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Thursday, 20 November 2014

Let's rock!

This week's prompt was a bit tricky for me. I haven't come across any photos of silhouettes or silhouettists, so I've decided to focus instead on the little fellow on the left, who appears to be sitting on a toy horse of some kind. I've found quite a few photos in my albums, showing children of successive generations of family and friends enjoying  themselves on their rocking horses, with a few merry-go-round varieties for good measure.

I have featured this first photo before, but have cropped it here to show just this little late 19th century miss and her puppy on a rocking horse, c. 1898, and her brother Arnold standing beside her with his kitten. Her name was Charlotte Petrie and she was a daughter of my great grandfather Charles Cruickshank's sister Jessie. She became an artist when she grew up, but she was not a silhouettist as far as I am aware.  Her horse has only a tiny head, but it does have one. To see the full photo and read a little more about Charlotte and her family, click here.

The next photo is of my father Ian and must date back to about 1926 or 1927, when he would have been around two or three years old. I imagine Ian was rather a reserved child but he has a whimsical smile in this snap. Those double style horses for younger children to sit in rather than ride on seem to have been a popular choice.

The next photo is of my Uncle Derek riding on a merry-go-round and probably dates back to about 1931, as Derek was born in 1929. Not a rocking horse, but similar in style.  A  great deal of craftsmanship would be involved in making all the horses here, but particularly those on the merry-go-rounds.

Here I am with my mother Jean, posing on what looks to be a nice simple little model, c. 1955.

The son of a friend enjoying his ride on a spotted steed, around the same time.  Giddy-up, horsey!

 I don't know who owned this next horse, but my next-door neighbour John and I were obviously having fun together here and giving him a good workout.

Yours truly on another merry-go-round, c. 1957.

The following rocking horse is definitely ours ...

because I'm riding it above, c. 1957 and my sister is doing the same, a few years later, c. 1961, by which time both sides appear to be minus their manes. They must have been worn off by vigorous riding!

 Here's a big brother giving his little sister a helping hand to balance on her horse. They were the children of Jean's old college friend Colleen and the little girl's name was Robyn. 'Rockin' Robyn' perhaps, as the song goes!

Our first daughter Claire enjoying this simple sit-in version, c. 1980, which we rescued from the nature strip after it was thrown out in a council clean-up. We repaired, repainted and gave it a new lease of life. It probably ended up on the nature strip again a few years later,but may well have been rescued again.

Here we are on a couple of different merry-go-rounds in Sydney and Canberra I believe, c. 1988. Daughter Laura looks a little apprehensive and for that matter so do I, but her brother Strahan seems to be having a good time.  The horses in the second shot are all named after past Melbourne Cup winners, and Strahan is riding the great Phar Lap.

 Laura enjoying her grandmother Jean's little rocking horse, c. 1989. This sturdy little horse is no heirloom, but  he's now resting in our attic, ready to be brought down for Jean's great granddaughter and the rider's niece to try out on her upcoming visit. At nine months she'll probably still need a helping hand to hold on, and I'm sure Laura will be ready and willing to show her how.
 No doubt photos will be taken to add to the family collection.

The last couple of photos are of my aunt's cat Tussy, who was clearly accustomed to commandeering this lovely old steed, whether to survey the room or look out the window. I don't know whether or not Tussy could rock, but she must have had a good seat, as horse riders say. No hands needed! I took the photos in 1997, but this rocking horse was an antique model. Good horses are crafted to last for generations, and this one would have outlasted many of its young  riders. A granddaughter who arrived in 2007 would no doubt have competed with Tussy for prime position on that saddle.  My aunt also bred real miniature ponies, but I doubt Tussy could ride those.

A classic song to finish up with, appropriate to one of the photos above - well, sort of anyway! 

So now you're in the mood, rock on over to Sepia |Saturday #255
where you might actually find some silhouettes and lots more.

Postscript: here is a photo just received, of my little Canadian great niece Eloise, about to climb on the little pink pony that her Mum bought for $5. She's only just one but can get on and off by herself and loves to rock. Her great grandmother Jean would have been proud of her!


It reminded me of the rocking horse cake in the Australian Women's Weekly birthday cake book, which was my birthday cake 'bible' for many years. I don't think I ever made it, but here is the picture from the book:


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