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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 
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