The “Pioneer Family”

Today I was looking for some more pictures from the past. I came up with two pictures from 1958 and another two pictures from 1960

Peter with Gaby
Peter with Gaby

This pictures was taken in Düsseldorf, Germany, in a park called ‘Hofgarten’, on 17th June 1958. Gaby was not quite nine months yet at the time.

Uta and Peter with Gaby
Uta and Peter with Gaby

This pictures was taken by Uta’s Mum on her balcony in Berlin in August 1958. Gaby was nearly one year old. We were for a visit in Berlin at the time.

Uta with Baby Martin, two months, Monika, eighteen months, and Gaby  thirty-three months.
Uta with Baby Martin, two months, Monika, eighteen months, and Gaby thirty-three months.

This pictures was taken near Fairy Meadow Beach, New South Wales, Australia, in June 1960.

Uta and Peter (25) with all three children
Uta and Peter (25) with all three children

This is where the pioneer family ended up in Oak Flats, NSW, Australia, which was ‘the sticks’ at the time. This picture was taken on the 28th August 1960 which was Gaby’s birthday. We were building a garage at the time. One year later the children were stricken by polio; as it turned out, Gaby very severely.

I wrote the above in January 2013. I was looking for a photo from our Berlin visit in August 1958 and found one in this blog. I was pregnant at the time. In December our daughter Monika was born in Düsseldorf where we had one room in my father’s apartment. We thought being given the opportunity to go to Australia as migrants was the best thing that could have happened to us.

11 Responses to “The “Pioneer Family””

January 23, 2013 at 4:47 pm Edit #
The beginning in Australia was tough and sometimes we felt like a “pioneer family”.. On the beach picture you can clearly see the Fairy Meadow Hostel were we lived for a while.


January 23, 2013 at 5:18 pm Edit #
You’re right, Peter, the beach was only a few steps away from the hostel. I thought it was great to have the beach so close. The picture you refer to was taken in June, in the middle of the Australian winter!


Robert M. WeissR
January 25, 2013 at 8:41 am Edit #
Great archival type photos, which reminds me it’s time to straighten up our family photos.


January 25, 2013 at 11:12 am Edit #
Thanks for commenting, Robert. I read your profile, which is very interesting. Do you do any writing? You seem to be a very contemplative person. If you’re writing, I’d like to hear more about it.
Cheerio, Uta.


January 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm Edit #
I love the old photos. Your family was beautiful. My youngest sister Gerry had polio when she was two years old. Fortunately she had no lingering effects, and recovered completely. I was ten at the time. I remember how scared we all were.


January 26, 2013 at 6:01 pm Edit #
Hi, Pam. We always love to look at all our old photos. Gaby was severely effected, She became a quadriplegic and needed an iron lung.
Monika had some lingering effects in one of her legs and Martin recovered completely. It was a very scary time for us when all three children suffered from the disease.


January 27, 2013 at 2:44 am Edit #
I can’t even imagine how terrified you and Peter must have been with all three children seriously ill at the same. My middle daughter is a public health lawyer. She has asked me lots of questions about the polio epidemics. I’ll tell her about your family’s story. Thanks for sharing it. Pat

Three Well Beings
January 26, 2013 at 4:56 pm Edit #
I really enjoyed seeing family photos, Uta. From what you’re sharing, the children were very young when they contracted polio. I cannot imagine how difficult that must have been! I do remember when that disease frightened families and changed lives forever!


January 26, 2013 at 6:07 pm Edit #
That’s right, Debra, they all contracted polio. Martin was 1, Monika 2 and Gaby was struck down with the disease on her fourth birthday. No vaccinations were available at the time. A bit later oral vaccinations were introduced. I think this stopped the spread of polio in Australia.


Three Well Beings
January 26, 2013 at 6:50 pm Edit #
I really can’t imagine, Uta! As a mom, this must have been devastating. They were just babies. I’m a little awed you can even talk about it. oxo

January 26, 2013 at 8:45 pm Edit #
It was a very emotional time for Peter too. All three children were admitted to Wollongong Hospital. Gaby went on to Intensive Care at Prince Henry Hospital in Sydney where she was in a coma. According to the specialist there was not much chance of her surviving. We had gone in the ambulance with her and stayed with her through the night. Early in the morning we went back to Wollongong on the milk-train. That morning after a lot of weeping we went to see Monika and Martin in Wollongong Hospital. Martin Baby soon became the darling of the nurses. He looked so cute. When we saw him he started throwing all the toys out of his cot the nurses had put in there for him. Monika was more sick than Martin and absolutely quiet. A few days later Martin was allowed to go back home. We were overwhelmed when we had him back home. Monika had to stay in hospital a bit longer. Once she was home she was referred to a specialist who treated her leg. Some muscles were weakened because of polio. She had to wear special boots and a splint on her left leg which she hated!

16 thoughts on “The “Pioneer Family”

  1. Your family must be so grateful to you for keeping all these records – you have had such a lot happen in your lives, and this way it won’t be forgotten. I can’t imagine how awful it must be to have 3 small children all so seriously ill at the same time.

    1. This is true of course, Catt, it was a very tough time for us. What really helped us, was, that the Australian Hospital Fund gave us any possible support. During all these years – even though Peter was on the minimum wage at the time and I could not work – we were never out of pocket. We could even save up for our own block of land and with a loan from a building society get our own little cottage built which lasted us for the next thirty years! It’s amazing how much conditions in Australia have changed during the last few years!

  2. It just shows how keeping photos of the past can revive both the good and not so good of lives lived to the best of ability. I love the photo of you on the beach with your children. With Polio it must have been a very frightening time.
    You say conditions have changed the last few years. You mean for the better or opposite?

    1. If you do not belong to the top half of society conditions have definitely worsened. The most frightening thing is how young people are being treated, I mean the 20% of unemployed young people. This is a very high percentage of young people who have hardly any hope for future prospects the way things are going right now. What is to become of them? And older people are supposed to work longer and longer? I do not call this a beneficial change in conditions.
      The picture at the beach was taken in June 1960. Little did we know then that 14 months later we would be struck by the polio virus.

      1. The affordability of housing in the major cities are beyond the reach of young people. It is young and old that are suffering. You are right, the elderly are expected to carry the bucket together with many of the young unable to get work.
        You would have had a very difficult time with polio and have survived. Pioneers in more ways than one.

  3. Einen schönen ersten Mai wünsche ich dir liebe Ute schöne Fotos schöne Erinnerung liebe Grüße von mir hab einen schönen Tag gruß und Umarmung Gislinde

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed the photographs of your young family; so much can be learned in them. I see children who are loved and cared for by committed, happy parents. Such a blessing for them.

  5. What an amazing glimpse into your lives. Such a young handsome couple, so beautiful and then those gorgeous children. Polio was such a horrible illness, am glad Uta that you were given medical help during that period.

    1. Thank you so much for commenting, Barbara. All these photos were taken more than fifty years ago. How time flies! We always found people willing to help us when we needed some help badly. All hospital and medical help was always totally covered by insurance!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s