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CHILDHOOD (1908 - 1921)

Frederica Lucy Sandilands was born 10 August 1908 in Boulder City, a goldmining town 596 kilometres east of Perth, and was delivered by her grandmother, Frederica Cooke, who was the local midwife.

Her parents, Phoebe Cooke and Christopher Sandilands, had come to Western Australia from Victoria in 1906 and met in Boulder and were married. Her father, a farmer's son, worked as a filter press hand on the surface of the Great Boulder Mine and Rica was the eldest of their eight children. While in Boulder the family lived in Dwyer Street and Rica has vivid memories of her early childhood.


I can remember very early too that the whistles used to blow on the mines. We never needed to know the clock time really because the whistles would blow; I think it was at six o'clock, seven o'clock, eight o'clock. The one would be to warn people to get up, I suppose, and the next to have their breakfast, and the next to be off. But coming down that pavement I could hear the men starting. They'd come from the end of the street, and as they moved down the street towards the mines they'd grow in numbers until there'd be a group of about seven or eight men at a time, followed by another group of the same, and they all carried their little billies and lunch bags...I can remember the sound of these boots going down the street. I can remember the streets, the wide streets, were not paved like they are now; they were just dirt.

The men, and especially the young men, were very keen footballers. The men used to come out in the streets, about four or five o'clock. When they came home from work, or before they started work perhaps in the afternoon and at evening time before dinner, they'd go out in two teams, one each end of the street. They'd kick the football from one end to the other, to each other, marking. That was their practice for football because, of course, football was very popular there.
(Battye Library, OH 2526, p. 3)

Her close and happy family life was disturbed when in 1914 World War One broke out. Rica was then in her first year of school at the Boulder Primary School and, as the family was expecting another child, her father did not immediately enlist and received a 'white feather' for cowardice. Her uncle, Clive Cooke, was one of the local young men who lost their lives while serving overseas. Christopher Sandilands enlisted and was sent to France. After his war service he returned disabled and was unable to work on the mines so was given the position of Secretary to the Returned Sailors' and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia (RSSILA), soon to be renamed the Returned Services League (RSL).



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