A FACE OF STYLE AND GRACE
Nanjing Night Net

Grenfell’s Corrie Drady.

The Face

Corrie Drady

The Family

On September 6, 1928 Coral Ena Nealon (Corrie) was born to Harry and Ena Nealon, at “Currajong” on the Cowra Road, just outside Grenfell.

She grew up on the farm which had been in the family for generations and attended Quondong School and later the Grenfell High School, all the while helping at home and cooking for the men on the farm.

The Nealon family was large, six boys and three girls, so Corrie learnt to cook with her sisters, Peg and Myrtle.

Corrie’s family and the people of Grenfell have benefited from her renowned cooking skills ever since.

Allan Maxwell Drady was born on September 29, 1925 to William and Ethel Drady.

William, a sharefarmer with Bert Priddle, built their house on what is now known as Drady Lane.

Corrie and Allan were married in 1949, and together they had two children, Wayne and Sue.

The Nealon family has been in the Weddin Shire for many years.

There is a plaque in Taylor Park commemorating our farming pioneers, which says – “The first wheat was grown by J.B Woods.

The first wheat for sale was from 10 acres grown by W. Graham of Quongdong, ploughed and sown by W. Nealon in 1871.”

The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate Newspaper elaborates – “The late William Nealon Senior ploughed the land with an old wooden plough drawn by bullocks, the team being driven by Robert Graham.

It took eight weeks to plough the ten acres, the season being a wet one and the seed was planted with a hoe.

When ripe the crop was harvested by carrying the corn home in bags and it was threshed by being beaten with a stick in the bags.

The yield averaged 30 bushells per acre.”

Memories of Main Street

Corrie has an exceptional connection with the Main Street, having been closely associated with it for over 40 years.

Corrie’s first job on Main Street started with her working in the upstairs office of Hill and Halls, situated where the Grenfell Motel is today.

This was a large store, much like Western Stores, burning down in 1955.

Corrie also worked in the office at Jack Stiff’s grocery store, balancing the books.

Stiff’s store was where the furniture store is now in Main Street, and you can still see the string hanging down over the counter ready to tie up parcels.

Corrie and Allan then moved to Dubbo for a time, and opened a corner store on Jubilee Street.

While there, son Wayne was born.

After they moved back to Grenfell when Wayne was just a toddler, Sue was born, and Corrie was busy with the children while Allan worked on various properties near Grenfell.

By the time the children were ten and six years old and settled at school, Corrie looked around for a job, for “something to do.”

In 1956, Corrie decided to buy a business from Mary Moran, who had a shop at the bottom end of Main Street near the present Chinese Restaurant.

Mary worked as a hairdresser and a florist, and held an agency for HCF and MBF.

Corrie moved the business to the other end of Main Street to the shop now called “Paper and String”, then owned by Tom O’Laughlin.

She continued as a florist, but also added babies wear and developed the agency for HCF and MBF and the NSW Permanent Building Society.

It was a great personal credit to Corrie that she was so successful with her agency that she was given an award from the NSW Permanent Building Society to celebrate when she achieved $100,000 in contributions flowing through her agency, an extraordinary achievement for that time.

Corrie had a garden shed out the back of the shop where she undertook her creative work with flowers.

Being just near the Newsagency, she would listen to Alison Nicoll playing her piano in her back shed behind the Newsagency.

Corrie learnt her floral art from Interflora seminars and enjoyed making bouquets and corsages for weddings.

When there was a funeral scheduled, Corrie would have to start work at 4am in order to make all the floral wreaths, or work through the night to produce 20 – 40 wreaths.

In fact, one remembrance that the children, Wayne and Sue have, is of being out in the dark and the rain alongside their mother, picking greenery from the garden to be used in the wreaths.

She had originally been shown how to make a wreath from a ring of newspaper to which the flowers were tied with string –

but she quickly made the task into a more professional presentation by using the special green ‘Oasis’ foam which was introduced to help wreath making be much more efficient.

Wayne and Sue became used to spending their time after school with the flowers as their mother worked her long hours to fulfil orders.

Corrie and Allan were great parents, and devoted many long hours to their children’s love of ponies.

They were very active in the Pony Club, spending weekends travelling to gymkhanas and pony club rallies.

They had about 8 acres on Melyra Street, and they always had one or two ponies at the house they built there.

Wayne and Sue were often on their ponies of an afternoon after school.

Sue loved ballet and participated in many eisteddfods.

The Procter family ran a very successful family business for many years where the “Solar Cocky” is now situated.

When the Procter family moved from Grenfell, Corrie bought their shop and named it “Coralee”.

It was a beautiful shop which became renowned for its quality of gifts, jewellery and trophies, as well as the flowers.

Deliveries of fresh flowers were flown up from Sydney two to three times a day.

The flowers would then be taken by taxi from Cowra to Grenfell, and also by train, before the service ended.

After forty years, Corrie had to stop her floral art because she could not receive regular flower deliveries any more.

One request, for example, for a family casket of red rose in forty degree heat became impossible to service.

After the flowers, “Coralee” focused on gifts and trophies.

Corrie would travel to Sydney and Melbourne to buy her stock and the shop became the “go to” place for gifts.

Her best sellers were salad bowls and casserole dishes – sensible wedding presents – but she knew that anything of quality would always sell well.

People would come into the shop looking for “something special” and Corrie would have just the thing.

Corrie employed a number of assistants over the years – Debbie Woods, Mary McConnell, Linda Stevens (nee Schaeffer,) Margaret Snoxell and Denise Yates (nee McClelland.)

Corrie also started another shop in Cootamundra which her daughter Sue eventually ran.

Towards the end of her time with the Grenfell shop, Corrie began to sell some antiques as well which she sourced at the antique sales.

Allan joined the Department of Soil Conservation in 1961 as a foreman, remaining there 21 years, retiring on medical grounds.

Later in life, he enjoyed breeding horses – he had four brood mares, and would send the horses down to his son, Wayne, who lived in Nowra to train and race, quite successfully, in fact.

Allan would love to get the phone call that one of his horses had won.

When Allan became unwell, Corrie decided to sell the shop and she finally closed her doors on 10 August 2002.

Corrie speaks with great affection of the camaraderie that existed in the Main Street amongst the business people during her time there.

There was a friendship and a shared attitude of helping each other.

Although in the same trade with giftware, Mr Brown, Mrs Sherry and Mr Gillies were all good friends.

Mr Toole, the Manager of Western Stores, came over regularly to Corrie to ask for her help in completing floral orders.

Community Involvement

Corrie has been a prolific provider for years of home cooked goodies for various organisations, functions and events such as Senior Citizens, Garden Club and Rotary street stalls and Christmas Fetes and Garden Parties run by the Anglican Church in Grenfell.

Corrie is also on the Senior Citizens’ Welfare Committee and a member of the Garden Club, and a Friend of Rotary.

She has also, in her compassionate way, cooked for families in distress and grief at the loss of a loved one, and she is so well known for her cooking that Wayne says that people will assume that she is cooking and ask – “Who’s she cooking for today?”

In more recent years, she has been instrumental in helping to run Friendship Breakfasts held at the Albion Hotel – a Christian outreach program to people who appreciate a good breakfast and friendly company.

Perhaps her most touching activity is that for many years, Corrie has quietly gathered together her beautiful selection of fine china cups and saucers, and with her delicate tablecloths and cooking, taken them up to the Grenfell MPS (Multi-Purpose Service) so that the residents can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee in a style to which they would have once been very accustomed.

Now the staff have to be included too.

No one wants to miss out on Corrie’s sponge cake!

This imaginative act of goodwill illustrates so many of the features that define Corrie.

Allan, in his retirement, was a tireless help to Corrie in the business, and supporting the family in all their activities.

He was also a member of the Grenfell Lions Club.

Where Are They Now?

Allan passed away onApril 18, 2009.

Corrie is still happily living in Grenfell, enjoying life and still cooking and presenting beautiful food to her friends and family!

Son, Wayne, is currently living in Nowra and works as a project manager and has two children, Glen and Skye.

Wayne will shortly be returning to live in Grenfell.

Daughter, Sue, now retired in Port Macquarie, is married to Ross Callaghan, a retired policeman.

They have three children, Darren, who lives in Sydney, Jodie, who lives in Perth and Kylie, who lives in Canberra.

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Many thanks to Corrie Drady and Wayne Drady and Sue Callaghan.

Also to the “The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate Newspaper” Tuesday 15 January, 1924 for their contributions to “Faces in the Street.”

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We hope our valued readersenjoyreminiscingwith Grenfell’s iconic ”’Faces in the Street” – a Grenfell Record 2016 Sesquicentenary initiative.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.