Gran was born Ilsa Watkinson in 1892 in Melbourne to Marta Lohn and Percy Watkinson, who had migrated to Australia from Germany. They travelled to Melbourne separately where they met and married in 1887. Marta was involved in a successful business in “the rag trade” with her sister and brother, whereas Percy appears to have been a handsome spendthrift who spent a lot of time travelling overseas as a “manufacturer's agent”. He died in Paris in 1907.
Ilsa and her mother were close. They toured the world together in 1911 to 1912 during which time Ilsa met her husband, Walter Moore.
Ilsa and Walter married in Melbourne in 1914. Over the next eight years they had five children--four girls and one boy. Tragically the boy died in his late teens and Walter died in 1946.
Gran visited us often. She would drive up in her MG and wander with us down to the shops for an icecream. She was usually accompanied by her British bulldog, Monty, who would also be given an icecream.
Gran was interested in all facets of life and went out of her way to introduce us to the various forms of entertainment available from the Arts to Sports. I remember sitting with her and some of my brothers at the MCG watching Australia playing cricket against England. This was the start of my love affair with the game. She did try to introduce me to Formula 1 car racing by taking me to see Jack Brabham race at Sandown Park. However, this did not impress as I found the noise almost overwhelming. I have never willingly watched car racing since.
When the Beatles came to Melbourne, Gran offered tickets to their concert to some of us older grandchildren. On this occasion I turned down the offer as I had an absolute horror of crowds and screaming girls. One of my male cousins who took advantage of Gran's offer said later he couldn't hear anything beyond the “screaming girls”!
While I was still at school Gran and her second husband, Herbert Saxon, known to all as “Sacco”, moved to Kallista in the Dandenongs. Gran had the most magnificent garden where she spent most of her time planting and caring for her Dahlias. The house had a balcony on which she used to feed the local kookaburras. Her house became our second home and when my parents, accompanied by my six younger brothers, went overseas we considered it our home.
When I left University and went to work in Horsham we stayed in touch. She was never too tired or too busy to take an interest in the minutia of our lives. When I was getting married it was Gran who helped with the organisation – with me working in Horsham a lot of the leg work was done by her.
Gran lived to see my two daughters born, but died in 1973 before the boys made their appearance. Her name lingers on whenever any of her grandchildren get together.
A great lady.
25 May 2020