Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Sole Parent Brings Up Family with Love, Humour; Father Keeps Family Together

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Sole Parent Brings Up Family with Love, Humour; Father Keeps Family Together

Article excerpt

IN AN era when C[pounds sterling]house husbandsC[yen] were a rarity, Jack Antonio, now 90, was a man ahead of his times.

Not only would he take his turn cooking tasty meals for his expanding family, he would also capably share the childcare and cleaning duties.

When his dear wife Genevieve died of cancer in January, 1965, Mr Antonio became the sole carer of his eight children Co aged from five to 16 Co and his elderly father who lived with them.

He literally was father and mother, not only providing them with the necessities of life but also giving them plenty of affection, as well as much-needed doses of tough love.

His daughters still marvel at the way he would travel to Toowoomba and single-handedly purchase children's dresses and other clothes that always looked great.

C[pounds sterling]I just held it up and pictured you in it,C[yen] he always said.

Mr Antonio would rise at 5am to cook breakfast, begin dinner preparations and make lunches Co he managed on a shoestring budget. His property was not yielding much and in those times there was no government financial assistance for widowers.

Despite these worries, Jack ensured that his children were always well fed, well dressed and were given a good education at the local Catholic school.

Mr Antonio's earliest years were spent on farms at Turallin and Captain's Mountain, both near Millmerran.

Although he was clever at primary school his parents could not afford to send him to high school so he became a drover and farm worker at 13.

World War II saw him join the army, then the RAAF (he always said the girls preferred the royal blue uniform). He trained in Morse code in Canada and was a gunner/wireless operator in England.

In 1945, he returned to Millmerran where he soon met the young teacher of his four nephews, Miss Genevieve Pezet, an 18-year-old from Brisbane. They married in 1948 and built a house on their newly acquired sheep and crop farm adjoining his father's property. …

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