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


La Nightingail said...

Aunty Dawn's artistic talents with a crochet needle are obvious in that last photograph. Simply beautiful. And the lovely things she made for each new family infant were obviously labors of love. My grandmother knitted & crocheted some beautiful things for my children as each was born. So did my Mom. And so have I for all my grandchildren. My Mom kept right on knitting sweaters & things for her grandchildren however - gorgeous multi-patterned & colored ski sweaters & cable knits far beyond any patience I have for that sort of thing. I have, however, knit my grandkids some simple colorfully striped ski caps! :)

Kristin said...

What beautiful work! I have some squares I inherited from my mother, I really should sew them together.

Kristin said...

And I'm really sorry about that missing album!

Barbara Rogers said...

Great story, with a culmination of hand crafted work by your Aunt Dawn. What a wonderful tribute to her.

Wendy said...

Excellent response to the prompt! I didn't see those blankets coming -- I thought the focus was on the traveling aspect of the story. That works as well, but the lovely crochets are not quite as obvious. So clever. And what a lovely tribute to Dawn.

Mike Brubaker said...

A thoughtful spin on the theme to combine it with a tribute to your Aunt. We may write about photos but I think we all share a fondness for handcrafted mementos too.

luvlinens said...

Lovely post, My aunt Dawn was named Hannah. She was always crocheting something. Needle in one hand and cup of coffee in the other. I inherited a couple Granny square afghans when she passed. I hope to get back to participating in Sepia next week, I have been away too long.

Deb Gould said...

You've hit the jackpot! Blankets/crocheted throws...they work; I love the baby shots, all in (or on) Dawn's lovely needlework!

ScotSue said...

Lovely family memories and I was very taken with Auntie Dawn's legacy of the granny squares, as it is a hobby I enjoy. I must admit I never really noticed the blankets in the prompt photo, so you hit on an original link.

Anonymous said...

Well done, Dawn. All those lovely handknits Granny square rugs are becoming quite popular again and something for you to pass on to another caring person.