Twelve Months That Turned Into More Than Half A Century
Douglas William Arthur Patton was born on the 25th May 1884 in Wallan. His parents house “Shaldon Cottage” was just out from Wallan near the turn-off to Wandong & Whittlesea. Son of Charles Douglas & Caroline Mary Alice Patton (nee Scott, G-Grand-daughter to “Captain” John Scott, secretary to Viscount Admiral Horatio Nelson. John was killed by a cannonball on the deck of the Victory, Nelson was later claimed to have fallen into the pool of blood left by Scott when he himself was also struck)
When Douglas was young he was playing at the Merri Creek near his home, whilst attempting to jump the creek he landed awkwardly breaking his right hip.
He was to undergo numerous operations in an attempt to rectify the damage which manifested itself in him having one leg shorter than the other.
During the years following his accident his brother Arthur would loyally carry him to school, this was no insignificant feat as the boys used to go to the Upper Plenty School. Arthur would have to cart his brother all the way down the Gap Road to get to school, and home again.
Douglas was subsequently fitted with an elevated shoe to compensate for the difference in his leg length.
As a young man, Douglas worked with his father, Charles Douglas, and brothers in the sawmill at the Wallan railyards (later known as Wallan East when the main township moved towards the old Hume Highway).
Douglas married Ina Moorabbe Cocks on the 8th February 1908, Ina was the daughter of Joseph Shepperson & Annie Cocks (nee Bruffell) of Heathcote.
He was also actively involved in the Wallan Men’s Club and an active Debater within that group.
Following a fire in his sawmill in Wallan East, Douglas, with his wife Ina, and family moved to Merlyston, a suburb of Melbourne, where he and his two sons Douglas (Doug Jnr.) and Ernest (Ernie) opened and operated a wood yard at 41 Boundary Road, Merlynston.
Their home was situated on the same block of land. It was to here that Doug Jnr. would cart timber in the back of an old Dodge car from Wallan to Merlynston, where it would be cut at the wood yard and sold as firewood in and around Melbourne. They then moved to 172 O’Hea’s Road in Coburg, it was at this home that they were living when Douglas’ wife, Ina, died.
Douglas, his daughter Carrie (Caroline) and elder son Doug Jnr, went to live at Longwood for a very brief period of time for the purpose of obtaining work cutting timber. Following this they then returned to their home in Melbourne.
Whilst cutting timber in a large shed at 1044 Sydney Road, Coburg, Douglas was involved in an accident.
As he was pushing the timber through the saw he had all four fingers on his right hand ripped off by the blades.
Following surgical intervention they were able to successfully reattach his index finger by wiring it to the joint. It was at this time that his doctor ‘jokingly’ remarked that if he wanted to remove the index finger to ‘come back and see him as he could do a cleaner job of it’. This was obviously in reference to the condition of Douglas’ other amputated fingers.
To protect the stubs of the fingers of his right hand Douglas wore a leather shield.
Almost 6 weeks following the original accident Douglas was to again suffer an injury at the hands of a saw blade, and in deference to his doctors advice, he cut off his right index finger.
It was in 1942 that Douglas again returned to Longwood, this time with Carrie and Ernie and Mavis with their young family. This was again, supposedly, intended as a short term 12 month stay.
Douglas and Ernie were to be employed by a Mr Dudley, only for a period of 12 months.
The purpose of this arrangement was for Douglas, Ernie and Doug Jnr (he arrived approximately 6 months after the rest of the family with his wife Molly and young daughter), to ‘cut-out’ a stack of timber for Mr Dudley.
Douglas, Carrie, Ernie and his family first moved in with the family of Jack Houston in the old hotel (turned boarding house, turned residence) at the corner of Hill & Hurley Streets (this house is still believed to be owned by the Houston family at the time of writing c.1990).
The only other house that Douglas and Carrie lived in was when, as the only remaining Patton family members still living in the Houston household, they jointly purchased with Ernie the house(s) on the corner of Maxfield and Withers Streets.
Carrie never married and cared for her father until his death. Many family members fondly recall “Aunty Carrie” and the wonderful Devonshire Teas that she would dish up when we visited, her brandy charged steamed puddings or her fantastic ANZAC biscuits. If you had a toothache, brandy was the best thing to put on it. She was actively involved in the local Red Cross and St.Andrews Church of England where she used to take many of her Great-Nieces & Nephews regularly.
Douglas became known by his grandchildren and great grandchildren as Dar.
It was by this name that Dar is fondly remembered in his role as patriarch of the Patton family and his skill and handiwork at carpentry in which he produced a number of items of furniture for his family.
Calling him Dar also created a link to our Scottish roots that many children in the family were unaware of at the time.
Douglas William Arthur Patton died on the 8th December 1969.
A cabinet which he created following the birth of his great grandson Gary, as a baby wardrobe, is still a proud possession for Gary to this day.
As it turned out, Douglas lived in Longwood until his death, and in 1996 Ernie was still joking about the original 12 months that turned into more than half a century.
***The source of this information in association with publications and official records, is an interview conducted by Gary Patton with his Grandfather Ernie Patton on the 11th December 1996.