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Thursday, 28 January 2016

Playing House

In my husband's late grandmother Doris Olds' farm kitchen there's a lovely solid old Aga style double stove that isn't used any more, but in the past it served to provide both heating and cooking and to make the kitchen the warm and welcoming heart of the home. Unfortunately I don't appear to have ever taken any photographs of it, or to have any photographs of any other real ovens in my collection, apart from a few that I have posted here previously.

Instead I thought I would post this one from 1986, which shows our younger son Strahan checking out what's cooking in the play oven made by his grandfather Bob Featherston. Bob was retired by that time and enjoyed making wooden toys such as this for his grandkids. He also made them a doll house, a ride-on truck and a multi-car garage for example. All were greatly appreciated and provided many hours of fun, out on the side verandah of our 1930s California style bungalow in Gilroy Rd Turramurra. 

Here's Strahan at Ikea recently, all grown up and having a look at a play kitchen like the one that his English niece Isabelle will be receiving for her second birthday. It was meant to be delivered for Xmas but was unexpectedly left with the neighbours on the wrong day and then somehow got stolen from their porch overnight. After some discussion over liability, Ikea agreed to provide a replacement. Of course young Isabelle was none the wiser.

Meanwhile here are Isabelle and her nursery friends Felix and Florence, playing house with Felix's kitchen, which is the same Ikea model. Play kitchens seem to be the 'in thing' right now, and there are many different styles available. With a sink, lights, and a mock microwave up top, this one looks rather more high tech than Bob's simple handmade version, but his was solid and served us well. Eventually we gave it away, hopefully to be enjoyed by others, although we do still have the dolls' house and garage. Thank you Bob!

Many hands make light work? 
Photo taken by Claire Featherston

To see what other Sepians have been cooking up this week, head over to Sepia Saturday 315

Monday, 25 January 2016

A gathering of the Clan

Our Sepia Saturday prompt this week shows a rather motley group of Irish family members who  apparently have plenty of freckles between them, although I can't really see this from the photograph. 

My group family photograph must have been taken in about 1934, when my mother Jean, on the far right, was aged about eight. She and her siblings had three aunts and two uncles on their mother's side. Jean's father John aka Jack Morrison was no stranger to large families himself, coming from a family of eleven children. Here he is holding Graeme, his youngest son at that time. Jean's mother Mona, nee Forbes, wife of John, is between her daughters Jean and Patricia, who is next to her brother Ken. Cousin Dossie is between Ken and his brother Derek.  Jack and Mona are flanked by Mona's two unmarried sisters Flo and Bess Forbes. Behind Dossie is her mother Dorie, nee Doris Elsie Ivory Cone, a divorcee whose second husband was John Middleton Forbes aka Jack Forbes, brother of Mona and her sisters. Jack, stepfather of Dossie, has his arms around Dorie and his sister-in-law Margaret, who had recently married his brother Charles Seddon Forbes, aka Dick, who,was the photographer on this ccasion. Margaret was a nurse who survived the catastrophic Napier earthquake of 1931. She had been living in the recently bulit Napier Hospital Nurses Home, when it collapsed, killing twelve of the nurses there. Margaret and Dick met in the aftermath of the disaster and were married in September 1934. Jean was a flowergirl at their wedding and the first of their five children was born in 1935. 

The gathering of Forbes families would have been in Christchurch NZ, probably at the Morrison family home, around the time of Dick and Margaret's wedding.  The  only Forbes sibling not present was their sister Ruby, who resided down south in Invercargill with her husband William Henry Berry and their three children. 

I would love to have known my Nan Mona Morrison when I was growing up, but We left NZ when I was three and I only saw her three times after that. I was nineteen when she died, 44 years ago last week. I remember I was in the middle of making myself a certain dress when Mum went home to Christchurch for the funeral and to help Jack sort through Mona's things, and when I had problems with the sewing my father was not much help.  I know about Mona mainly through my mother's stories, pen-pictures and photographs such as this one. She was an avid letter writer, and of course later that was the only way she could keep in touch with her two daughters and her son Graeme who had grown up and left NZ in the 1940s and 1950s. Mona never learnt to drive, because "she didn't have hairs on her arms", according to her son Derek when he was a small boy. She took to riding a bike in her fifties so she could visit nearby family whenever she wanted to. This included my family while we still lived there, and I in turn was allowed to ride my bike, a three wheeled chain-drive Humber, all the way on the footpaths from our house to my grandparents' place, where they would meet and look after me for the day. From looking on a map, I must have needed to cross a street en route, but nothing major!!

Now I too have a granddaughter who lives overseas, but the arrival of a local grandchild is in fact imminent. We are anxiously awaiting news, but it's on its way and we should know very soon, either today or perhaps tomorrow. Another Forbes descendant, another great great grandchild for Mona and Jack, and another great grandchild for Jean.

For a wide variety of blogs prompted by the Sepia Saturday photo for this week, visit 

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Meeting the Neighbours Pt 1 - A post for Trove Tuesday

This blog was previously entitled  "Turner Street Topics", and in light of that I thought it might be interesting to search Trove for snippets about past residents of the street in which I've lived for the past seven years.

Here is the first instalment:

The following obituary appeared in the Argus of 14 February 1941, or Mr William Wright Senior, who was living at #24 Turner St at the time of his death.  I haven't been inside #24 Turner St, but I imagine Mr Senior may well have maintained quite an extensive cellar either in or under his house, being in the wine business and having developed great expertise in judging of wine quality.  Indeed, the web site of the Royal Agricultural Show of Victoria in its history section describes him as legendary, and says that "he never made a mistake".

Here's another article, this time from the Western Mail, WA. His fame as a wine judge was clearly known across the country.

                     William Wright Senior: Definitely a noteworthy past resident of Turner St Malvern East.  He and his wife Adelaide had lived at #24 since at least 1924, according to the Electoral rolls, and prior to that had been living in the area of Malvern East since at least 1903.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Who were they?

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt shows two little French boys, survivors of the Titanic disaster. At the time the photo was taken, their identity was unknown, but publication of this photo and others resulted in them being identified by their mother in France, after their father had taken them away from her with the intention of emigrating to America.

Here is a photograph of two sweet little sisters, dressed in identical check print dresses. The younger child is holding what looks like a pull-along toy of some kind, and the older one is possibly holding a small bag. The photo appeared in an old family album given to my cousin Kim in Christchurch NZ. She and I are doubly related, through my 2x great grandmother Mary Anderson being her 3x great grandmother through Mary's second marriage to Charles Paterson, and my 2x great grandmother Jane Paterson being her 4x great aunt. Hence we have quite a few relatives in common, but despite this we don't know who these two little girls were. We can surmise is that the couple in the following photograph were very likely to have been their parents, because the studio background is the same and they were consecutively placed in the album. Unfortunately we don't have a date for the photographs but they are likely to have been taken in the 1870s or 1880s. I have a similar old family album originally given to Frederick Young in 1881, and although it doesn't contain these two photographs, I was wondering whether they could be Frederick's sisters,  my great grandmother Jane Isabella Young and and her little sister Mary Euphemia. They were born in NZ in 1860 and 1862 however, so they were probably a little old for the photograph to be of them, even though the father in the photograph does look rather like my 2x great grandfather Charles Young, father of Jane Isabella, Mary Euphemia and Frederick, and husband of Jane Paterson.

Could these older girls who are also wearing matching clothes be the same children? I believe they may be Jane Isabella and Mary Euphemia, mentioned above

I'm fairly sure that this is a photograph of Jane and Euphemia's parents Charles and Jane Young (nee Paterson).

There were two other sets of sisters who are possible candidates, namely Elizabeth and Rachel Nancarrow, born 1876 and 1878 respectively, and Leah and Mabel born 1885 and 1888, daughters of Michael Nancarrow and Margaret Paterson, who was a daughter of Mary Anderson and her second husband Charles Paterson.Unfortunately I don't have an identified photographs of these sisters. I do have a photograph of their father but he doesn't look like the same man as the father of the little girls.

So sad to say, unlike the little boys in our prompt, I can't identify who these two little girls were with any certainty. Perhaps publishing their photograph here may help.

For more blogs on this week's topic,
be sure to have a look at Sepia Saturday #313

Monday, 11 January 2016

What the neighbours got up to: A Post for Trove Tuesday

What the Neighbours got up to: A Post for Trove Tuesday

Turner St Malvern East runs between Waverley Rd and Manning Rd.  Just around the corner on Waverley Rd is an impressive-looking building containing shops and offices. These days there's not a lot happening there apart from a florist shop and a solicitor's office, but when initially built in about 1900 it looks to have been quite a busy place. Further shops were added in about 1912.  I've blogged about the history of the area previously,but I hadn't seen the following photograph of one of the shops before.

Photograph from the Stonnington Local History Catalogue, showing the boot and shoe shop, located at 53-55 Waverley Rd, operated by Wm. Howarth

When looking for further information about Mr Wm. Howarth, I came across these two articles, which don't portray him in a very favorable light.
Report published in The Argus, 1 November 1935, snipped from Trove web site

Shopkeeper Fined £20.
Giving evidence at the Malvern Court on Wednesday, Joseph Henry Foster, superintendent for the Electricity Commission, said that his suspicions were aroused when he heard that a shop conducted by William Howarth, boot retailer, of Waverley road, East Malvern, was known as the "lighthouse of East Malvern" , because of the number and brilliance of the lights used. A check of accounts showed that the amount of power used in the shop was far above normal. Howarth pleaded not guilty to a charge of having fraudulently used electricity. 
Llewellyn Hunt, a clerk employed by the commission said that on September 20 he went to Howarth's shop. A 75-watt lamp and a 150 watt lamp were being operated from the power circuit. Current for these lights was being obtained at 2d instead of  5 3/4d a unit.
In defence Howarth said that the fuse in the light meter had blown out about an hour before the inspectors called. As a temporary expedient he had connected two of the lights in the power circuit.
Mr R.E, Stapleton, P.M, said that he believed that Howarth had been defrauding the commission for a considerable time. 

A fine of 20 with  3 3/- costs was imposed.

Here's the corresponding report from the Age, which additionally reports that when the officers attempted to inspect the meters Howarth offered obstruction and tried to prevent them from climbing a ladder. The police had to be called. The Magistrate placed no reliance in Howarth's explanation.

Report published in The Age, 31 October 1935, snipped from Trove web site

I rather wonder what Mr Lllewellyn Hunt and the Electricity Commission would have thought of a number of current local residences in Malvern East such as in the following picture, that are 'lit up like Christmas trees' in the month of December!

Friday, 8 January 2016

Balls for Christmas

Push ball isn't a game I know, so I thought I'd stick with the simpler kind. Here's one of our boys on his first Xmas Day, 1982, spent in Canberra with family and grandparents. It was a big ball for a small  person, and at 8 months old he thought this present was pretty good. So did his cousin, when she tested it for bounciness on a hard surface.

He could take his ball for a walk, or perhaps try playng cricket with a smaller ball. In later life he became adept at numerous ball sports such as soccer, tennis, baseball, volleyball and juggling, just to name a few. I've blogged about the latter for example, in a previous post.

His big sister got a ball you could hang on to, known as a Happy Hopper. Her father and uncle probably had a go of it  too.

33 years later and here's a very big shining ball: the full moon settng on a fine Boxing Day morning while we were once agan visiting the city of Canberra. Both the grandparents and the children's aunt who I believe must have taken the group photograph are now gone, but photos like these above keep them shining and alive in our memories.

For more balls and ball players big and little, just bounce over to Sepia Saturday # 312

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Market Square, Leicester

I'm rather late for Sepia Saturday #311 because we've been away relaxing at the beach over the Christmas/New Year week, but I would like to share these photographs taken by my late father-in-law Bob Featherston in Market Street in the city of Leicester.  Bob was held as a prisoner of war for over two years from January 1943 until liberation in 1945, first in Stalag V111B in Lamsdorf and then in Stalag Luft 111 in Sagan. I'm not sure whether he took these photos while serving in the RAF before he was captured following an unsuccessful mission, or after his release when the war was officially over, but in the first image the Air Raid Shelter sign is clearly visible above the market stalls.  

I've attempted to scan or photograph these images from Bob's large negatives, so they're not terribly clear, but nevertheless I think they convey the grim mood of the period, which is probably what struck Bob when he took them. The next image shows a large queue of customers lined up outside Folwells butcher shop in Market Place. Rationing would have been in force and of course meat was an essential food item, probably in short supply. In the next two photographs that I've cropped from the main photograph, you can see the signs for Pies and Sausages in one window and for Hams and Bacon in the other.  Once they had made it to the head of the queue and had been served, the customers would have no doubt made sure they got what they were entitled to, like the lady seen checking her change in the second cropped shot.

 I doubt  whether these purposeful shoppers would have had time to stop for a coffee, but to the left of Folwells you can see the sign for the Mikado Cafe, which was located at 67 Market Place. According to an article published in the Leicestershire Historian, the Mikado "was owned by a London firm, Nelson & Co, and dated from the turn of the century. In spite of its name, the decor, with its murals of coloured tiles, was definitely Turkish. A common sight was a man in a chef's hat roasting coffee beans in the window, the aroma drifting across the Market Place. In its later years an attempt was made to modernize the downstairs part, which was in three sections, with the intrusion of plastic and formica, but the upstairs dining room, with its wicker furniture, remained unchanged. The Mikado Cafe was closed and the premises sold in 1966. It is described by William Cooper in his novel Scenes from Provincial Life, published in 1950." 

Together with the first image, these next three photographs show customers buying fruit and vegetables at the market opposite the shops. You can see a sign for the milliners Gee Nephew & Co Ltd above their shop behind the cartload of produce. Again the sense of determination to get what they need is conveyed.  There probably weren't too many of them who had gone out simply to buy hats at this time, but you never know - there are quite a few men and women wearing hats here.

Just click here to discover more Sepia Saturday contributions involving shops, shopping, markets and produce. Happy New Year to you all!