Eric Baker

Eric Baker

Extract from a reply from Eric Baker of Mooroolbark, Victoria, Australia to a letter from his sister Evelyn Staunton of Delta, B.C., Canada, requesting memories of family history. Dated 27 February 1982

As to family records, I was born on 8 October 1921, at Whaley (the registrar who married Elina and I was born there too). I don't remember Whaley at all, only Broomhill, and riding Dad's horses home from the paddocks after work. Mam's scrubbed floors and home cooking, you reading us youngsters stories in Mrs. Dalby's laundry on wet days, Harry and Arthur on holidays and Harry getting his fingers caught in the grain mill, Auntie Mag coming when Norah was born, the trip to and from Windermere in the furniture van through the Black Country, trailing over the fells after Dad and helping to poach huge racks of salmon out of the creeks, butchering the deer the farmer Mr. Fazackerley shot, slightly illegally, Dad keeping watch for poachers and saying how silly they were to use guns when the pheasants could be picked off their perches by hand, and him demonstrating.

His battle to get work again, and the grinding misery and poverty of working for old Joe Headland. Back to solid toil for two shillings and sixpence a week more than [uncle] Charlie Banks in Lincoln, who got charity deliveries of coal, groceries etc., and help to educate his family. Education at Haughton Endowed School, and Gaffer Wright with his feet up reading the Daily Express while we had to keep quiet and learn our tables daily for 1 1/4 hours, year in and year out. Pulling weeds all around the school in the aftenoons. What a waste. Working, delivering milk, and on the farms, and finally I couldn't take another feed of fat bacon and joining the Army in October 1938 [right] to get the grease out of my system. Yuck!

War, and winter on the north east coast, in a tent, snow to the water line, and bitterly cold winds whipping over the sand dunes. Air raids in Scarborough where we went to train and reform, and overseas to four years of desert -- Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Egypt, and to burn my uniform under the copper after it all was my greatest pleasure to date. My grateful country gave me 75 pounds bounty for that, along with some medals. [Your boys] David or Ian played with them on the floor, and that's all I saw of them. Glad they went. The British Army wanting personal information and I told them 'None of your damned business,' I was leaving for Australia. They saying I could apply to them for permission, my reply was that I didn't need it.

So to Australia, my knockabout years toiling in the back blocks swinging the axe, building fences and stockyards, wheat farms in harvest times, timber mills, cutting scrub to feed starving stock in a drought. Then to Melbourne and civilization again, meeting Elina and settling down, my trip to see my parents and Elina's, and then to Melbourne once more. A steady job for nine years, Elina's dad on his retirement travelled out to see how we lived, and admiring our house and life style, and the fourth day of his stay I get the sack [laid off/made redundant], along with 500 others.

Another couple of years building spinning wheels in the shed at home, and then out of consideration for my long-suffering neighbours I rent a factory. Months and years of scratching to stay afloat, and still I watch the demands on my time and money mount . . .

Elina was born in Karelia on 19 August 1933, the eldest child, with two brothers and a sister surviving. Her early recollections are of visits to her grandparents who lived beside a lake, and had a farm. Her father was a farmer, but on the outbreak of war joined the Finnish Army, which held the Russians back during the 1939-40 winter war. The family was evacuated to West Finland, but returned later to a ruined farm and house. Later evacuated to Helsinki, where she was educated and lived till coming to Australia in 1961. We married 29 August 1961. Warwick Matti was born 5 March 1963, Brian Juhani 18 June 1966. Elina's full maiden name was Toini Elina Hypponen. Her brother Jorma does well in the Finnish Bank, her second brother Mauri is a commissioner in the Finnish Police. Her sister Sinja Kaarina is married to Keijo Olavi Moinanen and they have three children, Maarit (21), Katri (16) and Petri (10). Keijo's sister Terttu married Pentti Linnesvuo, who has gold, silver and bronze medals for Olympic pistol shooting from Rome, Melbourne and Brazil, not to mention scores of medals and awards from other places, including Moscow, so the Finnish side is an illustrious lot. [ . . . ]

Eric Baker died August 26, 1994 at the age of 73.

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