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Thursday, 26 June 2014

May I please, please just have a paddle?

This week's photo prompt shows some ladies and a couple of boys  paddling in a lake somewhere. The ladies have lifted their skirts so as not to get them wet. Only one seems to be smiling and maybe they are too worried about the possibility of getting wet, it's hard to tell, and perhaps the scene was just set up for the camera. I thought I might focus primarily on the fact that the subjects are fully dressed, apart from their shoes.

 Here is a photograph from my mother's second album, of some local children playing in a country creek, somewhere near Canvastown NZ in the mid 1940s,the district where my mother's grandparents and cousins lived. The boy is lying in the water but the little girl is just paddling, with their dog watching over them. I don't think the children are any relation to me, but it is a peaceful,  idyllic scene.

The next couple of photos from the 1940s are of my mother and her friends, who flatted together in Auckland while they were teachers' college students. They were having a weekend break at Piha Beach, where they stayed  in a bach lent to them by the headmaster. A bach is what New Zealanders call their weekenders or beach houses, and the  accommodation provided is often very basic. I can't quite decipher the little sign in the sand, but I think the girls may be standing on a little makeshift bridge across the sand to what  is known as Lion Rock, seen in the next picture, which they would then have clambered up. They would no doubt have needed to put their shoes back on for the climb.

The next shot is of my father Ian, on another NZ beach outing, c 1950. Clearly when wandering around the rocks at Kaiteriteri Beach in the Abel Tasman National Park near Nelson on the South Island of NZ, he had no intention of getting anything wet above mid-calf level!

Here are Jean and Ian on the beach. Jean is wearing her pearls and both are now fully shod.

This  photo captioned 'swimming the Avon' is a snippet from some publication put out by the University of Canterbury, where my father studied for his B Sc. The event was part of his college initiation ceremony. The River Avon in Christchurch isn't very wide or deep but it looks like everyone must have got wet through.

In the shallows of Margate Beach Kent in 1954, Jean is doing well to crouch down with me and not get her dress wet, or at least not before this photograph was snapped. I look to be spooning something into my mouth, and no doubt it wouldn't have tasted so good if I'd toppled over either. My father must have got his feet wet here too, as there were no zoom lenses in those days, just the two foot variety.

Back in Canterbury New Zealand, and picnics at Ashley River Bank (top right) and at Stewart's Gully. In both cases the adults are happy to watch and give me a helping hand, but it's clearly a case of so far and no further! 

These two little girls, the daughters of my parents' Dutch friends, must have been told they could get their feet wet in the stream but please, not their dresses, although in fact the next photo in the album shows that their mother has relented and produced their swimming costumes, but they are still just paddling.

We moved to Australia in  1956, and picnics at the Cotter Reserve for example became a regular weekend entertainment. There wasn't much else to do in Canberra back then and we always went there when friends and family were visiting.

Another picnic, another paddle in the Murrumbidgee, and another stick. I was easily amused!

 My mother took the three of us back to New Zealand for a Christmas holiday  in 1959, and here a friend and I are cautiously dipping our toes in the Wairarapa Stream that ran through her back garden in the Christchurch suburb of Fendalton. At the time I thought it was lovely. Hopefully it was well fenced off from unsupervised small children, although no fence can be seen in either photograph, and a toddler (my little sister) is playing not far away from the water's edge. 

This reminds me of my grandfather Jack's baby sister, Adelpha Morrison, who was eighteen months old when she drowned in a waterhole in December 1881 while her mother Mary Bridget went inside briefly. This tragic event took place about 8 years before Jack was born.  Mary Bridget and her husband Daniel Morrison eventually had a total of 15 children, but I'm sure they would never have forgotten poor little Adelpha.

Report published in the Marlborough Express, 30 December 1881, found on the Papers Past web site.

Of course adults can also drown, as was the case in 1876 with Annie Norrie nee Young, eldest sister of my great grandmother Jane Isabella Young. Anne was aged 31 and mother of a young son when she drowned in the Cam river near her home at Kaiapoi. It was believed that she had slipped into the water after suffering an epileptic fit. Here is a report of what happened that was published in The Press, (Christchurch) dated 8 April 1876, from the Papers Past web site:

                  A fuller report says that Charles Young helped his son-in-law to retrieve his daughter's body from the river. Charles was my 2 x great grandfather, and Annie was his eldest child. At the time of her death her son William Norrie was aged about nine. His father remarried a couple of years later.

Here my grandparents Mona and Jack Morrison from NZ are visiting the family in Canberra in March 1961 and naturally we have taken them for a family picnic, this time to Uriarra Crossing outside Canberra. Mona may have taken her shoes off but Jack hasn't, and Ian still has his shoes and socks on too. It looks like Jean must have been standing in the water to take the photo however, so at least she would have been able to rescue my sister or me if either of us ventured too far in. I remember how on one occasion when we were swimming in the river there was a sighting of what was believed to be a water snake and everyone left the water rather rapidly!

These last two photos are from a family camping holiday at Sussex Inlet on the South Coast of NSW. In the photo on the right, my sister is dipping more than just her toes in the water, while up on the jetty my father might have been suggesting that I jump in but that he is not about to follow me, or perhaps we were just looking for fish or admiring the view.

To see more blogs on this watery subject,  just paddle or wade on over to Sepia Saturday #234 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

A somewhat self-indulgent look back at some family wedding memories

Weddings are happy family gatherings. The prompt photo above shows quite a large wedding party, gathered on the steps of some cathedral or church, or maybe a town hall somewhere. Alan hasn't identified where the photograph comes from, could it possibly be of his own wedding?  Not everyone is posing for the camera in this shot, some guests are probably more interested in catching up with friends and relatives, and the little boy on the right looks like he is biting his fingernails.

Steps make a very convenient location for group photographs if they are handy. If not, a photographer may need to improvise, like Russell Lewis did at our older daughter's English wedding, standing high on a step ladder in order to get this wide overhead shot of the entire party. He did quite well, although the chandeliers were a slight problem, obscuring a couple of guests. It was a rather damp day so posing outside in the gardens was not an option.

     Photograph by Russell Lewis Photography, Hereford

Above is the largest wedding party photograph I have discovered in my family history collection. It was taken in Bathgate in West Lothian, Scotland in 1957. Perhaps someone can identify the impressive building in the background for me. Somewhat unusually my husband's uncle Bernard and his bride Patricia are not standing directly in the centre of the group. My husband and his sister Ann are the two children in front, with my late father-in-law Bob holding his younger son in the back row, 2nd from right. I think his wife Mary, older sister of the groom, is the lady in the hat in the back row, 3rd in from the left side. Her parents. Doris and Frank, parents of the groom, are the couple standing directly behind their grandchildren. The groom's sister is one of the bridesmaids and I think her other brother is between her and their nephew. Beyond that I have not much idea who else may be in the picture, but I do know that there were no grandparents of the groom present, as they were all gone well before 1957.

The collage below is made up of some immediate family wedding shots that do include grandparents of the brides and grooms, together with some of the grandparents' own wedding photos. At our wedding in 1974 we were lucky to have three of our grandparents join us for the celebration.  My husband's grandmother Doris Olds, on her first trip from England to Australia, is standing with us  in bright orange in the top right picture, and my two grandfathers Oliver and John from New Zealand are seen with me at bottom left. My husband's Australian grandmother was sadly not well enough to join us from Geelong. Oliver Cruickshank and John Morrison's wedding day photographs dating back to 1921 and 1919 respectively with their brides Myrtle and Mona  appear above the 1974 shot of them. I'm told that there is a photograph somewhere of Doris and Frank Olds on their wedding day in 1924, but as yet I haven't managed to locate it.

In the Russell Lewis photograph at top left from 2012, our daughter Claire and her new husband Jonny are seen with his grandfather John and her grandmother Mary. I dont have a wedding photograph for John, but Mary's wedding photograph from 1947 with her late husband Bob Featherston is the one next to that 2012 shot. Mary came to Australia as a war bride, having met Bob in England after the war, and none of her family members were able to come out for the wedding, which was took place in Geelong Victoria. She was given away by one of Bob's uncles. Bottom left is our other daughter Laura in 2010 with both her grandmothers Mary and Jean. (Lisa Baker Photography). Jean is pictured above with her parents John and Mona Morrison on her wedding day in 1950 to my father Ian Cruickshank in Christchurch NZ. She wasn't able to make the journey from Australia to England for Claire's wedding, but she did get over to another granddaughter's wedding in NZ in 2013. If my new granddaughter doesn't marry much earlier than her mother did, I'll need to survive into my nineties if I'm to make it to her wedding!  A sobering thought.

Thinking of all the parents, grandparents and all other smiling people in these and other photographs who are no longer with us, I am reminded of an appropriate song written and sung by one of my favourite folkies, George Papavgeris. I don't think I can post a video clip of it, but hopefully you can click here on the title "Remember me like this" to have a listen. George is a great singer and prolific song writer, and the lyrics of his songs are all very heartfelt and thoughtful. I've included the words at the end of this blog.

Here are just a few more family group wedding photographs from 1974, 2010 and 2012 respectively. I'd better make sure they are well captioned, so that future generations will not have to wonder who everyone was.
Happy couple with their parents (top photo), and then from left to right, the bride's relatives, our attendants and the groom's relatives, Canberra 1974.

                        Daughter Laura and her husband John pictured with her relatives, Melbourne 2010. Photograpy by Lisa Baker.

Bride and groom Claire and Jonny with the bride's relations, Hereford 2012.  (Russell Lewis Photography)
Everyone here is still 'present and correct'!

For more wedding memories, you can no doubt raise a glass or two to many other happy couples captured for posterity at Sepia Saturday 233. All the very best to them all!


Remember me like this
 Copyright George Papavgeris, Dec 2004

Remember me like thi

My picture take now and put on file
Remember me like this
Remember me like this
If in the future I'm down and out
If I get angry and rant and shout
Remember me like this

I want to savour this moment
I want to lock it up tight
And if one day I am in darkness and torment
Then bring this moment out to make it all right

Remember me like this,
Don't lose this memory for anything
Who knows tomorrow what fate can bring
Remember me like this

Remember when I'm old
And when my hand's shaking in the cold
This very hand you once loved to hold
Remember me like this

Remember when I'm through
Quite unexpected, out of the blue
From photos I will look back at you
And remember you like this

We come and go in an instant
There's not a minute to waste
So if one day all this seems far too distant
From file this memory cut and paste

Remember me like this,
Don't lose this memory for anything
Who knows tomorrow what fate can bring
Remember me like this

Friday, 13 June 2014

Caulfield Train Station

This week's prompt photo of  the station of Claremorris in County Mayo Ireland prompted me to find out a little about the history of my local train station. Caulfield Station lies just across the highway from where I've lived for the last six years. It's a busy place from morning til night, serving both the Caulfield campus of Monash University and the Caulfield Racecourse across the road, as well as surrounding residential suburbs. All city and country trains stop at Caulfield. Students and city commuters are always coming and going in a hurry, and on race days the crowds of elegant racegoers are an entertaining sight, arriving as they do in their hats, high heels, colourful dresses and suits, and then departing several hours later looking rather less smartly turned out.

Caulfield Station was first opened on 7 May 1879, but the present station buildings were constructed in 1913-14. It's a heritage listed site, which means that it is considered  'of architectural, aesthetic, social and historical importance to the State of Victoria'.

Here's an extract from the Victorian Heritage Database site: 

The Caulfield Railway Complex consists of four passenger platforms, horse platform, subway, three principal station buildings, a former lamp/store room and a signal box. The station buildings are of red brick with render banding. Distinct architectural features of the three station buildings include ornate parapets and radiating bands of render around the arched openings. The platforms are shaded by cantilever canopies which are supported by curved I beams and clad in corrugated iron, with a ripple iron valance. Fittings that have been retained and probably dating from 1914 include the timber palisade gates, a female toilet, timber seating, ticket office fittings on platform 4 and a drinking fountain on platform 1. The signal box was constructed c.1920 and is also of red brick. It has a tiled hip roof and retains the fittings in the signal room.The station buildings are of red brick with render banding. Distinct architectural features of the three station buildings include ornate parapets and radiating bands of render around the arched openings. The platforms are shaded by cantilever canopies which are supported by curved I beams and clad in corrugated iron, with a ripple iron valance. Fittings that have been retained and probably dating from 1914 include the timber palisade gates, a female toilet, timber seating, ticket office fittings on platform 4 and a drinking fountain on platform 1. The signal box was constructed c.1920 and is also of red brick. It has a tiled hip roof and retains the fittings in the signal room."
"Why is it significant?
The Caulfield Railway Station Complex is of architectural and aesthetic importance as an imposing Federation Free Style complex, and is an important example of the work of Victorian Way and Works Architect JW Hardy. Details of note include, cement render banding terminating in a radiating design around the archways and an undulating parapet design. The horse platform, though physically undistinguished, is a rare structure of its type. The station is an excellent representative example of a Railway Complex of the era as it contains numerous intact structures as well as objects thought to be contemporary with the buildings. These objects include the female toilet and drinking fountain on platform 1, timber seats and palisade gates. The buildings demonstrate the early use of reinforced concrete in the lintels, slabs to floors and ramps.
The Caulfield Railway Station Complex is of social and historical importance for its role as a point of arrival and departure for horses and patrons of the Caulfield Racecourse. The complex is important for its potential to yield information on the changing nature of railways, locomotive technology and public transport use in Victoria, being an excellent intact example of the type of stations constructed immediately preceding the First World War. Because of its retention of detail, the station provides valuable insights into social attitudes and railway practices at the time it was constructed. The Caulfield Railway Complex demonstrates the expansion of Melbourne, the settling in the suburbs and in particular the establishment of Caulfield as a major metropolitan centre. The construction of a larger station in 1914 represents a boom period in the history of Caulfield."

I must confess I haven't actually noticed the drinking fountain, the palisade gates or the horse platform, and I'll  have to have a look to see what remains of them. I also haven't inspected the heritage-listed female toilet, but it is possibly not in current public use. 

Photograph showing the tracks and signal box at Caulfield Station , c. 1915.

The current signal box, on a sunny June afternoon.

The former lamp/store room photographed today
Caulfield Platform 1

Calm before the evening peak hour. Mid afternoon at Caulfield Station, showing the central island platform with  Monash University buildings in the background.

Above and below, views of Caulfield Station from outside

Trove is a wonderful web site of the National Library of Australia which includes an ever-increasing repository of digitised newspaper reports from a very large number of newspapers, and a search for Caulfield Station brought up lots of items, including for example a letter to the editor in 1888 complaining about  ruffians on the platform, another in 1915  about the danger to pedestrians of cyclists being allowed to use the access subway, and others in the 1920s onwards, questioning timetabling, lateness of trains and ticketing anomalies. There was also the sad case in 1911 of a dead newborn being discovered in a station waiting room.

In the history of the station however, there is one particular event that stands out, although most Caulfield commuters would never have heard of it. On the building wall on platform 4, there's a small plaque, placed there a few years ago in commemoration of a major train accident that occurred at Caulfield 88 years ago, on 26 May 1926, when an approaching train ran into the rear of a stationary train at around 6 pm on a Wednesday evening. Three young men died that night and a large number of other passengers were injured. The injured were taken to be treated at various Melbourne hospitals, including one St Leonard's Private Hospital, which was apparently located at 23 Turner Street, although there are no hospitals in Turner Street  now. 

You can find a detailed account of  the accident and some victims' statements of what happened on the site of Friends of Cheltenham and Regional Cemeteries Inc.,  but below are a few newspaper reports on the event that I've snipped from the Trove web site. 

Another serious accident, attended by fatal results, occurred on theVictorian Railways to-night, when a moving electric passenger train crashed into the rear of another electric train which had stopped at the Caulfield Station to let down passengers. One person was killed instantly, and another died shortly afterwards. Thirty passengers were injured, and several are in a critical condition. The trains were crowded, and only the fact that the one entering the station was running at reduced speed prevented a much worse calamity.
The accident occurred at 6.20 pm, when the evening traffic was at its peak, and but for the fact that the second train was drawing into a station, the casualty list must have been much greater. The rear carriage of the stationary train was telescoped.
[transcription of article from Adelaide Register, 26 May 1926, ]

The article went on to provide graphic details of what happened, including photographs of the tragic scene. Another passenger who had walked into the casualty ward and initially seemed cheerful died of his injuries in the early hours of 27 May, and the number of injured who submitted claims increased considerably. 

From Sydney Morning Herald, 28 May 1926.

From the Australasian of 26 June 1926., 

From the Registrar, Adelaide, 25 June 1926

Both the accused were found not guilty. The jury said they believed that the precautions taken to safeguard the public were inadequate and should be rectified immediately.
Sad to say, there was one additional casualty of the disaster in September that year. The stress of the event and the criticism in the press greatly affected the Station Master, John Phillip Kiernan, who is mentioned in one of the reports above. He felt responsible because he had been in charge that night and took his own life by shooting himself in the temple at Caulfield station. Perhaps the name of JP Kiernan should have been included on the memorial  plaque. In arbitrarily deciding where the blame lies and then relentlessly vilifying those considered to be at fault, I feel the media both then and now have a lot to answer for. To err is human ...

 Rather than finishing up on that somewhat depressing note, here are a couple of photos of the train cake I made for one of our sons on the occasion of his 3rd birthday, back in 1987. The recipe came from the classic Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book, which was beloved by Australian mothers and children alike back in the 1980s when it was first published. I've already bought copies of the recently re-published vintage edition for my two daughters, and you can compare my creation with the cover photo. 


.Here are photos of the heritage- listed drinking fountain on Platform 1, and some of the former palisade gates. The fountain, which these days we would probably call a bubbler, could do with a good clean up, but maybe the listing does not allow that.  The heritage-listed ladies' toilet is nowhere to be seen, and must be locked up and unsignposted. Even the helpful customer services officer I spoke to had not heard of its existence.

This sign on one of the gates advises that when the entrance is manned, the gates will close immediately a train arrives, to prevent trains being delayed, and to prevent passengers risking their lives in attempting to board moving trains. I think this must also date from the same vintage as the gates, because they certainly don't close the gates like that today!

Now, blow that whistle and shout "all aboard" for a ride over to Sepia Saturday #232 for more takes on trains, stations and the like from other Sepian contributors this week.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Kenneth Forbes Morrison, the uncle I never knew.

It's D-Day this week and the Normandy Landings on 6 June 1944 are currently being commemorated.
 I would like to dedicate this post to my mother's brother Kenneth Forbes Morrison, 20.07.1923 - 25.06.1943, and his mates in the NZ Air Force. Ken did not get to experience or hear about D-Day. He was a pilot of a Halifax bomber who died together with all his crew when their plane was shot down over Wuppertal, while they were taking part in a raid on the night of 24/25 June 1943. He had just been promoted to the rank of flight sergeant. Ken was initially interred in the Military Cemetery in South Cologne, but his remains were subsequently re-buried in the Rheinberg War Cemetery in the Rheinland. I've posted childhood photographs of Ken in previous blogs, for example here,  here and here, and you can see a photograph of Ken and his ill-fated crew here.

When his mother Mona reluctantly agreed to allow him to enlist because he was under age, Ken left his parents' home in Christchurch New Zealand and in early 1942 he embarked for Canada to continue his training under the Empire Air Training Scheme. The training took place in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, and no doubt Ken saw the whole trip as a great adventure. He must have taken a camera with him to record his travels, because we have an album of snaps from his time in the air force, 1942-1943. Quite a few photographs look to have been taken while doing his flying training or are of groups of men at the base, and there is a good one of a plane's instrument panel, but it wasn't all serious training, and there are also quite a few photos of Canadian mountain scenery, or  of Ken sightseeing or relaxing with friends. I've selected the following two shots because they show that he must have been able to get leave to visit New York City. He went up the Empire State Building, went out to a cabaret and spent time relaxing on a beach somewhere with a couple of girls, probably locals impressed by these young men in uniform. The beach photo of Ken and friends isn't labelled, but the dinner photograph has identifying information on the reverse, as shown below. It's signed by everyone at the table and gives the venue as Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe, W. 46 ST. New York City, on 3 September 1942.
According to the web site of the Hotel Paramount, "from 1938 to 1951, Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe operated in the basement of the Paramount. Known for its vaudeville-style revues, the club featured the day's top entertainers and even inspired a 1940s movie musical  of the same name", which starred Betty Grable.  The night club re-opened last year and is now a 'prime midtown nightlife destination'. In 1942 it must have been quite an eye-opener for a young man from the sedate city of Christchurch New Zealand.

Ken and friends on the beach  

A carefree night out with friends in the Big Apple, at Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe, Hotel Paramount.
 Ken is fourth from left.

Some of the signatures are a bit hard to decipher, but I think their names could be Sylvia Mettler, Max L Bartley, Caroline Jarrett, Raymond A Lindsay, Johnny R Mayo and Bibi Arundel.
 If any of the signatories are still with us, they would have to be in their 90s. Three of the four young men are clearly wearing the insignia of the New Zealand Air Force, and they were all Flight Sergeants with the NZ Air Force..

 According to  the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site, the name of Ken's good mate John Russell Mayo  appears on the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede in Surrey, England, which "commemorates by name over 20,000 airmen who were lost in the Second World War during operations from bases in the United Kingdom and North and Western Europe, and who have no known graves. They served in Bomber, Fighter, Coastal, Transport, Flying Training and Maintenance Commands, and came from all parts of the Commonwealth. Some were from countries in continental Europe which had been overrun but whose airmen continued to fight in the ranks of the Royal Air Force."

I think Johnny is on the left in the night club photograph, and Max is sitting opposite Ken, at the back of the table on the right. Flight Sergeant Maxwell Logan Bartley was killed wen taking part in air operations on 4 January 1944 and is buried in the Poix-de-Picardie churchyard in the Somme. He is clearly recognisable from a photograph to be found here on the  Auckland Cenotaph Museum web site.  The fourth airman Raymond Anthony Lindsay was the only one of this group, and indeed of all the men mentioned in this post, who survived the war to return home to New Zealand, where he died in 1991 aged 70.  I haven't tried to trace the men's female dinner companions, who I expect were American girls they had met in New York.

Here are another few photos from Ken's album. The first shows Ken and Johnny horseriding at a farm while on leave in Canada

Johnny Mayo

A bunch of likely lads

Ken and some of his NZ Air Force mates adopt a casual pose for this snap taken in Halifax Canada by Johnny Mayo. Ken is on the right, and the others are Hugh (Beau) Beavis, Mort Langdale-Hunt and Ronald (Snowy) Brown. On the reverse side, my mother has written the dates when they were all killed. Hugh Walter Beavis, son of Arthur and Ethel Beavis of Wellington NZ, died on 25 July 1943 and is buried in Hamburg Cemetery. Maurice Richard Langdale Hunt, son of Albert and Emma Langdale-Hunt of West Melton, Canterbury NZ, died on 30 March 1943 and is buried in Marham Cemetery in Norfolk. I'm not sure of Snowy's precise details, but according to the note, he died in March 1944.

Below are a couple of individual portrait shots of dashing young airman Ken. Richard, one of Ken's younger cousins, recalls a clear memory from age 6, of visiting Ken at home on his last leave before he went overseas. He remembers Ken looking immaculate in his air force uniform, and that he took Richard, his two sisters and Ken's little brother Peter to the dairy to buy them all icecreams.  These photographs were taken in 1942 by professional photographers Debenham and Gould, of Glen View Studio, Bournemouth, England, where Ken was initially stationed upon arrival in England. He then completed further courses of training in Shropshire, Suffolk and Berkshire, before converting from Wellington bomber aircraft to Halifax heavy bombers with a unit based in Riccall, Yorkshire. He took part in his first raid over Wuppertal from there, but was then posted to No. 78 Squadron at  Holme Moor, Yorkshire, and was on his first operational flight with that squadron when the aircraft failed to return to its base.

In 1969/70 I was lucky enough to be awarded a scholarship which enabled me to go to Germany and spend 3 months living with a host family and attending school there. I lived in the town of Solingen, and visited nearby Wuppertal, not knowing at the time that this was where my uncle Ken had been shot down or that he was buried not very far away. If my mother or grandparents knew, they did not share the information with me, and in any event I don't think I could have asked my hosts to take me to Rheinburg, but I would love to visit there one day.

Grave of K F Morrison at Rheinberg War Cemetery.
Ken with his five siblings before he left for Canada. Only his younger sister Jean, 2nd from left, is still with us, just.

A sad end which left his family heartbroken, but it's good to know from his photo album that at least Ken managed to have some fun in his short life. He was only 19.

Other circumstances, other methods and another war, but the message remains the same.  Lest we forget.

To see more Sepian contributions to this week's Open Theme, just head this way