Saturday, March 6, 2010

Pattie Menzies

Pattie Menzies was the wife of a Prime Minister....Robert Menzies. He started the Liberal Party.

Lord Wiki says Baby Pattie was born in Alexandra Victoria, on 2 March 1899. That's kind of funny because the day that I'm writing this is 2 March. That's a bit of a coincidence, I suppose.

According to Google Maps, Alexandra is two hours north-east of Melbourne.

Pattie's father was a politician. He was part of a Liberal Party but not the Menzies Liberal Party. He was part of the Commonwealth Liberal Party, which was also sometimes called the Deakinite Liberal Party. What is Deakinite?

Oh! Thank you, Lord Wiki. It's about Deakin! Of course. Why didn't I think of that?

The party had their thing going from 1909 to 1916. It was a merging of Deakin's Protectionist Party with the Anti-Socialist Party.

I remember liking Deakin which is funny to me, because he was politically on the right. I usually prefer politicians on the left. But I know by now that right and left weren't exactly the same as they are at this time.

Pattie Menzies attended the Fintona Girl's School in Melbourne. Lord Wiki says that during her school days, she saw her future husband. I guess she didn't see him at school, since it was a girl's school. Or I guess they could have had dances there, or something—events where boys were invited. Anyway, she didn't formally meet Mr. Menzies until 1919. She would have been about twenty then.

The lovely couple got married soon after at Kew Presbyterian Church. From what I'm seeing on Google, that church is no longer with us.

Lord Wiki says that Mr. and Mrs. Menzies moved to Howard Street. I tried to find it on Google Maps, but there's several Howard Streets in Melbourne. There's one on Kew, though. Since their marriage church was there, I'm guessing this might be the right one. The government Prime Minister site confirms that. I'll definitely come back to that website later. I'm sure there'll be more valuable information.

The Menzies had four children. One, unfortunately, died at birth.

There's really not much here.

She was one of the founders of the Australian Monarchist League. I guess that means she wasn't for the Republic.

How about a compromise? What if Australia has a monarchy but an Australian one? There could be an Australian queen and king....a prince and princess. A castle would be great too...maybe even a dragon!

Seriously, I think there are good arguments on both sides. However, I lose respect for the Australian Monarchist League when they say on their front page: There are absolutely no rational grounds for becoming a republic, but there are many logical and sound reasons for remaining as we are, not the least of which is our proven system of stable and secure government under our Australian Constitutional Monarchy.

Just because you disagree with the opposition, doesn't mean they're irrational.


Menzies died in August 1995.

I'm going to return to the government Prime Minister site now.

Robert Menzies was Prime Minister twice, so Mrs. Menzies and her husband had two chances to be at The Lodge. The first was 1939 to 1941. The second was 1949 to 1966. I'm pretty sure that Menzies has been the last Prime Minister to leave office and then come back again.

This website says that Menzies was fourteen when her father won a seat in Federal Parliament. He had the seat of Benambra.

I wrongly assumed that Benambra would be closer into Melbourne. It's not. It's farther east—seven hours from Melbourne and five hours from Alexandra. I'm guessing maybe Menzies went to boarding school in Melbourne. Or maybe politicians don't have to live in the district that they're representing?

Menzies' father lost his seat in 1919, but he stayed in politics. He even had a place in his son-in-law's later Ministry. He became the Minister For Aircraft.

In 1929, The Menzies family bought a vacation home in the Macedon Ranges. They had that until 1941. Then it burned down. It was a double blow because Menzies had just lost his Prime Minister title.

Menzies seems to have great love for the queen and monarchy. In 1935, they went to the England for eight months. There they got to meet the royal family. Elizabeth wasn't queen at this time. She was just a princess and the same age as Menzies's daughter Heather.

Lord Wiki says Queen Elizabeth was born in 1925. So back then, she would have been only about nine. That's so cute!

The Queen at the time was Mary. Queen Mary asked Menzies what the highlight of her visit was. Menzies replied, You, Your Majesty.

She was definitely a fan. It's not surprising that she wanted to keep Australia as a Commonwealth.

Robert Menzies became Prime Minister on 26 April 1939. On that day, the previous Prime Minister, Earl Page, did a scathing speech about Menzies in Parliament. The Prime Minister website talks about this a little bit, but I had to go to the National Museum of Australia site to clarify some things.

Oh wait. This was before Menzies became Prime Minister. He had just been elected as leader of the United Australian Party. Earl Page was the leader of the Country Party, and Prime Minister. He quit being Prime Minister after the speech, and withdrew the Country Party from the coalition.


Pattie Menzies heard the speech, because she was there that day. She was very offended and walked out. The government Prime Minister site says she never spoke to Earl Page again. Well, the site says she never acknowledged him. I guess that would be the same as not speaking. Right?

I'm researching Mr. Menzies in a few days, so when I do that, I'll probably go into more of what the harsh criticism was about.

When the Menzies family moved into the lodge, Pattie did a major home makeover. Exciting.

The website says that Menzies enjoyed her life in Canberra. Her husband would come home for lunch. After they ate, they'd play snooker.

I'm reading what Lord Wiki has to say about snooker. It looks a LOT like pool. Well, Lord Wiki says they're both classified under the general term of billiard sports.

So anyway, they played that together. And Menzies also took interest in her husband's political career. She'd come to Parliament to watch when possible.

It sounds like they had a pretty okay marriage...well, at least at this point.

Menzies was unhappy about leaving The Lodge in 1941. One of the reasons was the redecorating she began wasn't done yet. I'm sure it's also hard to have a prestigious role and then lose it.

Mr. and Mrs. Menzies moved back to Melbourne. Pattie didn't sit in her room sulking. She kept busy. From 1941-1949, she was on the board for a woman's hospital. She also got involved with the movement for free kindergarten. I guess kindergarten wasn't free back then?

I guess Menzies had some difficulty with public speaking, because the Prime Minister site says doing charity work helped her lose that fear. That's good.

In 1949, Menzies became Prime Minister again. Pattie got to go back to The Lodge. This time they were there for a long time....seventeen years!

Once they were back, Menzies began more renovations.

She seems very much unlike me. She's good at domestic stuff. I'm horrible at it. I don't do redecorating. I don't do much cooking. I don't sew. I don't have much success in gardening. I'm okay with laundry, though, and washing dishes. Those are the two domestic skills that I'm not awful at. Oh and I'm also fairly okay at scooping up cat litter and wiping up cat pee.

Despite her prestigious role as Prime Minister's wife, Menzies didn't shrink away from cooking or housework. I respect that. I don't think there's anything wrong with having hired help....if you can afford it. But it's good if you can still do some of the work yourself.

The website says that Menzies even did cooking sometimes for formal parties. That's pretty cool.

Menzies came with her husband on most of his travels. Sometimes I think that Jack and I should join Tim on his travels. But then I remember that, although, we get a free hotel room, we won't be getting free airline tickets. So, that's the big hindrance there. We have talked about it a few times, but then it never happens. Maybe when Jack is off being all solo, I'll travel with Tim. That way we just have to buy one extra plane ticket rather than two.

Besides cooking, cleaning, and redecorating, Menzies also took on a secretarial role. She spent time each day answering letters.

I'm pretty impressed with this woman.

In 1966, Robert Menzies retired. They moved back to Melbourne. Some of their wealthy friends and supporters had bought them a home to honor their work for the country. That's pretty sweet.

Twelve years later, Menzies became a widow. A decade or so after her husband's death, she moved back to Canberra to live with her daughter.

Flickr has a 1961 photograph of Mr. and Mrs. Menzies. It's from the State Library of Queensland. They look like a very typical grandmother and grandfather.

Here's a UK obituary for Menzies. They start by saying, The death of Pattie Menzies, widow of the late Sir Robert Menzies, Australia's longest-serving prime minister, at the age of 96, symbolised the passing of the old Australia, with its conservative, Presbyterian values and its loyalty to Britain and the monarch.

I don't know if I'd agree. I think those types of conservative folks are still out there in Australia.

I'm thinking this Robert Yallop who wrote the editorial is for the Australian Republic. He has this whole out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new mentality.

He talk about how Menzies confessed she had lived too long, and didn't have many friends left.
Yallop says, but perhaps she might have added that she felt like a stranger in today's multicultural Australia, which is heading towards becoming a republic in 2001.

Uh...yeah....maybe. Very possible. But I'd guess it was more about her getting old; and when you get that old, many of your family and friends have already died. I'm guessing it can feel lonely. And yes, there can be a feeling of alienation that comes with changes.

Menzies did not have a happy relationship with Paul Keating. Keating said negative things about her husband; accused him of anglophilia. Was it not true, though? Well, I think it was at least true for Pattie Menzies.

It's nothing to be ashamed of really. Many people have anglophilia. I've had it at times. It's hard not to. There's just something about the British accent, and a lot of really good literature comes from that area.

Anyway, Menzies was very angry with Keating criticizing her deceased husband. She called Keating a disgrace and monster.

Yallop paints Menzies as being old-fashioned. She not only clung to ties to England, but she also clung to a traditional role for women. She believed they should support their husbands and take care of the children. Well, she saw that as HER job at least. I'm not sure if she believed this needed to be the role for all women. There's a big difference there. I see nothing wrong with being a traditional homemaker. I think it's pretty awesome, actually. But there is something wrong with believing all women must take this path.

Google News Archive has an old interview/article about Menzies. It's from 1968...two years after they left Canberra.

Wow.  The woman was fairly green before the term green was probably even invented. When did we start calling environmentalism green anyway?

Menzies helped her garden by putting a bathtub in her garden to catch water from the down pipe. Then she used the water for her garden. That's really awesome. For awhile, I had been collecting water when I took a shower. But I stopped that. I guess I forgot and/or became lazy.

We also had a leak. It took us some time to get off our butts and call in a plumber. So I collected water from that, and used it to water our plants.

Menzies said she disliked her husband when she first met him, but she doesn't really explain why. Well, at least not yet. She said she saw him often during her childhood. I wonder why it took them so long to be formally introduced.

She said her father had a small farm in Alexandra, and her grandfather had a produce shop.

Before they got married, Robert Menzies would often visit their home. She talked about how Menzies got along very well with her father. She sometimes believed he was coming over to visit her father, and not her. That's like Tim and my dad. They get along so well. I've often wondered if they loved each other more than they love me. But I think I'm fairly past that issue now.

It sounds like Menzies did go to boarding school. She said, on Sundays, the school girls would go to church. The Menzies family attended the same church.

Menzies said, We all noticed him, and I think he knew it too. It sounds like she was maybe trying to say he was a bit cocky.

At first, Menzies went to Presbyterian Ladies College. I guess the church would have been near there. But then she switched to Fintona. By coincidence, the Menzies family moved to that area as well. Again, she saw him at church every Sunday. They still didn't talk, though.

After her school years, Menzies was invited to a party. Pattie could only go if there was someone to drive her home afterwards. There was someone, and that someone ended up being Robert Menzies.

I don't know what he said or did, but Pattie wasn't impressed. I suppose the feelings weren't mutual though because he kept visiting her home. And then love blossomed, and they got married.

Menzies said her idea of perfect happiness is quiet. I like quietness, but I can't say it would be my definition of happiness.

She said her family also makes her happy, but she really loves it when things are quiet.

She and her husband liked paintings but did not like modern art.

Menzies was asked what she'd rescue if there was a fire. Menzies replied that there'd be nothing she'd save, besides that which is alive. She said....nothing inanimate really matters.

I agree.

Menzies said she loves being by herself. I can relate to that. Maybe this is what she meant by quiet. It might be less about sound and more about solitude.

Well, this is it for now. I shall learn more about the Menzies family in a few days.


  1. don't you hate it when that happens. there goes my comment. bye bye.
    now I have to think of it all over again.

    I love perfect quiet. But I wouldnt' call it happiness.
    But I do like quiet. (my kids could tell you)

    Hey - do you ever watch tv on mute? We do that all the time. Great fun, really.

  2. HappyOrganist,

    Sorry about your lost comment. I don't think I usually watch TV on mute...maybe in the past. Not recently.

    Oh, I know when I watch it...sort of. You know when you're at a restaurant, and there's a TV, but you can't hear. So you sit there trying to guess what is happening....

    Does that count?

  3. It counts. I think it's more fun that way, don't you? Sales pitches, for example, are much more fun to watch that way. You don't have to listen to whatever they're saying - you can just ad-lib for them.