“Then after he got married, they lived on what we call a station, which is a ranch here. It wasn’t what my mother liked. She was city girl. So, it ended up they moved into the city. My dad took a job with the electric-light company. Eventually, he became an electrical engineer.”
Her father built a pre-Depression home in a Brisbane suburb.
“They lived there a couple of years, I guess, not too long. My mother had three of us little girls. I was the oldest. She was pregnant for the fourth one. She had the fourth one in the front bedroom of that house,” Nisoff said.
“At that time, it was 1929-30, and the Depression started. My dad lost his job. He had got bursitis of the shoulder. He was in the hospital. Mum tried to make ends meet with four little girls. She did what she could. She took in washing, sewing and all the rest of it. Finally, my father did get a job in a town about 25 miles away. Well, in Australia at that time, 25 miles was a long way. We didn’t have a car. So, we moved to this place called Ipswich. So, there were four of us little girls. Dad was in the same line of work. He was a lineman. He worked there for a few years.”
The James family lived near the Wintergarden Theater in Ipswich.
“Mum used to try to look at the movies to see if we could go on Saturday afternoon,” Nisoff said. “There were two movies with a break in between. At the break in between, they would put local talent on, and I used to sing.”
The discovery of Nisoff’s singing talent coincided with her sisters’ measles episode.
“My mother shipped me off to my grandmother’s so I wouldn’t get it. While I was there, she had an old phonograph, and I used to play it and sing to it. So when mum came up to get me to take me home, my grandmother said, ‘Do you know Jackie can sing?’ My mum said, ‘No.’ She was too busy looking after all of us. She (grandmother) said, ‘Well, she can. She has a nice little voice.’”