Terese knew she had to write her life story after realizing her daughter had no clue how the family ended up in Australia.
Even her two younger brothers didn’t know much about their family’s history—one was a baby when they moved and the other had been born in Australia.
The fact was that Terese’s parents didn’t talk about their life in Poland, the war, or being separated from their children.
But Terese remembered her mother telling her to run to “the boss” whenever she heard him whistling. The boss hid her throughout the farm on many occasions after she came running to him.
She remembered when she and her baby brother, Wladek, were taken away from their mother, and also when she was separated from him—never to see his face again. Every day, Terese would cry for her mother. And every day, she’d see monsters instead.
When the Allies liberated Poland, Terese was not expected to survive, but the scent of an orange marked a turning point in her journey—one that led her and her parents to a new life in Australia.
|Publisher:||Balboa Press Australia|
|Product dimensions:||8.25(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.74(d)|
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Scent of an Orange
The Story of Our New Life
By Terese Dron
Balboa PressCopyright © 2016 Terese Dron
All rights reserved.
After her father passed away, my daughter Karen phoned twice a week to see if I needed anything. She often made business trips up the coast, and one time she offered to take me along.
"We'll be leaving at six in the morning, Mum. Will you be ready?"
"Yes," I said. "I'm looking forward to this trip."
"I'll see you in the morning, then," replied Karen.
I hadn't seen much of Karen since she left home at the age of twenty. At that time she had a morning job at Cessnock McDonalds, and an afternoon job at Cardiff Workers' Club. She put in sixteen hours a day and had little time to see me. After ten years she progressed to a full-time job with Subway, working as a director. Her job now is to audit the books and to see that everything is running smoothly in each shop she calls on. I was glad to be travelling with Karen; it would give us an opportunity to talk.
The next morning, Karen picked me up at my house in her company car. The car had bucket seats for a comfortable ride, and a car phone. It was like an office on wheels. To speak on the phone, Karen only had to press a button. She didn't need to let go of the steering wheel. We drove from my house at Beresfield towards Hexham. We crossed the Hunter River on Hexham Bridge, and travelled north to Raymond Terrace. Not a word had been spoken. As we came to Raymond Terrace, I broke the ice by saying, "Your father and I were married in this town, just up the hill in the street on your right. Saint Bridget's Roman Catholic Church." There was no need to say the town was rich in history, but I didn't know how much of its history Karen appreciated.
As Karen drove, I enjoyed the countryside. We passed the huge lake at Grahamstown, the reservoir that supplies water to surrounding towns. We travelled through the forest, and passed a sign on the road that said 'Look out for Koalas.' We crossed small creeks, and then a sign saying 'Swan Bay'. Karen said, 'Remember the one and only family holiday we had at Frank's weekender at Swan Bay?"
"Yes, I do. That was a long time ago." I said ...
'Anthony was nine, and I was ten,' said Karen.
Frank used to deliver bread to our house. He owned a weekender cottage at Swan Bay, and he let the cottage to us for two weeks in the May school holidays. Frank, his wife Pat, and their son Bruce came up on Friday evening to stay for the weekend with us. Frank brought a boat with him.
"Frank, Dad and I went out in the boat fishing on the river," said Karen. "The boys were left at the house. They were going fishing with Frank the next day. I caught the biggest fish – a small shark. We got so excited. I can't remember if Dad or Frank caught any fish that day."
Karen opened up. "Dad was in his glory those two weeks, lighting the fuel stove every morning and going fishing for a while."
"More like killing time,' I said, 'waiting for the club to open. After he came back from the river, he would drive to Karruah RSL for a drink and a chat with the local chaps."
"Dad really enjoyed the two weeks at Swan Bay. While he was at the club, you had us collecting rocks for your garden, Mother! You nearly caused Dad to have a heart attack when we were packing to leave. You told Dad that the pile of rocks we collected was to be put in the trailer to take home. I laughed at the expression on Dad's face. I could see what he was thinking!"
Karen laughed. "Mum, I couldn't live like you do; scrounging things and bringing them home to clutter up your garden."
"What else could I do?' I said. 'We never had money to spend. I found a hobby that I enjoyed and didn't have to spend much money on. Most of the time I get cuttings from friends. I need to have some interest."
Karen was silent for a moment. She gathered her thoughts, and picked up where she left off. "When we came home from Swan Bay, Dad started planning for the next year's holiday."
"Yes, I remember going to the big retail store with your father to buy the tin boat.'
Karen laughed. "A boat! It was a bath tub!"
"It was all we could afford, Karen. Your father was on an invalid pension. That didn't leave us much to spend and we knew nothing about boats. I realise a bigger boat would have been safer. But then your father couldn't handle a bigger boat by himself."
"Dad and Anthony went out together fishing on the Hunter River at Hexham, said Karen. 'Anthony told me they fished under the Hexham Bridge. I remember the day Dad and his mate, Ray, went fishing. They came back within an hour. I said, "You're back early Dad. What happened?" Dad was so mad! He said, "The stupid bastard! We were putting the boat in the river – he couldn't get into the boat quick enough. Didn't listen to what I had to say, the stupid bastard, standing up trying to paddle the boat like it was a gondolier! He must have thought he was in bloody Venice on the canal! He tipped the boat over, lost all the fishing gear and then jumped into the river to retrieve it all! The stupid bastard got wet so I had to bring him back home!" Anthony overheard this, and decided that his fishing days with Dad were over."
"Who could blame him?' I said. Anthony had more sense."
There was silence. Karen put on a prayer tape.
Then Karen asked, "Do you see Frank at all these days?"
"Yes,' I said. 'Frank is a carpenter now. I call on him when I need repairs done to the house. Sometimes I see him at the social dance."
We travelled towards Bulahdelah, a town nestled beneath the mountains. The town is surrounded by bush and water.
"This is where your father and I spent the first night of our honeymoon,' I said. 'We stayed at the hotel and had hamburgers for tea; that is all we could buy. The publican prepared a room for us with a bottle of sparkling wine and some funny comics for the evening's entertainment."
"Some wedding night, Mum!" Said Karen.
As we drove into the Bulahdelah Forest, I felt the cool change of the trees. They are so tall and straight, and big tree ferns grow under them. I opened the car window to hear the sound of the bellbirds. The winding road climbed higher into the Bulahdelah mountains. Although the scenery was lovely, I felt nervous. This part of the road was notorious for horrific accidents. Thank goodness it wasn't raining. Karen put on another prayer tape to put me at ease. Once we were over the mountains, I could breathe a little easier.
The car phone rang. One of the girls from the shop in Newcastle needed Karen's advice. The shop had been broken into overnight. "Is there much damage?" Karen asked.
"Only the lock on the door,' said the girl. 'I have notified the police. They came and took finger prints. The police said the thief must have been disturbed when breaking in."
"Call the locksmith,' said Karen. 'Have the locks changed and ask them to send the bill to Subway"'
Coming into Taree, we stopped at McDonalds for breakfast. Karen had worked for McDonalds as a store manager, and it was a big help in getting her present position with the Subway Company. I had trouble getting out from the low seat, and was a little wobbly on my feet stepping out of the car.
We only ordered coffee. I drank my coffee slowly. "Don't take too long,' said Karen. 'I have a few shops to attend today."
I tried drinking the coffee faster, and that caused me to have a coughing spasm. We left the restaurant. Karen carried the coffee out for me. Seated in the car again, I put on the seat belt, and Karen passed the coffee to me.
"Don't spill the coffee, Mother." Said Karen.
When Karen is impatient with me, she calls me Mother.
"I will do my best not to, Karen." I said.
She got in the car and we drove off. When Karen was impatient like this, I wondered if it was because she missed her father. She had taken care of him in his last years, although he was living on his own. Karen went to see him, and took him to the doctors whenever it was necessary. She had his prescriptions filled, and visited him in hospital. She had attended to all his needs.
We passed the Big Oyster on the roof of a restaurant as we were leaving Taree. Breaking the silence, I said, "It seems that the business people like to advertise their products in a big way in New South Wales and Queensland."
"When we reach Coffs Harbour you will see the Big Banana,' said Karen. 'We'll be stopping at Port Macquarie next. Have you been to Port Macquarie Mum?"
'Yes, twice. The first time with your father. It was part of our honeymoon. The other time was with friends. Six of us spent a week's holiday in Port Macquarie. We had a wonderful time!"
'I'm glad you enjoyed yourself Mum.' Then she asked, 'Did you bring water with you?"
"No, I don't drink when I am travelling a long distance. I'll get a drink the next time you stop." I replied.
"I'm only stopping at Port Macquarie for a short time. Don't walk too far away from the car. I will bring a drink out for you." Karen said.
At Port Macquarie, I had to get out and stretch my legs, and move about a little. My joints were stiff. We still had a long way to travel.
After a long drive, we arrived at Byron Bay. Karen was lucky to find a spot to park her car in front of the Subway shop. She handed me the keys and said, "My work will take about two hours. Take a walk and see the town."
I walked towards the beach. I thought I would collect shells for my garden. As I came to the end of the street, I saw teenagers hanging about near the public toilets. They looked to me like they were off the planet. I would have to go past them to walk to the beach. I changed my mind.
Deciding to go window shopping instead, I walked up and down the street, browsing through the shops. I wandered into an antique shop to look around. To my surprise, I found a salad bowl that matched a set I had at home. The set was imported from France, and had been a wedding gift to Bryan and me. Over the years, I had broken the middle-sized one, and this one in the antique shop was just the size I needed! I bought it.
It started to rain. I walked back to the car. Wanting to open the car door, I pressed the wrong button and set off the car alarm. I dropped the keys. "Help, help me!" I screamed.
People stopped to look. Karen ran out from the shop to see what was happening. She saw me standing next to the car. "You've pressed the wrong button, Mother!"
Picking up the keys from the ground, I shouted back at her. "We didn't need gadgets like this in our young day!"
People in the street started laughing. When I got over the shock, I laughed with them. I didn't mind. It had broken the boredom in the street, and maybe it would be something to talk about with the family at the evening meal: "the dear old lady that didn't know what button to push to open the car door.'
I sat in the car waiting for Karen to finish her work.
We were back on the highway, on our way to Coolangatta. Karen said, "I can't imagine what a dull life you must have lived back in the fifties and sixties!"
"We had good movies and good songs,' I said. 'There was soothing instrumental music on the radio stations in our day. I liked reading Readers' Digest books. There is one story that is still in my mind, a story I read of a doctor working in China as a missionary. He made his home there. He said he could be a very wealthy man in Australia, but he was content to stay in China helping the poor hard working people. They paid him with eggs and vegetables, and poultry. He said he wouldn't have it any other way."
Changing the subject, I said, "Your father and I spent a day of our honeymoon at Byron Bay. We had a lovely time. Your father stopped the car at Cape Byron light house to show me the most eastern point of Australia. We could see spectacular views of the coast surrounding the light house. The goats kept the grass down. They have been on that hill from the time the Cape Byron light house was built."
I started to laugh as I remembered a conversation Bryan and I had heard between two men as we walked around the light house. I told Karen how one of the chaps said to his English friend that Byron Bay was the most eastern point of Australia, and that there should be a law passed that every cat west of Byron Bay be shot. "The Englishman was horrified. He was obviously a cat lover. He said, "You don't really mean that do you?"
"That's Aussie humour, Mum." Karen laughed.
"I found Byron Bay and the entire coast interesting,' I said. 'I was seeing parts of Australian history and visiting the places that I learned about at school. Your father told me that Captain Cook named Byron Bay after an English sailor who was the grandfather of the famous poet George Byron."
"Hmm,' said Karen, 'a little more exciting than reading comics on your wedding night."
I took the hint. Karen may have been bored by this conversation. I said no more.
The tape was on again. By the time we had listened to what the Lord had to say to us through the minister, we were close to the Queensland border. Karen said, "I am taking you to a good Indian restaurant at Coolangatta."
"I have never eaten Indian food. You will have to order the meal for me. Will we have time to change?" I asked.
"No, Mum. We are going direct to the restaurant. I'm running late and we don't want to miss out on our meal." Karen answered.
"I would have liked to change and refresh myself so I would look and feel good."
"I wouldn't worry, Mum. You always look good, even in the clothes you choose to wear."
"I dress according to my style, size and age. I am happy with that, Karen. Anyway, if you put it that way, the dress designers must be walking about with their eyes shut. They don't see the average woman in the street. They design dresses for young Twiggies. That is what they see in their minds, but I don't see many Twiggies walking about in the street, do you Karen?"
"OK, Mother, you've made your point."
Karen stopped the car close to the restaurant. We walked in the door just in time to be seated. The Indian waiter was neatly dressed in a white long sleeve shirt and black trousers with a red cummerbund. He pulled the chair out for me, and moved quickly to the other side of the table to do the same for Karen. Then he bowed, excusing himself. I appreciate good manners. It is very nice when people are polite. It makes life worth living.
We were the last customers to be seated. The waiter came back to see if we wanted to order drinks. Karen asked for two glasses of water. There was no need to look at the menu. Karen knew what to order. She placed the order with the waiter before he left our table. The waiter came back with the two glasses of water, and asked if we wanted a drink with our meal. I asked for a lemon, lime and bitters, and Karen asked for a glass of wine.
Our meal of sweet chicken curry arrived. While we were eating, I looked around the restaurant. The windows and doors were shaped in the Indian style. White lace curtains screened the lower half of each window. No-one from the street could see in to the restaurant. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling, giving the room a soft glow. The atmosphere was cool, clean and inviting with its white table cloths, crystal wine glasses and silver cutlery. The blue napkins looked good on the white tablecloths, and matched the blue carpet on the floor. Soft dinner music was playing. I felt relaxed, and took time to enjoy the meal. I felt like a VIP.
"Would you like sweets?" asked Karen.
"The meal was delicious,' I said. 'I may finish on that and leave the sweets out."
Before leaving the table, I thanked Karen for the wonderful evening and said it had been a long time since I was treated like a VIP. As we left the restaurant, the waiter bowed and opened the door to let us out.
We walked to the car. The soft breeze blowing on my face and through my hair felt so good. I love walking in the evening. It is so pleasant to smell the trees and shrubs release their perfume into the evening air. I wished the car was parked further away so the walk could be a little longer.
"We are going to a motel at Tweed Heads,' said Karen. 'I stay at that motel every time I make a trip this way. It's away from the main road, no noise from the traffic. It's only ten minutes from here."
Arriving at the motel, Karen got the key and opened the room. I smelt a mixture of smoke and room deodoriser. "Could we leave the door open for a little while?" I asked.
"That's OK,' she said, 'I have some paperwork to finish. I'll leave the door open till then. You use the bathroom first, Mum. This will take some time. When I finish I'll leave the window open all night."
After I'd had my shower, Karen said, 'I start work at nine in the morning, so I don't have to get out of bed before eight.'
I didn't know how I was going to sleep with the continuous buzzing I get in my ears. I usually listened to a radio under my pillow. I could have switched on the radio in the room, but I had to think of Karen. She needed her sleep. As soon as Karen laid her head on the pillow, she was out like a light. I must have done the same soon after.
In the morning, I was the first to wake. I heard lorikeets outside the window greeting the new day. I dressed quickly and left the room quietly so as not to wake Karen with the "ooh" and "arrh" from my back pains, and my morning ritual of sneezing and coughing.
Excerpted from Scent of an Orange by Terese Dron. Copyright © 2016 Terese Dron. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
The Drive, 1,
Leaving Ludwigsburg, 60,
Augsburg to Bremer Haven, 86,
The Ship Skaugum, 100,
Bonegilla to Cowra, 112,
Greta to Beresfield, 131,
Our Canvas Palace, 153,
A Permanent Home, 173,
The Flood, 212,
Out in the World, 226,
Pieces in Place, 239,
In Love, 270,
In Penang, 293,
Coming Home, 317,
Full Circle, 332,