Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Golden Tresses, Flowing locks

I've always admired people who were able to grow their hair long, but the lengths those Sutherland girls went to is just crazy!  In days gone by, most women and girls grew their hair long, but the great majority would have worn it at least partially tied up in a bun or plait of some kind. They probably spent many hours preparing their locks each morning before they were ready to be seen in public. I've picked out a few photographs from the big old family album of cartes de visites that was found hidden in my Aunty Pat's garage after she passed away in 2011. None of the subjects were named, but some cousins and I have since managed to identified a small number of them. The album containing the photos was a school prize awarded to Frederick Young, 1865-1962, a younger brother of my great grandmother Jane Isabella Young, 1860-1925.  Frederick and Jane were two of a total ten children born to Charles and Jane Young, who emigrated to NZ from Ballater Aberdeenshire in 1851 and settled in the district of Kaipoi, just north of Christchurch. 

These two photographs of young girls were both taken in Christchurch around the 1880s. I don't know who the subjects are, but they are very likely related to me in some way. It looks like the first girl has curly hair, unless of course it had been crimped to make it look that way. At least she seems to have it under reasonable control, which is more than I can say for my own curly hair at times. I much never managed to grow it much beyond shoulder length, as it tended to grow out rather than down.

The photograph below is of a young woman who clearly enjoyed putting some of her hair up in an elegant plait while still letting the bulk of her hair hang out. She must have gained quite a bit of height with that style! Again I don't know who she is, but  it's possible she could have been my great grandmother Jane Isabella, or one of her three surviving sisters at that time. I wonder if in fact it could be the same person in the above photograph, as they have a similar facial structure and general appearance. They are both wearing lockets but not of the same shape, and perhaps they were sisters or cousins.

I only have two photographs that I know to be definitely of Jane Isabella, both taken in her later years. In one she is nursing her first granddaughter Patricia, in whose garage the old album was found. Any opinions you may have on her likeness to the above photographs are most welcome.

The next photograph is of Jane Isabella's older sister Emily, with her husband John Andrews and five of their nine daughters, who are all shown in the second portrait with their father John. The younger girls are wearing their hair out, with bows in their hair, and there are even wicker chairs in both this and the next photograph (harking back to SS 228). Two girls are sitting on an s-shaped courting seat, clearly a studio prop. 

Emily and John Andrews were married in 1865 at the Young family home, when sister Jane Isabella was only five. In fact both Emily and her older sister Anne, who was married the same day, gave birth to their first children before their youngest brother Edward Young was born in 1868, so baby Edward was born an uncle! The Andrews family moved to live in New Plymouth on the North Island of New Zealand, where John's family resided. They had three sons in addition to their nine daughters but only one of them survived to adulthood. Their youngest child Elsie Euphemia was born in 1888, so this portrait must date from the late 1890s. Elsie was the only Andrews child to attend secondary school. She became a teacher and later a notable feminist and defender of women's rights in NZ. You can read about Elsie's interesting life story here.

 To my father's side of the family, and this young lady with flowing golden locks is Gladys Victoria Petrie, pictured here with her older brother Arnold.  Gladys and Arnold lived in Invercargill in the far south of New Zealand's South Island, and were first cousins of my grandfather Oliver Cruickshank. I've featured their mother Jessie Cruickshank, only sister of Oliver's father Charles, in a previous blog entitled Empty Chairs. Below is Gladys and Arnold's sister Charlotte Annie, who clearly also favoured long hair.

In 1925 Gladys and Charlotte travelled to England accompanied by their mother Jessie. Charlotte studied in London at the Slade School of Art while Gladys pursued a successful career as an opera singer in London and Paris.  Here's a publicity shot of Gladys, then with short hair, and an article about her achievements. She remained in Paris for over ten years before returning to NZ. Neither Gladys nor Charlotte ever married, they were too busy pusuing their careers. Gladys lived to the age of 91 and Charlotte made it to 100, as did her mother Jessie.

Extract from the Evening Post, Welliongton NZ, 30 May 1931, per Paperspast web site.

Glory days: the best I could manage,, c. 1972

To see more flowing  tresses, and anything else that this week's image may have prompted others to discuss, just click here for Sepia Saturday 230

Saturday, 24 May 2014

College days

I really don't have much in the way of bed photos, and nor does my mother, but the girls in the prompt photo are apparently college girls, which set me thinking about photos and friendships that can be made in those days.
I didn't get to have the experience of living in a college myself because the Australian National University where I studied was in my home town of Canberra, so I just stayed at home while studying and saved my parents the expense of boarding fees.  My mother Jean on the other hand lived in Christchurch on the South Island of NZ and in 1946 aged 19 she needed to leave home and move to the North Island in order to attend the Auckland Teachers Training College, as it was called.  There she specialised in speech therapy, which was her chosen career path. When we moved to Australia Jean found that her NZ teaching qualifications were recognised but not those in speech therapy. For many years she worked at a school for developmentally challenged children, doing speech therapy with them. Initially she worked voluntarily, but was paid as a teacher when a staff vacancy arose.

 Jean's photo album from her days in college from around 1946 / 1947 contains quite a few photos that show Jean and her college friends having fun, and in  a number of cases those close friendships endured for many decades.

The caption for this first photo from 1946 is "The girls of the 'Cottage' Cannon Hall" and their names are provided: Mary, Raynor, Margaret, Fin, Colleen and Nona. Jean must have been the photographer. Sadly she is in poor health  these days, so I can't ask her for any more details about the other girls or the 'Cottage' or Cannon Hall. She has certainly kept in touch with Colleen, the girl seated in the centre front, but she is also not well. 

The description of the next two photos above is "3rd Years' Shack, Teachers College 1946". There's a lone male student amongst the group, and they look like they are having fun. I can't quite decipher what is on the board they are holding up apart from the word MILK and a glass, but it must have been something funny, because all except one seem to be pretending to suck their thumbs, but unfortunately Jean can't tell me  any more. She is on the left standing in the doorway, and then directly above the sign.

This shot is described as "Snow, 1946". It's on the same page as the previous three photos, although it's hard to believe it could be in Auckland, as they have only had snow there very rarely. According to Mr G, it last fell there in the 1930s. Yet another question that may remain unanswered.

The next group of photographs taken by Jean are from 1947, and captioned "The cottage and its inhabitants". This cottage is clearly a different cottage to the one referred to above, and the address is given, 147 Khyber Pass Road Auckland, where Jean and her friends flatted together.

The final blurry picture is described as "A party in the Cottage, with Colleen, Betty, Brenda, Jean and Loma."  They look happy, sitting around the table with their future lives ahead of them. It was sixty seven years ago now. Cheers to them all!

To finish on a lighter note, here are a couple of bed photo from my own albums.

This is our second daughter and last child Laura, who was born 9 weeks premature. She's reclining on a luxurious big hotel bed while her father is on the phone of course. She must have been around four months old here in 1987 and still quite tiny, when we left the other three with their grandparents in Canberra and 'escaped' to a weekend conference. It was held at an art deco style resort at Sherbrooke in the Dandenongs called Burnham Beeches Country House, which was built in the late 1920s for the Aspro brand sales magnate Alfred Nicholas and his wife.  Burnham Beeches was named after the forest of beech trees near the Aspro factory in Buckinghamshire. Nicholas died in 1933, but his wife continued to use to as one of her residences until about 1954. Here's a photo from Wikipedia Commons, circa 1947. A far cry from the Cottage above, photographed around the same time! That large bed was very comfortable, and I made the most of the luxury break for a couple of days - well, as much as I could manage to do with a small baby to care for!  I'm sure Laura and I must have gone for walks in the beautiful surrounding gardens built for Nicholas.

Burnham Beeches Country House ceased operating in 1991, and has been empty since then, although apparently it has been purchased by a businessman and a well-known chef who propose to re-invent it as a resort, spa, wellness centre, restaurant, bakery etc, but so far it remains closed.  You can read more about it and the lovely surrounding gardens open to the public in a blog I found called Weekend Notes.

For completeness, here are the three we were escaping from. In this photograph taken the following year (1988) they are leaning against their cabin bunk beds. We had taken them on a week long island cruise and they were about to attend  a shipboard fancy dress party.  

Introducing our new granddaughter Isabelle, surveying the scene from her parents' bed in London last week. At 2 months of age she is much bigger than her aunty Laura was at the same age, or probably even at 4 months, but is still very cute. In a previous blog I posted a photo of Isabelle's mother and aunty on a bed here.

For more beds, colleges and other vaguely related matters from other Sepian contributors, click here 

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Leithfield beach: a family day out

It seems to be agreed that this Irish mother and son were filling the sack with sand, although we don't know what for, or how they would have managed to carriy it away, unless perhaps they were able to drag it to a waiting cart nearby. If it had been kelp they were gathering, that would have been much easier to carry home and use on the garden as fertiliser and mulch, but they may not have had a garden.

My Morrison family in New Zealand enjoyed going to the beach for a day out, specifically to Leithfield Beach, on the east coast, a little to the north of Christchurch. These days on modern highways Leithfield is only about a 45 minute drive from where they lived in Aylmer St Sydenham, but back in the 1920s the cars and roads were not so flash and no doubt the trip took considerably longer. There were closer city beaches such as Brighton and Sumner, but Mona and Jack Morrison seem to have favoured Leithfield, possibly because both Mona's maternal grandparents and her paternal grandmother lived up that way, in Kaiapoi, so she may have known the beach as a child. Her father's half sister Mary Shaw lived at Leithfield with her husband David and their large brood. The Shaw children would have been Mona's half cousins on one side, and her second cousins on the other, but I won't go into that here!  


Here 's Jack posing proudly in front of the new car he purchased in 1926, with his son Ken on the running board, ready to drive to the beach for what may well have been the car's first outing.

After winding through the countryside and down the hill to the beach, Ken and his big sister Pat were no doubt keen to kick their shoes off and play in the grey sand with their bucket and spades.

Either before or after the children played on the beach, they enjoyed the attractions of the nearby playground. Here they are with Jack, perching on a seesaw, and it looks like there's a double or maybe triple slippery dip in the background.
 Mona and the children on a family-sized swing, which I am told is still there today

Someone else must have been present to take this family shot on the seesaw again. Both Mona and Jack remain quite formally attired, in a dress and a three piece suit with tie. No casual beachwear for them!

I'm not sure what Pat and Ken are up to here, but whatever it is, they look very interested!  From the sign in the background, it seems Mona and Jack would have been able to enjoy a nice hot cup of tea with the picnic lunch they had no doubt brought from home for their day out, the first of many over the years in their family car that would eventually accommodate all six children. Mona might have made bacon and egg pie, a great picnic staple and a tradition that has carried on down the generations. I know it was one of Jack's favourite dishes, but in his opinion it had to be accompanied by tomato sauce!

Moving on to February 1956, and here are my parents Jean and Ian Cruickshank with yours truly, relaxing after a swim at nearby Waikuku Beach. This was probably the last time my parents would go there, as we left NZ for Australia just a couple of months later, in April that year. My baby brother would have been about 5 months old, but as there's no sign of him, so perhaps he was left at home with grandparents Mona and Jack.

I took the following photograph of nearby Pines Beach in 2006.  It doesn't look too bad here although I think these beaches are all fairly isolated and windswept, and the sand is rather gritty, at least in comparison with most Australian beaches, but my mother still retained fond memories of her beach days in NZ. I don't remember them, but then I was only three, and at least I have the photos.

For more photos of sandy beach goers, just pick up your buckets and spades and go fossicking at

Friday, 9 May 2014

Of wickerwork, children and blocks

This week's photo prompt features a pair of little girls called Edith and Ethel, with their alphabet blocks from a set entitled Young England's Floral Alphabet, according to the box under the table, and the older girl is seated on a wicker chair.

I found one photo in my mother's collection in which there is a glimpse of what might or might not be a wicker chair. It's hiding in the background of this picture of my Aunty Pat as a young child,circa 1923, but it could just be a cane chair without any wickerwork whatsoever. It's a sweet photo of Aunty Pat anyway. I've previously written a tribute to Pat and her remarkable achievements  here.

It's a bit hard to tell, but what could be the same chair appears in this subsequent photograph of Pat's sister Jean and brother Derek, taken in about 1930. Definitely wicker here.

I don't have many childhood photographs of my father Ian and his sisters Valarie and Nella at all, but here is one of them taken at a similar time to the one of Jean and Derek, with baby Nella sitting in a little wicker chair. Clearly wicker furniture was the in thing back then. The Cruickshank family lived in the town of Rangiora, a little to the north of Christchurch where the Morrisons lived. Ian and Val are no longer with us, but young Nella is still going strong at 85.  

Several wicker prams feature prominently in numerous photos from Jean's collection, The first photo of the Morrison family pram appears in this beach photograph, but by the time the youngest brother Peter was born in 1937 another wicker pram with smaller wheels was in use. 

Mona and one of her sisters with Pat, Ken and the pram on an outing to the beach.

My mother's label under the above photograph is 'Granddad, Ken and the fowls', but this doesn't seem right, as I can't see any fowls and the baby in the photo below looks very similar, with the same location and  figure in the shadows, and that one is labelled  'I arrive - Pat, Ken and me.' I think that's more likely to be correct. Pat and Ken are looking very smart, as is baby Jean. Sadly Ken was killed in France in 1943. I've written a little more about him here.

Ken and Pat, possibly with their younger brother Derek in the pram this time, unless it's one of Pat or Jean's dolls.

Pat, Jean and Ken,and  again it's probably baby Derek in the pram.pat looks a bit disgruntled about something, and Ken just isn't looking. Two year old Jean looks rather mischievous!

Third son Graeme (no photos of him in the pram) with Derek and baby Peter
Pat and Jean also had dolls' prams, which appear to have been miniature versions of the real thing. I believe these sorts of prams are collectors' items today, but unfortunately these ones weren't kept as family heirlooms. With six children to fit into their small family home in Christchurch NZ, there was probably no space to keep anything that was no longer in use.
Patricia with her  doll and doll's pram
Jean with her doll's pram

Finally, here's a professional photo of my mother Jean aged about four, with alphabet blocks. I have shown this photo before, but it's quite appropriate to the topic, so I hope you don't mind.

That's all from me this week, still a bit jet-lagged from our trip to the UK and Spain, but getting back to normal!
For other Sepian takes on wickerwork, blocks or whatever, just click here.