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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Marching Proudly for King and Country, and for War Savings

This week the photo prompt shows a protest march in Russia during the revolution, and the participants look quite determined to make their points forcefully.  I've decided to concentrate less on the protest aspect, but more on the fact that it was a march.  

Here is a photograph from the collection of my late father-in-law Robert Leslie Featherston. Bob was an airman. He enlisted with the RAAF on 3 February 1941 and after training in Canada, flew with the RAF Bomber Command. The Lancaster bomber of which he was the pilot was hit by shrapnel on the night of 17 January 1943 and the controls were shot away. Bob and the rest of the crew baled out safely but were captured a few hours after landing, and consequently became prisoners of war. They were interned in POW camps from that date then until the end of the war.

Nothing is written on the back of this photograph mounted on card to indicate when or where it was taken, but it was clearly of significance to Bob. I think he might possibly be the man marching fourth from the front in the left row, although it's hard to be sure. 

A pressing clipping about Bob Featherston, taken from the Geelong Advertiser in 1943.

 The marching airmen may have been taking part in a parade that took place in Geelong Victoria, Bob's home town, on 7 April 1941. They are making their point simply by marching, and the crowd would have been in solidarity with them, whether cheering with approval or silent but supportive of the daunting task they knew lay ahead.  The purpose behind such marches was to encourage members of the public to support the war effort in a practical way by purchasing war savings certificates, as referred to in the article below.  

A report from the Argus, dated 8 April 1941, of a rally for the war savings campaign the previous day, snipped from the trove web site.

I also found the following photograph on the National Library of Australia's Trove web site, which might have been taken at the same or a similar march.

This photograph shows elevated views of parades in Moorabool and Gheringhap Streets with cavalry and foot soldiers.It comes from the Argus Newspaper collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria. Date ca. 1940.

Moorabool and Gehringhap Streets Geelong are very close to where Bob and his parents lived in Little Myers St. If it was definitely 1940 it would be a little early for Bob to have been in uniform, as he did not enlist until February 1941. Perhaps he and his family were watching in the crowds. I like the way the office girls have climbed out the window and are watching the parade from on top of the shop awning, although this may not have been a very safe thing to do. They probably thought the men in uniform all looked very dashing.  The spectators are certainly dressed the same way as in Bob's photograph and the cars look similar too.  There are tram tracks in both photographs. Trams ran in Geelong up until 1956, when they were replaced by buses. I note there's also a tram track in the prompt image.  

I'll have to ask my mother-in-law Mary if she can give me any more details about Bob's photograph of marching airmen, although as she did not meet Bob until after the war, she may not know. 

 Incidentally, I wrote a blog for Sepia Saturday #254 last November  entitled Two Happy People, about another of Bob's photographs, but sad to say I have since discovered from Mary that contrary to our hopes, the couple pictured did not stay together. If interested, you can click here to see a 'post post script' that I added onto the end of the blog recently, just for the sake of completeness.

To see more marches, parades, protests, rallies, banner-waving and the like, just pound the pavement until you arrive at   

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Big and Little

Big and Little

I don't have anything to write about radio or television broadcasting, but the contrast in size of the two vehicles in the prompt photograph somehow reminded me of this photograph from the old family album that I inherited from my Aunty Pat, who in turn got it from her mother Mona Morrison nee Forbes.  Mona would have been given it by her mother Jane Isabella Young. The album itself was originally received on 17 January 1881 by Jane's brother Frederick, as a special prize in Standard VI at Kaiapoi Borough School, in Kaiapoi New Zealand.  I know this from the certificate pasted inside the front cover of the  album, scanned below, but unfortunately there is nothing else written in the album's photo index to identify any of the close to two hundred 'carte de visite' style photographs that have been carefully slotted into the album spots by someone, and I can only guess at who they might have been.

However, there is one photograph that stands out because it is so different to the rest, and here it is:


 I was pretty sure that these two people were not related to any of my Anglo Saxon ancestors, so I  googled and discovered that this gentleman was  very probably Zhan Shichai, known as Chang the Chinese Giant, and is pictured here with his diminutive Chinese 'wife' Kin Foo. Also known as Chang Woo Gow, Chang was reputedly over 8 foot tall and spoke about ten languages. He toured the world, visiting New Zealand in 1870, where some of the Young family must have gone to see him and obtained his card, which was then duly added to the family album. 

There are numerous other cabinet cards depicting Chang.  Different sites tell different versions of Chang's story, but some suggest that the Chinese lady Kin Foo may only have been only posing as his wife.  Chang could have become family of course. After Kin Foo died, Chang visited Australia in 1871 and met and fell in love with a Liverpool-born Australian girl called Catherine Santley. They married and had two sons.  After Chang retired the family settled in Christchurch Dorset, where Chang opened a tea shop and sold oriental curios. Sadly Catherine Chang Gow died unexpectedly in 1893 aged 44 and Chang died four months later, reportedly of a broken heart, although it was also suspected that he suffered from tuberculosis. He was aged 52, according to British death records. Their boys Edwin and Ernest who were of normal height were only 14 and 12.

For more broadcasts on this week's Sepia Saturday topic, just click here.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

True Love

The date of this week's Sepia Saturday coincides with Valentine's Day and Sepians are invited to blog about something connected to  the topic of the Valentine's day card pictured above.  Valentine's Day is grossly over-commercialised these days and we do our best to ignore it, or at least my husband does. Occasionally he might bring home a bunch of flowers and we might even go out to dinner together, but more often than not it's more or less a non-event, which is perfectly fine with me. I feel sorry for the young women who are pressured to feel depressed if they don't get cards from any admirers. 
Love is the theme behind the day, and to epitomize that, I thought you might enjoy seeing one of my favourite photographs of my parents Jean and Ian,  taken not on Valentine's Day but on 16 July 1949, the night they celebrated their engagement at  'Peter Pan' in Auckland NZ. 

 I love my mother's long fingerless evening gloves and her fur jacket, which I think one of her granddaughters may now own.  No fingerless gloves amongst her treasured possessions, but I really like this pair of long elegant gloves she had kept. I don't know how long ago it was that she wore them, but perhaps I'll recogise them in some other photo. I see you can still buy similar gloves, but I've never been to an occasion that required them.

From this fuller shot, it appears that although there were some other bottles on the table in the background, Jean and Ian had actually been drinking coke at this celebration, and perhaps they had been romantically sharing the bottle with two straws.. The good friends in the photo with them were Noel and Peggy Shannon, who had been married a couple of years earlier.  Peggy is also wearing similar long evening gloves. Like Jean and Ian, she and Noel are sadly no longer with us. 

I googled Peter Pan Auckland and discovered that it was a cabaret venue there. Here is an extract from a blog site entitled Heritage et Al.

"Established in the 1930s, the Peter Pan Cabaret in upper Queen Street was often booked for annual balls and private functions. The building had a large hall and a mezzanine floor with tables overlooking the dance floor. The Peter Pan Cabaret was a favourite venue for the thousands of American servicemen disembarking from troopships in Auckland from 1942 – 1944. The Cabaret’s swing orchestra struck up tunes such as “Chattanooga choo-choo”.
The Peter Pan Cabaret was an expensive nightclub venue due to the quality of the entertainment provided by Arthur Skelton and his dance band, who were the house band, and for the two course supper provided in the lower level room before the dance ended at midnight."
This paragraph from Wikipedia describes the Karangahape Road area, and I know my mother lived close by there in her early days of working in speech therapy clinics in Auckland.

"During the middle of the 20th century the Karangahape Road Area was a destination shopping centre, especially busy on late nights when family groups would travel in (often on public transport) and clog the pavements. A line was painted down the centre of the footpaths to regulate foot traffic and police were posted at the Pitt Street intersection to stop people being pushed out into the traffic. A typical late-night outing included seeing a Movie, shopping, a meal and promenading along the street window shopping and being seen. At this time the street had five Cinemas (The Avon, Vogue, Newton Palace, Playhouse and Tivoli) and probably as many Dance Halls (The Music Academy, Peter Pan Cabaret) including the Druid's Hall in Galatos Street which is still in operation as a music venue."

Jean and Ian first met at a tennis club dance, and my mother noted in her Life Album that 'it was a case of Some Enchanted Evening'. He rang her every day thereafter, and they were married on 22 April 1950, about 9 months after becoming engaged. I've previously blogged about their wedding here

As mentioned above, we have never really celebrated Valentines Day much, but I did find this photograph of us which was taken at home on Valentines's Day 1988. It looks romantic, and there's a balloon, card and bubbly to be seen, but I should probably explain that I didn't really make that heart-shaped cake specially for the occasion - it was in fact a left over from the one I'd made for our eight year old daughter's birthday party a few days earlier, as you can see in the bottom photograph.  That's one of our boys toasting us in the clown wig, and in the background you can just spot our little orange canary Fernando, who was a very vocal member of the family for at least 18 years. My mother gave him to us as a present because his colour matched the orange of our 1970s style kitchen in the home we built in Canberra. This photograph was two moves later, and he no longer matched the decor, but he was a great singer, especially if was music or other noise happening, and we named him after the Abba song. In the end he literally fell off off his perch, dying of old age.
 "If I had to do the same again, I would, my friend, Fernando!"

Funnily enough, we will be out this Valentine's Day, attending a class dinner organised by a group of my old school friends (Class of 1970), and the dress code inspired by the occasion is pink and black. Hopefully it will be great fun, and there will certainly be lots of old memories and stories told!
Happy Valentine's Day to all!

For more blogs that may or may not be about other peoples's delightful memories of Valentine's Day, just click here to be transported to Sepia Saturday #266

Friday, 6 February 2015

In the Workshop

The subject of this week's Sepia Saturday is a photo of  craftswomen in a pottery workshop.  We toured the Royal Worcester porcelain factory in the 1990s, and were able to watch the artists at work, hand painting their specialised fine designs onto the pieces before final firing, but I don't seem to have taken any photographs, or perhaps photography was not allowed. Sadly the old Royal Worcester company went into liquidation in 2008 and although the brand was bought by another pottery manufacturer, Portmeiron, it is now manufactured in Stoke-on-Trent and elsewhere, and only the Museum of Royal Worcester remains on the original Worcester site.

I thought I would post this photograph from my sister Louisa, which shows Louisa and her former husband Danny working away in their home jewellery workshop. At the time in the 1990s they were living in the little community of Totara North in the far north of New Zealand.  They sold their jewellery at local markets and art galleries and also made pieces on commission.  Louisa and Danny are no longer together and have both moved a little further south, but Louisa still creates lovely silver rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings in another home workshop at her home near Kerikeri. Danny lives in Whangerei and works out of a converted boatshed. He specialises in jade, also known as greenstone or pounami in New Zealand. You can read more about Louisa and see some of her recent work here, and she also has a Facebook page, Expressive Elements.

While looking for a copy of the workshop photograph in my mother's scrapbooks, I came across this page of postcards advertising my cousin John's jewellery shop, Youngs Jewellers in Christchurch NZ. They are not dated, but they refer to the time when the shop was located in Shades Atrium, Cashel St Mall, so it may have been while my Uncle Peter still owned the shop and specialised in antique jewellery, whereas today Youngs sells both modern and antique jewellery.  To read more about the history of Youngs in a blog I wrote recently, click here.  I would have included these postcards there if I had found them at the time, but they sort of fit in here too, being on the subject of jewellery. 

I find it interesting that one of the cards even has a photograph of an old sepia postcard within it, of a little girl at Christmas in her fur coat. From the stamp on the card, she is probably French and I wonder if this might have been a card sent to Peter by his sister Pat at some point, as she lived in French-speaking Geneva for many years. Then again, it may just be a random card found by Peter or John or one of their business partners.

For more Sepian blogs workshopping the topic this week, go to Sepia Saturday #265