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Friday, 16 March 2018

Have Umbrella, Will Unicycle ...

The Sepia Saturday prompt this week features umbrellas, children, a policeman and a dark night. It's still quite warm and summery here in Aus, with 33° C expected today and we haven't had any significant rain for several weeks. This is really the only photo I can think of that fits the bill, vaguely at least. Our son Kim who was then aged about 12 was showing off his unicycling skills in our driveway, back in the mid 1990s, and wrote this sweet poem to go with this photo that I took of him. I had developed it myself after converting our windowless internal ensuite into a makeshift darkroom. I eventually stopped using the ensuite for developing, but the chemical odours lingered for a long time afterwards and must have mystified the buyers of the house some years later.

He's not much inclined to unicycle some 20 years later, but no doubt he still can. After all it's just like riding a bike, I believe! One of the children's old unicyles is rusting away in our shed while another is kept up at our beach house and our teacher daughter occasionally gives her young school students a demonstration.

For more contributions to Sepia Saturday, click here.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Memorial Weekend

My father-in-law Robert Featherston passed away on 16 February 1992 and my own father Ian Cruickshank died eight years and one day later, on 17 February 2000. Coincidentally my father was eight years younger than my father-in-law, so Bob was 74, Dad was 75 years old when they died. It's quite a long time ago and not something I often think about, but there it is. I've blogged about both of them numerous times previously, herehere and here in relation to my Dad, and herehere and here in relation to Bob for example, so I'm not going to do any more than post a couple more photos of them that are vaguely on theme with our Sepia Saturday prompt photo this week, which shows a number of young swimmers standing on or hanging off a diving tower at a Brisbane pool.
There is a similar tower at the Eastern Beach swimming enclosure at Geelong, which also features in my last link, entitled Swimmers with Arms Folded. I don't have many photos of either Bob or Ian clad in their swimming costumes, other than the one of Bob in that post, but here he is relaxing in a river somewhere in 1947.

And here is my tall slim Dad strolling along a sandy beach in the 1960s:

        RIP Bob and Ian. We'll raise a glass to them both.

Now here are a couple of family snaps of children pretending to be on diving towers, which seems to have been a popular thing to do in our back yard when the paddling pool came out on a warm summer's day. I'm standing with a friend in the first photo and then apparently defying gravity in a tussle with my brother in the second one.

And one more of my brother and sister up a different kind of ladder, the slippery dip at our local playground. Hopefully they did not try to jump off! This was in Canberra in the 1960s. Now we live in Victoria, where slippery dips are rather less imaginatively known as slides, but I'm doing my best to teach my grandchildren the 'correct' term.😀

                      Anyone fancy a slippery dip?

For more blogs possibly featuring towers ladders, swimmers and related subjects, please visit Sepia Saturday #406.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Under the Jacaranda

I was just looking at the prompt photo again and the fact that it is in a garden and comes from Queensland suddenly brought to mind this oil painting that I loved seeing last year when I visited the Art Gallery of Queensland in Brisbane. It was painted in 1903 by English immigrant R. Godfrey Rivers and depicts the painter and his wife Selina being served an elegant afternoon tea under a spectacular jacaranda tree in full bloom. They may well have been acquainted with John Nicholson and his wife Anna, as they lived in the same city around a similar time period.  According to a former curator of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, this tree was planted there in 1864 and was the first jacaranda to be grown in Australia, from seeds obtained from a visiting South American sea captain. Click here for more information about the history of this tree. It was blown down by a storm in the 1980s but many jacaranda trees in the Brisbane region have been grown from cuttings and seeds originally  taken from it. 

Jacaranda season in Australia runs from October to December, depending on the location. They are not as prolific down here  in Melbourne as they are in Sydney and cities and towns further north, but I took this photo locally in December last year. Purple has always been my favourite colour! There's an Australian magpie enjoying it too.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friends for life

This week's Sepia Saturday image shows a married couple talking over a cup of tea.  

I don't have anything similar really, but I do quite like this snap of my mother Jean and her good friend Colleen sitting together in front of the fireplace. Jean is knitting and Colleen is also doing some sort of handwork, perhaps sewing. They wwerd both aged about 20. The photo is rather out of focus, possibly because whoever took it didn't have flash on their camera, but that doesn't detract from the relaxed and companiable atmosphere that is shown to exist between these two ladies, and nor did it deter Jean from including it in her album.

Colleen and Jean met as college students in Auckland New Zealand in the 1940s and remained friends for the rest of their lives, despite Jean subsequently moving to Australia. They both married and had three children. Coincidentally both ladies died in 2014 within a few months of one another, aged 87. 
To finish, here is a happy photograph of three ladies around Jean's dining table 60 years later in 2006, celebrating her 80th birthday. Colleen is on the left and the lady in the middle is Betty, a friend of Jean ever since school days. Cups of tea and cake all round!

RIP Colleen and Jean.
 Their friend Betty is still going strong.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Byles Family plot at Karori

When I looked at the prompt photo for Sepia Saturday this week I initially thought the dark shapes were nuns walking amongst the graves, but then realised they were trees. It looks like a small, neat cemetery layout, unlike many that I've visited in the past, while searching for graves of family members. Often those searches have proved futile, with the person apparently having no headstone, just an unmarked grave that I may or may not have managed to pinpoint somewhere.  

Karori Cemetery in the hills of Wellington NZ is large, covering over 40 hectares and being the last resting place of more than 83000 souls. I went there by bus and am not sure now whether or not I was able to ask directions at the office but I had a grave location and map and surprisingly enough was able to discover the family plot for my Byles great grandparents Mary Ann and Thomas Alfred Byles and their oldest daughter Ellen Mary, known as Nellie or Nell. Nellie died first aged only 29, and according to my aunt this was because she was broken hearted after her fiance was killed in WW1. Her mother Mary died 3 years later aged 54. Thomas survived his wife Mary by 27 years and is buried here with them.
 My grandmother Myrtle May was the nextborn child of Mary and Thomas. She died in Rangiora in 1959 but both she nor her husband/my grandfather Oliver Cruickshank who died in 1985 were cremated and do not have memorial plaques, so I was happy to be able to pay my respects to Myrtle's parents and sister there by their graveside. I was also glad to leave because the weather was threatening and because it felt rather an isolated place late in the afternoon where you wouldn't want to meet any unsavoury characters. It can also be quite sad reading the heartfelt memorials even when you have no connection to the people, particularly if they are for young children or babies.

Mary, Beloved Wife of Thomas Byles, died 11th Oct. 1924, aged 54 years
Thine Forever, God of  Love
Nellie, Beloved daughter of Thomas and Mary Byles
who fell asleep on 14 June 1920, aged 29 years
There is a link death cannot sever
Sweet Remembrance Lasts Forever

Thomas A Byles ,
Beloved husband of Mary
Passed away 12th March 1951
At Rest

Byles family plot
The photo above from the National Library of NZ shows people laying wreaths on ANZAC Day, 25 April 1921, less than a year after Nell died.

Marriage announcement for Thomas and Mary Ann in the Evening Post, April 1889.

I've posted about Thomas Byles before, for example here, in relation to the fact that I haven't yet been able to discover any documentary evidence to prove or disprove the family story that he arrived in New Zealand after having been discovered to be a stowaway in the late 1870s, but finding the Byles family plot was certainly a lot better than discovering during the same trip that his wife Mary's grandmother, Jane Key nee Berry, had been buried in the Bolton Street Cemetery in Wellington but that her remains had been dug up to make way for a motorway and the remains deposited in a common grave, together with over 3000 others. At least her name is recorded here.  

For more blogs on this week's prompt, go to Sepia Saturday #402

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Dirigible on wheels?

The Sepia Saturday prompt above is for the Christmas and New Year period, and features Christmas Greetings from Loon Lake Lodge. Where this was I'm not sure, as there seem to be many different Loon Lakes in both Canada and the United States, although the options would seem to be considerably less if restricted to North American resorts that enjoy mild weather over Christmas. That's not particularly important however, it's the greeting from the people in the wheel that counts.

Today I received a Christmas present of sorts. It is a digital copy of a family photograph that includes some wheels, very kindly sent to me from New Zealand by my cousin Elizabeth. It appears to be a souvenir of a family visit to the NZ & South Seas Exhibition, which was held in Dunedin NZ from November 1925 until May 1926. Shown in the picture are my grandmother Mona Morrison, her first two children Ken aged 2 and Pat aged 4, and Mona's sister Ruby, who lived with her husband William Berry and family in Dunedin. 

Pasted on the back of the photograph is a delightful drawing and identifying caption that must have been added by one or more of Ruby's children. Her daughter Ruth would have been about 10 at that time, so perhaps it was she who added the caption to the drawing by either Doug or Jack, her brothers, who would have been 8 and 5 respectively. My second cousin Elizabeth is one of Ruth's daughters and she discovered the photograph amongst her mother's memorabilia. She and I met once when we were children. Mona's daughter Pat was born in Dunedin, but by 1925-26 the Morrison family had moved to Christchurch, so Mona and the children must have gone on a visit back to Dunedin to see Ruby and family. 

I looked on the website of the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington NZ and found the following record of a photograph held in its collection. From the description it sounds very like the photo above, but I had to submit a request for digital access as it was not immediately available online and I couldn't visit the library to view it in person. Hopefully I will receive access to it soon and can check whether or not I am right. I imagine there would have been thousands of similar souvenir photographs taken.

Souvenir photograph from the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition, Dunedin 

Ref: PAColl-D-1098
Hand coloured souvenir photograph from the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition, Dunedin. The image shows three people in a dirigible-like aircraft flying above the exhibition buildings.
Quantity: 1 b&w original photographic print(s) hand coloured.
Physical Description: Silver gelatin print
Access restrictions: No access restrictions

It looks as if the dirigible 'passengers' might have been required to climb up behind a billboard of the scene and look out through a cut away area with their arms hanging over the side. Quite well done and effective really and young Pat seems to be enjoying herself.

Below is an extract from the nzhistory web site about the Exhibition that the family attended. It was certainly a popular event, with large numbers of people attending over the six month period that it was open, showcasing all that New Zealand, and Dunedin and the surrounding region in the southern part of the South Island in particular, had to offer, and in addition providing lots of family entertainment.


The photograph above appeared on the Paperspast web site in a Supplement to the NZ Herald, 27 March 1926. Perhaps Mona, Ruby and children were among these or similar thronging crowds, and might even have purchased a souvenir handkerchief or two like the one shown below, but most likely they were satisfied with the dirigible photograph as a souvenir of their visit. Thanks so much for sending it, Elizabeth!

New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition, Dunedin, 1925-26. Kathleen [Handkerchief]. Ref: Eph-C-EXHIBITION-1925-01. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23163934

We had our granddaughter Lucy together with her parents, aunty and uncles here last weekend for an early Xmas celebration and tomorrow we are wheeling our way north to our unit at the beach north of Sydney, where we hope to enjoy a relaxing break.  Mona, Ruby, Pat and Ken would no doubt join me in wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a safe, happy and healthy 2018. For Christmas messages from other Sepians, just click here.

Granddaughter and great great granddaughter of Mona Morrison (nee Forbes)

Postscript, 16 January 2018:
I have just received a copy of the corresponding dirigible photograph held by the Alexander Turnbull Library, the details of which are recorded above..As I suspected, it is the same thing, apart from being hand coloured and having a different number, (H 15 instead of F 11), and of course, showing different people. I wonder how many more of these souvenir photographs are out there, hidden away in albums or boxes of family memorabilia?

Friday, 8 December 2017

Gone fishing

Our Sepia Saturday prompt this week shows us a little boy holding a freshly caught fish. As he was in Ontario, it could well be a salmon, but I am no fish expert.  I have included fishing photographs in a few earlier blog posts, so this time I will just feature a couple of older photographs together with a couple more recent ones.

Above is my late father-in-law Bob Featherston standing beside the tent and proudly displaying his catch. I believe this was taken near Cowes on Phillip Island Victoria in May 1948. It comes from a collection of negatives saved by Bob, although I imagine that this particular shot must have been taken by his wife Mary. Bob enjoyed fishing in later life also and would head down to fish on the beach in the early hours at Malua Bay on the NSW South Coast, where he and Mary had built a simple beach house in the early 1960s. I sometimes joined the family there on  weekends in the 1970s (see next photo) and I think I remember Bob returning with a fish or two, but there was also the old joke about going fishing and coming back with fish and chips.

 Above are a couple of shorts-clad would-be surfers, standing in front of the Malua beach house in about 1972, and below is a painting of the house by an unknown artist that was observed on display in a local South Coast gallery. It must have been one of the first places built at Malua. In those days the facilities consisted of a temporary tent with a can inside, the contents of which had to be emptied and buried at the end of the weekend, but the luxury of an internal sewered bathroom was added in later years, which was a relief!  Mary is now 92 and still quite regularly catches the bus for the 3 hour trip from her home in Canberra to Malua Bay to check up on and clean the house.

Bob's children and grandchildren do not appear to have inherited his enthusiasm for fishing, but we still have a holiday unit at Hawks Nest on the NSW coast about 2 hours' drive north of Sydney, and the rods and lines stored there are evidence of our occasional attempts to go fishing there with the children, without much success I must admit.

Unfortunately you need a licence to fish in NSW unless you are just assisting children under 18, so these days we would have to go to the trouble of purchasing a licence online and can't just spontaneously throw a line in the water without risking the possibility of a fine.  By contrast, down here in Victoria fishing licences are not required if you are over 60 and entitled to a Seniors Card, and the Victorian rule specifically includes residents of other States with the equivalent card. 
The photo below was taken last year at Bennetts Beach Hawks Nest and shows another gentleman in shorts naturally, trawling for worms which presumeably he would then use for bait. 

Now check here for more lines that other Sepians may have thrown into the deep on the topic prompt this week.

A photo of the beach house from Google Maps, flanked by more recent and much bigger homes.

Post postscript:
Water has surrounded the house a few times after heavy rain resulted in the nearby creek flooding. It didn't come inside luckily, but someone could have fished off the front porch if they had wanted to! This photo appeared in the local paper after flooding in the area last year.