dances. Along with Alan Mehl and Chris McGuire from Moruya Edna formed a band that played in Moruya Bowling club and Golf club and the Bay’s clubs. Edna and Arthur moved to their house in Orient Street, (just across the road, and on the top side of the depot). Arthur had the house built but had to wait to save up for the furniture, sleeping on a mattress until they could afford to furnish the home.Edna had her eye set on a block of land that was above the old DMR depot, but Arthur was never keen on the idea. But Edna could see a bargain, so one January day she went to the land auction in the old hall and purchased the land for around $4000. When Edna and Arthur retired they moved to their 40 acres Cullendulla for a few months and stayed about 10 years, then moved back into the Bay where they built their home on the block that Edna had seen so much potential.
The photo above of the old Car is the original from the Batemans Bay Bridge opening sixty years ago and was bought back for the 50 year celebration and there is Edna ... in the front.
Arthur passed away in 1996 and Edna still lives in this beautiful home.Edna today is an energetic woman who refuses to bow to age. Her motto is to “have the right attitude” to everything that comes your way, and if she doesn’t live to at least 100, then she will want to know why.