About cassmob

I'm a Queenslander by birth and after nearly 20 years in the Northern Territory I've returned to my home state. I've been researching my Queensland ancestors for nearly 30 years and like most Aussies I'm a typical "mongrel" with English, Irish, Scottish and German ancestry.

Tips for German research

CFH-Widget-Germans-P-Cass-6-8-20209-NFHMFollowing on my presentation today as part of National Family History Month and hosted by Caloundra Family History Research Inc, I’m listing some research options.

German Newspapers can be searched:

https://digipress.digitale-sammlungen.de/search/simple

With more difficulty through Google Books (not newspapers):

https://books.google.com.au/

My tips for searching can be reviewed in this blog post:

https://cassmobfamilyhistory.com/2012/10/23/searching-german-newspapersbooks/

https://cassmobfamilyhistory.com/2019/05/31/finding-the-fass-in-bavarian-papers/

My Dorfprozelten blog:

https://dorfprozeltenaus.wordpress.com/

The WWI service of the Dorfprozelten descendants

https://cassmobfamilyhistory.com/2011/11/11/remembrance-day-honouring-the-australian-born-diggers-with-german-ancestry/

Sketches by Conrad Martens: Google search

Text Queensland https://www.textqueensland.com.au/

AncesTree: the journal of the Burwood and District Family History GroupArticles by Jenny Paterson about the German immigration ships. https://bdfhg.weebly.com/ances-tree-articles-by-date.html

They weren’t all Lutherans – A case study of a small group of German Catholics who emigrated to Australia from Dorfprozelten, Bavaria. Cass, P. Published in the Proceedings of the 11th Australasian Congress on Genealogy & Heraldry, Darwin, 2006 (try your local family history society for this book).

Research Recommendations:

  1. Local histories – Australian area & in Germany
  2. Catholic church records – Australia & Germany. Try familysearch catalogue: https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog
  3. Cross-reference sources to confirm details.
  4. Email contact with other family historians who come from the same area.
  5. Photos and newspapers on Trove https://trove.nla.gov.au/
  6. War service information, including photos: awm.gov.au and www.naa.gov.au
  7. Genealogical, family history, and local history societies for indexes/references
  8. Kopittke indexes (online ordering from QFHS) https://www.qfhs.org.au/shop/shop-catalogue/society-publications/shipping-migration/
  9. Hamburg passenger lists 1850 -1934 https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1068/
  10. Catholic Archives or parishes in your area of interest
  11. Online grave searches eg Drayton and Toowoomba cemetery http://www.tr.qld.gov.au/facilities-recreation/cemeteries/deceased-search/burials
  12. Online mapping services
  13. Church histories (books or web)
  14. University libraries for studies and theses on your area of interest

Books on Dorfprozelten

Dorfprozelten Am MainDorfprozelten Schüler, Schulmeister Schulhäuser 1600-1998. Veh, G, Benedict Press, 1998.

Dorfprozelten am Main, ein Dorf im Wandel, seiner 1000jähriger Geschichte. Arnold, W; Lang, Elsa; Veh, Georg; Weiss Josef; Zőller Eugen; Zőller Werner. Benedict Press, 1995.

Dorfprozelten am Main Teil II

Veh, G, Benedict Press, 2002.

Note: This book is held by the Genealogical Society of Queensland, along with a partial index.

Thank you to Caloundra for offering me the chance to speak on this topic, and to all those who joined in.

Sepia Saturday – Bikes in the bush

 

Sepia Saturday 530 : Bike With Side Car (1940s)

Sepia Saturday 530 : Bike With Side Car (1940s)

This will be a short and sweet Sepia Saturday post but how could I resist such a perfect match to the theme?

This photo includes my grandmother’s younger sister, Edie and her daughter, Muriel. They are obviously out camping somewhere and having a fine time though they do look rather well dressed for the event – certainly not how I look when I’m holidaying in a tent.

Edie McCorkindale was only 17 when she emigrated to Brisbane from Glasgow with her mother and siblings in 1910. Like most of her family she lived in Brisbane until she reached adulthood and can be found on the electoral rolls for Enoggera in 1915. At the time Edie was working as a saleswoman whereas her sisters had been employed as dressmakers. She married her husband Richard Amesbury in Brisbane in 1919 and after  few years the couple moved to Sydney where they lived for the rest of their lives.

115 U Dick A Edie and Muriel at Penrith Easter

I only knew Edie as an elderly woman, very trim and stylish, when she would visit my grandmother next door. It seems so strange to me to imagine her life as a young woman of adventure, riding on a motor bike and camping.

Edie query at Hartley Easter

And how could I ignore a “blast from the past” with this photo of Mr Cassmob on his bike many years ago. I wrote about it on another Sepia Saturday post in 2013. All I can say, though, is I’m glad the bike had gone before we married because I can’t quite see myself on a bike or sitting in a side car!

Why not see where other Sepians rode to this weekend?

peter-and-his-bike

Trove Tuesday: Thanksgiving Day in Brisbane 1942

The Battle of Brisbane or “Celebrating” Thanksgiving Day 1942

Thanksgiving Day 1942 must have seemed so very strange for the American forces stationed in Brisbane. Not only were they away from their families on what is possibly the most important family date on the American calendar, but the world around them would have felt so strange. Brisbane was approaching summer with blue skies and sunshine. The jacaranda trees would have been in full flower – traditionally exam time for local students. It’s fair to say that most Brisbane people would have had no idea what Thanksgiving was all about, or why it mattered so much to the men. Nevertheless, there were plans to give them a traditional Thanksgiving meal with formal dinners, dinner in the canteen, or at family homes around town.

American red cross service club

Brisbane City Council (1943). American Red Cross Services Club.

The Red Cross went to a great deal of trouble for the men so they would feel more at home with turkey, pumpkin pie and plum pudding. I’d imagine they’d have thoroughly enjoyed the meal but I do wonder where all those turkeys came from – I remember even as a child that cooked chicken was expensive and I can’t recall ever seeing a turkey, cooked or live.

thanksgiving

(2005). Workers carve 250 turkeys for Thanksgiving Day dinners at the American Red Cross Services Club, Creek Street, Brisbane, 1942. State Library of Queensland

During the days, life continued on as usual around town. One Brisbane woman who worked at the American Red Cross, reports “the city was jam-packed with Americans strutting around in fancy clothes. Walking down Queen St (the main street in the CBD) in 1942, I would say there were nine men to every woman, and six or seven of the men would be Americans…The Americans gave presents to the girls and won them over, which was extraordinarily annoying for the Australians[i]. Many women also worked repairing US service uniforms. Their employment gave them entitlement “to go to the American Red Cross canteen opposite the Gresham Hotel and have your meals.… they had so many things you couldn’t get in the shops like salmon and chocolates and Nestles tinned cream. The boys used to bring us nylon stockings[ii] The social pressure cooker was bubbling away beneath the surface.

clothing repair shop

Unidentified (1944). Clothing Repair Shop No. 2, Brisbane, ca. 1944. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Wherever men are gathered at leisure, and able to have a few (?) drinks, there’s always the risk of a testosterone takeover especially when they’re geared up to go to war. Aussie soldiers, it must be said were very inclined to this social activity. Never known for  being compliant to superior officers unless they were well respected, it could take very little to set them off. On top of which Australians at the time had little inclination to fight with knives or weapons (at least when not in battle) – something which had been occurring in the recent past in Brisbane. Esteemed war photographer Damien Parer is quoted as saying “Those American MPs, the bloody bastards, they always hit first and talked afterwards.[iii]

US MPs

(2005). American military police outside the Central Hotel, Brisbane, Queensland, 1942. State Library of Queensland.

And so the scene was set. An American, Private James Stein, from the 404th signal company accepted an invitation to have a Thanksgiving drink with an Aussie soldier at their canteen. He had a leave pass so was confident he would pass muster with the patrolling MPs. Leaving the canteen after a few drinks, he literally ran into an Aussie former soldier, Ed Webster, recently returned from Syria and the Middle East campaigns.

Daily News Perth 27 Nov 1942 p8

Soldiers Riot In Brisbane (1942, November 27). The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950), p. 8 (CITY FINAL). Retrieved July 14, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78306972

Before it could get confrontational, the MPs intervened and asked to see Stein’s pass. The attitude of the MPs set off the Aussie dislike of authority and they angrily took exception to the MPs. They in turn, unwisely, struck one of the Australians with his baton. It was now on for young and old! He was punched and kicked and then chased back to the PX building on the corner of Adelaide and Creek Streets.

As more MPs got involved and passing Diggers decided to get into the action, it got very ugly very quickly. The MPs called in off duty reinforcements from across the river as the Australians did their best to destroy every window in the PX building. Police were called but the suggestion is they did little to control the mob. Similarly, the Australian MPs, who were only a small group and armed, but without ammunition, did their best to stay out of the melée. A fire engine arrived and the firemen were requested to use fire hoses to disband the crowd – they declined saying controlling riots wasn’t their job.

The arrival of a heavy vehicle and Provosts who’d been armed with loaded riot guns was a red rag to the Australian mob. (It was the 1970s before Queensland Police would carry guns). Norbert Grant, one of the provosts, was attacked by Webster and in the process his gun discharged. Webster was fatally injured though his name was mostly not mentioned in news reports.   Several other shots were discharged and seven others were shot, some severely but not fatally. Another eight were injured by batons. “The use of a shotgun on Australian troops had enraged the rioters.[iv]” Most of the men in the rioting crowd were from the 9th Battalion who had previously experienced heavy fighting in the Middle East and Milne Bay. They were not men to back down easily. “They [the American MPs] picked on the wrong mob, it was the silliest thing they ever did.[v]

Repairing American canteen

(2007). Repairing broken windows at the American canteen, Brisbane, November 1942. State Library of Queensland

Order was eventually restored that night but feelings ran high in the ensuing days. The canteens were closed and the brownout lifted in some city streets. Despite this gangs of Australian soldiers (rabble really) wandered the streets looking for Americans to attack and when found they would given them a massive bashing and kicking. A disgrace entirely. For some bizarre reason, no decision was made to keep the men in their barracks until feelings might have died down.

The Herald 27 Nov 1942 p3

One Dead; 16 Hurt In Brisbane Riot (1942, November 27). The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved July 14, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article245115498

Reports of the riot were covered in newspapers the length and breadth of the country and it’s surpising how sometime the most accurate reports came from farther away. However not all were accurate as they mis-reported the name of the deceased soldier and instead included the name of one of the severely injured.

American Lt Bob Firehock is quoted as saying “the Battle of Brisbane was a tragedy that should never have happened[vi]. I would add that it’s an ignominious episode in Brisbane’s history. So many strategic decisions could have been made differently that might have avoided or moderated the outcome. “The Battle of Brisbane” book provides insights into the attitudes preceded the riot as well as how it might have been handled otherwise.

On a personal note, it’s a strange thing to think of an event like this in my home town. Even stranger that mum was only a teenager working in the city, and well monitored by her father I have no doubt, while Dad was with Queensland Railways, an essential occupation. I know he talked about the event very briefly once, and I took some notes….but where are they? Mum doesn’t recall much about it at all.

In the aftermath, some of the Australian soldiers were charged and sent to prison. The American MP, Norbert Grant, was found not guilty of manslaughter in the death of Ed Webster.

Brisbane brawls Cairns Post 30 Nov 1942 p4

BRISBANE BRAWLS. (1942, November 30). Cairns Post (Qld. : 1909 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved July 14, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article42369776

There was no indication in most of the news reports of the nationality of the participants to avoid making it clear to the enemy that the Allies were fighting among themselves. No wonder we love Trove when it opens up so many wonders for us but this one did give me a good giggle.

Typo on Trove

Those who are interested can follow the articles and photos I flagged in the Brisbane 1940s list on Trove. There are also a couple of interesting articles online:

Australia at War: the Battle of Brisbane has an excellent mud map if you want to orient yourself to the events.

The Battle of Brisbane by Dr Judith Powell

I will also have to look out this book to see if it offers a different perspective.

They Passed This Way: The United States of America, the States of Australia and World War II, By Barry Ralph

I was cheered a little by this image of a square dance in Brisbane for Thanksgiving 1943. A lot more pleasant than the events of 1942.

Square dancing Thanksgiving 1943

(2005). Square dancing at the Riverview Leave Area, Brisbane, Thanksgiving 1943. State Library of Queensland

war brides

(2005). Happy young brides on board a ship bound for their new homes in America, Brisbane, September 1945. State Library of Queensland

 


[i] Thompson, P. A and Macklin R. The Battle of Brisbane: Australians and the Yanks at War. ABC Books, Sydney 2001, pages 155-156

[ii] Ibid pp103014 Gloria Valentine later Mrs Gloria Bradshaw.

[iii] Ibid p209

[iv] Ibid p215

[v] Ibid p215 quoting Lt Lance Watts of the 2/2nd Anti-Tank Regiment, Webster’s former unit.

[vi] Ibid p217

Ibid pp219-226

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sepia Saturday: Wartime in Brisbane

Unidentified (1940). View along Adelaide Street, Brisbane, ca. 1940. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Brisbane in the late 1930s was a sleepy town more reminiscent of a country town than the capital of the state of Queensland in the land Down Under. That would change in 1939 when Australia entered World War II and men and munitions were despatched forth for embarkation to the European front.

AERIAL STARBOARD SIDE VIEW OF THE AMERICAN TANSPORT HOLBROOK WHICH BROUGHT US TROOPS TO AUSTRALIA AS PART OF THE PENSACOLA CONVOY IN 1941-12

Japan entered the war by bombing  Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 and then made swift and steady progress south through Asia. After this attack by Japan, America entered the war with specific concerns about the Japanese focus on the Philippines where the USA had significant military and naval interests. The Pensacola Convoy of ships was heading to their Philippines base prior to Pearl Harbor but were re-routed to sleepy Brisbane. As with a US naval visit in 1941, the troops were welcomed with great excitement especially by the women of the town. Already the seeds of disenchantment, frustration and anger were being sown.

2005. Women with visiting American sailors, Brisbane, Queensland, 1941. State Library of Queensland.

Australia’s new Prime Minister, John Curtin, was forced into a conflict of wills with Britain’s Winston Churchill to bring our troops back from the European front, north Africa and the Middle East. The Fall of Singapore in February 1942 and capture of Australian (and other) troops and evacuation of civilians and nurses certainly caused great anxiety in Australia. Britain had refused to believe Singapore could be defeated, assuming any attack would come from the sea not through the back door overland. With the determined and steady approach of the Japanese military, there was a fear that Australia was in the line of attack. No doubt the bombing of Darwin on 19 February 1942, of Broome on 3 March 1942, and Townsville on 25 July 1942 could only have exacerbated that fear.

Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT. 1972-09-15. A copy of  a colour lithographic print of a painting by a Japanese artist, showing the signing of around a long table of the surrender documents at Singapore, by Lieutenant General A E Percival on 1942–02-15. The table is now in the collection of the Australian War Memorial. Image out of copyright.

There is a strong belief, at least in Queensland, that, during the war years, our national policy was to defend the country below the Brisbane line. The rest of the state, to Brisbane’s north, was to be considered expendable. This strategy has been widely disputed over the decades but only detailed historical research would confirm or deny it.

I have often wondered whether it was a coincidence that my grandfather relocated his family from Townsville to Brisbane in mid-1941. He was a supervisor in the carpentry workshop with the railways, an essential service during the war. I can only imagine how relieved he must have been to be miles away when Townsville was bombed, but perhaps less thrilled to have three teenaged daughters in Brisbane with the presence of so many Australian or US troops.

Brisbane City Council (1942). Air Raid Shelters and Salt Water Pipes in Elizabeth Street behind the General Post Office.

Just imagine Brisbane at the time: a country-town sized capital of some 330,000 people firmly entrenched in the idea of Britain as home and with very British attitudes. The architecture was peculiar to this sub-tropical town with many wooden houses built on stilts and hotels with wide verandahs – it probably all looked a bit “wild west” to the incoming troops. Sadly, today much of that diverse architecture no longer stands having been wilfully demolished to make way for grander, taller, more modern buildings.

Unidentified (1942). Australian Hotel in Brisbane during World War II. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. This hotel was not far from the US PX.

During the years 1941-1945, around 90,000 US military (including the much-debated General MacArthur) would pour into the town. If we put a rubbery 1:3 ratio on the men in the local population, they were matched 1 to 1 by the new arrivals although many Australian soldiers (Diggers) were already posted elsewhere. There was also resentment between the two forces about their relative fighting “performances” in the highly challenging Papua New Guinea confrontations with the Japanese, even though the first land battle defeat of the Japanese had occurred in Milne Bay in August 1942.

Unidentified (1942). American soldiers in Charlotte Street, Brisbane, ca. 1942. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

The local mantra during the war was that the US men were “overpaid, oversexed and over here”. Their uniforms were smarter, their pay was higher, and they had access to goods not available in the city’s shops through their Post Exchange or PX, and they were “exotic”. Perhaps unsurprisingly they were a big hit with the young Brisbane women.  The sad thing is how the behaviour of the women is reported – as if they were floozies, “no better than they ought to be”, tarts or amateur prostitutes. It seems that, as so often happens, the women got the blame for social behaviour. Add to that their Australian men weren’t socialised to just hang out with women and generally spent their spare time with their mates. Even today Aussie barbeques are famous for the division of the sexes. It can be argued that there was little difference between the Diggers in England during the war(s) when they were the exotic overpaid troops. The reality is that wherever men were stationed, they fell in love (or lust) with local women, and some married and the new-minted wives moved back to the man’s home country, as war brides.

Brisbane City Council (1950). Corner of Queen Street and Creek Street Brisbane.

It’s pretty easy to see in retrospect that there might be trouble brewing in sleepy Brisbane, but it seemed to have escaped the attention of the powers that be. On top of the social tensions, it was quite likely that tempers might well have been short simply because the heat and humidity of the approaching Brisbane summer.

Tensions would erupt with a vengeance on Thanksgiving Day in 1942. Come back tomorrow and learn what happened in sleepy downtown Brisbane. (pronounced, btw, as Bris-bin not Bris-BANE).

Meanwhile, venture over to see where other Sepians travelled this week.

Sepia Saturday 528 Header

As I write, US marines are currently stationed in Darwin in Australia’s north, and have been since 2011/12.  This is in addition to the Pine Gap base in Australia’s Red Centre.

You can read a few stories about the strategic decision to send the marines to Australia here and here. You can read some of my earlier stories about the Pitch Black multi-national ops in Darwin here on my other blog.

Queensland Newspapers Pty Ltd (2007). American serviceman meeting a wallaby in Brisbane, Queensland. State Library of Queensland.

 

Sepia Saturday: To the beach

Sepia Saturday 527 - 4 July 2020

Going to the beach seems to bring out the silliness in most of us. As Aussies we regard a trip to the beach as our inalienable birthright, from infancy to old age. This week’s feature photo also reminded me of silly couple-behaviour, and so I’m leading with photos of my parents at the beach during their honeymoon. As my mother has never ever smoked in her life, this photo is all the more unusual. They were holidaying at Fingal in Northern New South Wales, after returning from Sydney.

Once there were three of us, we holidayed at the beach, having no doubt caught the train down the coast (when it was still operational, before it was removed, and before it was partially reinstated). Do you like the matching striped jumpsuits?

Trips to North Queensland every few years took us to Magnetic Island. My memories of these holidays at Picnic Bay are very special.

We in turn took our kids to the beach as littlies. The photo on the left was taken at Coolangatta on our first leave from Papua New Guinea. On the right, we see a doting group of relatives fussing over daughter #1. With her were her maternal grandparents and her paternal great-grandmother and great-aunt.

After we moved to Port Moresby, we often drove into Ela Beach at the weekend. We’d check our mail box then spend time at the beach either playing in the sand, swimming or listening to the Police Band playing. Our dog, Whisky, would come with us and loved every minute of her adventure, furiously wagging her tail and farting with excitement.

Perhaps our strangest experience of the beach is an overseas one – how peculiar to  be rugged up in woollies and jackets. There were women in leather jackets and boots out strolling on the seashore. Photo taken in the Netherlands 1977. And then on a visit years ago to near where we now live.

 

We will take every chance we can to see a beach even when the weather is cold. I was thrilled to discover this beach on Achill Island in 1995 and share it with Mr Cassmob on another trip when we made friends with a local dog.

We chose to commemorate our ruby anniversary with casual family photos taken at a beach near our house in Darwin. We really love the relaxed and happy photos of the family, but all you’re getting to see is the happy couple. It was a very hot time of the year and we were all “glowing”.

cass 068

Let’s wind the clock back before we leave the beach behind with an early photo of Mr Cassmob’s relations on a Victorian beach. Probably taken in the late ’40s or early ’50s.

134 Cass Thompson families at beach

And while we shouldn’t laugh at our relatives and their olden-day “fashions”, I just had to share this outing to the beach with you.

Denis and Norman Kunkel left Ted Bryson right and query

My grandfather, back left, and dad, with a pudding bowl haircut and a much more discreet swimsuit than his relatives were wearing. Don’t you just love the frills on the swimsuit trousers on the right?!

I wonder what other Sepians have made of this week’s prompt. Have they explored the idea of needing an occasional “pick me up”, gone to the beach or been even more inventive. Why not paddle over and check it out.

 

 

Sepia Saturday: A story of threes

Three Girls Taking Tea : SEpia Saturday 526

This week’s Sepia Saturday theme brought back a fond memory of meeting up with friends, and work colleagues, at Burnett House in Darwin for a high tea.   I was stunned when I realised 14 years had flown past, and writing to get my mates’ permission to publish the photo set up a flurry of chat on Messenger. Sadly, we’re now scattered to the corners of the country, miles apart.

Pauleen Karen Candis 2006 crop

The Dream Team minus Ben.

High Tea at the National Trust property was a real treat back in those days, with a variety of home cooked cakes and scones, and Anna’s delicious lemon curd tarts. On this particular day we got adventurous and had bubbles as well as coffee (or was it instead?). The laughter was not down to the bubbles however, rather our ability to giggle our heads off when together. Our IT guy was included in what we called the Dream Team but being a bloke he just wasn’t in to High Tea.  In the Dry Season it was common to have to share a table and the woman sitting near us looked at us as if we were demented.  Ah, special memories.

Throughout high school I was part of a trio of friends who stuck together over the four years, and for two of us, when we went on to university. Sadly our work and life took us far away from each other and the connection faded. I don’t have a photo I can share without their permission but this is my recognition of their importance in my life through those years. Thanks Maria and Sue for those special times and your friendship.

20191021_132548

From Queensland, Sydney and Ireland, three bloggers met at Kew.

When I started blogging, I could never have imagined how many friends I’d make from near and far. Some I’ve been lucky enough to meet at conferences, and in November last year three blogging buddies met up to tour Kew Gardens’ Chihuly exhibition. What a treat it was to spend time with these friends, Sharn from Sydney and Angela, the Silver Voice, from Ireland. You wouldn’t credit that we’d rarely met in person…we had such fun and we were in awe of the magnificent glass displays. The grey weather certainly didn’t dampen our spirits.

three sisters up close

Three sisters (our three daughters) in front of the iconic Three Sisters formation in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, 1988.

The theme of three continues to my own family with three daughters. Three very special, clever, gorgeous women. Looking at this photo I see that it was during my applique phase and was during our trip to Sydney for the Bicentennial celebrations.

Norman Pauleen and Joan at Smiths Farm

Dad, me and Mum at my aunt and uncle’s farm at Upper Brookfield.

And where did it all start? Perhaps with being an only child and part of a family of three, not the larger dynamic groups that most kids grow up with. It had its advantages but it also had its downsides…I’d have loved to have siblings to grow up with, to play (or argue) with, and now to share memories.

Joan Pauleen and Norman Kunkel query Anzac Sq

What a pouty face! Bookmarked between mum and dad. Mum always liked to be nicely turned out and this was the era when gloves and hats were de rigeur for a trip to the city.

I wonder how other Sepians have approached this week’s topic…why not skip over and check out their stories.

Sepia Saturday – of Casses and Cats

Unknown Man With A Large Dog On His Head (Sepia Saturday 525)

As this week’s picture clearly show, our pets dominate our lives and we are happy to let them do so. Much as we love both dogs and cats, our family is not skilled at training dogs, not having had enough experience. This is a long yarn, so pull up a chair, a coffee and cuddle a cat – or a dog. Hopefully there are a few chuckles here to amuse you.

Peter and cat Toowong 1969

Mr Cassmob loves cats as much as I do.

In our 50+ year history together, cats have been a focus of our lives. I think we may have had one year where we were cat-less but I truly can’t imagine my life without one. Since we’ve moved to the coast we see far more dogs as their subordinates take them for a daily walk along the esplanade. We do love seeing them and realise our exercise regime would get a boost with a dog but wisdom has prevailed.

When we were first married we lived in my in-law’s house in Milne Bay, while they were on another posting to Port Moresby. They had a dachshund and a very old black and white cat. Tinka the dog could tiptoe up the hall to our bedroom on the pads of her paws then, when discovered, would clomp back down the hall, claws out. Her other favourite trick was finding the tissue box and shredding tissues all over the floor. Once the old cat died, we got a young tabby of our own. Tabitha loved nothing better than doing a flying leap into the air to catch a magnificent tropical butterfly. Fun mornings were waking up to a floor scattered with shredded tissues and butterfly wings.

Peter and Les Wewak with Tinka mid 1974

Mr Cassmob (right), his dad and the Tinka dog in Kavieng, PNG.

Tabitha also provided me with a memorable moment when she thought I was an appropriate place on which to deliver her kittens! I awoke to a kitten emerging towards my face. My own new-minted motherhood was not enough to spare Tabitha a sudden relocation to the floor! Not long after we were suddenly posted to the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, Tabitha and all but one of her kittens went to the local boarding school where we knew the principal well. Pedro the kitten came with us to Goroka and he and our eldest daughter, an infant, were great mates.

Some time later, at house #2, Pedro would be frightened off by the cat next door, Brandi. We never found him again, and we’ve always suspected that he may have wound up as a warm hat for someone, or in the cooking pot because there was a village nearby.  PNG could be tough for both owners and pets – little/limited access to vets, employer-dictated relocations, and permanent departure to Australia (going finish). In the latter case, it was traditional to hand your pets on to anyone else who’d take them. This is how we wound up with Brandi as our own pet and came to love her deeply despite her dismissal of Pedro. It’s also how we wound up with a cattle dog, called Whisky by her first owners. (We were tempted to get a bird and call it Bacardi).

 

Cass girls on our swing Gerehu 1976

Whisky with our daughters in Port Moresby.

Whisky had a story all her own. Her first family were neighbours in North Goroka (our house #1 there). We had a village behind us and a squatters’ camp down the end of the street. Whisky disappeared when she was just a pup then just as suddenly emerged one day as a fully grown dog. When that family left, we acquired her and she lived with us until we went finish some six years, three houses and another town, later. For the rest of her life she would have an addiction to mackerel pike tins – a typical food for the villagers. It may be why she deserted her adopted parents after we left, and went to the village with one of the staff whom we’d employed briefly.

Our lovely Brandi cat

Our beautiful girl, Brandi.

Brandi had her own adventure when she was attacked by a pack of Labradors just outside our house. Any other breed of dog and she’s never have survived, and we’d probably have had a savaging when we rescued her. She lay in shock in the lounge room for some time but recovered. It was an extremely sad day when we had to take her to the vet’s to be euthanised when we were going finish – there was no one we knew who could take her and at the time the quarantine period was very long (a year?). Voluminous tears were shed. To top it off we went to a child’s birthday party just days later, and they showed a sad movie about a cat…our family needed lots of tissues.

Louisa with Socks and Balloon 1978 Xmas

Balloons are fun!

When we got back to Australia, we had a small cat waiting for us. We’d picked her out when visiting my family earlier the same year. She was a very pretty cat, grey with white paws so we called her Socks – so innovative! She was such an affectionate cat which was surprising as her mother had been completely wild. The vet thought Socks’ dad was a travelling Burmese hence her fur and colouring. We had her for about 10 years before she contracted cancer and had to be put to sleep – again amidst many tears.

Socks was a tough little cat, dismissing a Doberman from our yard and giving our second cat no illusions about his place in the world. Ginger Megs arrived when he was chased up a large gum tree on our property by dogs. When they left, he couldn’t quite figure out how to get down, so he reversed a bit then jumped a very long way – you could see his shock absorbers bounce! Socks made his position clear by giving him a swipe across the chops and never letting him come up the steps to the bedrooms. Ginger Megs (aka Gemma as in PM= Pip Emma, GM=Gemma) was a lovable boofy cat, very large and quite clumsy. Had we know his personality earlier we’d probably have called him Garfield. He thought he was trim, taut and terrific and would balance precariously through ornaments on a shelf or along the edge of a full bath. He too became a victim of cancer and yet more tears were shed.

Pauleen and ginger megs

Nothing like a little cat compression during an afternoon nap. Gemma was no feather-weight.

Kizzle was a co-habitant with Gemma and inevitably won her place in our hearts. She fought off feline flu when she was only a tiny tot and lived to 18 and moved with us to Darwin….did she have some words to say about the flight when we picked her up!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cats and Christmas Trees: Kizzle.

She was in a sad state when we went on an overseas trip in early 2006 and in hindsight we probably should have had her put to sleep as a kindness though it felt more like it would be a convenience. Sadly our daughters bore the brunt of taking her to the vet for the needle and then burying her in our back yard. We got the phone call when we were in England. Again, more tears and a two-person wake remembering her little habits and happy times.

We had planned to have some cat-free months to regroup, but in those days I’d go to the local shopping centre to look at the pets at lunch time – always a pick-me-up. This little furball stole my heart and became part of our family in mid-2006. Although he promised he’d give me cuddles, it’s taken 14 years to get him to sit on my lap -admittedly he is now a big boy. We gave him the name of Springer because as a youngster he had the habit of kung-fu-ing you as you walked past. He has the fluffiest tail and would trot along with it in the air like a banner, so he also got called Trotsky or Banner Boy.

He grew up with our grandchildren in Darwin and still knows them when they visit. Just a few months older than our eldest grandson, he would get very jealous when Lachie would have toys on the floors and Springer would often be found squeezing into a Fisher Price farmhouse after Lachie had gone home! Springer was no more enamoured of his flight between Darwin and Brisbane than Kizzle was in the other direction. Springer’s Great Big Adventure nearly broke our hearts as we feared many outcomes, none good. As I write, he’s sleeping on one of his many “beds” around the house. As empty nesters now, he’s extremely spoiled, even for a cat.

springer cuddles

It’s very true that our beloved pets steal a part of our hearts but they give us untold love and entertainment.You can read about my early life with cats here, and how a cat helped my family history here.

Do go over to Sepia Saturday and read the stories by other Sepians.

We loved Turkey, in part because of how they look after, and indulge cats – not just their own but others. If you love cats, you might enjoy Kedi, a short movie about Istanbul’s cats.

Daughter #1 with her great-grandmother’s and great-aunt’s cat (left) and her grandmother’s cat (right).

 

 

Sepia Saturday: Of schools and tennis

Tennis Players (1920s) Unknown Subjects and Location

Sepia Saturday this week is all about imposing buildings and a very ladylike game of tennis. It seems apt therefore that it immediately brought to my mind, the Catholic High School I attended with its emphasis on ladylike behaviour – sadly I’ve let that fall by the wayside over the years.

All Hallows 1988

This photo was taken of the school in 1988, closer to when our daughters attended than when I did. At the time I was there the top floor on the right contained the concert hall which we approached by a slightly winding wooden staircase. Woe betide us if our heavy shoes made a single sound as we progressed up the floors….ladylike behaviour, remember. And in a divergence, equally heaven help us if any noise or disturbance distracted us from the speaker, play or concert that was being performed on the stage. I’ve thought since what an unfortunate training it was for the modern age where being alert to one’s surroundings can make the difference between life and death in dire circumstances. I don’t suppose the nuns could have imagined such things in the mid-1960s.

I did play on the courts in this image once or twice, goodness knows why. My tennis skills were very mediocre and I was not keen to exhibit my inadequacies to any nun or the other students who passed by.

Similarly another set of courts was directly below my classroom in Years 9 and 10. Strangely I have no memory of ever hearing the ping of tennis balls on a racquet. The prevailing sense from that classroom was the strong smell of hops from the brewery across the road, and my cousin’s teacher slamming the blackboard to the very top when she was in a cranky mood.

Hallowian 1stT 1964 p4

A sketch of the school grounds from the informal magazine, The Hallowian. There’s no indication of who the artist was. It’s certainly changed enormously since then. Nor did I know we were in the University wing.

I first learned to play tennis in late primary school. I have no real idea how that came to pass, but I imagine the local school was letter-dropped or similar, as a number of kids from my school learned on someone’s backyard court nearby for a while. Our teacher was Daphne Fancutt who had been a Wimbledon Finalist in the 1950s. As I grew a bit older I caught the bus and tram to the Fancutt courts at Lutwyche. My inadequacies certainly didn’t improve in a competitive environment and a fellow student from school was somehow teamed with me. He was a very good A-standard player, despite having to deal with the results of  polio, I on the other hand, was P for Pathetic.

While I occasionally attended (to watch!) major tennis competitions at Milton, and even have a signature in my teenage autograph book from Aussie Legend, Rod Laver, I was happy to leave tennis behind well before I left high school. In early adulthood I learned to play squash which I enjoyed much more. I’ve never been a very sporty person even though I walked everywhere until my 20s as we didn’t own a car.

I was delighted to find this 1934 painting of the All Hallows’ Convent on the State Library of Queensland website this morning. It was painted by William Bustard and published in The Queenslander newspaper.

I’ve also found that the library has two gaps in its collection of All Hallows’ annual magazine: 1941 and 1951. Since I have inherited the 1941 edition from my mother and have already scanned her class photo I’ve offered the magazine to them. Perhaps someone else has the 1951 edition.

Why not go across to see where the other Sepians have lobbed their tennis balls this week?

all Hallows' SLQ 1934

Illustrated page from The Queenslander annual, November 6, 1934, p. 23
William Bustard 1894-1973 ; Brisbane John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

If at first you don’t succeed….a Kunkel mystery

This photo was discovered being used as a backing to another picture. It’s not in great shape and with some Photoshop skills I could probably improve it…however that’s not my strength.

What I do know is that my grandfather, Denis Kunkel, is in the centre of the photo with an older man’s hand on his shoulder. Another man, front left, looks very like my father so I can only assume (yes, I know) that he’s a Kunkel relative. I have a hypothesis on the young woman beside him but….

It’s very likely that the photograph was taken on the Darling Downs in Queensland where Kunkel and Gavin relatives lived. However, I don’t have a clue who the people are, or why they’re gathered. Is it an extended family group, or perhaps a society of some sort?

I keep hoping someone will recognise one of their relatives in the photo and let me know. “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again“. Please let me know if you even think one of them might be someone you know.

 

Mystery photo includes Denis Kunkel: are the other people Gavin family members?

Crazy Month of May – pandemic experience responses

A week ago I thought it might be an idea to share a meme so we can record our experiences during the current pandemic. Here are the questions. Randy Seaver of Geneamusings also suggested it as the topic for this week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun meme – thanks Randy! The responses from that will be in two parts – one this week and one after next Saturday.

I’ve listed all the blogs that have responded and the links will take you direct to their answers. If you haven’t visited them before, why not explore some of the other posts and leave a comment?

Ancestral Discoveries Part I* and Part II

Canada Genealogy or Jane’s Your Aunt * Part I  and Part II

Curry Apple Orchard

Deb’s World *

Earlier Years

Empty Branches on the Family Tree Part I* and Part II

Family History Across the Seas

Family History Fun

Family Tree Frog

Geneamusings *and Part II

GeniAus

Lacie’s Genealogy Blog Part I* and Part II

Lois Willis Genealogy and Family History Part I and Part II

Lone Tester

My Tapley Family Tree

My Trails into the Past Part I and Part II

Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Test Patterns

Tracking Down the Family

Under the Nut Tree Genealogy *

Writing my Past

The blogs marked with an * have responded to questions 1-10 and will complete the remainder this weekend…now updated in red. Do go back and check out the rest of their answers

For an Irish perspective you may wish to read The Silver Voice’s posts about life in the covid-19 cocoon. Thanks Angela for letting me include these here.

Thanks to all those who’ve joined in. If I’ve omitted to list your blog, my apologies –  please send me a message and I’ll rectify it. It’s still not too late – if you want to link to my original post I’ll add your response here. It’s been interesting to see how differently it has affected each of us, as well as some commonalities.