FAMILY CYCLE: The Rodgers family (from left) Eric, Ted Jnr, Ivor, Ted Snr, Eileen Snr, Daisy, Keven, Doug, Eileen, Jack, Elaine and Marie cycling in 1937.
FAMILY CYCLE: The Rodgers family (from left) Eric, Ted Jnr, Ivor, Ted Snr, Eileen Snr, Daisy, Keven, Doug, Eileen, Jack, Elaine and Marie cycling in 1937.

End of a generation of a champion cycling family

BORN in Bundaberg in 1930, the second youngest of a family of 10 children, Elaine Hogan left a lifetime legacy of good faith, beautiful songs and hand-crafted kindness to many friends and family.

She lived to the age of 86 years and her death a year ago marked the end of a generation of a champion cycling family residing in the Mackay region.

She was the daughter of Eileen Rodgers and Ted Rodgers Snr - a blacksmith, cyclist, showman and sawmiller. Two of Elaine's older siblings survive her, Eileen Woodall and Doug Rodgers, both in Brisbane.

The Rodgers children were always encouraged by their parents to sing and entertain. Elaine's older brothers Ivor and Ted Jnr were trick cyclists in their early childhood, performing in shows in Victoria and Tasmania, while their father, a successful national cyclist from about 1910, competed in cycling races.

Elaine's earliest years were spent in various areas including Bundaberg and Bowen, and then at MtCoolon and a sawmill in the bush near Eton, where the family of 12 lived in tents and other temporary shelters. This is where Elaine's love of birds and animals began.

Her father and older brothers worked at timber- getting and sawmilling while Elaine and two of her siblings were taught their correspondence lessons by older sister Eileen.

For many families in the Depression, food, housing and employment were often difficult to obtain. Yet during this time, Elaine's father was still teaching her older brothers the skills of cycle racing.

Elaine was an infant when her father acquired the Wall of Death, which was similar to sideshows popular with carnival crowds overseas.

Ted Rodgers Snr introduced the cycling sideshow to the locals, and to other North Queensland towns, travelling the show circuit in the early 1930s.

 

Elaine's brothers Ivor and Ted Jnr, then in their mid-teens, would strap themselves into the classic Malvern Star two-wheelers and defy gravity with rides of speed and skill around the inside of the high, wooden, cylinder-shaped track.

In the mid-1930s, the Rodgers family moved to a small home at the Cremorne, North Mackay, and Elaine and her youngest siblings attended St Patrick's school.

About 1940, a larger, very unusual home was built for the family using the wooden frame of the Wall of Death sideshow as the inside cylindrical structure of the "Round House" at the Cremorne. The second floor's interior room and the third floor's rotunda room are circular and connected by a winding staircase.

The home took on an Asian influence, rendered and at one time painted pale green with red-framed windows, and the building is still a prominent landmark at the northern end of the Forgan bridge.

Elaine's brothers Keven and Doug had enlisted and with her other siblings, including Daisy, Eileen, Jack and Marie, all were involved in concerts to entertain the visiting soldiers.

Daisy and Eileen were also employed in the town, and her father and three eldest brothers worked in the timber industry, a wartime essential service.

Throughout those years, home-cooked food and sing-alongs for the family, and for Australian and American soldiers, were a highlight of the week and a great way for everyone to briefly forget the seriousness of war.

Ted Snr died in 1953, however the gatherings continued at the Cremorne home into the 1960s.

In her early teen years, Elaine worked as a tailoress in Paul Funda's tailoring business. She also worked as a waitress with her sister Marie at Mackay's Capitol Cafe at a time when banana splits were served in silver bowls.

As she was cycling home from work one day, a young man from Mia Mia, staying in Mackay for the weekend at the Cremorne Hotel, was standing on the hotel's top floor balcony when he noticed Elaine riding by.

Edward Hogan decided he had to meet this young woman. He came from a farming family near Mirani and worked his early years in the hard manual labour of the sugarcane industry.

The romance began with their first date at Marian, in the old picture theatre. Many picture theatre and dance dates followed, and a couple of visits to the Mackay Show. Within the year, Ed had proposed.

They were married the following year in July 1949 in St Patrick's Church and they started a life together, firstly near her parents' home at the Cremorne, then Creek St, North Mackay, then to Ed's parents' Mia Mia farm, then to Homebush, and from 1956 they spent 10 years farming on a property off the Seaforth Rd at Constant Creek, north of Mackay.

Like many country women, Elaine often helped Ed with cane stripping and planting, taking the children and babies with her into the paddocks.

They welcomed five daughters and a son - Lyn, Pat, Richard, Beth, Kathy and Judi. The four eldest children attended the Leap State School before the family moved to West Mackay, and Ed worked at the Sugar Experimental Station and then at the Bulk Sugar Terminal, while Elaine worked in domestic service nearby at the Mackay Base Hospital.

A keen gardener and lover of animals, the grounds of her West Mackay residence flourished with many lilies, sunflowers, nasturtiums and frangipani trees. A pet dog and any stray kitten that would be passing by would also become part of the family. Elaine passed on this love of plants, birds and animals to her children.

In the early 1970s, the family moved to North Mackay, where a new garden was nurtured and the home became a place for many gatherings.

Together, Elaine and Ed visited Tasmania and travelled to most areas along the Queensland coast, celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary in 1989.

Elaine's dear husband died in 1991.

From the 1980s onward, Elaine revisited her three great loves, singing, sewing and writing. Over many years, she spent spare moments writing stories from her childhood. With a love for the arts, Elaine was inspired to design dresses, skirt suits, children's toys, cushions and quilts.

Elaine Hogan was a woman who led by example and always spoke kindly of everyone, and there are many whose lives were enriched for knowing her.

It was her determination to achieve much in an honest day and her ability to be the peacemaker that has left a lasting legacy to many.

She is survived by two siblings, six children, nine grandchildren and 17 great- grandchildren. A big thank you to God, for blessing us all with her wonderful life.



Man suffers serious leg injuries in farm accident

Man suffers serious leg injuries in farm accident

Clarenza farmer flown to Coffs Harbour hospital

Boutier the boss of Bonville

Boutier the boss of Bonville

Boutier inaugural winner of Australian Ladies Classic - Bonville.

Rain plays havoc with traffic

Rain plays havoc with traffic

Wet roads has again caught drivers out on the Coffs Coast.

Local Partners