Family of Edwin & Mary Ann Best


Norman & Annie Best Norman was born at Ryde in 1880. He married Annie Beatrice Evans at Annandale in 1906. They lived at Webber's-road, Carlton, until about 1912, probably in a house of weatherboard construction with a bull nosed verandah. They then moved to a new brick house called "Inverness" at 35 (later renumbered 47) Boyle St Enfield, where they lived until they retired to "Man-u-ia", a 1.5Ha property at Buxton in about 1940. "Man-u-ia" was said to be a Maori word meaning "Peace of God".

Norman worked at Noyes Brothers and, later, as a Departmental Manager at John Danks & Sons, Hardware merchants. Best Family at Buxton Interested in farming, he bought a property 'Fairholme' at Buxton in 1930. Sons Gordon, Edwin, and later, Fred spent many years, after Agricultural College, clearing and grubbing out trees and erecting trellis for passionfruit vines. At first they camped on the property, then later built a house. Life was hard there, but not without its lighter side. There were the Saturday night dances and the Empire Day (24th May) bonfires and fireworks; the huge fires of cleared scrub burning for days and the fireworks including an odd stick of gelignite used in the clearing. The first half case of passionfruit was despatched to Ward and Felton at the City Markets by the end of 1930. Ward was a next door neighbour at Boyle Street.

Norman was a Lay Reader in the Church of England. At Enfield, the family worshipped at St James', Croydon, where Uncle Joseph, was Rector until 1918. Norman had also been Church Warden at an old weatherboard church at Kogarah, which had been blown down in a storm. He also enjoyed singing.

Scouting was a major interest. In 1928 he started the 2nd Enfield Boy Scouts with sons Gordon and Edwin as patrol leaders. (Memorial gates were dedicated in c.1990 )

He was a very active member of the Masonic Lodge.

Norman and Annie had six children.



Family of Norman & Annie Best

Norma (1963) Norma was born at Carlton, NSW. She went to school at Croydon Park and Sydney Girls High School. For her first six months at Sydney Girls' the school was in an old courthouse on the site later occupied by David Jones' city store. It then moved to Moore Park, to the site of the old zoo (which was vacated when the zoo moved to Taronga Park). Travel to school was by steam train and tram. She went on to Sydney Teachers College.

Bob and daughters Her teaching career began in 1928 at Erskinville Public School in inner suburban Sydney during the depression. After two years she was appointed to West Wallsend, near Newcastle, as Kindergarten teacher. Over the next few years she enjoyed a very social life, attending dances and winning a Miss Popular Girl contest. She met Bob O'Donnell, the popular young Westy milk vendor and they were married in 1938. She retired from teaching on her marriage but returned to West Wallsend School 'to do some relief teaching' in 1952. This extended to Glendale, where she remained until her retirement in 1972, by which time she had taught three generations of children. She was also in demand over the years as a pianist, especially at school concerts, and as a church organist.

In 1950 Norma became foundation secretary of the West Wallsend Women's Bowling Club and held that position for 18 years. She and Bob were very keen bowlers and spent many hours together in pursuit of the sport. In 1964 she competed in the NSW State Championships. Other keen interests included pottery, reading, gardening and photography.

In 1967 Norma and Bob moved to Eleebana on Lake Macquarie, and after retiring, she joined the Belmont Hospital Pink Ladies. She transferred to the Warners Bay Bowling Club and played until 1991 as a Super Veteran, after which she still liked to attend the meetings. After Bob's death in 1984, Norma joined the Belmont Womens Probus Club. At the age of 85 she handed in her drivers licence with an unblemished record. Later she joined the Northlakes Carers Group where she found great companionship and was able to continue outings and shopping trips.

Norma passed away quietly at John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle on 19th March 1996 after a long battle with medical problems.

Norma and Bob had two daughters.

Beryl Beryl was born at Carlton. She stayed at home to look after her parents at Buxton. After her father's death in 1953 she moved to Sydney and worked at an old peoples home at Balmain and, later at the Lottie Stewart Hospital at Dundas.

She lived at Ashfield, Ermington, Carlingford, and Eastwood. Beryl never married but enjoyed a long friendship with Bill Tonkin. She died in 1986.

Gordon was born at Carlton. He attended school at Croydon Park, then at the Hurlstone Agricultural High School at Hurlstone Park as a day student, and as a boarder when the school moved to Glenfield. He went on to the Hawkesbury Agricultural College at Richmond, 1927-9, graduating with the HDA Diploma.

Gordon & Fred He worked with his younger brothers on the Father's farm at Buxton until 1938, by which time Edwin had introduced him to Chrissie Robertson of Tahmoor when she and her brother, John, played for Saturday night dances at Buxton. About this time he exchanged his bicycle (on which he had more than once made the 60-mile journey between Sydney and Buxton) for a Motor Cycle. His first offer of marriage rejected, he went away for a year to Orange, where he worked on a farm and gained some financial independence. More successful on his return, they married in 1939.

Gordon Marriage Moving to Sydney, they first stayed at the Robertson's town house at Lakemba, but soon found a home at Ermington, which they bought and named "Inverness" following the tradition established at Enfield. This name was warmly approved by Chris' father, an Aberdonian. This house, greatly altered, was to be home for the rest of Gordon's life, although plans were being made to move when he suddenly died.

In 1940 he took a position, first as Storeman and later, Salesman, in the electrical department of hardware merchants John Danks and Sons, Sydney. He remained with Danks' until 1954 when he moved to Eric J Grey, Electrical Wholesalers, from which he retired as Buyer in 1971 for health reasons. His time at Hawkesbury College was not wasted, for in 1946 he bought two vacant blocks of land adjacent to the house and operated an extensive vegetable garden. One year he planted 750 tomato plants and sold some of the produce locally, but more commonly the family and friends were well supplied with fresh vegetables.

Gordon (2nd left) and Provosts In 1941, his brother Edwin was killed in action and Gordon immediately enlisted. He served in the Middle East, New Guinea, and British NW Borneo for a total of 1010 days overseas. He was initially with 2/13 Field Regt as a Gunner but transferred in 1941 to the 9th Division Provost Coy. He attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. During his service he contracted Malaria which probably contributed to his early death.

Chris and Gordon c. 1968

Besides gardening his interests included woodworking and he could turn his hand to a variety of practical tasks. He added rooms to both sides of the original house and substantially modified the front and back on more than one occasion. He built, extended and modified two garage/workshops at Ermington where he accumulated various items of machinery. He also pre-fabricated and erected a holiday house at Pearl Beach, North of Sydney, which served for family holidays for some years before it was replaced by a caravan. Later he built a retirement home for friends at Lake Macquarie.

School Fete His children provided another outlet for his creative skills; the boys had several large, accurately represented pull-along models of local buses and trams which were the envy of their friends. He was always ready to help at school or church functions.

Young boys also provided an excuse for an interest in model trains. First Hornby clockwork trains ran on a circle of track on the lounge room carpet. Later a more permanent electric track in the garage, complete with scenery. After the boys left home he worked on several large 'oo' gauge layouts which, unfortunately never reached completion. By then the pleasure was in the planning and construction rather than the playing.

In retirement, Gordon took part time positions assisting a Nurseryman and as Gardener for H B Selby and Company at Epping. He was proud of the excellent garden display at Selby's and displayed a boyish enthusiasm for their ride-on lawnmower. At home he pursued other gardening interests, with several glass houses and operating a small-scale nursery and vegetable growing business. He grew peanuts and Macadamia nuts which normally did not grow as far south as Sydney and he experimented with importing and growing exotic palms from seed. He also developed a number of wooden toys and puzzles which he mass produced on a small scale and distributed large numbers in Sydney and Melbourne through his daughter and daughter-in-law's school and Play Group contacts.

Later, he achieved some favourable press coverage for his skills.

Gordon died in 1977. He had a known heart condition which was under control. It is believed that he was involved in a minor collision in a parking station in Parramatta. He later saw the other party in another location and some form of altercation ensued. He returned to his car and was found shortly after, slumped over the steering wheel.

Chris and Gordon had three children.

Edwin Edwin was born in 1913 and completed four years (1926-9) at Hurlstone College, Glenfield, as a boarder. He then worked on the family farm at Buxton with Gordon. At the outbreak of war, with Gordon and Fred both engaged to be married, he enlisted in October 1939. Attached to the 2/1 Machine Gun Bn, he embarked for overseas duty on 8th May 1940.

His convoy, presumed to have been destined for the Middle East, was diverted to England to help repel the expected invasion following the fall of Dunkirk. After some five months in Southern England, during which he was able to take leave to visit the Robertson relatives in Glasgow, he embarked for the Middle East, via Capetown, where he arrived on 30 December 1940. Christmas dinner was taken at a hotel in Durban, from where a salt shaker and teaspoon were souvenired and found their way back to Australia.

After some three months' training in the Middle East, he joined the ill-fated campaign in Greece. His batallion was involved mostly in rearguard actions covering the Allied withdrawal and was on one of the last evacuation ships. The ship Costa Rica, which the 2/1 was on was bombed and sank, but all on board were transferred to other ships without loss of life. War Grave

The forces from Greece were evacuated to Crete in a sorry state without equipment, disorganised and without adequate weapons. Some, including most of the 2/1 Machine Gun Bn, were further evacuated to Alexandria, but three platoons remained on Crete. Edwin was in one of these which was deployed in defence of an airstrip near Rethymnon, a town on the north Coast of the island. German paratroopers invaded on 20th May 1941 and on that day Edwin was killed. He is buried at the Rethymnon War Cemetery. A sign at the Cemetery states: "After fighting a rearguard action through Greece and assembling on Crete, were strafed by Germans 20th May 1941".

Fred was born in 1915 and christened George Frederick, probably after his mother's Crippen ancestors. He was a scout. Following schooling at Enfield, he completed three years (1930-2) as a boarder at Hurlstone 'enjoying a free ticket (value 1/- per Quarter) to Buxton each weekend' to join his brothers in hard labour. On completion of his schooling he joined the brothers at Buxton.

He carried on with the farm - (passionfuit vines, one cow, and a milk run by bicycle) after Gordon left in 1938 and Edwin in 1939. In 1940 he married Daphne Frakes. The business developed and stock grew to 18 cows. When the new Maldon Cement works opened in 1950 he sold (but was never paid for) his cows and worked there as a carpenter. In about 1966 they moved to Bowral, where they built 'Elmarowa'. The building was completed over a period of 18 months, with Fred and Warwick working on it at weekends. Fred and Daph lived in 'Elmarowa' in retirement and maintained a small fruit and vegetable garden. Daphne died in 1998 and Fred died in March 2002.

Fred and Daph had four children.

Arthur Born 1917; died as infant, 1918.

Mary Born 1921, she attended Fort Street Girls High School. Mary worked as a typiste at . In 1944 she married Noel Russell who worked for NSW Railways. Brought up stepdaughter, Beth Russell. Noel was a skilled woodworker and made numerous toys and gifts for his children and others.

Mary was a Brownie and Guide? and her leadership role in Brownies ceased in 1995 after 57 years.

Mary developed Parkinson's Tremor and in 1996 had a newly developed Thalamic Stimulator implant operation after cardiac bypass surgery, resulting in 10 weeks of hospitalisation and a lengthy recuperation period.

Mary and Noel had four children.

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