As a descendant of one of the pioneering families of the Logan Village district, I was invited to be a special guest at the ‘Pioneers Lunch’ to be held on 14th April 2012.

The venue was on the top of the hill overlooking Logan Village, now a lovely residential development named ‘My Home and The River’, but formerly the farm of my great-uncle Charlie Wendt, who lived with his family in an imposing colonial farmhouse with verandahs on three sides, right there where we sat. When our genial master of ceremonies spoke of the virtues of life on this hill, I thought...of course, they are the same qualities that Charlie would have recognised, the breeze, the view, the proximity to the Logan River, but he would also have valued the quality of the soil, the land itself, for he was a dairy farmer, as they almost all were who took up residence here in 1863.

The committee is planning a celebration next year to commemorate the founding of the ‘Town of Logan’, as it was designated. Ideas and input would be appreciated from interested parties, and morning-teas will be held three monthly to discuss any notions.

But first, on with the show today! And what a day we had, about a hundred of us. My cousin, Lee Wendt joined with me in a small group. We sat at our luncheon table with his brother Ivan (who still farms our great-grandfather’s place at Chamber’s Flat, right on the river), some local politicians, and several other old stagers. A bowl of proteas graced the centre of our table.

They were interested in my old photos, enlargements of which I had brought in an album. Circa 1930, it included a photo of the home built at the foot of Charlie’s hill, in Logan Village itself, in which my grandparents, Bertha and Hermann resided after they had retired from farming at Buccan, some five kilometres to the east, towards Brisbane. It was a beautiful home, called Birkenfelde (field of birches, named after Grandma’s birthplace in Germany), with a staircase (from the front verandah) that divided at a landing, some eight steps going both ways, to the north and south. Oh yes, it was elegant all right, and the interior was no different. The bedrooms and lounge were lined with Wunderlich’s zinc anneal panels, and they had both a piano and a pianola that we and our father and cousins would play from time to time. Today, the house would probably earn heritage classification, but sadly, though not madly at the time, it was pulled down piece by piece by the very hands that had constructed it, Grandad and his two sons, Ted and Harry (my father). They built several new houses in Dunellan Estate, now Greenslopes, using the marked timbers and whatever else was usable, when my grandparents moved to Brisbane in (about) 1939.

There was a stage in the big marquee on that festive day. Our compère opened proceedings, then announced that Doreen Wendt-Weir was going to speak about the old days. He told the audience, who mostly knew, that I had written the book ‘Barefoot in Logan Village’, and was qualified to speak on the subject, as I had been born in the district and had attended the Logan Village School. It came as a surprise that I was speaking so early in the proceedings, but I rose and approached the stage. Horror! There were some six stairs, and no handrail! Impossible with these eighty-three year-old knees! ‘You’ll have to help me, ‘ I said, and eager, strong arms were offered. The rest was easy. I stood and spoke for over my allotted time, and could have told my listeners a lot more. Then I asked for help down the stairs!

I spoke about Uncle Charlie, my grandparents and Birkenfelde, recalling the four pink glass jelly-mould castors that Grandma had under the legs of her heavy dining table, and that I presently have under the legs of my old sofa.

I told of Mrs. Mary Brown, (wife of Alec Brown, the school teacher) who held Sunday School for a time in the ‘front room’ of the school house. My sister Joan and I attended, sat on the hand-hewn oak chaise, and were in awe of the gramophone with it’s big, blue trumpet, on which Mrs Brown would play the cylindrical recordings of someone singing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and ‘Shall We Gather At The River.’ I was a very shy child, and sang along, but I was puzzled indeed. Our parents threatened us with the much dreaded strap if we went anywhere near the river, and here was some fellow asking us to gather there! We said nothing about these exhortations...but I did mention that some thirty years later, Mrs Brown telephoned me to say that she thought I was the only one who would be interested in the old sofa, and would I like it? Dad and I collected the old chaise, covered in dust and hornet’s nests, from under her retirement home at West End. I had it restored and it now holds pride of place in my living room. I collapse on it daily after a vigorous stint in my garden, and I think often of the Sunday School in Logan Village in the school house that is now the library.

The community hall still stands. It was desperately needed in the growing district. There was an old hall that had been owned, I believe, by Mr Lot Randle. It was near the railway line, but was now old and too small for the present needs. I sang, aged three, at a local talent quest in this hall. Gerald Tesch put me forward, saying, ‘This little girl can sing.’ I had no knowledge of the plan, but my mother bade me sing ‘Roamin’ in the Gloamin’. I wouldn’t comply and insisted on singing an old beer shanty that my father would sing on occasions. They stood me on an Austrian-bent chair. I would not take my coat off. But I sang confidently and brought the house down! Silver coins were thrown to me, and I quickly got down from my perch and gathered them up, as more money was thrown.

The hall was built by the local men, mostly farmers, who each gave one Sunday a month toward construction of the building. They would gather and do whatever was necessary at the time. It was opened in 1933, a huge day of celebration, and dancing continued all night. Dances were then held regularly, with Charlie Taylor and his band of three supplying the music. Later Pearl Watt and her three-piece band took over for many years. I have been fortunate to attend a lot of these popular dances in recent years. In fact, I was chosen to be ‘Mrs. Logan Village’ in 2004. I wore my sash to prove it! Sadly, the hall committee became very tired and old, and gave the community hall to the Lions Club (about 2006) with the proviso that the bi-monthly dances continue. These gatherings meant a great deal to the social structure of many lives, and it was a monumental sadness when the Lions felt unable to continue this practice.

Grandma and Minnie Storey had a small, enclosed corner of the verandah where they sold drinks, lollies and the precious ice-cream! There were no refrigerators in Logan Village at that time, there being no electricity supply, and ice-cream was a treat! On the day of a dance, a large, round canvas container would arrive by train. It held the cylindrical, aluminium ice-cream vat inside, packed in dry ice. This would remain hard and cold until the next morning. Threepenny cones were dispensed, as well as penny ice-creams served coneless in drinking glasses with one of Grandma’s spoons. These were much better value to a child, especially if your grandmother served you!

I was later approached by one of the Randles. His grandfather had run the one and only store. He said he knew that Ted Randle had owned a refrigerator, and questioned the lack of electricity of which I had spoken. ‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘and I remember when he first bought a small domestic refrigerator. He put a sign out that ice-blocks would be available the next morning. Whoopee! We all lined up before school with our half-pennies, and were served a small iceblock made from raspberry jelly, held in a square of butcher’s paper. Delicious! My grandparents’ house still used kerosene lamps with a ‘Gloria’ light in the living room until it’s demolition. Our farm, thanks to Dad’s ingenuity, had it’s own generator that supplied a weak light for the house, and enough to run the milking machines if the engine were kept running. But there was no refrigerator.

We were entertained at our luncheon by a barbershop quartet called the Hope Island Harmonies. They were very professional, brilliant in my opinion. I was delighted to find that one of the four singers was Owen Buckley from Tamborine Mountain, where I also lived, and where he is revered for his singing prowess. After the customary hugs, and we had taken our places at table, the quartet advanced on me! Such joy! They sang to me. To me! ‘Heart of My Heart’ was perfect, I thought. And of course, they treated each and every one else with the same attention during the several hours that we were there. I saw the same rapt smile on many faces as I undoubtedly worn on mine. To finish, they returned to me to sing ‘The Irish Blessing’, one of my favourites (may the road rise to meet you...may the wind be always at your back...) Thank you so much.

Our hot, catered dinner was served from a vehicle outside our enclosure. I enjoyed good roast beef; some had chicken. The linen napery was admired. Alcoholic beverages were offered and our local councillor, Sean, brought us fruitcup ad infinitum. We were asked to look at the underside of our chairs. If there was a yellow spot there, we were to take home the floral decoration on our table.

By three o’clock, it was all over. What a day! We farewelled the many relatives and friends. I said goodbye to Lee and Ivan. I thanked the organisers, Wendy Duke and Bev Gill for their splendid effort. I look forward to the next gathering with pleasant anticipation. And the proteas on my dining table are opening beautifully.

Doreen Wendt-Weir
07 5545 2100