Good cooking helped to steal the shearer’s heart

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The main thing. . . Her skill in the kitchen was one of the reasons Phil Kelly was attracted to Sally MacLean. The couple celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in Gore last week. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

“The shearer stole the cook” sums up what happened when Phil Kelly whisked Sally (Katherine) MacLean away from her family farm to live in Gore.

The couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in Gore last Thursday.

Mrs Kelly (81) said she grew up on a Cattle Flat farm but when she was aged about 11 her mother died.

Her father hired a housekeeper to look after his eight children but after a string of housekeepers who did not stay long, Mrs Kelly left school at 15 and returned home.

“I ended up being chief cook and bottle washer for all my brothers and sisters.

“I couldn’t boil a spud.”

Mr Kelly who is nine years older, spent three weeks shearing at the farm and during that time Mrs Kelly, who by this time was about 19, caught his eye.

Fortunately her cooking skills had improved because it was one of the things that attracted him to her.

“She was a good cook,” Mr Kelly said.

“It was the main thing – if you couldn’t cook you were no bloody good,” Mrs Kelly said.

He and his shearing friend asked Mrs Kelly and her sister out on a date.

However, her sister decided she did not want to go and when the message was passed on to Mr Kelly he was told both sisters did not want to go, Mr Kelly said.

Several weeks later they met again.

“I saw him at the races and had him on about the fact he didn’t turn up,” Mrs Kelly said.

“So I said I will come up next week and take you to the pictures,” Mr Kelly said.

Mr Kelly drove his Humber 80 up to Cattle Flat to pick her up and back to Gore which was a two-hour round trip.

Then he took her home again.

The couple courted for about two years before they were married.

They have six children and 12 grandchildren.

Their marriage advice was be careful what you say.

“Keep it under your hat.

“Least said is easiest mended,” Mrs Kelly said.

“You can think it but don’t say it,” Mr Kelly said.

“Once you’ve said something you can’t take it back,” she said.