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Saturday, 24 June 2017

"I live in a taraban"



Each year in the 1960s over the Christmas summer holidays my parents packed the family tent and set off to drive from Canberra down to the South Coast of New South Wales, trying out at a different beach each year. In 1970 however their camping style changed when they bought a caravan, which became Dad's pride and joy for the next few years.  Below are a number of photographs from Mum's 1969-1973 album.


I think this must have been a caravan they hired to find out whether or not they would enjoy driving the Ford Fairmont with with a van in tow.


Here's my mother Jean showing off the interior of the van they subsequently purchased


1970 and this was probably the first trip with the van, and the only one I was part of, since I left school that year and found summer jobs, and in any event at 17 or 18 family camping wasn't really something I fancied all that much. I must have taken this photo however, as my boyfriend of the time with his tousled locks can be seen crouching here behind my parents and sister Louisa in the caravan park at Mollymook beach.


Said boyfriend had to camp nearby on his own and I was under strict instructions not to join him in his tent, but I confess, I may have sneaked in once or twice. Hello Chris Curtis, how are you? We haven't been in touch since 1971, the year after that photograph was taken. 



More caravan photos above and below from subsequent trips to the beach and elsewhere. Collapsible beach chairs to relax on outside the van were an essential camping accessory.



My sister Louisa poses with the ever present van in the background


Mum's caption on this photo of my brother at the door of the van reads 'Wilson's Point. Temperature at least 107 degrees '. Australia adopted the Metric Act in 1970  but it was almost 10 years before forecasts were given exclusively in Celsius degrees, and in the early 1970s we were still talking Fahrenheit temperatures. No air conditioning in the van of course, but then there was none in the house either, just the occasional fan and open windows at night to let in cooler air and any breezes that might help move the air around.


Here's Jean at home with the van in its resting place beside the house, where it doubled as an extra bedroom for visitors when needed. We could have done with a caravan for extra space last weekend when we had 10 people sleeping here but we managed!
One of my mother's enduring camping memories was of a little girl standing on the step of her van across the way from Mum and Dad and calling out "I live in a taraban'.  Our younger daughter and her husband have recently bought themselves a small van, and perhaps their little daughter will one day stand on the step and call out something similar to her camping neighbours.
 When my parents no longer felt up to the strain of driving with the van and decided instead to move to a house near the beach on the Central Coast north of Sydney, my brother took over the van and he and his family used it for a few more years up in Queensland.

For other blogs prompted by the old image from the National Library of Ireland and posted in Sepia Saturday #373 of an Irish couple and their dog camping at Tramore in 1918, click here.

Postscript:
It looks like a gypsy caravan in the prompt picture, but if Mr and Mrs Foley were indeed gypsies, I hope they were not treated badly in the way that very many of their people were, as documented in the lyrics of this song written by Ewan McColl and sung by the great Christy Moore.





Thursday, 8 June 2017

Not just playing

This week's Sepia Saturday image features a man with a box. It looks like he took his work seriously, whatever it was. Or perhaps that is just the impression we get from his downturned moustache.


My mother Jean was a speech therapist and in her student days in Auckland NZ she worked in a clinic with children who needed help with their speech for various reasons. This photograph from 1945 is captioned 'shopping time' and shows a group of Jean's students using what looks like an old packing case as a shop counter top while they pretend to buy and sell goods from the shopkeeper. While having fun playing shops, they would at the same time have been unselfconsciously practicing their speech skills, while Jean observed and prompted when needed. Like the man in the prompt above, they don't look too happy at having to stop for a photograph. 



Of course in these days of supermarkets and self serve checkouts, you can go shopping without needing to say boo to a goose, as my father would have said. You only need to call for assistance if you make a mistake using the machine, although that happens quite often, in my case at least!


Jean with fellow staff members celebrating her retirement in 1987, after 30 years of working with children in a special school in Canberra, and a lifetime spent helping children communicate, ever since those early days in the clinic pictured above.

For more posts prompted by the man and his packing box, moustache, bowler hat and sorrowful expression, pack up and go to Sepia Saturday #371

Friday, 2 June 2017

Out on a limb


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The prompt photo for Sepia Saturday this week, #370, is of an oak tree that marks the centre of England. I don't have photographs of trees that have any particular claim to fame, or at least none that I can easily locate, so instead I've selected a few of my favourite tree photographs from family albums and written a few random thoughts about each of them.
This first photograph, circa 1960, is of my grandparents John and Mona Morrison's  home in Aylmer St Christchurch NZ, peacefully secluded behind this lovely tree at the edge of the garden.  My mother Jean was born in this house, as were three of her younger brothers, and in her Life book she wrote about the silver birch tree that her father John had planted when the house was first built and how when it grew strong and big enough he put a swing on it for the children to enjoy. John passed away in 1977 and the house got new owners, but when Jean went to visit in 1998 the swing was still there. I'm not sure that the photo is of that same tree, as it doesn't look like a silver birch to me, but it still looks lovely.



These days you don't see many swings on trees, probably due to safety concerns, but here I am above and below, enjoying another simple tree swing with my father and my doll respectively. I think this swing was located outside the flat that my parents rented in 1954, only a few blocks away from the Morrison family home, and at only 3 I was permitted to ride my trike there on my own, to be met by my waiting grandmother. Those were the days!



Trees are great for standing under and for framing photographs, unless of course there's a storm approaching, in which case it is not a very good idea. On the afternoon of our wedding at St Ninian's church in the Canberra suburb of Lyneham in early January 1974 a summer storm had threatened, but by the appointed time in the late afternoon it had passed and thankfully was clear, bright and warm. My new husband is clutching our ceremonial wedding certificate and we are standing beside what I believe was one of two very large elm trees in the church garden,  Sadly both trees have since been removed, apparently due to their deteriorating condition. We haven't lived nearby for almost 40 years now, but we do occasionally drive by when visiting family. The very simple little church in which we were married has since been extended and just doesn't look the same, especially without those big welcoming trees.




Below are our four children aged between 3 and 10 in 1990, posing for a family photo on a tree in the town of Ballarat. If the tree wasn't exactly over the water, it was not far off and it wouldn't have been much fun if anyone had fallen in, but it did make for a good shot. We were visiting an open air museum in Ballarat called Sovereign Hill, which recreates life in the 1850s gold fields town, and where you can get involved in activities such as riding a stage coach, going down a mine and panning for gold. I was not into family history back then and did not realise that in fact the children's ancestor, 3 times great grandfather Davis Calwell, had worked there in 1854, together with his brother Dan. I mentioned them in last week's blog in relation to the introduction of baseball to Australia. Although Davis and Dan did not get directly involved in the miners' rebellion known as the Eureka Stockade, Davis wrote a number of letters home to his mother, stepfather and sisters back in Pennsylvania, giving them a detailed account of the miners' grievances and what took place as a result. In one of his letters Davis even enclosed a few grains of gold dust. His American relatives saved his letters and they are now available to be read at the National Library of Australia. I am lucky to have been given a CD containing copies of all the family correspondence.




That's all from Turner Street, an avenue of plane trees whose leaves have almost all fallen now. They provide us with a cooling canopy of shade in the summer (click here and scroll down for a summertime Christmas collage) but also plenty of exercise sweeping up in Autumn.







To see that tree in the centre of England and read more tree tales, go to Sepia Saturday #370


  Post script:

On second thoughts, I think a blog post prompted by a famous tree really should include a couple of photos of an ancient tree in the Southern hemisphere, namely Tane Mahuta, "Lord of the Forest", a giant Kauri tree that has stood proudly in the Waipoua Forest on the North Island of New Zealand for somewhere between 1250 and 2500 years. So I searched my trip albums and found these two photos from our visits to pay our respects to Tane Mahuta in 2002 and again in 2013.

Tane Mahuta, April 2002

My mother Jean and I visiting Tane Mahuta in 2013. Not a lot had changed in the intervening 11 years, which after all was only a fraction of  time in the life of this magnificent tree.

You can find details about the tree's size etc here for example.  If you are ever in the area, don't miss it!



Saturday, 27 May 2017

Baseball in Australia





In September 1853 the clipper ship the City of Norfolk arrived in Melbourne Victoria. The ship had sailed from New York on 17 March 1853.Two of the first class passengers were 21 year old Davis Calwell from Pennsylvania and his brother Dan Mcgrew Calwell, 22. He and Dan went to the gold fields to seek their fortunes but did not find very much. Instead they worked in the saw milling industry and Davis later became a farmer and 3x great grandfather to our children. 


Believed to be a photograph of Davis Calwell


      Postcard found online of the clipper ship "City of Norfolk" in port

 Amongst the other passengers aboard the City of Norfolk was one Sam Perkins Lord from New Hampshire, who was apparently the ship owner. Sam claimed to have introduced baseball to Australia, although the following passage casts doubt on this claim.


Extract  from Time and Game: The History of Australian Baseball By Joe Clark 

"The man who credits himself with bringing baseball to Australia was Samuel Perkins Lord (1819-1890), an American merchant who arrived in Melbourne on his own ship, The City of Norfolk on 4 September 1853. Lord was originally from Portsmouth, New Hampshire and probably played the New York Game and found numerous other Americans of like mind when he arrived in Melbourne at the age of 33 after the death of his first wife in 1852. It appears that Lord made numerous efforts to organise baseball in Melbourne but either his business interests or the lack of enthusiasm of Australians for the game kept baseball from succeeding until Spalding's visit.

Newly arrived Americans played an early form of baseball with English and Australian cricketers in Melbourne. Played on cricket grounds at the Exhibition Grounds in the old Carlton Gardens on Saturday afternoons in open parklands on cricket fields, at William and Latrobe Streets, the site is coincidentally the office of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria. ...They played in the shadow of the great Exhibition Hall, a replica of the original in London. The organised games were probably seen as a curiosity more than serious attempt to start a permanent competition. The first recorded Australian baseball match was here on 21 February 1857. The account tells of the 'Melbourne Base Ball Club' having a series of three matches between Collingwood and Richmond. The scores were astronomical - with Collingwood winning the ssecond match 350 - 230! These early Australian baseball players were probably playing a variation of rounders and the New York Game.

Australian baseball's official creation myth states that American miners played baseball on the goldfields of Ballarat on their rest days in 1857. This story was used as the basis for centenary celebrations of the Victorian Baseball Association in 1957. While it is possible such games took place, no original documentation has ever been found for a Ballarat game. The earliest reference linking Australian baseball with Victorian gold fields is from 1918 while many 19th century references place the first games in Melbourne. "


I have no idea whether or not ancestor Davis Calwell played baseball either in White Deer Pennsylvania or in Melbourne or on the gold fields, but he certainly would have known Sam P Lord by virtue of their having arrived in Victoria together. When our children started playing the game rather than cricket in the 1990s I wasn't into family history and was unaware that they had American ancestry on their father's side. It's an exciting game to watch, once you know the rules, but it has not been successful in becoming a major sport here in Australia.


   Our son at bat. Up in the attic is a box of trophies won over his playing career for Most Valuble Player. I know that at least one of his team mates went on to play in the American leagues. 

Baseball was included in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and we secured tickets to various events , including a baseball game between the USA and Korea. Below are a few shots of the play. Unfortunately a heavy thunderstorm interrupted the game and as it was already late at night we did not stay to see whether or not it would resume, which it eventually did in the early hours of the next morning.



Preparing to cover the mound in the wet, Sydney Olympics 2000

For more blogs inspired by Sepia Saturday #369, click Here

Friday, 19 May 2017

Snakes alive!


The Sepia Saturday prompt this week features a fairly big snake curled up in the lap of a lady wearing what looks like a snakeskin patterned leotard and fishnet stockings. Funnily enough I have no family photographs of anyone in fishnets, although our elder daughter did jazz ballet for some years and may perhaps have occasionally worn a pair as part of her various performance costumes. I did uncover a few photos of people with snakes however, which I've included below.

This first photo shows our younger son and daughter at the Australian Reptile Park, an attraction just north of Sydney, to which my mother was fond taking family and visitors for an interesting outing. You can safely visit the park here and explore what exciting attractions they have to offer. Despite the name of the park, they also have other Australian animals, some of which are a lot more cute and cuddly. 

Our son who was about 6 in this photo from 1991 doesn't seem particularly worried about or even interested in the snake around his neck, but his four year old sister is giving it a close look. Of course this would have to be a non-poisonous species such as a python of some kind, so there would be no real danger to the children. 
They keep highly venomous snakes like the Eastern Brown Snake there too but I'm sure they are not available for the public to handle. They are milked for their venom, as are spiders like the Funnelweb, and the venom is then sent to a laboratory where life-saving anti venom is produced.




Here are our older son and a school friend on a class excursion later the same year, looking happy and unconcerned about the large python adorning their necks. 


This third photograph is from 1996 and shows my late sister-in-law Penny. My mother's caption reads "Penny is brave".  She was indeed brave, not so much for holding what was perhaps a corn snake, again harmless, but because around ten years later she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which she fought courageously for four years before succumbing in 2011. You can read an earlier blog I wrote in her memory here. RIP dear Penny.



Our daughter pictured in the first photo above now lives on a country property where snakes are a not uncommon sight. According to the Reptile Park web site, the deadly Eastern Brown isn't aggressive but when we encountered one in the long grass off the beaten track one summer day it practically chased me down the paddock! I certainly hope they keep a close eye on our young granddaughter who has just started toddling about.

The Australian Blue Tongue lizard is a far more friendly reptile that can at first sight be mistaken for a snake because its little legs are initially rather inconspicuous. 12 years ago we lived in the leafy Sydney suburb of Turramurra and had several blue tongues as long-term residents in our garden. In the first photo one is peering into our garden shed. You would get a shock if you were getting something out of the shed and came across one of these fellows, but they are harmless, and good to have in the garden because they eat snails. Unfortunately I didn't find any photos I've taken capturing their bright blue tongues.


Here's our younger daughter again, circa 2001, holding a baby blue tongue that we rescued from the cat, who was the main danger to their survival, although I doubt he was a match for them when fully grown and generally they lived in harmony. Being cold-blooded like all reptiles, blue tongues like to bask in the sun to warm up. They can shed their tails if necessary and regrow them.


I'd like to think that this photo taken the following year might show that baby grown up. 


Now slither over to Sepia Saturday #368 for more encounters that may or may not involve snakes or other scaly-skinned creatures, but beware of anything lurking in the undergrowth!

Thursday, 27 April 2017

The ubiquitous Hills Hoist



This week's Sepia Saturday prompt photograph features someone hanging up washing. The line looks a bit like a Hills Hoist, except that it appears to be suspended upside down in some fashion.

I did a blog that included the history of the Australian Hills Hoist some time ago, which you can check out here, so consequently I don't have too many more relevant photos, but I did manage to find a few. It seems that often the ubiquitous washing line sneaks into the photograph even when it is not intended to. It certainly was always present in the back yard when we had young children, and almost always laden down with washing drying in the sunshine. Here are a few examples I found, not taken by me I must point out. These days of course it is very easy to crop out unwanted objects, but these are snaps from the 1980s, when a pair of scissors was normally the only tool available. Consequently if snaps with extraneous items in the background were not discarded, they slipped into albums unaltered.


This photo was taken on the occasion of our second son's first birthday party. It's possible that whoever took it was trying to make a point, ie. that the washing should not have been there in full view. I agree that if there had been other party guests attending that might have been a reasonable point, but in this case the only party guests were our children and my parents, so I probably didn't think it was essential to take down the nappies just for their benefit. I think there are also be some lemons there on the lawn, waiting to be taken inside. The previous owners had lived in the house for forty years and were great gardeners. We benefited from their work but with four young children by the time we moved on we could not keep up to their exacting standards, and sadly the neglected lemon tree was never quite as good as it had once been.


Here's the digitally cropped version. It's an improvement but I'm sure I have a few better shots of the birthday boy. 



Here is another shot that I clearly did not take. It was in one of my mother's albums and shows our elder daughter in her Brownie uniform and our youngest closely examining the grass, watched by a visiting cousin and myself. With the washing and various other objects in the background, it's not able to be cropped so neatly and is probably not one I would have saved, but this is of course the main subject of the photo, with just a couple of distractions in the background.




Here's a Hills Hoist intruding again, even without washing, this time in the in-laws' back garden, c. 1988.


but this one is easily removed.



In this last shot however, the washing line is central. I imagine I took this photo to show how my capable better half was able to manage child minding and hanging up washing at the same time, c 1987/88. He was doing a good job here.

For more blogs inspired by the prompt provided by Sepia Saturday #365, click here. That number could perhaps relate to the annual number of days the endless task of washing needs to be done, or at least contemplated, at least when there are young children in the family!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Big Sister, Little Brother


This week the Sepia Saturday prompt shows a couple of unknown children photographed in light and shade. We don't know whether or not they were brother and sister, but it seems probable, and on that basis I've put together the following collage. The main photo taken by their mother Claire shows two of our grandchildren, Isabelle and Otis, flanked by photographs from earlier generations on their mother's side of the family. Their mother, grandmother, grandfather, one maternal great grandfather, and both maternal great grandmothers all came from families in which the first born child was a daughter, followed by a son.


The smaller photos from left to right and top to bottom show the children's great great Aunty Pat and her younger brother Ken; great grandmother Jean (younger sister of Pat and Ken) and their younger brother Derek; great great Aunty Pat and youngest brother Peter (16 years' difference between these two); great grandfather Ian and his big sister Valarie; great grandmother Mary and her younger brother Cyril;  grandfather Roger and big sister Ann; grandmother Jo and little brother Guy; mother Claire and little brother Kim. The children's father is also the little brother to a big sister but I don't have a photo of them as children.


 Then I came across this additional photograph, which is not of siblings but merits inclusion because it seems to match the prompt in shade and expression to some degree. It shows yours truly looking up at a lady called Jocelyn Ward, who was my mother Jean's very dear friend from their days in teachers' college together and was one of her bridesmaids. Jocelyn came to visit us in Australia at least once.  She did not marry and had no children of her own, but was always very good to us and I remember her fondly. She wasn't able to come to our wedding but we met up with her in Christchurch NZ on our honeymoon afterwards. Sadly Jocelyn passed away a few years later in 1981 in her early fifties, suffering I believe from multiple sclerosis.


For more blogs based on this week's Sepia Saturday prompt, click here.

                                                    
Finally, because it's Easter this weekend, here's a page from my baby book, including a paper serviette that must have been at my grandparents' Easter table. My name is written inside but at just four and a half months old I doubt that I used it! 



  Happy Easter to all who celebrate!