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Thursday, 27 August 2015

A tribute to Dawn

This week's Sepia Saturday #294 prompt shows what is described as Walsh's Royal Mail and Day Car, heavily laden with passengers who look to be warmly rugged up for a day trip out and about in 
the Irish countryside around Sligo.

I only have a few old photographs of wagons and I've posted them all previously, so I thought I would go with a different aspect of the prompt, which may only become obvious in my last couple of photographs.

My husband's aunt Grace Dawn Featherston was born in 1923 in Geelong Victoria and died there close to 20 years ago, on 4 September 1995, aged 72.  Dawn as she was always known was a hard working school teacher for most of her life, until ill health forced her to give up work in her fifties. The first photograph shows her with her brother Robert's wife Mary, who at that time had recently arrived from England aboard a ship full of war brides. Having come directly out of an English winter, Mary was no doubt enjoying what looks like a nice day of January sunshine and heat.

Dawn and Mary Featherston, Geelong, 1947

In the following photograph Dawn and Mary look to be on an afternoon visit to Eastern Beach, Geelong's city bathing spot in Corio Bay, which I've also blogged about before. The two older ladies with them are Dawn's mother Grace Eleanor Featherston, nee Calwell, on the right, and her sister Edith, known to all as Aunty Dulce, on the far left.  Surprisingly they don't seem to be sitting on a picnic rug of any kind and are happily relaxing on the grass.

Below are Dulce, Dawn and Grace, beachside again some years later. This may have been at one of the ocean beaches to be found 20 to 30 kilometers to the east of Geelong where they lived, for example, Torquay, which was a favourite family haunt.

Next we see Dawn with Grace in her later years, sitting out somewhere on a bench. It looks like Grace never went out without a substantial handbag by her side!

Grace (Grandma Featherston) passed away in 1975, and the next photograph shows Dawn with my grandfather Oliver Cruickshank from New Zealand. They were both visiting their respective relatives in Canberra in 1981 and my parents must have invited Dawn, Mary and Bob over for a meal. We may also have been visiting from Sydney at the time.

The photograph below depicts Dawn in about 1983, showing off her family photograph album at a reunion. I really wish I knew where that album disappeared to after Dawn passed away! Her sister Jean may have taken it with her when she moved to northern New south Wales, and it is possible it could subsequently have been lost in a flood that went through the area where one of her sons lived, but no one seems to be able to tell me its whereabouts. I saw it briefly when we visited Grace and Dawn in the 1970s, but sadly I wasn't interested in family history back then, when Dawn and her mother would talk endlessly about who was doing what amongst their many cousins, mainly on the Calwell side of the family, as  Grace came from a family of ten, and her father Dan Hogue Calwell was also from a large family. If I had thought to ask questions and take notes about who was who, not to mention taking copies of those photographs, I might have known a lot more than I do now.

Failing health meant that Dawn spent most of her time at home after she retired from teaching, and she busied herself knitting and crocheting for all and sundry. Whenever one of her nieces or nephews had a new baby, a box of beautifully worked layettes and rugs would arrived on the doorstep. Here is a collage showing our babies all k(n)itted out in various outfits received from Great Aunty Dawn, and in several cases either lying on or wrapped in rugs and shawls that she had lovingly created. The top 4 photographs are of little Laura, who arrived 9 weeks early and swam in her clothes for a while after she eventually came home, the two babies on the crocheted rugs are her brothers and her older sister Claire is in the shawl at bottom left. Claire's daughter Isabelle in the bottom right corner is on the same baby blanket as the one I have wrapped around Laura in the adjacent picture. The rugs and blankets have survived, but sadly I haven't kept the baby clothes, which must have become worn out.

In April 1990 we drove down to Victoria from Sydney on a family touring holiday, during which we visited Dawn in Geelong and took her out for Sunday lunch at a local old homestead. Wagon rides were on offer for the children and clearly face painting was too. The children enjoyed the outing and hopefully Dawn did too.

Dawn with her nephew and children, and a wagon to boot!

After Dawn passed away we didn't find her photograph album, but I did 'inherit' boxes and boxes of granny squares that she had made, ready to be made up when the need arose, and I eventually managed to stitch together four or five rugs for family members, as well as giving a lot more away to charity organisations. Here's a photo of one of them, and you can see a larger one that I've previously posted here,  Dawn never married, but she had had seven nieces and nephews and then 21 great nieces and great nephews, whom she greatly loved and for whom she provided a great deal. She never missed sending them all birthday cards and little gifts, either knitted items or $10 notes as they grew older, which were always much appreciated. Thank you for being so kind and caring, dear Aunty Dawn. It's hard to believe that next week it will be 20 years since you left us.

Dawn's lovely blankets and rugs are my link to the prompt photograph. For other blogs loosely based around the prompt this week, put on your hat and coat, wrap up warmly and hop aboard the Day Car for  Sepia Saturday #294

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

In memory of Jean

The Sepia Saturday prompt this week shows a cafeteria somewhere. I haven't found any sepia photos in my family history collection that could really fit in with this, but I'm prompted to show this photograph from October 2013.  It is of my mother Jean, having afternoon tea in the dining room of Cresthaven, the care home where she was a resident for a bit over a year before she passed away, one year ago today on 19 August 2014. On my iPad in front of her is a photograph she has been admiring, of her first great granddaughter Eloise, who at the time was newly born in Canada. Another great granddaughter Isabelle Jean was born in England in 2014, and two more great grandchildren are now on the way.  Young Eloise is soon to turn two. Jean could only look at the pictures I frequently took along of Eloise and Isabelle and was rapidly losing her ability to talk and express her feelings for them, but I'm sure they filled her with great pride. Sadly at least two of the other ladies in this photograph have also passed away. The lady happily drinking her cup of tea died quite suddenly a few months before Jean, and I think the little Irish lady nearest the window died subsequently. I can't really say that Mum was happy during her time there, but her declining health was more to blame for that than anything else. The staff were generally kind and caring in the homely old Edwardian style building that currently accommodates some forty-five residents. The oldest resident turned 108 last year and may well still be living there, aged 109. Cresthaven no doubt reminds some people of the style of homes they have previously lived in, but I believe the operators have plans to demolish it in the near future and replace it with a much larger purpose built facility. With the older members of the baby boomer generation rapidly approaching a certain age, demand will be high, and numerous similar institutions with state of the art facilities are being erected around Melbourne, but you couldn't call them homes. I rather hope I don't end up in one of those places!

I wrote a tribute to Jean last year that you can read here, but I'll finish today with two happier photographs of her sitting at tables. The first was taken on Jean's 80th birthday, at her own dining table in 2006, after she had enjoyed a lovely high tea celebration with family and friends, and the second was another celebration with family members in 2012 at a seaside restaurant near where she lived before moving into the home. 

RIP Jean Margaret Cruickshank, nee Morrison

You are sure to find more blogs featuring dining rooms, cafeterias, restaurants, tables, drink machines and the like here at Sepia Saturday #293.  Meanwhile we'll sit around the table and raise a glass in memory of Jean.

ps. Just out of interest, I've noticed that  English people, for example our co-convenor Alan, often say "I'm sat", whereas Australians would normally say "I'm sitting".  An interesting language difference.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

"On the Fourteenth of February, 1966"

Our Sepia Saturday prompt photo for this week appears to show a gentleman from a bank exhibiting some very large piles of bank notes, closely watched by two guards.  I have nothing remotely like this in my family history photo collection, so what could I possibly write about this week?

On 14 February 1966 Australia converted from pounds, shillings and pence to decimal currency. Anyone who was of school age or above in this country at the time would surely remember this, as it was quite a momentous event, and something you couldn't ignore, as it affected your daily life in so may ways.  In 1966 I was a school student in 2nd Year at Lyneham High School in Canberra, ACT, and my maths teacher was a lady called Winifred Townley. I remember her as being rather stern and strict, and not putting up with any nonsense from us, but if we did our homework and showed an interest we got on fine in her class.  Amazingly enough, I or perhaps my mother saved a couple of project books that I was required to produce for Mrs Townley, and I thought you might be amused to see the one I did on the history of Australian money and the conversion that year to decimal currency.  I think Mrs T must have been keen on projects. i'm surprised at how neat my lefthanded handwriting was when I was 13, and that I only made 3 spelling mistakes in my short 'potted history' of Australian Money and Decimal Currency. I'm afraid my maths marks probably went down after that year, as maths got harder and there were no more projects, just problems to be solved!

We no longer have 1 or 2 cent coins, and prices are rounded either up or down, whichever is closest, unless you pay by card. The 50 cent piece has become  a 12 sided coin and has featured many different designs to celebrate various national events. I'm not sure why I didn't mention notes in my project, apart from the play money at the end, but  $1, $2, $10 and $20 notes were also issued in 1966. The $1 and $2 notes have since been replaced by coins, and $5, $50 and $100 notes have subsequently been produced.  For more details and pictures of our first decimal notes, click here

The process of polymerization was developed in Australia and in the bicentennial year of 1988 Australia introduced polymer notes to help prevent the problem of  counterfeiting.  Here is a direct link that explains this and other security features that are hidden on Australian notes.  

You can read more and see pictures and explanations of the manufacturing process and the people featured on our colourful notes on that same site, the Museum of Australian Currency Notes. 

Here are a couple of short clips that were shown repeatedly on television in preparation for the change. The title of this blog comes from the catchy jingle you can hear in the first clip, sung to the tune of one of our national songs, Click go the Shears. I think some older people might have felt patronised by the tone in the second clip!

I'll just finish with a little more information about my maths teacher Mrs Winifred Townley, who was born in 1916 in England and died in Canberra in 2000, aged 84. She must have been about 50 in 1966 and one of the more senior members of staff when this photograph appeared in the Lyneham High School magazine.

 I knew that Mrs Townley was a Quaker and have found an entry for her here in Australian Quaker Biographies.  Here is a brief extract from it:

"Born Winifred Margaret McKeon in London in 1916, she studied science at university at a time when this was unusual for women. She did postgraduate work in physics and became a research physicist with a company making one of the earliest colour films. During the war she joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force and became a Weather Forecaster at the Meteorological Office.

Between 1959 and 1975 Winifred taught mathematics at High Schools in Canberra. She and Kenneth [had five children and] also fostered and cared for numerous children over the years." 

It is interesting in the context of Sepia Saturday to read that Mrs Townley did research on early colour film technology. Teaching high school maths might have been rather tame compared to her previous work, but hopefully she enjoyed encouraging her students to develop a good grounding in the subject. Thank you Mrs Townley for your wise teaching.

Our family did have one small ongoing connection with Mrs Townley in a way, because a year or two later my mother Jean either bought or was given a kitten from a litter belonging  to her, and that kitten became our beloved ginger cat Gus, who survived in Canberra for 21 years.  I've included a couple of photographs of him in an earlier post.  He was a friendly fellow, but definitely no maths wiz!

For more blogs about about piles of money, click here to count your stash at Sepia Saturday #292

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Our first TV set, and others

This week's prompt photograph is of a showroom full of older style free standing television sets. Nothing particularly family history related comes to mind, but as it is the second anniversary of my blog this weekend, I thought I would post this photo of one of our sons, taking early steps in 1983. At the time he had been walking for just three weeks, so naturally he was very excited, and when growing up he loved all ball sports. Behind him however is our first little television set. It was a Thorn model, and was operated by remote control, that is if you can call a control connected to the set by a cord remote. You just had to sit close enough for the cord to reach the set, which had been given to us a couple of years earlier by my mother-in-law Mary. We had been married for seven years at the time and had managed fine without a TV up until then, and I planned to continue the same way, but I think Mary thought we might need some distraction, or perhaps that our one year old might need more entertainment. The set wasn't free-standing, but we found a suitable spot on top of the wall unit, plugged it in and were a TV-owning family from then on, although I tried not to let the children become addicted. That little set lasted for over 30 years. Eventually it became a second set in the corner of the front room, handy if you really wanted to watch something different. When analogue reception was finally phased out, we put it out on the nature strip for the council rubbish collection, but before the collection date arrived, it was picked up by someone who was probably planning to use some of its parts. Nice to think that it could be recycled in that way.

Here's another photograph of a baby not watching television, in this case our English granddaughter, when she was very young. The photo is courtesy of her father, who was engrossed in watching a game of Australian rules football, broadcast live in the UK in the early hours, while babysitting at the same time. If you zoom in, you can see that the right team was winning, at least at that point. 

We now have three TV sets but we still don't watch it a lot, or at least I don't. I may be sitting there to be sociable, but I'm often concentrating more on something on the lap top or Ipad rather than what's on  'the box'.

With regard to our prompt image of a room full of television sets, here is a link to an interesting installation called Küba that I saw last year, not in Canada but at the Museum of Old and New Art, in Hobart Tasmania, the island state below the Australian mainland. The article also describes another tv room exhibit by the same artist Kutlug Ataman, but Küba was the only one of his works that was on display at MONA.You view this installation by relaxing in assorted old armchairs placed in front of forty old sets, each playing different interviews with a group of Turkish refugees. The photograph below from the national newspaper the Australian shows the multimillionaire founder of the MONA Gallery, David Walsh, with some of the sets behind him. Apparently he said it was his favourite exhibition in the whole gallery. Some of the other exhibits are very confronting to say the least, but art takes all forms, doesn't it? Everyone who visits Hobart visits MONA.

                                                                              David Walsh

For more blogs of all kinds and possibly television in particular, just click the remote to change channels directly to Sepia Saturday #291.