When he was 4 years old he lost his mother (Kate) to cancer. His father, Jack, being an alcoholic, was not able to provide for his family of six children. Consequently, his family was split, leaving Ray and his brother Basil, (2 years older) with Jack's sister, Mary, and her husband Ned Caine. The Caines were to become Ray's guardians. These youngsters lived with their guardians for some 2 or 3 months before being transferred to Villa Maria in Ballarat East.
Villa Maria was a boys boarding schol/come 'home' run by the Catholic Sisters of Mercy. Another of Jack's sisters, Elizabeth, was one of the hierarchy, Mother Augustine. Lodgers at Villa comprised a mixture of the primary school student sons of professionals, hoteliers, farmers and some few others, and Basil and Ray. The nuns, generally, were very caring but were occasionally overbearing, overdisciplinary and sometimes, to Ray's mind, outright cruel. Ray, in later life, has been somewhat critical of them, and in fact, refers to Villa as being "institutional". He spent just under 8 years there until he obtained his Merit Certificate. He had lived in the shadow of his brother, and his inferiority complex had an early beginning.
Ray had guaranteed accommodation and secondary education at St Patrick's College, also in Ballarat, by virtue of the fact that he had won a Government Scholarship. He was a good scholar, regularly in the top 4 or 5 of the class of about 50 students until, in an external examination, where, due to nerves and his feelings of inferiority, he failed. And so he did not matriculate. A further blow!
While in his second year at St. Pats, Ray's brothers and sisters organised a family re-union to be held at brother John's residence in Praharan. However, his attendance was in jeopardy, as his guardians decreed that "Ray is not to leave Ballarat." His siblings, most of them now being adult,(in fact Pat had spent 5 years overseas as a serviceman in World War 2), defied this decree and Ray participated. Unfortunately, there were never any further reunions and Ray became a virtual stranger to his family. In his 20's though, he spent two wonderful years living with his brother John.
During the course of his education, Ray spent his school holidays at Caine's property at Swanwater, some 20 odd miles from St.Arnaud. Weekly, there was a shopping visit to the town, and Ray would walk the street with Uncle Ned, who he loved. Ned would, however, on meeting acquaintances, always refer to him as ".....Shaver....young Ray ..... Jack O'Shannessy's lad". As Jack O'Shannessy was well known as a 'town drunk', this was embarrassing and did nothing for Ray's self regard.
In January, 1949, Uncle Ned died of cancer and subsequently Ray spent holidays with other relatives. He spent his last school holidays with Uncle Tom (Toby) O'Shannessy who was responsible for getting him a job with the Victorian Producers in Benalla. VPC was a Stock and Station and Woolbroking Agency. Ray settled in to the new environment very well but was always self conscious. He always addressed his seniors as "Mister". He was too shy to call people by their Christian name as was customary in farming circles.
Ray resigned from the VPC after some 17 years, and as a 'mature aged student', while working in an accountancy practice, he qualified as a Chartered Accountant and subsequently become a partner.
Ray has now almost overcome his inferiority complex, having been awarded an Order of Australia Medal "for Service to the Community of Benalla" and an accounting fellowship.
What a turn around ........ and a "TRUE CONFESSION".