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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Sepia Saturday 190

 Picnics in the Park

A lovely topic for musing on, particularly if you have photographs of people you don't know a lot about. this is one of my favourite picnic pics. It's a photograph that was published in the Weekly Times Pictorial Supplement in November 1928, of a Mr Featherston and family,enjoying themselves at the Police Association picnic at Portarlington, which is a pleasant seaside resort near Geelong, Victoria. The photographic quality isn't good because it's a print taken from a microfilm record of the newspaper, and was just one of a selection of photographs of the various picnickers, but you get the general idea, and can imagine a sizeable group of policemen enjoying a day off duty with their families and friends at the seaside. It doesn't look like swimming was involved however.

I'm told by a distant relative that the Mr Featherston in question here is in fact Sergeant George Henry Featherston, together with his second wife Margaret, their young son Douglas and baby daughter Gwenda, and that the girl with long plaits is George Henry's niece Florence Elizabeth Featherston (who later became the mother of the lady who identified her in the photograph.) Perhaps Florence was there to help look after her baby cousin. Of course this still leaves four unidentified people in the picture, presumably friends or relations of George, who at 39 is probably the gentleman holding the baby. It would be nice to think that the older lady seated might be George's mother Margaret, but that would be jumping to an unproved conclusion.
Seeing George Henry here reminded me of his grandfather Emerson Featherston, who was a brother of my husband's ancestor. Emerson and his wife Hannah emigrated from Weardale Durham to Victoria in 1857, aged 22 and 18 respectively, and had one son, Henry, born later that year. Sadly Emerson died of colonial fever the following year, but baby Henry grew up to marry and produce 2 sons and four daughters, including George Henry, so Emerson's line did not die with him. Hannah married twice more, and lived til 1910, but I find it touching that she is buried in Ballarat Old Cemetery in the same plot as her first love, young Emerson Featherston, whom she had lost some 52 years earlier.

 Another photograph taken around 1941 in either a park or botanic gardens somewhere in Melbourne or Geelong is this one below, in which most of the men look cheerful and are nattily dressed , as men were back then. The photograph was found in a collection belonging to my late father-in-law Bob Featherston, who is the young man kneeling in front, second from left. It must have been taken not long before Bob went off to serve with the RAF in WW2, in which he was shot down, captured and held as a prisoner of war in Poland for two years, but I have no knowledge of who his companions were. He had a number of uncles on his mother's side, a couple on his father's side and numerous male second cousins, but so far no one has been able to identify any of them here. Perhaps the other men were work colleagues. It's pure conjecture, but in any event I like to think that whatever their connection to each other, they had gathered for some convivial drinks or a picnic in the gardens either before or after posing for this relaxed group photograph. Contrary to appearances, I'm sure they were not a group of gangsters!

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