articles/lectures, Forgotten Australians, memories, objects

Blick bear

by Adele on 18 November, 2010

This soft toy was donated to the National Museum by Jeanette Blick.

Pink soft toy bear
Soft toy made by Pentridge Toy Makers c.1962

Jeanette was a resident of Orana Methodist Home for Children, Burwood Victoria. The toy was made by prisoners at Pentridge Gaol:

A Pentridge prisoner with a propensity for, say, woodcraft or textiles might have found himself encouraged to join the ‘Pentridge Toy Makers’, a group founded in 1961 to produce toys for ‘needy’ and ‘destitute’ children. Products of the Toy Makers’ labours (upwards of 6,000 toys and hobbies annually, at their peak) were ceremonially displayed and distributed at lavish Christmas events held in the jail, to which groups of children from refugee communities, orphanages, and so on, were invited.[1]

The teddy bear was given to Jeanette circa 1962. She recalls receiving the gift:

I can remember receiving the teddy one Christmas as I did not have a family to go to for the holidays, so I had to remain in Orana over Christmas. Christmas day, I remember finding the teddy on the bottom of my bed. I did not know where it had come from as it was not wrapped and there was no tag/card on it.

I took it to the cottage mother and told her someone had left this on my bed and she said it was for me. She also told me that the prisoners in Pentridge Gaol had made the teddy.

I think I cried most of the day. This was the first gift I had received in years.

In the New Year a family came and took me for the rest of the holidays. I left the teddy on my bed as I was instructed to do (I wanted to take it with me but was not allowed) and when I came back it was gone.

I never saw it again until I opened my suitcase when I arrived in Cobram at my mother’s house. Someone must have put it in the case with the toothbrush, pyjamas and knickers that were there as well. I do not know who had done this or why.


[1] Wilson, Jacqueline Zara  (2004) ‘Dark tourism and the celebrity prisoner: Front and back regions in representations of an Australian historical prison’ in Journal of Australian Studies 82: 1–13. The activities of the Pentridge Toy Makers ended in 1976 as a result of fire in their storage shed. (ibid., p. 172).

Forgotten Australians, memories

Suffer the little children

by Patricia Slatterie and Jeanette Blick (guest author) on 26 October, 2010

Patricia and Jeanette

In 1961, John, Frank, Patricia and Jeannette Halliday, without explanation, were taken to Allambie Reception Centre, Victoria before being taken to court and made wards of the state and then sent to Orana Methodist Home, Burwood. The Halliday children were subject to medical testing. As a result of the associated severe symptoms, they often had to be admitted to hospital. Patricia and Jeanette write about their memories of life at Orana.

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