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Saturday, 15 April 2017

Big Sister, Little Brother

This week the Sepia Saturday prompt shows a couple of unknown children photographed in light and shade. We don't know whether or not they were brother and sister, but it seems probable, and on that basis I've put together the following collage. The main photo taken by their mother Claire shows two of our grandchildren, Isabelle and Otis, flanked by photographs from earlier generations on their mother's side of the family. Their mother, grandmother, grandfather, one maternal great grandfather, and both maternal great grandmothers all came from families in which the first born child was a daughter, followed by a son.

The smaller photos from left to right and top to bottom show the children's great great Aunty Pat and her younger brother Ken; great grandmother Jean (younger sister of Pat and Ken) and their younger brother Derek; great great Aunty Pat and youngest brother Peter (16 years' difference between these two); great grandfather Ian and his big sister Valarie; great grandmother Mary and her younger brother Cyril;  grandfather Roger and big sister Ann; grandmother Jo and little brother Guy; mother Claire and little brother Kim. The children's father is also the little brother to a big sister but I don't have a photo of them as children.

 Then I came across this additional photograph, which is not of siblings but merits inclusion because it seems to match the prompt in shade and expression to some degree. It shows yours truly looking up at a lady called Jocelyn Ward, who was my mother Jean's very dear friend from their days in teachers' college together and was one of her bridesmaids. Jocelyn came to visit us in Australia at least once.  She did not marry and had no children of her own, but was always very good to us and I remember her fondly. She wasn't able to come to our wedding but we met up with her in Christchurch NZ on our honeymoon afterwards. Sadly Jocelyn passed away a few years later in 1981 in her early fifties, suffering I believe from multiple sclerosis.

For more blogs based on this week's Sepia Saturday prompt, click here.

Finally, because it's Easter this weekend, here's a page from my baby book, including a paper serviette that must have been at my grandparents' Easter table. My name is written inside but at just four and a half months old I doubt that I used it! 

  Happy Easter to all who celebrate!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Three Peas in a Pod

This week the Sepia Saturday prompt photograph features a lineup of three choir boys. I have no photos of choir boys or anything remotely similar in my family collection, so instead I'm re-posting one of my favourite photographs.

 I included this photo almost four years ago in a a blog on groups of three but that was a while ago now. The lady in the middle is my grandmother Mona Morrison nee Forbes, whose wedding anniversary I featured last week, and she is flanked by her two unmarried sisters Bess and Flo Forbes, who lived very close to the Morrison family and were a great help to Mona with her six children. The date was Christmas Day 1949. In her album my mother Jean has captioned the photo 'The Three Girls'. The floral dresses worn by the sisters would no doubt have been made by Aunty Bess, who was a professional dressmaker. They look very similar here but of course may have looked quite different in colour. Flora was the eldest of the Forbes girls, born in Canterbury NZ in 1888,  with Bess just a year later in 188. You can see a sweet photograph of little Flora and Bess here.  
Two more children, John ( 1891) and Ruby (1892) were born to parents Charles Forbes and Jane Isabella Young  before Mona arrived, 7 years after Bess in 1897. Baby Mary born 1900 did not survive but the Forbes' 7th and last child Charles was born on 1902. By 1949 the age difference between Mona and her sisters wasn't all that obvious, but nor was it in this photo of the four Forbes girls together as young women, seen here, .

The next snap is correspondingly captioned 'The Three Boys' and appears on the same page of the album. It features my mother's young brother Peter Morrison aged 12, father/ Mona's husband John Morrison and another of the Morrison boys, Graeme, looking very suave and debonaire as anyoing man of 17. 

Below is is the photo placed in between the two above on the album page, showing the whole family group in the garden on Christmas Day, with my mother sitting in front beside her brother Peter. My parents were engaged at this time and my father Ian Cruickshank was sharing the family celebration with his future in-laws, so he must have been the photographer here. 

Jean and Ian were married a few months later and their first child yours truly was born on Peter's fifteenth birthday. It was always easy to remember when my Uncle Peter's birthday was and how much older he was than me, but he and his wife Doreen never let me forget that some 21 years later when visiting them I blythely suggested that at 36 they must be middle-aged, my reasoning being that twice that age would be over 70. In fact Peter never really became old, as he passed away from cancer at the relatively young age of 56, but Doreen will celebrate her 80th birthday this year.

You may find more reverent blogs by other Sepia Saturday members here at Sepia Saturday # 362.  Now my husband and I are off for the weekend to celebrate his birthday. Not mine as yet, but we are the same age, so you can work it out from the above. We're just middle aged, of course!

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Today and tomorrow

It's April Fool's Day today and the prompt photograph is appropriate, as the photographer has been very clever here on the beach at Collaroy, a beach we visited a few times when we lived in Sydney. My beach photograph is nowhere near as tricky, but being buried up to the neck was always good fun, so long as you weren't too close to the water line and had someone ready to dig you out. Our youngest child Laura, who must have been about 3 in this photograph, looks like she is planning to water these strange beach plants. I'm not sure of the beach but it was probably on the Central Coast north of Sydney.

That is my contribution to Sepia Saturday #361.

Now to change the subject more or less completely: My grandparents John Morrison 29 and Mona Mary Forbes 22 were married the day after April Fool's Day, on Wednesday 2 April 1919 at 218 Colombo St Christchurch NZ, the home of Mona's parents Charles and Jane Isabella Forbes.

                                   John and Mona on their                                                wedding day.

Here they are a few years later with their first two children Pat and Ken, possibly at or near Leithfield beach, a favourite place to go for a picnic day out.

 Some 35 years later in March 1961 they came to Australia for a visit and are pictured here at Palm Beach Sydney, a few beaches north of Collaroy where the Green brothers were photographed playing tricks. Mona was about my age in this photograph, and just a bit too old to play tricks on the beach, although I'm sure Jack had played his fair share of them in his time. How looks and fashions have changed!

    Eight years later Mona and Jack celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary at home in Christchurch on 2 April 1969. 

Tomorrow 2 April 2017 will be the 98th anniversary of the wedding of Mona and Jack, who by my count now have 45 direct descendants. Mona passed away in February 1972 and Jack followed in May 1977. 

 Happy Anniversary, dear Nan and Granddad!

ps. Coincidentally we attended a wedding picnic on 1 April last year for a nephew and his bride. It was a very happy and enjoyable day and the program of events unfolded just like a real wedding, with the groom's sisters acting as marriage celebrant and assistant, but the official ceremony had in fact taken place about 2 weeks earlier in the United Kingdom where the couple currently reside. I don't know if there was any significance to the date chosen, but I believe some of the guests were not initially aware that this was actually a post-wedding celebration for Australian family and friends.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Not exactly riveting ...

The prompt for Sepia Saturday #360 features a lady happily brandishing a drill. She was in fact working on a dive bomber in Tennessee during World War 2. 

The following photograph is the only one I seem to have showing anyone in our family doing anything vaguely similar, ie manual work. This is not to say that no such work was ever done, simply that no one thought to take photographs of people doing it.  It was late 1977 and my father Ian was poised on a ladder with probably a screw or nail in hand, and us acting as his assistants, intent on putting together a kit shed for the back garden of our freshly built first home in what was then a new Canberra suburb called Kaleen. There are a couple of other photographs of the house at the end of an earlier post here. At this stage there were no dividing fences, as ours was the first house on the block. There was also no grass because we hadn't prepared the ground for sewing it yet, so I doubt whether we had a mower to put in the shed, but we did have a wheelbarrow and other tools that needed to be kept safe.

Above  Roger is attacking the load of topsoil we had delivered and below I am rolling it out.  Funnily enough I'm even wearing a headscarf here, like the lady in the photo prompt above.

By the following year the grass had grown, although it wasn't exactly lush, and despite a hot summer we had managed to grow some vegetables. Here is Roger holding a bucket of potatoes and about to do some mowing.

Here I am showing off some of the fruits of our labours. Those paving stones I was sitting on were soon to be laid all around the verandah, a slow, painstaking job that took a number of weekends to complete, but no photos of the work in progress. I was busy supplying the worker with cold drinks!

A little later Roger and his father Bob also built a brick carport beside the house. This also took a couple of weekends of hard work but unfortunately no photographs seem to have been taken.  You can see from this recent photograph on Googlemaps that the carport is still standing solidly, some forty years later.  I think that some of the larger trees seen in the front garden may also have been planted by us.


As things turned out, we decided to move from Canberra to Sydney in 1980 so after all that work we only lived here for under 3 years. I still have fond memories of our Kaleen home but overall don't regret leaving Canberra.

Time to down tools for lunch, but for more riveting posts, have a look at Sepia Saturday #360

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Well Hello Dolly!

This week's photo prompt shows Louis Armstrong looking into the mirror at his dressing table. I've previously shown the few mirror photographs I have, so instead I looked up Louis's biography for possible inspiration, and was reminded that one of his most well-known songs was Hello Dolly, which pushed the Beatles off the top of the charts in 1964. Of course I know Louis wasn't singing about toy dolls, but it does provide a segue to that subject, particularly as I've recently been knitting and sewing clothes for my granddaughters' 'babies'.

Here are a few dolly photographs, both old and new.

Above is yours truly and friends at home in Cambridge in 1954. The doll on the left was my favourite cuddly companion, rather strangely called Bane for some long forgotten reason, but perhaps simply because I couldn't  pronounce Baby at the time. I no longer have Bane because sadly she deteriorated over the years, eventually looking like she had black stubble on her face, which wasn't particularly attractive in a female doll. 

I don't recall the other two dolls but I think the little one next to Bane is the sailor doll pictured below on the right in the photograph I took this morning after locating the pair up in the top of the wardrobe. He and his friend were my mother's rather than mine, and I don't know anything about their history, but they might have been bought aboard ship on our voyage from NZ to the UK in 1953. On his hat it says Sea Princess, and on the other doll's hat is RMS Mauritania. I haven't researched either of those two ships, but the ship aboard which we sailed to the United Kingdom was the Rangitata.

'Hello Sailor' would probably be more appropriate for these two fellows. I might even say they are 'lookin' swell' as the song goes. Somewhat faded but in pretty good condition for their age and after spending a long time up in the wardrobe (not to say closet). Enough said.

The next photo is recent but the doll herself is as old as the sailor figures. Her name is Kaye and she is a hard plastic Pedigree doll, given to me in 1954 by one of the mothers of the men who were killed along with my uncle Ken when the plane he was flying was shot down over Wuppertal Germany in June 1943. My mother visited all the men's families during the year we spent in the UK. Kaye lives up in the wardrobe too, and when I got her down recently to show my visiting English granddaughter, I discovered that she was in need of a little TLC, for example some new internal elastic to connect her head and limbs. Her clothes were also rather moth-eaten, so I've since repaired them as best I can, with new bootees, new trimming on her dress and coat and new ribbons so she looks much better now. I've previously shown a photo from about 1958 here that includes Kaye, second from left, and Bane, fifth doll from left. 

Here is Kaye now, 'still glowin', 'still goin' strong', in her new bootees and mended layette, but no new hair I'm sorry to say.
Moving on to 1964, when 'Hello Dolly' hit the charts, and here is my sister Louisa with her doll family. I know she still has the large doll wearing a bonnet whose name is Mary Anne, and she may also still have that teddy bear.


Although our two girls weren't great fans of dolls, you can see a photo previously posted of them with cabbage patch dolls here.

To the present day:

Above is our little Londoner Isabelle, aka Jeanie after her great grandmother Jean, with her baby Lucy, dressed in matching outfits by yours truly, while below is her little Australian cousin Lucy, currently inseparable from her doll Jeanie that I gave her for her birthday.


Time to say goodbye rather than hello, but for more blogs that may or may not be linked in some way to the prompt image, go to Sepia Saturday #359

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Argonauts Row, Row, Row!

The Sepia Saturday #358 prompt for 11 March 2017 shows a couple listening to weather reports on the radio in Florida, and is dated 10 November 1950.   I couldn't think of anything similar to write about until now, so my post is rather late I'm afraid.  I don't have any photographs of family members listening to the radio, but in the early 1960s I was an avid listener to what was called the Children's Hour, a session that was to be heard at 5 pm, 6 nights a week on the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The clip below gives a few extracts from the show, including the rousing opening and closing theme songs. Then there's a contribution from a member referring to a double-exposed photograph. When I listen to the clip it all comes back and I can remember coming inside, sitting by the radio, listening intently and singing along. I was a member of the Argonauts Club and couldn't miss a show, just in case one of my contributions was read out on air, which it very occasionally was. The show introduced Australian children to the delights of art and literature, as well as running an amusing serial called "The Muddle-headed Wombat" by Ruth Park. 

My Certificate of  Membership of the Argonauts Club. My membership name and number was Timaeus 37.

My membership badge, which I seem to have defaced by colouring green in at some stage, but at least I still have it

Order of the Dragon's Tooth, award for reaching 150 points for member contributions. I was sad to never quite reach the higher award of Golden Fleece (400 points) or the ultimate Golden Fleece and Bar, (600 points).

My Dragon's Tooth badge

One of the books I received as a prize for a attaining a certain number of points for my written contributions to the Argonauts Club

Inside the book

No photographs of  me listening to the radio, but here I am in a school photograph aged about 7, taken in the school library, and I imagine I looked pretty similar at home around 5 pm every night except Sundays, from about 1960 to 1968, although I probably had changed out of my school uniform before sitting down to listen. My mother encouraged me to listen and contribute. No television back then, so if you missed an episode that was too bad, especially as that just might have been the one in which your letter was read out or your points tally rated a mention. 

The Argonauts Club aired from 1933 until the the early 1970s and was very popular. Quite a few of its members went on to become prominent in Australian public life, for example as writers, academics, journalists, actors or politicians.  You can read more about the Club and see a list of famous members here in Wikipedia.  My only claim to fame is that much later in the 1990s we lived next door to one of those mentioned, namely Mike Carlton, well-known in Australia as a broadcaster and commentator. Of course we never discussed our common childhood history as Argonauts. 

Friday, 3 March 2017

Mona and her beloved cat

This week's prompt photograph shows a girl, a dog and a lady who could perhaps be her mother or her grandmother.

We've had pets as a topic previously and I posted the photo below then, but I feel it's worthwhile showing it again because it is a good match, despite the animal being a cat rather than a dog and there being no lady with the girl in my photograph, who is my grandmother Mona Forbes. She was 9 years old so the photograph must have been taken around 1906. It's the only photograph I have of her as a child. Mona was in her mid-fifties by the time I was born, and I did not know her very well because we left the country when I was 3 and she died before I was 20. I really wish Mona's mother Jane Isabella had been standing there with her as in the prompt photograph, as I have very few photographs of her either, and none of her as a young woman.

I mentioned in my post last week that Mona attended the School of Art in Christchurch New Zealand but did not include any of examples of her work, so linking back to that theme, here is a photo of a drawing Mona did whilst a student at the school in 1913.

 It would be nice to think that the subject might have been Mona's older brother John Middleton Forbes, aka Jack, in contemplative mode, before he embarked for service with the Royal Engineers Unit of the NZ Expeditionary Force in 1914, but I cannot be sure of that. It may simply have been a drawing from a life model posing at the art school. I've found a couple of photographs on the Christchurch City Libraries web site, showing art classes taking place at the school in 1910, just a few years before Mona studied there. The class looks to be quite crowded, and according to the web site the school had an enrolment of some 400 students.

Mona did not continue with her art because following her marriage to John Morrison in 1921 she became very busy looking after their six children, but son Graeme inherited Mona's artistic talent and went on to become a commercial artist. It was also Graeme who was responsible for bringing home various stray animals that the family adopted as pets, even including an ex-racehorse at one stage, which famously broke free and headed straight for familiar ground at the nearby Addington racecourse.

For more blogs on various topics that possibly include children, pets, ladies, fancy hats and perhaps even fences, visit Sepia Saturday #357

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Postcard from an artist

This week's photo prompt shows a group of people painting by the waterfront. 

 We have sometimes come across people painting 'en plein air' and I thought I might possibly have had a photograph somewhere that showed them in the background, but it seems not, so instead I've included this postcard that I found a couple of years ago at a store that was selling antiques, bric-a-brac and curiosities. On the front is a pen sketch by Leonardo da Vinci entitled "Study of flowing water".The original of this work is part of The Royal Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

What I am more interested in is the writer's note on the back, because the author is the well-known Australian painter Clifton Pugh, 1924-1990, writing from London to his friend Marie back in Arthur's Creek, Victoria Australia. She was the widow of a prominent Australian writer but I won't identify her further as she may still be with us, as is Pugh's third wife Judith. 


"Hello, some good news - the painting 
of Prince Phillip is going well. I'm
 painting in the grand Reception room of Windsor Castle. I did a
 portrait of Judith in the gilded
 air, and when Phillip saw it,
 it was the one he wanted 
so Judith is now "in the possession
 of", along with two landscapes
 of mine that he has had 
for some time. 
Love from us,

I can picture Clifton sitting there with his easel and painting equipment in those grand surroundings. He had previously painted portraits of many famous Australians. It appears that HRH Prince Phillip did not keep the painting, as it is now held in the art gallery of Benalla, a Victorian country town a couple of hours north of Melbourne. Unfortunately there's no image online, and Benalla is a bit too far for me to go check it out specially, although next time we're passing that way I may stop for a look, and perhaps if it is on view, I might offer the postcard to the gallery.

You can read an article written by Judith Pugh about Clifton here  on the Australian National Portrait Gallery web site.  The piece is illustrated by a painting of Judith in 1976, which may well be the one referred to as being 'in the gilded air' by Clifton in his postcard to Marie.  Another portrait included with the piece is that of the late Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt, with whom, according to Judith, Clifton was to have gone skin diving on the day that Holt mysteriously disappeared. Pugh had cancelled the arrangement because it was his birthday and a birthday lunch was planned. In a blog last year I wrote about the mysterious death of Harold Holt on 17 December 1967.  If Clifton had not cancelled, perhaps the tragedy that unfolded that day might not have occurred.

 I've written previously  about my uncle Graeme Morrison and my distant cousin John Petrie who were both artists, and have also made mention of my grandmother Mona Forbes who attended art school in Christchurch NZ. Another distant cousin Charlotte Petrie studied at the Slade School of Art on London in the 1920s.  Here is an article about Miss Petrie's impressions of the Slade School, published after her return to NZ. We have one of her paintings.
Sunset on the Estuary at Invercargill, by Charlotte Petrie

 Below is the only photo I can offer of anyone actually painting at an easel, or in this case a blackboard. It shows one of our young sons and was taken back in 1984. Unfortunately I can't tell you that he went on to show any inherited artistic talent, but I'm sure he enjoyed himself at the time!

For more blogs about artists at work or at play, visit Sepia Saturday #356

Postscript: Years ago I did a photography class at a centre where a life drawing class was taking place at the same time, and we had to walk around the artists to get to the darkroom. Unfortunately we were not permitted to photograph the artists and their models as we passed by. I expect it was the models rather than the artists who didn't want to be photographed.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Feeding the pigeons?

My previous short pictorial post was added very, very late and consquently I don't know that anyone has even read it (,  but this week I'm getting in fairly early with what I think is a pretty good match for the prompt. 

Taken by my mother, the snap below shows yours truly in September 1954. My mother's caption for the photo is "Feeding the pigeons? In Trafalgar Square".  I'm not sure whether I had bread, cake or the corn that could be bought in the Square at that time, as in the prompt photograph, but I guess I was feeding myself as well as, or perhaps instead of the pigeons. Well I was only 21 months old at the time! As I've mentioned before, my parents and I were in the United Kingdom for a year while my father was studying in Cambridge under a research fellowship funded by the Nuffield Foundation. 

Short and sweet, as I was back then. I see that in 2000 pigeons in Trafalgar Square were declared to be pests because of the mess they make and the perceived health hazard. A group called Save the Pigeons was then formed to save, protect and continue feeding them. 
Feeding native birds in your own garden is not recommended either, because it isn't healthy for them and it can result in their becoming reliant on handouts rather than foraging for natural food. We are advised instead to plant native plants that will provide them with both food and habitat. You can read more about this here.

 For more blogs that may or may not be about feeding pigeons, click here

We went for a wander in Yarra Bend Park this morning and duck food was for sale at the Boatshed kiosk. The ducks started waddling hopefully towards us but we didn't buy any food. I sincerely hope that it whatever I was feeding the pigeons was suitable for human consumption, unlike these packets of duck food.