Edward Preston has spent a lifetime as a hardworking, gentle man and has raised a family of 3 wonderful sons. He is known to wife and children as Ted, although his sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins all call him Eddy. Ted’s start in life was a little on the rough side though, and it is this story that we will explore, as told by Ted himself.
Edward Preston was born in Cobargo in Southern New South Wales on 11 Oct 1926 and he was the first child of Percival Alexander Bertie Preston and Doris Isobel Lord. During Ted’s early years Percy and Doris moved around the lower half of New South Wales quite a bit, never staying in one place for very long.
At the age of 2 years Ted fell between the wheels of a horse drawn buggy although he couldn’t tell me who was driving the buggy at the time. The family neighbour at the time was a Mr Jennings, and it was Mr Jennings who saw the mishap and dove under the buggy to save young Ted’s life. The left hand wheels went over both of them and they were badly bruised but nothing was broken. It was a lucky escape for both of them.
Ted started school in 1933 at the age of 7 years at a small school at Tangawangla Mountain, a place which no longer exists, staying there for about 6 months. Tanglawangla was near Candelo in southern New South Wales. From there the family moved to Kameruka where Ted, his brother Bert and sister Stella attended school for about 2 years. While at Kameruka he and his cousins would walk 1 1/2 miles each way to school each day through bushland and along dirt roads.
The family moved to Mogo at some point in 1937 where Ted’s brother Percy was born during October of that year. Whilst at Mogo Ted and his siblings attended Mogo Public School for a couple of months. His father was working with the Forest Commission cutting down scrubland at this point. After young Percy was born the family left Mogo when his dad got a job with the Department of Main Roads at Bateman’s Bay in late 1937. Ted attended school for about 12 months at Bateman’s Bay.
In early 1939 Ted’s father finally found enough money to purchased a property at Falls Creek, again in southern New South Wales, in the north eastern high country. The property was twenty acres and comprised of a well, vegetable patch and home which was surrounded by bushland. The well was just a hole in the ground, but it never ran dry as it was fed by an underground spring. It began to look like the growing Preston family would finally be able to settle down in one place. The farm had cost 30 pounds and Edward is unsure if this was ever fully paid off before the house caught fire and burned to the ground. A neighbour saw the house alight about 1.00 am in the morning and went to help the family escape. The family lost everything and for a short time lived in a tent on the property. Shortly after the fire Edward’s uncle Arthur Preston drove his T Model Ford from Lakemba to Falls Creek and took the family back to his place where they stayed for a short time whilst Ted’s father found other work. The following weekend Ted’s Uncle Arthur drove the family to live and work at a dairy at Salt Ash, where Ted attended 6th class at school and also worked on the dairy farm. Ted finished his education at Salt Ash in April of 1941.
His classroom at Salt Ash school was located to the right hand, front corner of the single building school (to the front near the water tank), and he sat at the corner desk. At this time there was only the one building and it housed all grades. He would walk the 300 – 400 yards from the dairy property where they lived. In 1941 Edward was milking the cows one morning when a very large group of Australian Light Horsemen rode along Nelson Bay Road, turning into the land along side of Salt Ash School. The Light Horsemen camped approximately a mile further along for the night. The Lighthorsemen had originally been stationed at Soldiers Point. Edward remembers stopping the milking to watch the men ride past the diary, and recalls that this event was later reported on the wireless to be 5000 men strong. When the family were at Salt Ash they purchased a horse and sulky and would travel the 8 miles in to Williamstown to buy the groceries. The family left this area in April of 1941 when Ted was around 15 years old.