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Thursday, 24 September 2015

A friendly breed

The prompt this week shows two privileged little girls with their pet dogs outside the family mansion. We've had dogs as a photo prompt before, and I've previously included a few photos of them here, but I still managed to find a few more in my mother's and my father-in-law's collections. I think there is something about cocker spaniels in particular that always makes them look more good-natured, cheerful and endearing than some other breeds. I don't have photos of sisters but I do have them of siblings with dogs, although not together.

This first photograph is of my mother Jean as a young child, c. 1936, when she and her mother Mona Morrison nee Forbes were visiting Mona's older sister Ruby and husband William Berry. They lived in Dunedin and no doubt young Jean enjoyed the journey down there from Christchurch and hanging out with her aunt and uncle and her cousins Ruth, Doug and Jack, not to mention the fun of having a dog to play with for a few days, as she didn't have a dog at home.

Next in line is Shortie, another spaniel, who was likely owned by Jean's childless paternal aunt Ethel and her husband Jack, whom Jean visited in Wellington for Christmas in 1938. 

The next photograph shows Graeme, one of Jean's younger brothers, clearly very happy to be cuddling what might be the same dog a few years later. It looks to have the same spotted colouring on its forelegs, but I'm no expert, and perhaps that kind of colouring is common in the breed. Alternatively this spaniel may have belonged to uncle Stanley Herbert Morrison, who also lived in Wellington, and whom Jean and Graeme visited together in 1942, when Graeme would have been around 13.

My other three photographs are from a collection of negatives labelled "Afternoon tea at Aunt's", by Bob Featherston. Taken on the same day, they show the same dog, being petted first by Bob and then by his younger sister Dawn, about whom I wrote a short tribute not long ago that you can read here.  It was a sunny afternoon in 1947 and Bob, his mother Grace and sisters Jean and Dawn had taken Bob's English bride Mary to meet Grace's sister Edith, known to the family as Aunt Dulce. I'm sure Dulce's dog would have enjoyed the attention that he or she received from all the visitors that day.

 Edith Mary O'Connor, nee Calwell, youngest of ten Calwell siblings, had a rather sad life. She was aged only three when her father Dan Hogue Calwell died and she lost a baby when she was a young woman, in the same week that her mother died. Dulce married 10 years later but she and her husband Columba Alain Devereux O'Connor didn't have any children together and in 1940 he died of a heart attack aged 36, after only five years of marriage.

The obituary for Columba O'Connor, published in the Advertiser, 5 Dec 1940, per Trove web site. His wife Edith does not rate a mention.

Like Mona and Jack Morrison, Grace and her husband Joe Featherston were not a dog-owning family themselves, but the two sisters were very close. In 1942 Dulce was living in the very same street, just across the road from Grace in Little Myers St Geelong. By 1949 she had moved back to the home in Minerva St Manifold Heights where she previously lived with Col. No doubt both she and her pet would have been much loved by the extended Calwell/Featherston family. I met Dulce once, probably in 1972 or '73, but I don't remember whether or not she had a dog at that stage. She passed away later in 1973.

Bob's sister Dawn Featherston looking young and sporty in her short shorts. This dog also has spotted legs, but is definitely not Shortie!
At the home of Dulce O'Connor. Grace and her younger daughter Dawn are at the back, with daughter-in-law Mary and Grace's sister Dulce in the centre of the photograph. Currently I haven't identified the girl in the light suit or the two children, but I'm working on it. Dulce's dog had probably had enough of the limelight for one day!

That's enough smiling people and family spaniels from me, but if you take your dog (or mouse) for a walk to Sepia Saturday #298 I'm sure you'll find plenty more.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Washing lines and Washerwomen

The prompt photograph for Sepia Saturday # 297 shows a lady hanging up washing, artistically shot from above to create quite a striking image, as Alan says. Sorry to say, in my mother Jean's albums there is nothing to compare with that, just a few snaps with laundry in view. I must admit washing is not something I would intentionally include in photos, and these days I would probably crop it out, but not this week.

This first photograph is captioned  'the cottage and its inhabitants', and comes from my mother's days in Auckland as a student teacher. As I've mentioned in previous blogs, these girls became lifelong friends, and I have shown this photograph before, but without emphasis on the washing lines that it includes. Beside the cottage which was located at 147 Khyber Pass Rd can be seen what looks like a sheet or two hung out to dry, and on the far right a towel is also flapping in the breeze. In front of the cottage the other end of the line stands ready and available for more washing to come. It looks a very small cottage for 5 young women, and there would certainly have been no room for dirty clothing to lie around taking up valuable space.

I've also blogged in the past about my voyage to England in 1953 with my parents aboard the ship Rangitata and have included a similar photo to this one, but this costume that my mother made for me, entitled the 'Rangitata Washerwoman' is quite apt for this week's theme, complete with box of Fab washing powder tied under my arm.

I've also previously shown this next photo taken in the back yard of our first home in Canberra, with washing drying in the background, c. 1956.

 In the next photo it looks I've been copying Mum and doing some washing myself, all hung up on a line at just the right height. Perhaps those dolls in the pram had been playing in a bit too much dirt.
 While we were in England my parents had a week away in Europe and sent me a pair of Dutch postcards, one of which showed children doing their washing, as you can see here. Quite a similar image really.  Of course, washing can be quite a preoccupation of mothers with young children, as there always seems to be an endless amount of it to do.

Below is a photo of a typical backyard scene, sent to Jean by her friend Diana in New Zealand in about 1960. It shows her young son Garth, trying to push what could be a rotary mower, with the washing including cloth nappies strung up in full view on the rotary clothes line behind him. Diana was one of the friends in the first photograph above and was a bridesmaid for Jean. In fact Jean chose my name (Joanna) in honour of Diana and her fellow bridesmaid Jocelyn.

Here is what the National Library web site says about the Hills Hoist, which became an icon of Australian and New Zealand back yards. 

The Hills Hoist

Lance Hill (1902–1986)Order book for Hills Hoist clothes lines 1945–1946
manuscript in commercially produced memo book; 17.5 x 10.0cm

Donated by Trevor Hill, 1996
South Australiana CollectionsState Library of South Australia
Order book for Hills Hoist clothes lines 1945–1946
Lance Hill returned to Adelaide from the war in 1945 to find his fruit trees competing for space with the family clothes line.
In his laundry workshop, Hill set about creating a rotary clothes hoist for his family that would later develop into that symbol of Australian suburbia, the Hills Hoist.
Not only could the line be raised and lowered, it could spin to take advantage of the wind. The Hills Hoist was also popular because it could hold four nappies on each of the four outer wires.
Orders from impressed neighbours and relatives began flooding in, even though it cost twice the average weekly wage. This order book records Hill’s very first sales, when a hoist cost £10.10s and installation an extra £1.5s.
Today, Hills Industries operates internationally and produces a wide range of products from building and industrial parts to play equipment.
The Hills Hoist is an enduring Australian icon in more ways than one. A Darwin family reported that the only thing left standing, and working, after Cyclone Tracy was their Hills Hoist.

Finally, here is a photo taken in December 1999. My son and I are standing on the rather less than salubrious rooftop of our three star hotel accommodation in Athens. The Hotel Carolina boasted views of the Acropolis, which you can indeed see very faintly on the hill behind us if you look closely. What the hotel description failed to mention was that in order to get this distant view, you had to fight your way through an extensive and low slung line of washing, comprised mainly of the owner's wife's voluminous underwear. It was funny at the time, although it would have been more so if I had thought to take a photo of the way through the washing. Sadly I did not, so you'll just have to imagine it from my description. I'm not sure why we were so desperate for a view here, because of course we went to visit the Acropolis close up the next day.

For other clean, fresh-smelling laundry-related blogs, why not go hang out a while at Sepia Saturday #297
       Hopefully not too many people will choose to air their dirty laundry in public this week, but you never know!

We were visiting the city of Ballarat today, and I spotted this in a shop window display - it's a genuine mini model of a Hills HoĆ­st, including the name, so I just had to add a photo of it in here. By the way, the reason we went to Ballarat was to visit the very interesting Ballarat International Foto Biennale, in which surprisingly there were several photos that included washing.


Friday, 11 September 2015

Aulsebrook's Cocoa helps to "Put It Over"

The prompt this week shows an advertisement for H Boettcher, a Californian wine grower, vintage unstated.  I was really struggling to come up with anything vaguely connected to this prompt, but when searching for the names of family members on the National Library of New Zealand's very useful web site Paperspast, I discovered the following item. It includes the name of my great aunt, Flora Forbes, who is listed as 3rd prize winner in a competition run by local manufacturer Aulsebrook's Cocoa. The competition results were published under the business notices in the Christchurch newspaper The Press, on 30 April 1900.  This was a fortnightly competition in which entrants had to identify a famous quote. 

The quote included in the advertisement above would have been for the following fortnight, but the quote published in the advertisement for the previous fortnight (12 April 1900)  was

Hence the answer that Flora and her fellow regular users of Aulsebrook's Cocoa would have needed to give was The Charge of the Light Brigade, by Alfred Lord Tennyson.  So very easy now to discover instantly using the power of the internet, but before then, 'in our day', and certainly back in 1900, young Flora would had needed to have either learnt it at school or to research it, perhaps at her local or school library. Her father Charles or mother Jane Isabella may have been able to help her.  Her prize was 10/- , and this would have been the cause of great excitement in the Forbes family.  

Here is  a photograph of Flora and her three sisters, including my grandmother Mona. Flora was the eldest, born in 1888, with Mona being 9 years younger. It was probably taken sometime between 1915 and 1920.   Flora was very good at sewing and became a tailoress in adult life. She worked in a city factory, as you can see here

I've included other photographs of Flora in previous posts, for example here and  here, but unfortunately I have none of her aged eleven. To my mother she was always known as Aunty Flo.

Back in the 1960s, when I was not much older than Flora was in 1900, I participated in a competition run by the Argonauts, which was a children's radio club. The competition was called "What Book is That", and to  enter you needed to listen to passages read out by the presenters each week for 10 weeks in succession, and then send in your answer identifying the books and authors of all the passages. With my mother's help, I found all the answers and won a book prize one year at least, but sadly I don't seem to have my prize book any longer.  It was a lot simpler for Flora's great great niece Laura to win herself this 10 kg box of chocolate in 2002, as she had simply picked up and filled out her details on a wrapper that someone else had dropped in the school locker room. We were all very pleasantly surprised at her good fortune when the large box subsequently arrived on our doorstep!

I also found the following selection of entertaining advertisements around the relevant time period for Aulsebrook's Cocoa  that I thought you might enjoy, on Paperspast and on the Alexander Turnbull Library web site . They make some rather bold claims for their product's powers!
Taranaki Herald, 5 September 1901

Star, 18 June 1913

Press, 17 May 1902

West Coast Times, 23 June 1913

Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser,  3 October 1902

Press 12 December 1900 (this must be referring to the Boer War or earlier conflicts)

Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington NZ, Ref 12 - 124052-F

Here is an undated photograph of the Aulsebrook Biscuit, Cocoa and Chocolate Works in Christchurch NZ, taken by photographer Steffano Webb, 1880-1967. A horse and cart looks like it is about to depart, loaded up with boxes of cocoa, biscuits and chocolate products for local delivery.  It seems that Aulsebrook & Co ceased operations in about 1963, but would have been in its hey day in the early 20th century.

Steffano Webb Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library

I haven't discovered a picture of a box of Aulsebrook's Cocoa, but an Aulsebrook's Chocolate Assortment box is currently for sale on Ebay, listed under vintage collectors items.

To see more advertisements, labels or anything else that other Sepians may happen to fancy this week,  just click and go to Sepia Saturday #296

Postscript, 10 November 2015

Just re-reading my mother Jean's memoirs today and I discover that she actually mentions visiting Aulsebrook's factory, which was located not far from where her family lived. In her words, " Before we left Christchurch, our Rugby packed tight with family and belongings on our way to [Leithfield[ Beach, we'd call in at Aulsebrook's factory and buy a bag of broken biscuits - animal crackers and chocolate biscuits were favourite finds." Her Aunty Flo, aka Flora, who had won the 10/- prize as a child, was very likely with the family on those beach trips. 

Thursday, 3 September 2015

A bridge too far?

The prompt for Sepia Saturday # 295 shows the Menai Suspension Bridge in  North Wales, heavily shrouded in fog. I'm not sure I'd be too happy driving across a bridge on a day like that when you couldn't see the road ahead, but I suppose that generally you would be fairly safe, unless someone coming across from the other direction veered into the oncoming lane. We drove up through North Wales on a trip in January 1993 but I don't think we encountered this bridge on our travels.

The following photograph from my mother Jean's first family album shows a pedestrian bridge in the area known as Pelorus Swing Bridge, located in Marlborough New Zealand. It is about 1928 and my grandfather John Morrison is posing here with his daughter Patricia, aged about 7, son Kenneth aged 5 and daughter Jean, aged about 2. John grew up in this area and would have taken his wife Mona and young family up there from their home in Christchurch to visit his parents Daniel and Mary Bridget Morrison and show them around the scenic countryside. What amazes me is how precarious this foot bridge looks, and that while John, Pat and Ken are holding onto the wire supports, no one seems to be restraining Jean in her little bonnet at all, while she peers down at the river below. Pat has a doll in her right arm, clearly more important that her little sister. Perhaps Ken has hold of Jean, but father John certainly doesn't!   I can't imagine taking three small children on a bridge like that these days. The Pelorus Swing bridge was originally constructed in the 1860's and of course it has since been replaced or made much safer, but it this is how it appeared in 1928. 

The next photograph was taken on the same visit to Granddad and Grandma and shows Pat with John, this time holding Jean on the rail of what is a slightly more sturdy bridge, but it still doesn't exactly look safe by today's standards. Perhaps Ken was down on the bank with his mother Mona while either she or one of John's brothers was taking the photograph.  Jean had happy memories of family trips to Canvastown where her grandparents lived.  I haven't yet visited Pelorus Bridge myself, but you can click here for photographs of  various bridges to be found in this scenic hiking area. Some of them still look rather hazardous.

I can't say I enjoy the swinging sensation on pedestrian bridges like this, even if there's no danger of accidentally falling off, but for comparison, here is a photo of the fully enclosed  Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver, which we visited in 2001. It's 140 meters long and is built 70 meters above the Capilano River. It's very scenic, but some people cannot resist jumping about while you and they are out in the middle of the crossing, just for the thrill of it!

These two shots show a local bridge across Gardiner's Creek in my local area, after it was washed away in a flood in March 2012. It was a popular crossing point for walkers and cyclists, and it was almost a year before it was replaced with what is hopefully a more solid structure.

Here is a photograph of the kind of bridge that I prefer, solid stone arches spanning the Wye River in the city of Hereford. The Wye does get flooded occasionally, but I can't imagine this sort of bridge would ever be washed away. It has been here since the 15th century.

To finish, here is a painting of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, painted while under construction in 1928/29, by one of my favourite Australian artists, Grace Cossington Smith. I photographed this in the Art Gallery of New South Wales just last Monday. From 1982 until 2005 we lived in Turramurra,  the same Sydney suburb as the artist did, until she passed away in 1984, and a number of her other works depict local scenes.  Even Sydney Harbour Bridge can sometimes be shrouded in fog with resultant traffic problems, but that's not the case here - no fog, and in 1929 no traffic either. The painting is entitled "The Curve of the Bridge".


For more bridge views, and other takes on this week's Sepia Saturday prompt photograph, no need to go off driving, hiking or cycling anywhere,  just click here,

ps. Another painting by Grace Cossington Smith that I liked at the Gallery was this one, called "The Lacquer Room", of a city department store restaurant that she enjoyed in 1936. It would have been appropriate for the recent theme of Sepia Saturday  #293.