Following on from Part 1.. Jessie married Bill Pollock and the pair lived at the Donkey Hill gold mine where Bill worked as miner, and eventually became manager. Jessie’s memories from there, include images of miners with faces & clothes coated with dust, as they climbed from mine shafts, ‘blocks of gold’ poured by the blacksmith, and the constant pounding of the 10 head stamp mill –only waking from sleep when it ‘quieted’ for maintenance during its 24 hour operation.
When WW2 forced its closure, Jessie helped with maintenance by reporting mine water levels to Bill as he operated a steam driven pump.
She then sat on a bag near him for company at the 600 ft level, and knitted, while he worked. The steam came from a boiler used in the first battle cruiser HMAS Sydney, WW1, after it was scrapped.
The mine was believed to be the only gold mine paying a dividend to shareholders in Australia in 1939.
“People need to know it was a big mine and employed a lot of workers, There were trucks coming & going and we sat on the back of one and were taken to Moruya each week to shop,” said Jessie.
“There was a time of humour when the mine’s foreman rang the nine bell accident alarm after feeling a blow to his head, and a rush of warm liquid down his face. "When hauled to the surface, he was greeted with laughter on discovery his thoughts of “a crushed skull & bleeding to death” were no more than a lump on his forehead, singed eyebrows and streak marks from water spilt from the well of a dislodged carbide gas lamp.” “Sadness - when the mine’s Engineer, Harry Keys, died in a car accident at Bergalia and his wife left unconscious. On recovery she demanded to know where their money was. It was a time when one’s entire wealth was kept on your person–and the body had ‘customarily’ been put straight down. On exhumation, some100 pounds was found in Harry’s suit hip pocket.” (a police sergeant had guarded the grave o/night!)
“Reward - when her and husband Bill won numerous prizes in dancing competitions in the hall that was once Preddey’s Amuzu Cinema – and now Silly Willy’s shop in Vulcan St. Moruya.”
The mine operated but briefly after the war due to labour shortage, and the couple moved to town, with Bill joining outdoor staff at Moruya hospital. Jessie, - though with 4 children, their schooling & household duties to tend –still found time to join the Hospital’s Auxiliary. Here, despite the sad loss of Bill to silicosis – she became a dominant force at meetings, pushing the mobile kiosk around, finding time to chat & reassure patients & combine their shopping needs with hers ,and constantly seen at street stalls raising money for hospital equipment.
Her home in Shore St is partly constructed from weatherboards once used in the house built by her father at Dwyer’s Creek – a home of both hard times and happy memories.
Jessie has received several awards for good citizen-ship of which she is justly proud, and was once nominated by WIN TV as – Citizen of the Century. However, on the whole – it has been 40 years of helping and providing for others. She has been a central part of an era – the like of which will never be seen again. Her 100 years of living climax on 7th November 2017. It should be celebrated not with a single birth ‘day’ – but one lasting the ‘year long’!