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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

A Variety of Sports

This week the prompt shows a game of Canadian Gridiron players In action. Their superhero style outfits make them look very strange, although I realise that the helmets and heavy shoulder padding are designed for ultra protection from possible injury. Here in Australia four major football codes are widely played, and the players wear comparatively little protection, apart from occasional headgear. Aussie Rules players specialise in sleeveless jumpers and short shorts!  Depending on State preferences, they play Aussie Rules, Rugby League, Rugby Union and soccer. Gridiron is not widely played in Australia, but we do have a relative who plays in a local competition.

  My late father-in-law Robert Featherston appears to have been a keen sportsman in his younger days and I thought you might enjoy seeing some evidence of this from his photo collection.  The first photo is of him on the field, ready for action. I'm not sure where or when it was taken, but it may have been before he joined the RAAF in 1941. His son/my husband says he was told that his father played rugby for Victoria, and this may well be what Bob is dressed and ready to play here, although there's no accompanying description. If that is correct, it must have been pre WW2.

The next photograph is an action shot, with a prematurely balding Bob down on his knees in the thick of things, during what I think is an Aussie Rules game, as some of the other players look to be the same as in the following team photo. When Bob returned to Australia after 3 years of imprisonment as a POW in Poland, he was sent to a one teacher school in the small town of Willing South, in Gippsland Victoria. His wife Mary says she always felt  that in light of Bob's gruelling experience as a POW, it was rather mean of the Education Department to send him away to such a small and isolated place, far from his family in Geelong. He joined and played Aussie Rules with a local  club, Gormandale FC, probably for companionship as much as a desire to play, and as the third photo shows, the team won their local premiership that year, in 1946. Strangely, when I had a look on the club web site, I saw that the honour board records recorded that a premiership had been won in 1947 but not 1946, so I've sent the secretary a copy of the photographic evidence and am hoping the records may be set straight as a result.  Credit where credit is due!

Some fifty years later in the mid 1990s, several of Bob's grandchildren showed sporting prowess too. One swam competitively and a couple of the girls became gymnasts. Kim, one of our boys, was good at a variety of ball sports, playing  tennis, soccer, baseball and later volleyball at district representative level,  while his sister Claire played a good left-handed catcher for her softball team, the Kissing Point Black Sox, and was also part of a state championship winning team. Below are a few sporting photos of Claire and Kim.

Winners are grinners - U14  State Softball champions, Dubbo NSW 1993. Claire is on far left, 2nd row. A black and white photo that has effectively become sepia toned.

Claire the catcher in action, c. 1994/5

North Shore baseball rep players in the dugout, c. 1996

Soccer U14 Ku-Ring-Gai district winners - not surprisingly, Kim has the ball.

Sadly their grandfather was no longer around to enjoy their achievements, but I'm sure he would have approved.

Here is another action shot for you, showing a rugby lineout. I took it at the high school one Saturday afternoon in the winter of 1996 when the Barker College Rugby First XV were playing.  The school was running a photographic competition at the time and surprisingly enough I won that week with this photograph and scored myself the prize of a handy little pair of binoculars. My photo was also printed on the cover of the weekly football program a few weeks later. Meanwhile our son was playing soccer, not rugby! Both this and the  b+w soccer team shot were taken and developed by yours truly at a time when I was into that kind of thing. 

On a previous trip to London last year, I looked out a window overlooking Peckham Rye Park and spied this set of four Aussie Rules goalposts in the nearby park, so clearly someone must be playing the game over there. Then just this week we received this appropriate photo of our little cutie, with her uncle Kim's Aussie Rules Sherrin in hand, getting in practice for her grandfather's upcoming visit.

Go Geelong! Not doing too well this year, so they need a bit of support!


   Geelong socks for Isabelle when she's watching on TV with her English Dad, who is a Liverpool fan.

For other sporting blogs this week, get your kit on and play around at Sepia Saturday #277

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Newlyweds, babies or big hair?

This week's prompt comes from the cover of a old book of cartoons that seem to be all about a very mischievous and not particularly attractive baby. I thought of writing about big hair, but hair was a previous topic. I did find this illustration in the reprint of a little book of advice I bought at the National Library of Australia bookshop recently, entitled "A Book for Every Woman", which was originally published in 1924 by the Associated School of Dressmaking, Sydney NSW.

A sweet sketch on p 43 of the reprinted book, credited as having been an illustration in the Myer Emporium Ltd, Melbourne, catalogue, Spring/Christmas 1925.

 "Don't wash any oftener than once a month and exercise by brushing rather than massage" were the words of wisdom given in the chapter on caring for your hair, and in the end they really recommended only washing it once every three months! Here is a short extract from p. 40:

Advice on hair care has rather moved on since those days!

I thought I would move on too, and change topics to that of newlyweds and babies, especially when I remembered that today (22 April) would have been the 65th wedding anniversary of my parents Jean and Ian Cruickshank. Perhaps they are now celebrating together somewhere up above.

Wedding Day 22 April 1950 in St David's Presbyterian Church, Colombo Street, Christchurch NZ

Jean and Ian with their parents, Oliver and Myrtle Cruickshank next to their son, and Jack and Mona Morrison next to their daughter. Mona looks pleased as she glances across at the happy couple, while Myrtle seems a little less so, but that's probably just my imagination. Oliver Desmond Cruickshank was an ANZAC, having fought in France from mid 1916 until the end of the war. I understand that he had shrapnel in his forehead for the rest of his life. I included a detailed account of the wedding festivities in an earlier post here last year.

Jean and Ian's first born child arrived 2 and a half years later.  Here she is following her christening, looking wide-eyed about all the attention she would have been receiving. Looking at the baptismal certificate that Jean naturally saved, I'm sure my parents did their best to bring me up accordingly, but sad to say I've rather strayed since then.

Here's another extract from the previously mentioned  Book for Every Woman, this time from the chapter entitled 'How to Make Baby Happy':

pp. 22-23.   I hope the reference to whipping didn't relate to baby care, but it does appear on the same page!

I don't know whether my grandparents strictly followed similar recommendations when bringing up little Jean and Ian, or if my parents did so with me, but my relatively lax child care methods certainly would not have passed muster with the editors of that book. I didn't prevent our first child Claire from sucking her thumb for example, but it didn't seem to do her any harm, as she had perfect teeth, with no braces required. 

We didn't have any formal portrait shots taken of the three of us, so normally one or other of us would be behind the lens, but I do like these informal snaps with Claire in 1980. If I wanted to follow the SS prompt strictly, I'd probably be looking for photos of babies getting into all kinds of trouble, but of course I don't have many of those.  

Photo by Shutterbaby Baby and Child Photography.

Claire and her husband now have their own little baby and here is a lovely portrait of them together, taken at home in London when Isabelle was very new. That was over a year ago, and we are soon to visit her again. Meanwhile we get daily photos and updates on her progress.

Enough nostalgic photos from me - click here for other probably more -lighthearted blogs from other Sepians. 

Best wishes to all Australian and New Zealand bloggers on the centenary of ANZAC Day, 25 April 2015. We plan to commemorate it by attending a local ceremony in the Victorian town of Bungaree, where a memorial to local people who have served in world conflicts will be unveiled. Four of Isabelle's great great great uncles from the Bungaree district volunteered for WW1, and one of them, Robert Oliver Calwell, did not return. RIP Robert and his brothers William, Charles and Harry, who also served.   

Lest We Forget.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Pesky poles

Of course we need light, electricity and telephone poles to enable us to enjoy a comfortable modern lifestyle, but they do have rather a habit of getting into photos that would look better without them.  I've recently been going through some of my late father-in-law Bob Featherston's old negatives from the 1940s and scanning them to computer on a fairly basic little device and have come across a few examples that I thought I would put up here. The first three photos come from Bob's time in Canada when he was sent there for pilot training in 1941, prior to serving in the RAF flying Lancaster bombers in WW1. It was in the area of Jasper in the Rocky Mountains and it all looks pretty cold and bleak. There are quite a few interesting shots of people in uniform enjoying themselves in what for many of the Australians at least was very probably  their first experience of snow, but I'll save those for another time. Meanwhile the poles in these shots stand out. Sometimes they can be hard to avoid!


A view of Ottawa with a light pole and wires taking prime position.

Another example from Bob's negative collection, this time from post war England, A solitary ubiquitous pole stands sentinel beside bombed out buildings in Southampton.  The sign in the church refers to 'A Prayer for Our Nation'. Some of the older negatives were too big to fit in the scanner holder, so I've had to divide them into two, as here, and I don't presently have a program that will join them up neatly. but here they are separately:

Bob met Mary in England after the war and at 21 she ventured out to Australia aboard a ship full of English war brides. They were married a few weeks after she arrived in the country, at the Yarra Street Methodist Church in Geelong on 25 January 1947. I really like this shot of them outside the church, but it is a pity the photographer got that pole practically in the centre of the frame, looking like it is virtually attached to Mary's head, and the spire of a distant church is also a little unfortunately positioned, but they don't really detract from the happiness of the couple. Young Mary will celebrate her 90th birthday in July.  Bob passed away in 1992, but if he were still with us he would have been turning 98 a couple of weeks later.

For more related blogs on this topic, just click here to go to Sepia Saturday #275, but watch out for any pesky poles that may well get in your way!

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Clean, Cheap and Cheerful?

The poster in our prompt shows a man and his horses delivering coal, and urges people to order their supplies. I'm grateful to Maree for posting this photograph of a poster for Wonthaggi Household Black Coal on a blog she wrote in 2010, whilst cycling around Australia.   I think the poster depicts a happy cat in front of a raging hearth. 'Clean,cheap and cheerful' is not quite the image we have of coal these days!  Maree says she saw  the poster on the wall of the Wonthaggi Library back in 2010.

Poster thanks to Maree's blog,  at
According to the web site of  Museum Victoria

"The State Coal Mines at Wonthaggi were established as an emergency measure to provide urgently needed black coal for the Victorian Railways during a protracted strike by New South Wales coal miners. Opening on 22 November 1909 on coal seams that had earlier been proved by a Government drilling program, the mine dispatched its first consignment just 3 days later with the coal being taken to Inverloch by bullock wagons for loading onto ships. A branchline from Nyora on the South Gippsland line was built in 1910 by the time production was in full swing. As further shafts were opened up, production increased from 41,000 tons in 1910 to reach a peak of 662,000 tons in 1930.
Initially the mine was highly profitable but production declined in the 1930s as larger seams were worked out and the mine was hit by industrial strife. Although operations became unprofitable, the Railway Commissioners opted to subsidise the mine in order to provide a guaranteed coal supply and the State Coal Mines remained in operation until 1968 when regular steam locomotives operations were finally phased out."

The following two photographs come from the Museum Victoria web site:

  • Rail trucks at State coal mine, Wonthaggi, circa 1919.
  • Date: circa 1919

  • Steam locomotive hauling coal from State Coal Mine, Wonthaggi, 18 July 1928.
  • Date: 18/07/1928

 When my husband's grandfather Joseph Henry Featherston became engaged to his wife-to-be Grace Eleanor Calwell, the following paragraph appeared in the Ballarat Courier of 11 March 1916: 

The engagement is announced between
Grace E Calwell, second eldest
daughter of Mrs M. W. Betteridge and
the late Mr Dan Calwell, of Bolwarrah, to
Joseph H. Featherston, Victorian Rail-
way, Bairnsdale, eldest son of Mrs and
the late Mr Joseph Featherston, Eureka
Street, Ballarat East.

Joseph Henry was born in 1982, and according to his birth certificate, his father Joseph was an engine driver at that time. His ancestors from Weardale in County Durham were lead miners, but grandfather Ralph  somehow escaped the mining life and became a joiner before he and his wife Mary emigrated to Victoria in 1853.  In 1919 Joseph Henry's occupation is given as fireman, and then on subsequent electoral rolls between 1924 and 1949 he was a driver. According to his daughter-in-law Mary, Joe worked on the Victorian railways, driving the trains that brought coal from Wonthaggi back to the cities of Melbourne and Geelong. Perhaps he drove the train pictured above.  The hard work took a toll on his health and he died in 1951 aged only 59, with his wife Grace outliving him by almost 25 years.  Here is a photograph of Joe with his new granddaughter Ann, taken in late 1949 or early 1950.

Joseph Henry Featherston and granddaughter Ann. RIP to them both.

I visited Wonthaggi just a couple of weeks ago.  Unfortunately I didn't have time to visit either the mine or the library, but I did manage to take a photograph of this large mural above one of the town buildings, depicting a steam train crossing a trestle bridge beside the Bass Coast on route to Melbourne. The banner on the train is advertising the Workmen's Club Picnic, and coincidentally we enjoyed dinner at the nearby Wonthaggi Workmen's Club that night. The trains don't run to Wonthaggi any more, but the bridge is still there, now converted into a rail trail that we rode over on our bikes.  

To read more blogs about coal, horses, workers and other related matters, just haul your load over  Sepia Saturday #274


I found this photo last night while scanning some old negatives to computer. It shows Joseph presumably relaxing on the beach at Ocean Grove near Geelong with his wife Grace and daughter Dawn, although he looks a lot more relaxed in the photo a couple of years later with his granddaughter!  Sadly we have no photographs of Joseph as a younger man.

pps. I just remembered another family connection to coal, sort of, in that my grandparents in Christchurch NZ lived across the road from a Mr Wendelken, who was a coalman. My mother wrote in her life book that Mr Wendeken "was always 'dirty', the coaldust covering him from head to toe - his eyes staring out of his blacked face as he lugged the coal sack on his back, up the path and round the back, to upend it with a crash into the coal box, a specail little house attached to the shed. When Mr Wendelken eventually retired he became a transformed person - always clean, and quite friendly". No photos, but I think Mum painted a good word picture.