Some weeks ago, Lorine from Olive Tree Genealogy posed this topic as part of the Sharing Memories series: People I wish I’d known better. Of course the first thought is all those family members who I know only from documents and deductions, and if I’m lucky the odd photograph. However I guessed that wasn’t the real intent of the question, and my next thought was “Miss King”.
When I was a young girl, there was an “elderly” spinster living in the house across the road. While I thought she was old, in reality she was perhaps not far past retirement when she came to live in our street. My memory tells me dimly that sometimes I would be invited over for a cold drink and I suppose a biscuit. I faintly recall lots of quality furniture in the house and the story went that she was well off. I suspect she possibly wasn’t all that well off as she had worked as a typist or secretary throughout her life.[i] Having been trawling through Trove I’m wondering if perhaps she is the “Miss Daisy King” who was secretary to the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce.
Daisy Frances King was born in early 1885 in country Queensland to parents Nathaniel Irvine King and his wife Emily Sloane[ii]. Daisy had three sisters and one brother. School records suggest they lived in Marburg c1894 before later moving to Brisbane.
The reason Miss King has a special place in my memories down all these years is because of her kindnesses to that young girl who lived across the street from her. Miss King travelled overseas a few times and each time she brought some small gift back to me which I’ve treasured to this day: a little Welsh dragon, a Japanese-print handkerchief and a miniature Chinese doll.
In my memory box I also have a postcard which she wrote to me from Ireland. On the postcard she wrote: Dear Pauline, I am sending this from Ireland where a number of donkeys are used for carrying light loads. This dear little fellow is taking a rest in the field. Hope you are very well. From D F King. The postcard was sent while she was overseas for an extended trip in 1958, and I’m guessing the Welsh dragon probably dates from that trip too. However the other two treasures may have been from a different trip.
In those days it was impossibly exotic for people to travel overseas. The only other people we knew who did so were my “rich” relations in Far North Queensland and that was partly business travel. My mother had always wanted to travel but perhaps it was Miss King who fanned the flame. If so, you’ve seen from my A to Z posts just how successfully the fire was set.
Another special memory I have of Miss King is that she took me to the ballet at Her Majesty’s Theatre when I was still quite young, perhaps 10 to 12 years old. I think it was Swan Lake that we saw but I’m not certain, I just remember the beauty of the costumes and the dance. No doubt I was on my absolutely best behaviour.
It astonishes me somehow that this lady, very similar in age to my grandmother (another of her neighbours), was so very kind and generous to me. The electoral rolls suggest Miss King lived in the street for about 15 years, but I don’t think this is correct. A young family with a child arrived when I was in my early teens or even a bit younger, so Miss King must have moved before then. My mother tells me Miss King went to a home and that after she died her nephew inherited the house. Miss King died in Brisbane in 1973, when I was living in Papua New Guinea, perhaps this partly explains how I didn’t know what had happened to her.
I feel quite shamed that I did not reciprocate her many kindnesses to me by staying in touch. Perhaps the happy memories I’ve had of her all these years go some way to redressing my omissions.
Thank you Miss King for your generous spirit. I wish I’d known you better.