Our Priceless Past: Jacqueline Johnson (Aunty Jake/Yubbe)
IN 1938, Yubbe Jake was born at the Lady Chelmsford Hospital in Bundaberg. She has seven siblings, Merle Barba, Valda Coolwell, Lindsay, Juliri Ingra, Nyarla Savage, Richard and Marilyn Smith.
She grew up living in the bush with her Aboriginal father, Hector, his parents Tom and Susan Johnson and their extended Gooreng Gooreng family. Her South Sea Island mother Dorothy and maternal grandmother Ada (nee Miller) were Australian born. Dorothy's father, James Yuuis, was brought as a slave to Queensland, from Tanna Island.
Ada's parents were brought as slaves, for cutting cane and working on a cotton plantation in the Logan District, from Motalava, from the Banks Islands of Vanuatu. In the bush at Lowmead, Yubbe would catch rainbow birds that had nests in the sand, and play the game of Secrets, with broken china.
Her grandmother Susan showed Yubbe and her sister Valda, how to find things like kubbye (honey), gegair (echidna) and boolyooms (witchetty grubs). During World War II, Yubbe was shopping uptown in Goondoon Street with her mother and grandmother Susan, when they heard air raid sirens blaring and they quickly rushed into the air raid shelter.
Yubbe started school in Rockhampton, then Gladstone State School, for about five and a half years and she remembers when she was hit with a chalk duster from the front of the classroom by the teacher, just for talking!
The family always went to school, even hiding any sickness from their mother's eyes. Yubbe and her school friends still meet each month for lunch. Yubbe never finished primary school or went to high school, but Yubbe graduated from Deakin University, in Geelong, with a Bachelor of Arts in Education / Graduate Diploma of Cultural and Natural Heritage, when she was about 50.
Yubbe's family lived where the Gladstone State High School's basketball courts are now. The house had no electricity or running water. Her father, Hector (Gyhmarl), used a wooden yoke on his shoulders to carry two four-gallon kerosene tins of water, about 100 metres back to the house for drinking, washing and bathing.
It was in the house on Dawson Road, that the Assembly of God (AOG) and Church of Christ began their ministry with Rockhampton Pastor Les Barnes. Later on, her father invited Pastor and Sister Averill to their home, to minister to their spiritual needs. They encouraged them to memorise the Word of God.
They taught Yubbe her first Bible verse and she can still recite it today. Genesis 2:7 "And, the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.” When the Averill's returned south, Yubbe's family saw Emmanuel Beezley and Cloada Pickwick's families walking along Dawson Road. Yubbe asked them where they were going, they said Mr Forrest's (WSL) Sunday School, being held at the CWA Hall on Oaka Lane. Yubbe's family joined them, continuing their Christian life. When the family was forced to relocate to make way for the school, Dorothy (Sanga) and Hector (Ghymarl) were determined to find another home. They were assisted by local parliamentary members.
Yubbe has had many jobs, she picked phasey beans (cow peas) and packed tins of corned beef, in Gladstone, picked cotton in Biloela, and in Woolloongabba worked for Whitco drilling holes in metal, for glass louvers. As a social development officer, Yubbe has cared for 100 female Aboriginal junior and senior students. She chose to work amongst Aboriginal people, in Victoria, Northern Territory and Queensland, including at Woorabinda.
Musically inclined, Yubbe used to play the piano accordion (the late Ollie Crane, was one of her teachers) and the guitar but now mainly plays the ukulele because it is lighter to carry. Yubbe, said when it comes to technology, she is still on a big L plate! She plans to keep sharing the Word of God with everyone.