Interview of Robert Alan WYATT by Suzanne WYATT on 28 December 2014
Interview location: Dining room of interviewee’s house in Howrah, Tasmania
Relationship of interviewee to you: Father
Sue: Where and when were you born?
Bob: I was born in Hobart at a private hospital in Goulbourn Street and my mother’s name was Irene Ellen Gertrude WYATT nee SMITH. My father William Alan WYATT deserted my mother when I was only a few days old.
I was put in the care of Mrs Ellen Sarah AVERY. She was the mother of a friend of my father Keith Henry AVERY and we lived at 160 Goulbourn Street, West Hobart.
Sue: Did you always live in Goulbourn Street or did you move at all?
Bob: No I always lived at Goulbourn Street. Harry often told me that I was probably a saviour to his mother because she had lost a son and a daughter in 1929 and 1930 to diphtheria and I was a saviour to her to actually be looked after.
I think I was pretty well spoilt because I can’t remember much about my early childhood but I was told that I was put on the verandah at Goulbourn Street. Mum had a dog – by the way I called Mrs Avery Mum and my mother Mummy. Mum used to look after me and I was just put on the verandah on a rug and they had a big dog – a collie dog I think – called Bosun and if I crawled towards the steps or anything, Bosun would get in the way and stop me. But of course I don’t remember anything about that – I was only told that.
Sue: OK so you were living with Uncle Harry and his mum, so where was your Mummy living?
Bob: She was living at a hotel where she worked. At that stage it would have been Heathorns Hotel at the lower end of Liverpool Street – that’s been demolished now – then she worked at Albion Hotel in Elizabeth Street. That’s also been demolished.
This part of the interview was significant for my research as I didn’t realise dad actually lived with the AVERY family. I knew he had a lot to do with them, but not to actually be living at their house during his childhood. I have a photo of dad on a rug as a baby and now realise that would be what he was talking about in the interview.
I found it interesting that he called his mother mummy and Mrs AVERY mum. I had occasionally heard him use mum and mummy before but had never known the significance of it.
By interviewing dad, he also gave lots of information such as full names, addresses and years which will help with telling the story in my family history research.
The interview was valuable in that it was the first time I had run a formal interview with regard to my family history. I generally have a chit chat when looking at a photo and then jot down notes when I get home. But actually formalizing it, organizing the questions and allowing the interviewee to go off on a tangent sometimes, means I now have a record of them actually speaking. I can listen to that at any time in the future and perhaps find further areas to research that they mentioned – such as when dad mentioned diphtheria and the demolishing of the hotels.
I will definitely be using the interview technique when researching for my main project on the SMITH family in future weeks of this course.
These are the comments I received and the mark – I was pretty pleased with the result.
Excellent work, Suzanne. Your interview is well-structured and your questions are clear and pertinent. You have gleaned some significant family memories and gathered some important clues to future research.
Your Reflective Statement is very good and weaves together the past and present with an eye on the future. You have demonstrated a knowledge of key family history principles.
Goulburn Street rather than Goulbourn?
To hear the full interview, check out my previous post.