The January 1942 dust storm covered much of Victoria in a blanket of red Mallee topsoil. The Age newspaper suggested wryly that the red dust was the cause of something troubling Melbourne residents
The “blackout blues” referred to the blackout preparations in Melbourne, in place as a defence against bombing raids, that increased nervousness and anxiety, and reduced opportunities for normal socialising in the evenings.
In 1936 Rene reached the school-leaving age of 14 and was sent to learn dressmaking with local identity, Miss Connie Russo. It was probably her mother Jane who arranged this loose apprenticeship. Jane’s own work as a laundress had given her independence and allowed her to travel. It was still helping to put food on the table. It is easy to imagine Jane impressing upon her daughter, “A woman has to have a livelihood”.
In her spare time Rene took violin lessons, also from Miss Russo. Rene played violin at the Beaufort Methodist Church, and as part of the Beaufort Municipal Band.