Margaret’s memories: circus novelties
By Daisy Baker
May 29, 2019
At almost 97 years of age, Margaret Jestrimski (nee Oldham) says she has fond memories of her childhood in Pyengana where she was raised on a dairy farm.
One of her most vivid childhood memories is when pioneer aviator and inventor Bert Hinkler landed his aeroplane on what is now the Scottsdale Recreation Ground in 1928.
“I guess my parents had read all about this in the papers and when they mentioned it, my brother and I clapped with excitement at the thought of going,” she says.
“I remember so clearly watching him coming in to land there. Compared with planes now, it was very small of course – it was like a box with a wing on each side.
“Coming out of the plane, he put his hat on and introduced himself to a few people.
“Seeing all those people cheering, I thought it was just wonderful and really it was. It was a very memorable day.”
Once Hinkler had landed, her family headed back to Pyengana, ready to milk the cows.
Like her cousin in Legerwood, Patrick Oldham, Mrs Jestrimski also remembers the circus coming to the North-East in 1939.
“They walked the animals along the plains between Weldborough and Pyengana,” she remembers.
“I remember an elephant reaching over the fence and eating hay and there were these beautiful white circus ponies on the side of the road eating grass and I stopped to take their photograph.
“I was a young girl working on the farm and around the house, so it was a real novelty to see those circus ponies.”
While she was growing up, Mrs Jestrimski went to Melbourne occasionally where she stayed with one of her aunties.
On one particular trip, she stayed for six months and learned tailoring.
“When I returned to the farm, I couldn’t really pursue this but over the years it’s definitely come in handy,” she explains.
“I’m a great handcraft person and I do a lot of knitting, tatting [lacework] and I’ve just been crocheting a silk baby bib.”
On the day of the interview, she is busily cooking items for her local Biggest Morning Tea.
“I don’t really have a speciality, I just love cooking full stop,” she laughs.
“I’m on the Biggest Morning Tea committee and in lots of other community organisations so that keeps me busy.”
As an adult, Mrs Jestrimski lived between Pyengana and St Helens.
Today she lives at Perth, where she is in frequent contact with her five children who are scattered throughout Tasmania and New South Wales.
Mrs Jestrimski returns to the North-East occasionally for a day trip and while the district has changed as a whole, she says Pyengana still closely resembles the farming community it was in her childhood.
St Helens on the other hand, where she spent much of her adult life, is vastly different and she no longer knows many members of the community.
“I’ve got beautiful memories of my life and no regrets,” she says happily.
“I’m extremely well and happy, I just love it.”
Mrs Jestrimski’s still has many relations in the North-East as her mother was one of 14 LeFevre children.
Mrs Jestrimski will return to Pyengana early next month for a LeFevre reunion.