……. “Help everyone, be kind to each other”
Tom immediately struck me as a really kind man, cleanly shaven with a big smile to boot he was eager to share the story of his life with me. I was also lucky enough to meet his granddaughters Cindy and Paige. It is amazing to chat with the offspring of the people that I am so fortunate to meet, photograph and interview and it gives me even more insight into their incredible lives.
Tom was born in Grenfell NSW, he had 3 brothers and one sister. Tom and his siblings grew up on the property “Glenroy”, between Boorowa and Crookwell. Tom laughed as he told me that his parents taught him, “not to wag school”. At the ripe age of 12 Tom decided to ride his pushbike to Bowna and travelled some 60 miles on a 5 hour journey. I was curious as to why a 12 year old would want to do such a big ride and when I asked Tom why he said, “Well, cause it was school holidays and I wanted to see my mates”. The things a 12 year old will do for to catch up with their mates. Tom also spoke to me about walking to school and how the conditions of life are much better now as they used to have to walk to school with no boots, in the snow.
Tom spent 27 years working on the railway before he took on the farm. He was the last permanent Station Master in Grenfell, finishing up this posting in 1975. In 1978 Tom purchased his first farm which was a mixed farming property. He bought the property during the drought however the very first year of owning the property it rained and as a result they had a great year. Tom proudly told me that in only 6 years he had paid his loan from the bank back in full.
In Tom’s mind the secret to a full life lies in your health and most importantly, happiness. To him the best years in Australia were all the years he spent with his wife ‘Pat’ up until she passed on. Tom also lost his brother to a stroke, he told me that they were best mates and had trotters together. When I asked Tom if there was anything that he would change if he could have his time over again he answered, “No, I told someone the other day, I am happy with the life I had. I have purchased farms and sold at a profit”. The legacy Tom was most proud of was being able to leave his family with enough money to help them lead fulfilling lives. The philosophy of life that Tom has lived his life by is, “to live an honest life and to help everybody that is under stress, really just to help others”. Having met Tom’s granddaughters I know that the kindness and care for others inherit in Tom is also living on through his grandkids.
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