Thursday, 27 August 2015

A tribute to Dawn

This week's Sepia Saturday #294 prompt shows what is described as Walsh's Royal Mail and Day Car, heavily laden with passengers who look to be warmly rugged up for a day trip out and about in 
the Irish countryside around Sligo.

I only have a few old photographs of wagons and I've posted them all previously, so I thought I would go with a different aspect of the prompt, which may only become obvious in my last couple of photographs.

My husband's aunt Grace Dawn Featherston was born in 1923 in Geelong Victoria and died there close to 20 years ago, on 4 September 1995, aged 72.  Dawn as she was always known was a hard working school teacher for most of her life, until ill health forced her to give up work in her fifties. The first photograph shows her with her brother Robert's wife Mary, who at that time had recently arrived from England aboard a ship full of war brides. Having come directly out of an English winter, Mary was no doubt enjoying what looks like a nice day of January sunshine and heat.

Dawn and Mary Featherston, Geelong, 1947

In the following photograph Dawn and Mary look to be on an afternoon visit to Eastern Beach, Geelong's city bathing spot in Corio Bay, which I've also blogged about before. The two older ladies with them are Dawn's mother Grace Eleanor Featherston, nee Calwell, on the right, and her sister Edith, known to all as Aunty Dulce, on the far left.  Surprisingly they don't seem to be sitting on a picnic rug of any kind and are happily relaxing on the grass.

Below are Dulce, Dawn and Grace, beachside again some years later. This may have been at one of the ocean beaches to be found 20 to 30 kilometers to the east of Geelong where they lived, for example, Torquay, which was a favourite family haunt.

Next we see Dawn with Grace in her later years, sitting out somewhere on a bench. It looks like Grace never went out without a substantial handbag by her side!

Grace (Grandma Featherston) passed away in 1975, and the next photograph shows Dawn with my grandfather Oliver Cruickshank from New Zealand. They were both visiting their respective relatives in Canberra in 1981 and my parents must have invited Dawn, Mary and Bob over for a meal. We may also have been visiting from Sydney at the time.

The photograph below depicts Dawn in about 1983, showing off her family photograph album at a reunion. I really wish I knew where that album disappeared to after Dawn passed away! Her sister Jean may have taken it with her when she moved to northern New south Wales, and it is possible it could subsequently have been lost in a flood that went through the area where one of her sons lived, but no one seems to be able to tell me its whereabouts. I saw it briefly when we visited Grace and Dawn in the 1970s, but sadly I wasn't interested in family history back then, when Dawn and her mother would talk endlessly about who was doing what amongst their many cousins, mainly on the Calwell side of the family, as  Grace came from a family of ten, and her father Dan Hogue Calwell was also from a large family. If I had thought to ask questions and take notes about who was who, not to mention taking copies of those photographs, I might have known a lot more than I do now.

Failing health meant that Dawn spent most of her time at home after she retired from teaching, and she busied herself knitting and crocheting for all and sundry. Whenever one of her nieces or nephews had a new baby, a box of beautifully worked layettes and rugs would arrived on the doorstep. Here is a collage showing our babies all k(n)itted out in various outfits received from Great Aunty Dawn, and in several cases either lying on or wrapped in rugs and shawls that she had lovingly created. The top 4 photographs are of little Laura, who arrived 9 weeks early and swam in her clothes for a while after she eventually came home, the two babies on the crocheted rugs are her brothers and her older sister Claire is in the shawl at bottom left. Claire's daughter Isabelle in the bottom right corner is on the same baby blanket as the one I have wrapped around Laura in the adjacent picture. The rugs and blankets have survived, but sadly I haven't kept the baby clothes, which must have become worn out.

In April 1990 we drove down to Victoria from Sydney on a family touring holiday, during which we visited Dawn in Geelong and took her out for Sunday lunch at a local old homestead. Wagon rides were on offer for the children and clearly face painting was too. The children enjoyed the outing and hopefully Dawn did too.

Dawn with her nephew and children, and a wagon to boot!

After Dawn passed away we didn't find her photograph album, but I did 'inherit' boxes and boxes of granny squares that she had made, ready to be made up when the need arose, and I eventually managed to stitch together four or five rugs for family members, as well as giving a lot more away to charity organisations. Here's a photo of one of them, and you can see a larger one that I've previously posted here,  Dawn never married, but she had had seven nieces and nephews and then 21 great nieces and great nephews, whom she greatly loved and for whom she provided a great deal. She never missed sending them all birthday cards and little gifts, either knitted items or $10 notes as they grew older, which were always much appreciated. Thank you for being so kind and caring, dear Aunty Dawn. It's hard to believe that next week it will be 20 years since you left us.

Dawn's lovely blankets and rugs are my link to the prompt photograph. For other blogs loosely based around the prompt this week, put on your hat and coat, wrap up warmly and hop aboard the Day Car for  Sepia Saturday #294

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

In memory of Jean

The Sepia Saturday prompt this week shows a cafeteria somewhere. I haven't found any sepia photos in my family history collection that could really fit in with this, but I'm prompted to show this photograph from October 2013.  It is of my mother Jean, having afternoon tea in the dining room of Cresthaven, the care home where she was a resident for a bit over a year before she passed away, one year ago today on 19 August 2014. On my iPad in front of her is a photograph she has been admiring, of her first great granddaughter Eloise, who at the time was newly born in Canada. Another great granddaughter Isabelle Jean was born in England in 2014, and two more great grandchildren are now on the way.  Young Eloise is soon to turn two. Jean could only look at the pictures I frequently took along of Eloise and Isabelle and was rapidly losing her ability to talk and express her feelings for them, but I'm sure they filled her with great pride. Sadly at least two of the other ladies in this photograph have also passed away. The lady happily drinking her cup of tea died quite suddenly a few months before Jean, and I think the little Irish lady nearest the window died subsequently. I can't really say that Mum was happy during her time there, but her declining health was more to blame for that than anything else. The staff were generally kind and caring in the homely old Edwardian style building that currently accommodates some forty-five residents. The oldest resident turned 108 last year and may well still be living there, aged 109. Cresthaven no doubt reminds some people of the style of homes they have previously lived in, but I believe the operators have plans to demolish it in the near future and replace it with a much larger purpose built facility. With the older members of the baby boomer generation rapidly approaching a certain age, demand will be high, and numerous similar institutions with state of the art facilities are being erected around Melbourne, but you couldn't call them homes. I rather hope I don't end up in one of those places!

I wrote a tribute to Jean last year that you can read here, but I'll finish today with two happier photographs of her sitting at tables. The first was taken on Jean's 80th birthday, at her own dining table in 2006, after she had enjoyed a lovely high tea celebration with family and friends, and the second was another celebration with family members in 2012 at a seaside restaurant near where she lived before moving into the home. 

RIP Jean Margaret Cruickshank, nee Morrison

You are sure to find more blogs featuring dining rooms, cafeterias, restaurants, tables, drink machines and the like here at Sepia Saturday #293.  Meanwhile we'll sit around the table and raise a glass in memory of Jean.

ps. Just out of interest, I've noticed that  English people, for example our co-convenor Alan, often say "I'm sat", whereas Australians would normally say "I'm sitting".  An interesting language difference.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

"On the Fourteenth of February, 1966"

Our Sepia Saturday prompt photo for this week appears to show a gentleman from a bank exhibiting some very large piles of bank notes, closely watched by two guards.  I have nothing remotely like this in my family history photo collection, so what could I possibly write about this week?

On 14 February 1966 Australia converted from pounds, shillings and pence to decimal currency. Anyone who was of school age or above in this country at the time would surely remember this, as it was quite a momentous event, and something you couldn't ignore, as it affected your daily life in so may ways.  In 1966 I was a school student in 2nd Year at Lyneham High School in Canberra, ACT, and my maths teacher was a lady called Winifred Townley. I remember her as being rather stern and strict, and not putting up with any nonsense from us, but if we did our homework and showed an interest we got on fine in her class.  Amazingly enough, I or perhaps my mother saved a couple of project books that I was required to produce for Mrs Townley, and I thought you might be amused to see the one I did on the history of Australian money and the conversion that year to decimal currency.  I think Mrs T must have been keen on projects. i'm surprised at how neat my lefthanded handwriting was when I was 13, and that I only made 3 spelling mistakes in my short 'potted history' of Australian Money and Decimal Currency. I'm afraid my maths marks probably went down after that year, as maths got harder and there were no more projects, just problems to be solved!

We no longer have 1 or 2 cent coins, and prices are rounded either up or down, whichever is closest, unless you pay by card. The 50 cent piece has become  a 12 sided coin and has featured many different designs to celebrate various national events. I'm not sure why I didn't mention notes in my project, apart from the play money at the end, but  $1, $2, $10 and $20 notes were also issued in 1966. The $1 and $2 notes have since been replaced by coins, and $5, $50 and $100 notes have subsequently been produced.  For more details and pictures of our first decimal notes, click here

The process of polymerization was developed in Australia and in the bicentennial year of 1988 Australia introduced polymer notes to help prevent the problem of  counterfeiting.  Here is a direct link that explains this and other security features that are hidden on Australian notes.  

You can read more and see pictures and explanations of the manufacturing process and the people featured on our colourful notes on that same site, the Museum of Australian Currency Notes. 

Here are a couple of short clips that were shown repeatedly on television in preparation for the change. The title of this blog comes from the catchy jingle you can hear in the first clip, sung to the tune of one of our national songs, Click go the Shears. I think some older people might have felt patronised by the tone in the second clip!

I'll just finish with a little more information about my maths teacher Mrs Winifred Townley, who was born in 1916 in England and died in Canberra in 2000, aged 84. She must have been about 50 in 1966 and one of the more senior members of staff when this photograph appeared in the Lyneham High School magazine.

 I knew that Mrs Townley was a Quaker and have found an entry for her here in Australian Quaker Biographies.  Here is a brief extract from it:

"Born Winifred Margaret McKeon in London in 1916, she studied science at university at a time when this was unusual for women. She did postgraduate work in physics and became a research physicist with a company making one of the earliest colour films. During the war she joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force and became a Weather Forecaster at the Meteorological Office.

Between 1959 and 1975 Winifred taught mathematics at High Schools in Canberra. She and Kenneth [had five children and] also fostered and cared for numerous children over the years." 

It is interesting in the context of Sepia Saturday to read that Mrs Townley did research on early colour film technology. Teaching high school maths might have been rather tame compared to her previous work, but hopefully she enjoyed encouraging her students to develop a good grounding in the subject. Thank you Mrs Townley for your wise teaching.

Our family did have one small ongoing connection with Mrs Townley in a way, because a year or two later my mother Jean either bought or was given a kitten from a litter belonging  to her, and that kitten became our beloved ginger cat Gus, who survived in Canberra for 21 years.  I've included a couple of photographs of him in an earlier post.  He was a friendly fellow, but definitely no maths wiz!

For more blogs about about piles of money, click here to count your stash at Sepia Saturday #292

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Our first TV set, and others

This week's prompt photograph is of a showroom full of older style free standing television sets. Nothing particularly family history related comes to mind, but as it is the second anniversary of my blog this weekend, I thought I would post this photo of one of our sons, taking early steps in 1983. At the time he had been walking for just three weeks, so naturally he was very excited, and when growing up he loved all ball sports. Behind him however is our first little television set. It was a Thorn model, and was operated by remote control, that is if you can call a control connected to the set by a cord remote. You just had to sit close enough for the cord to reach the set, which had been given to us a couple of years earlier by my mother-in-law Mary. We had been married for seven years at the time and had managed fine without a TV up until then, and I planned to continue the same way, but I think Mary thought we might need some distraction, or perhaps that our one year old might need more entertainment. The set wasn't free-standing, but we found a suitable spot on top of the wall unit, plugged it in and were a TV-owning family from then on, although I tried not to let the children become addicted. That little set lasted for over 30 years. Eventually it became a second set in the corner of the front room, handy if you really wanted to watch something different. When analogue reception was finally phased out, we put it out on the nature strip for the council rubbish collection, but before the collection date arrived, it was picked up by someone who was probably planning to use some of its parts. Nice to think that it could be recycled in that way.

Here's another photograph of a baby not watching television, in this case our English granddaughter, when she was very young. The photo is courtesy of her father, who was engrossed in watching a game of Australian rules football, broadcast live in the UK in the early hours, while babysitting at the same time. If you zoom in, you can see that the right team was winning, at least at that point. 

We now have three TV sets but we still don't watch it a lot, or at least I don't. I may be sitting there to be sociable, but I'm often concentrating more on something on the lap top or Ipad rather than what's on  'the box'.

With regard to our prompt image of a room full of television sets, here is a link to an interesting installation called Küba that I saw last year, not in Canada but at the Museum of Old and New Art, in Hobart Tasmania, the island state below the Australian mainland. The article also describes another tv room exhibit by the same artist Kutlug Ataman, but Küba was the only one of his works that was on display at MONA.You view this installation by relaxing in assorted old armchairs placed in front of forty old sets, each playing different interviews with a group of Turkish refugees. The photograph below from the national newspaper the Australian shows the multimillionaire founder of the MONA Gallery, David Walsh, with some of the sets behind him. Apparently he said it was his favourite exhibition in the whole gallery. Some of the other exhibits are very confronting to say the least, but art takes all forms, doesn't it? Everyone who visits Hobart visits MONA.

                                                                              David Walsh

For more blogs of all kinds and possibly television in particular, just click the remote to change channels directly to Sepia Saturday #291. 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Hotel des Glaciers, Butlin's or Club Med, your choice!

Hotels seem to be the flavour of this Sepia Saturday month, almost. Of course it is still summer holiday time in the northern hemisphere, unlike down here in Australia where it's rather wild and wintery, and way too chilly for either swimming or sunbaking, but we can look forward to warmer days to come. 

I was looking through my Aunty Pat's postcard collection and came across this one for the Hotel des Glaciers. The hotel address appears in white writing in the grass on the bottom right of the card but I can't quite decipher it ,so I can't be sure whether or not this particular hotel still exists. There are several hotels of the same name in France and Italy but none look quite like this. Most of Aunty Pat's postcards are unused souvenirs, but there are a number that have been sent to her by friends.

 Certainly a beautiful alpine summer scene, in Combloux, Haute Savoie, with Mont Blanc in the distance.  Location discovered thanks to Anne's research below.                        

The note from Pat's friend Margie McP reads as follows:
"Dear Pat, does this make you nostalgic? I spent New Year weekend at the session - the Chalet bursting at the seams with 110 students of 21 nationalities. Your card posted on the board. Thanks so much for yours to me. Are you still hoping to come to the Assembly, or will the Treasury be tough. I hope to see you. Best wishes from Margie McP."

I don't know who Margie was, but I do know that in July 1947 while studying for an MA degree at Oxford, Pat represented New Zealand at a conference of the International Student Service held in Denmark, so I think that this may have been what Margie was referring to, rather than suggesting that Pat might be feeling nostalgic for the Hotel Des Glaciers, where what sounds like a similar conference was taking place in January 1948. Pat had been to Switzerland before in 1946 however, so perhaps she had previously stayed here.  The mail service must have been pretty fast if Margie envisaged that Pat might actually receive the card and be able to come in response to it. In fact, the card had to be re-addressed and forwarded on, as Pat must have moved or changed her mailing address, as was the case with most of Pat's cards, but nevertheless she clearly received them eventually and saved them for posterity.

 The original address that Margie had written was St Anne's Society, Oxford, which was an organisation founded in 1879 and originally called the Society for Home-Students. It was devoted to the emancipation of women students who could not afford to live in college but still wished to study at Oxford. Pat and other young women in the same situation would have lived in lodgings across the city and been able to attend lectures and tutorials with the assistance and encouragement of the Society. In 1952 a wealthy benefactor who believed in the education of women left her estate to St Anne's, and as a result it eventually became a full college. You can read more about the Society's history on the web site of St Anne's College.

Pat went on to work in Geneva later in 1948 for the International Student Service.  I've previously written a tribute to her life achievements here. When my parents and I spent a year in Cambridge in 1954, Pat was back in New Zealand, although she subsequently returned to Geneva to work for another international organisation there a few years later. Finances of such organisations were no doubt stretched, and Pat may not have been able to join Margie on that occasion. When travelling for work she frequently stayed at the homes of the many friends she had made around the world. 

Now we move on to a different kind of hotel, contrasting in both style and location. While living in Cambridge in 1954, my parents went to London to see the musical "The King and I", starring Herbert Lom and Ann Martin, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and my mother Jean saved the theatre programme, price 6d, in her scrapbook of our 1954 trip. It includes the following advertisement for Butlin's Ocean Hotel at Saltdean near Brighton. That establishment ceased operating at the end of 2004, but back in 1954 it was in its prime. It had just re-opened as a holiday hotel under the ownership of Billy Butlin in 1953, after having been commandeered by the government during the second World War. You can see photos and read more about it here on a page entitled Butlin's Memories. The advertisement seems primarily directed at men and only refers to women as an afterthought, but I guess that was simply a reflection of the way society viewed the relative positions of men and women back in the fifties. "You're the man paying for it all", as a cafe proprietor once said to my husband years ago! Women were not left out however, with another advertisement in the programme entitled 'The King and You' addressed directly to them, claiming that in his kingdom of the home, Mr Therm would save them work, worry and money.

Did this man leaping around or lazing about have no family to worry about? The advertisement doesn't mention their possible existence.

Herbert Lom, from the Theatre Royal programme

A package holiday at a Butlin's style hotel doesn't sound ideal to me and I've never been to one, but perhaps a week at Club Med could be viewed as an upmarket version of the same concept. We were lucky enough to be able to stay at Club Med in Wengen, Switzerland as part of a trip overseas in January 1993. All meals, entertainment and activities such as skiing lessons were included, which definitely made for a more relaxing holiday with children. One of our boys can be seen sitting on the snow in the centre of this shot taken in front of the Club hotel, prior to the start of lessons. He and the others all went on to become good skiers, unlike their mother, who never really got the hang of it. On the other hand, after giving up on the ski lessons, I was able to take a spectacular train journey through an underground tunnel up to the summit of the Jungfrau mountain and view the Eiger Glacier en route. Jungfraujoch railway station is the highest in Europe.

Australian ski fields have had good falls this season with more snow expected, but I'm not tempted! 

Postscript: Yes Gail, we do get snow in Australia. I've mentioned it in an earlier blog entitled What's that Funny White Stuff?, but here are a couple more photos to prove it, taken on family ski holidays at Perisher NSW in the mid 1990s.



For more blogs on themes such as hotels, holidays, fancy designs and nostalgia from the past, head for Sepia Saturday # 290 , 

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Beach baby, beach baby, give me your hand

Our Sepia Saturday prompt for this week is a photograph of  Bondi Beach, Sydney Australia in 1908.  Below are two photographs of Bondi, c. 1948, from my Aunty Pat's postcard collection.  As you can see in Pat's first photograph, there was a lot of development around the beach foreshores in the forty years between these photographs and the first image, and not a lot of it was particularly attractive architecture, although it has been smartened up a bit in more recent years.  There are no longer any sand dunes but the beach sand itself is much improved, compared with 1908 when it looked to have been rather rocky in the foreground.

This view is taken from the opposite direction, showing the Bondi Surf Club on the right and the southern headland.

Early family life in Bondi

We moved from Canberra to Sydney in April 1980 when our first child Claire was two months old, and for the following two years we rented a little semi-detached cottage in the suburb of Rose Bay, within walking distance of Bondi Beach. Bondi wasn't really our favourite local beach because it is fairly exposed and always crowded, plus the fact that there was always a lot of litter in the sand, for example cigarette butts, discarded straws, bottle tops, ring pulls etc, that babies love to pick up and put in their mouths in an instant, but still, it was our closest beach. Some weekend evenings we would drive over to the shopping strip above Bondi Beach and queue up for some good local fish 'n chips. It was also fun to join the crowds admiring the lavish window displays of the many European style cake shops and to occasionally lash out on one or two slices of their luscious slices in a takeaway box for dessert back at home. Below are a couple of collages showing Claire growing up on Bondi Beach.

Clockwise from top left: Sitting on the promenade wall at 6 months, August 1980; trying out the toddlers' pool at 10 months, North Bondi December 1980; stepping out at a year old and taking a different view of the beach, February 1981

           Clockwise from top right: Easter 1981 (x 2); 18 months, rugged up on the sand at Bondi in August 1981; on the grass above the beach at the annual Festival of the Winds in September 1981; back on the beach, 2 years old and ready for a surf, February 1982
In May 1982 we bought a house in Turramurra, a suburb about 20 kilometres north of the city centre and so we moved away from Rose Bay. Of course we came back now and again to visit friends but we were no longer close to Bondi.  It was much easier to drive to Sydney's northern beaches such as  Dee Why which I've mentioned in an earlier post, or up to other beaches on the Central Coast than to face the traffic chaos that often occurred on the Sydney Harbour Bridge,  although we still did so occasionally in order to reach our old favourite southern beaches such as Bondi, Coogee and Bronte, which I've  also blogged about here previously.

A very well-known Australian photographer called Max Dupain took many famous photographs of Bondi,  including one which you can see here, simply entitled Bondi 1939. I once attempted a poor imitation of it, and  I must admit my shot was not even taken at Bondi, but was on the Central Coast, c. 1993. 

The following photo was taken on the steps of the Bondi Surf Club by my mother, after my husband had taken part in the annual City to Surf 14 km fun run. The pounding mass of runners used to charge past the top of the street where we previously lived, and parking would have been so much easier, if only we still lived there. The first City to Surf Fun Run took place in 1971 and will be held again in 2 weeks' time, on 8 August. In the local runners' group of which we were members in Turramurra, a number of people were proud to say they had participated every year since 1971. I even managed it myself half a dozen times in the past, mostly walking I confess, as I'm not a runner and it's a very hilly course. One year I took a series of photos en route  using my then very basic phone camera. They are not worth showing here as they are only pixelated printouts, but my caption of the last photo looking down on Bondi Beach reads:"The best view is at the end".  Unfortunately from that point the finish line is still about a kilometre away!

With over 80000 entrants already registered this year, the City to Surf claims to be the biggest event of its kind in the world, and with so many runners and walkers plus crowds of spectators and supporters lining the route, it will be no doubt be practically impossible to move anywhere around Bondi that day, even on foot! Afterwards people can have trouble getting back home, as the nearest train station is several kilometres away and they have to either line up in very long queues and then pile into buses, or alternatively toil uphill to the Bondi Junction station. The Bondi tram ceased running in 1960, but in any event it never could have coped with these numbers! Some runners cool down afterwards with an ocean swim, but not too many as it is winter of course. Sydney winter temperatures could well reach the low to mid 20s on a sunny day however, and there will always be hardy locals who swim the length of the beach each day, plus visiting international  tourists taking the plunge, just so they can say they've swum at the famous Bondi Beach.  We haven't taken part for over 10 years now, and hope to be relaxing on a beach somewhere on the Queensland Sunshine Coast on City2Surf Day this year, 9 August 2015.

                                                                  City to Surf August 1984

   Proof of completion: a slimmer, curlier me after my first City to Surf, 1998. My bib entry number was      probably also about where I came in the race result as well!

Back for another Festival of the Winds at Bondi in 1995, with views showing both ends of the beach.

You might like to click here for an interesting site on the history and development of Bondi, including photographs.

I could have included a clip of the American group First Class singing their hit song 'Beach Baby, Beach Baby' in 1974, but instead thought you might enjoy this one filmed on Bondi Beach. The guy who starts it off is a rather unlikely looking dancer, but still, he carries it off quite well!

That's enough from me, but for more beach photographs worldwide, just click here and dip your toe in at  Sepia Saturday # 289,