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”.

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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.

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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!

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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).

 

 

Crazy month of May 2020: my responses

My suggestion was that this meme might help preserve some of our experiences during the 2020 pandemic.

Here are my responses. I’ll collate everyone’s later in the week.

What are you most grateful for during this covid-19 crisis?

I’ve had a recurring mantra of gratitude that my mother is being well cared for and safe in her nursing home; that we returned to Australia on 7 March, ahead of the virus spread in India and before Singapore’s 2nd wave; that I have a roof over my head and that all our family have kept their jobs; that we are all well; and that our national cabinet has listened to the experts and taken action to keep us all as safe as possible. I’m very grateful to find Australia at the bottom of the coronavirus stats for infections and deaths, and high on the testing. I’m also very grateful to have Mr Cassmob beside me through all this.

What have you missed most during the full or partial lock-down?

I don’t feel like life has been too tough during the phases of lock down. By day 13 of my self-imposed quarantine (before the government made it mandatory) I was getting a bit stir crazy not being able to go out but got over it. We’ve concluded we lead pretty boring lives most of the time 🙂 I’ve most missed meeting up with friends and family.

Has your hobby sustained you during this time?

For sure. There’s always so much to do with family history – photos to scan, heritage items to sort, blogs to write, learning to be done. Inspired by the Legal Genealogist’s office organisation, I made a start and then got side-tracked by scanning which only led to more mess. My big task right now is to clean up my genealogy database which is in a tangle thanks to my ineptitude, computer crashes, programs no longer supported etc. I hope to have that sorted by mid-July at the latest, working one letter at a time – I’m up to the Ds.

What changes have you seen in your life over May 2020?

It was sad when we couldn’t just drive to the nearby beach – they closed down the access roads to the esplanade. Just seeing the beach is sustaining and soothing. I’ve been limited in times I can visit my mother, have been temp scanned each time, and sanitiser is everywhere – in short the aged care home has done a great job of being proactive and communicating with family.

We’ve bought more take-away coffees than ever before, just to help our local favourite stay afloat. I’ve even gone back to doing my own pedicures – gasp – the hardships!

With the Queensland government’s decision to permit movement locally, it’s allowed us to escape the feeling of being too confined. First stage was a 50km radius from home, then 150km and now anywhere in Queensland.

Have you been exercising more or less?

Much the same, which is to say, nowhere near enough. Now that the weather is colder, walking on the cold sand or wading at the water’s edge just doesn’t have the same appeal.

One thing I realised I’ve missed is that in Darwin we could go for walks along the waterfront and through the park…no need to get the car out.

Has the refrigerator been your friend or foe?

The refrigerator is always my friend but I’ve acquired an addiction to cookies and cream ice-creams 🙂

Have you been participating in virtual gatherings with friends or family?

A bit but not that much more than usual – it’s been about the phone calls.

Have you taken up new hobbies during the lockdowns?

Nope. Family history keeps me busy and I can’t quite imagine how people manage other time-consuming hobbies like quilting. I also can’t quite face the extra “mess” that might ensue. My other “hobby” is sorting out mum’s heritage items which pretty much come under family history as well.

Are you cooking or gardening more?

I’m blessed with a husband who loves to cook but I have made a cake or two – any more and I/we would only get fatter. We’ve also now got lettuce, tomatoes, onions, capsicums, more herbs, and eggplant growing…a little more than usual. Our fave coffee shop has also given us coffee grounds for the garden. Win-win.

Have you shopped more or less? Online or offline?

I‘m not a big fan of shopping so haven’t felt deprived by the lack of open shops or an inability to potter around Sunshine Plaza (ugh!). I’ve ordered a couple of things online and too many e-books from Amazon as I’m reading a book most nights (I don’t like the program the library uses for ebook loans). Offline, as I mentioned, we’re supporting our local coffee shop beyond our normal level – they are so friendly and efficient we wanted to help them keep their jobs. Our initial grocery orders were online as we needed to stock up after our holiday, but recently they’re short trips into the stores.

What have you found to be the strangest change to your life?

Not being able to just meet up with a friend for coffee and the structure around nursing home visits.

I am usually found searching various travel sites online and that’s pretty much disappeared. I’m used to that now but it was odd in the beginning…so why don’t I have more time? Oh yes, all those books I’ve read 🙂

How pathetic is it that we’ve missed being able to go on local jaunts to look at prize homes and see new suburbs?!

Have you found the changes and experience stressful/anxious/worrying?

Not really. I’ve felt confident that we’ve been well protected one way and another. There’s only been once or twice that I’ve felt discombobulated, rather than anxious etc. I was a bit concerned when I got what you’d normally say is “just a bug” but had the tonsil-tickler-test at the doctor’s direction, mainly due to concerns about mum. Luckily it was negative though I stayed home until I felt better again.

Update: I’ve realised that the biggest stressor for me during the past three months has been seeing mum’s health deteriorate since she had a stroke not long before the pandemic hit. She’s been very independent until this year so it’s a big change for her and for us with her care.

How have the closures affected your local community?

As we live in a tourist area, it’s been sad to see the decimation of businesses, especially coffee shops and restaurants. Our local “village” has lost, permanently or temporarily, a lot of shops. Our go-to lunch restaurant has closed indefinitely. On the upside, it’s been interesting to see how businesses have adapted quickly, putting up perspex barriers in front of the sales counters (perspex manufacturers must be making a mint), and providing medical scripts delivery and pickup. It was strange to see all the local playgrounds cordoned off so it’s nice to see kids on swings etc now.

Have in-person meetings been replaced with virtual meetings via Zoom, Skype etc?

Caloundra Family History has been very responsive thanks to the efforts of some members and meetings are all rescheduled as Zoom meetings. I think the societies that haven’t taken the chance to explore online meetings have done themselves, and members, a disservice.

Do you enjoy the virtual meeting format?

I’m actually enjoying the Zoom etc meetings. Our Caloundra society’s Share, Show and Tell fortnightly sessions are great and I hope they continue – so much more opportunity for sharing and learning with more time, rather than in our formal monthly meeting. I’ve also been able to attend a GSQ DNA meeting rather than have to drive to Brisbane, which never seems to happen. The massive availability of free webinars has been a fantastic learning opportunity to hear speakers world-wide. Of course, you miss the chance to just hang out with genimates but that will come – in due course.

Are you working from home instead of in your usual place of work?

Home is my usual place of work since I’m retired – another thing to be grateful for, along with having my own dedicated office space.

Have your habits changed over the past months?

Yes, due to not being able to catch up with friends, though the phones, and emails, have run hot over the months as we’ve kept in touch with each other. Especially in the earlier months of covid-19 (March-April), phone calls were a big time-ticket on my daily agenda. I still don’t exercise enough, and somehow I’m reading far more – a book completed most nights, albeit mostly my crime novel addiction. Of course I could be more productive and head to the study but I don’t enjoy sitting at the computer for lengthy periods as much as I once did. The change in the cat’s habits have affected me – he’s finally learned he can sit on my lap – which of course means I’m pinned down until he’s ready to move….it’s only taken him 14 years!

in the last six weeks or so I haven’t been devouring the covid-19 stats and reports with the same level of obsession on a daily basis as I did in March-April, but the sheer scale of the continually increasing numbers is overwhelming. Selfishly, I’m grateful that Australia and New Zealand have been well protected.

Have you had to cancel travel plans for pleasure or family?

Sadly, yes. Our early May travel to Darwin for a grandson’s birthday and a long weekend camping had to be cancelled. I can’t wait until the border lockdown to the NT is lifted and we can go give them all a HUGE HUG.

Do you think you’ll be able to travel in 2020?

I’m thinking that travel within Australia will definitely be possible, and maybe New Zealand. Whether we do the latter now, or not, remains to be seen – we’ve been before but have been talking about going to see family across the Ditch “soon”. Meanwhile, a few nights near the Darling Downs in a B&B with a fireplace might be on the cards in the near future – we can justify it as keeping local businesses afloat. The furry feline’s luxury accommodation has been re-opened so that’s no longer a problem. I’ve been thinking I need a trip to Rockhampton for family history so that might become a 2020 activity. With covid stats around the world, nowhere else on my bucket list is looking appealing.

Have you/others been wearing masks when out and about in your area?

Most people are not wearing masks as they’ve not been deemed necessary. I’ve mainly seen them in doctors’ surgeries.

Will you change your lifestyle after this experience?

Hmmm…I’m not sure. As I’ve mentioned our lives were fairly routine before and we’ll likely go back to that, meeting up with friends/family for meals or coffee. We need to be more strategic about what we want to achieve, and that includes travel. I’m grateful we’ve had the chance to travel so much in earlier years, so it won’t be too sad if we have to curtail our future plans. I’d like to say I’ll exercise more and get fitter, but I’ve said that many times. I hope to maintain a sense of gratitude for all the wonderful aspects of my life, especially the people.

It’s been interesting to reflect on the lifestyle changes over the past few months and during May as we move back towards more usual day-to-day activities.

We have been so fortunate in Australia that we’ve escaped the horrors experienced in other countries with covid-19 despite the economic consequences. It must have been such an horrific experience for those who’ve lost family and friends and not able to farewell them with traditional ceremonies. So many people have borne the brunt of the horrors and challenges from the health professionals to shop staff to the unacknowledged workers who keep our societies functioning. We have much to be grateful for.

Sepia Saturday: A Pint in the Sun

2004311 : Sepia Saturday 520 Header (16 May 2020)

This week’s theme for Sepia Saturday evoked a particular family memory as soon as I saw it, though I can’t believe it’s twenty years since this enjoyable day out. Our youngest daughter had been on a gap year after finishing uni and had been working at a pub in Hook Norton, Oxfordshire for six months with her partner. When we met up with them in Tuscany, they’d been backpacking for a few months – staying with us in a villa was quite the lap of luxury.

Italy248

It was so exciting when we met them off the bus: kisses, huge hugs and smiles, and maybe even a tear or two. The Italians from the bus were very approving of this grand display of emotion. We were amused when the  multi-lingual localrestaurateurgave us a quote from his own family gatherings “today you laugh, tomorrow you fight“. Luckily we managed to avoid any major “blues” and had a good time together. By the time we drove into Siena for a look-see we’d even learned to deal with the Italian traffic! To celebrate we sat in the sunshine in the Piazza del Campo and enjoyed a cold beer together. Perfetto!

This topic turned my thoughts to family drinking habits and the role of alcohol. My father had only an occasional beer though he also liked a whisky from time to time. One memorable time, he was watching a Rugby Union match with Mr Cassmob and myself. Mum arrived, busying around, and moved his coffee table. Being engrossed in the match, he replaced his beer glass exactly where it had been previously – only problem being that the table was no longer there. Oops! We were not popular! My mother was never, ever a drinker of alcohol, nor was her father (or presumably her mother) since they’d both signed “The Pledge“. Amazingly I managed to avoid all school encouragement to do the same, so I can enjoy my wine.

Similarly, my father’s parents also never drank alcohol in their old age. My paternal grandfather may have been known to have a beer as a younger man but perhaps not after he married my grandmother who was a staunch Presbyterian.

The following newspaper extract describes my maternal grandmother’s parents’ refreshment rooms in Charters Towers. One might infer from this that the Melvin family were non- drinkers as well (though Stephen Melvin’s brother did run pubs). It’s also worth remembering that in Queensland, and especially the tropical north, there’s little appeal to sitting in the sun with a cold beer, or any other cold drink. Being in a shady, cool place is much more attractive.

Melvin Nth Qld Register 1895 non alcoholic

MESSRS. MELVIN & CO. (1895, December 21). The North Queensland Register (Townsville, Qld. : 1892 – 1905), p. 65. Retrieved May 17, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article79288095

Perhaps some of the family antipathy to alcohol can be explained by the death of Anne Callaghan who I believe to have been my 2xgreat grandmother from Courtown in Ireland. At first, one wonders how no one noticed she hadn’t returned home but it’s entirely possible the men in the family were at sea fishing. By 1886, my great-grandmother, Anne’s daughter, had already emigrated to Queensland.

CALLAGHAN Anne Death cert 1886

As the advertisements say “Drink in Moderation“.

Why not visit the Sepia Saturday page to see how other Sepians have “hit the grog” and whether they were basking in the sunshine at the same time.

And sometimes, an ice cream is every bit as good as a beer when it’s hot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uniforms and uniformity

U2020It will seem strange in some countries that our otherwise obstreperous country is not averse to uniforms in schools. (Mind you we also don’t venerate those who wear uniforms either).

I’m very grateful that when I went to school, both primary and secondary, I wore a uniform every day. State run primary schools didn’t always have uniforms, though they do more often these days. State high schools were much more likely to require a uniform to be worn. As I went to a private Catholic school, we were only allowed to wear uniforms and to a proper standard, at that. What did uniforms offer us?

Pauleen at primary school c1959

At primary school, perhaps about aged 9 or 10. I can still feel the texture of that tie. Can you see my right eye has two shades?

  • A sense of solidarity (and the obverse, the alienation of others, isn’t something I favour)
  • No opportunity for status plays by labelled/expensive clothes
  • A uniformity of style and identity among those who wear the uniform
  • No need to think about what to wear every day
  • A sense of pride in your school, its history and its achievements
  • And when travelling on the bus you knew which boys went to which school <smile>
  • Our school had a fairly modern uniform, for the time, and responds to changing fashion unlike some schools which have maintained the same uniform for generations.
  • The downside was that past pupils recognised your school and if you were not wearing your gloves or hat, or were generally being unruly, you would be reported quick smart – these days I sometimes roll my eyes when I see how current pupils are dressed but I’m not into dobbing them.
  • These days, my school offers what they call ‘plain clothes days’ and the girls who choose to do this have to pay a gold coin donation ($1 or $2) towards a particular charity. Sadly, there are always those girls who want to display their designer wear on these days, or at school fetes.

Think of all the other places were uniforms are worn: military, police, doctors, nurses, sports, clubs, some shops and restaurants, men in suits at conferences….

When I was 13, I would come visit my aunt and uncle in New York. I decided I wanted to live with them after seeing my cousin’s school. Honestly, I just wanted to go to a school where I didn’t have to wear uniforms, and my mom said okay. Priyanka Chopra, Indian actress.

Here is my photo journal of some uniforms that have been worn in my families.

My dad at primary school, aged about 9 or 10 and (right) in his railway uniform as a young man. He had to wear blue serge trousers and jacket throughout the year, with a blue shirt. He would have funny anecdotes about how drivers would suddenly behave on the road because they thought he was an off duty policeman.

Uniforms weren’t required at his primary state school. It wasn’t uncommon for kids to not wear shoes – it was the sub-tropics after all and it was also the time of the Depression. Grandma made sure dad was spick and span in a white shirt (back row). Kelvin Grove state school c1930.

Kelvin Grove State School children c1930

Kelvin Grove State School children c1930

As you can see below things were different at my primary Catholic school not far from Kelvin Grove…a fair degree of uniformity evident, with minor variations. St Joan of Arc, Herston c1956.

St Joan of Arc

This photo includes at least two classes from my primary school. c1956

My mother’s First Communion class had a certain uniformity – they were plainly required to dress to a certain standard. She made her communion at St Mary’s Church, Townsville on 18 June 1933.

Joan McSherry 2nd girl rt front

By the time mum was at high school at St Pat’s in Townsville, the uniforms were plainly rigorously enforced. It struck me looking at this, how much my cousin looks like my mother as well as her own. Mum had blonde hair here while my Aunty Bonnie had red hair.

Joan McSherry St Pats TSV back left

When mum moved to Brisbane from Townsville, she attended the same school that I would late attend and subsequently our daughters. Interesting to see the change of uniforms.

Joan Kunkel AHS 1941

All Hallows’ School, Junior (Year 10) Class. Mum is 4th from right in second front row.

At high school: I did occasionally change my hair, and look demure. Unlike boys’ schools we all wore the same uniform and didn’t have honour blazers for sport or prefects. 1966

Pauleen a prefect at AHS

I went to a Catholic school, so of course we had to wear uniforms. My only form of expression was in shoes and the style of my hair. Camille Guaty, American actress.

Actually we had no choice in shoes, and our hair had to be above the collar, and above all, tidy.

I even wore a uniform at the weekends when I attended the Girl Guides at Newmarket.

 

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We have no photos of Mr Cassmob’s primary school classes or uniforms, but this is one from when he attended Nudgee Junior as a young lad.

43 Peter Cass Nudgee uniform Jan 1960 at Essendon

Before the family moved to Papua New Guinea, Mr Cassmob’s father was an educator with the Royal Australian Air Force. I think this photo of him sharing his uniform cap is so cute and plainly so did the small boy while his sister looks a bit indignant.

My mother-in-law’s school plainly also had stringent rules for their uniforms.

63 prob Kaye Edwards 3rd fm Left 1940s

While the war years were confronting, they also had some side benefits. My O’Brien/Garvey cousins in Sydney got to meet their Garvey cousins from the USA when the US troops were stationed there.

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Well, the thing about my high school, which I loved, is that we had uniforms. But whenever we had a free dress day, it was prep-ville, with sweater vests and polo shirts and khakis and Dockers. Vanessa Lachey, American entertainer.

So what’s your vote? Are you in favour of uniforms or not? Do they make daily life easier or suppress individuality?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A surprising New Year ‘s Eve

This is a similar-ish lamp to the one in the story.

Once upon a time, several decades ago, a young woman was living with her husband in the small town of Alotau in Papua New Guinea. She was six months pregnant and for some reason thought it would be a good idea to celebrate their first New Year’s Eve together with friends.

At the time, the town only had eighteen hour power with the hours between midnight and 6am requiring alternative strategies. Waking up early to get started on the party preparations seemed like a good idea so she headed to the lounge room where she lit the rather lovely antique glass and brass lamp she’d given her husband for his 21st. She struck the match and started to turn to the kitchen. Kaboom!

The lamp had blown up and kerosene, green glass and flames spread across the lounge room floor….the ignition had travelled to the bottom of the wick and set off this mini-explosion. The young husband came rushing from the bedroom, startled by the noise, and perhaps a shriek. The flames were all he could see – no sight of his wife. She in turn was in the kitchen with her nylon nightie stripped off – it had partially caught fire and melted in the flames. She’d had a lucky escape being half-turned away when the fire took hold -no other injuries.

The young couple walked down the street to the bloke who served as a hospital assistant, and were reassured that all was well with their baby. In the small town the reactions to the explosion differed: “someone’s shot his wife”, “someone will call to tell me if I’m needed” and “why are they walking down the street at this hour in dressing gowns”. The party was cancelled after all the drama.

All’s well that ends well, but memories are long and another New Year’s Eve has never been planned by the couple.

I’d like to wish all my readers a very happy New Year with many wonderful things ahead in 2020.

Image by Samad Khakpour from Pixabay

 

 

Trove Tuesday: the tragic tale of Lizzie Brophy

On a cool autumn day, 31 May 1881, Elizabeth Brophy was in her home at Jeffcott St, Melbourne with her six year old daughter Sarah and her other daughter, Lizzie, aged four[i]. Lizzie was handicapped and could neither speak nor walk. Her usual place was tied in her chair near the fireplace where “she rocked herself about and cried continually[ii], no doubt to her mother’s aggravation. That morning, William McKenna, Elizabeth’s father and the children’s grandfather, visited and later stated that all was well. He returned around midday and while Elizabeth may have had drink taken, all was well, so he reported. Later in the day it seems Elizabeth’s mother, Bridget McKenna, and some other women had been drinking in the house though subsequent news stories make no further reference to this[iii].

William returned around dusk by which stage Elizabeth was rather the worse for wear from the drink and was aggressive and vocal. At this stage, there are conflicting stories. Lizzie was crying and her mother shook the chair and the child fell to the floor with her head near the fire. Young Sarah would later report that William was sitting by a chair near the fire and arguing with Elizabeth. William suggested he would go and get some (wood) chips for the fire but Elizabeth said she’d burn her apron, which she did. Being both drunk and aggressive…and annoyed…she went to pick up the boiling kettle to throw it over her father. Unsurprisingly, he pushed it away and the water spilled over the child on the floor as well as on the fire. William was to state that he didn’t look at the child, whom he described as an “idiot”, nor did he see if any water had been spilled on her, though he acknowledged she was screaming. His daughter Elizabeth “was in such a temper that (he) was glad to leave the house at once[iv].

Six-year-old Sarah, “was frightened and ran into the street[v], heading next door to get the neighbour, Thomas Hill, who arrived at their home about 6pm – against Elizabeth’s vociferous objections. He could hear Lizzie crying and found her outside in the yard, brought her into the house and he gave evidence that “the child’s clothes were all quite wet and she appeared to be in great agony[vi]. Hill gave Lizzie to her mother, who put her on the floor. Meanwhile Elizabeth had filled the fireplace with paper and said she was setting fire to the house… a literal fire this time for Mr Hill to extinguish. In the midst of the drama, John Brophy returned home to the domestic disaster to discover his youngest child was scalded severely. He was an engine driver with Victorian Railways so he held a responsible position and presumably had been on shift work during the day.

Around this time the local constable, Frederick Maitland, appeared, having been sent for by Hill. Once again there are conflicts, or just confusion, in the testimony. The constable said he found Elizabeth Brophy on the pavement about 100 yards from her house and arrested her because she was aggressive. Hill stated that Brophy had asked him to help tie Elizabeth’s hands in front of her because she was drunk and violent, which they did. Which came first is unclear. John Brophy took Lizzie to the Royal Melbourne Hospital in the late evening where the poor child died of her injuries a few hours later. The resident surgeon, Dr Robert Stewart testified that, based on his post mortem, she had died of shock from the scalds[vii]. Further news comment was that “her arms, legs, and part of the chest were severely burned[viii], she was “badly nourished and unable to walk although four years old[ix]. The doctor indicated that the results “had she been stronger the results would likely not have been fatal[x]….or perhaps if she’d received medical care more promptly?

Elizabeth Brophy was taken into custody pending the outcome of a coronial enquiry by Dr Youl which commenced on 2nd June and was completed on Monday 6th June. Sub-Inspector Larner posed the question many of us would like to have asked “Why did you leave the house when you saw the child scalded? Was it not your duty as a grandfather to protect the child?” William replied “I left because the woman was in a temper”. The Coroner enquired: “And do you mean to say that you left this poor unfortunate decrepit child unprotected with a woman of whom you yourself were afraid”. William “I left”.

Sarah was asked for her testimony and the coroner assessed that had given an intelligent response. Her mother, however, objected saying that it “was not fair to cross examine the child like an old person. The child would answer in the affirmative to any questions put to her. She was only two years older than the deceased baby[xi].

The jury on the coronial inquest concluded that Elizabeth Brophy was guilty of manslaughter. The coroner committed her for trial at the next Criminal sessions on 15th June 1881. Bail was then allowed.

The Criminal Trial was held and testimony taken from the same witnesses. His Honour Mr Justice Higinbotham concluded that “if the jury accepted the evidence of the daughter Sarah, the prisoner was guilty of manslaughter, but if they believed the testimony of McKenna, she ought to be acquitted”. This jury returned a verdict of “not guilty” and Elizabeth was discharged[xii].

Was their decision affected by the fact that Lizzie was handicapped? Would the outcome have been different if they’d known another daughter had died only four months earlier from diarrhoea after suffering for two weeks?[xiii]

One also can’t help wondering what reception Sarah received from her mother on her return home from prison and if she was punished for her involvement in the trials. I also wonder whether William’s four visits on this day were typical, and if so, why he went so often.

A truly heart-wrenching story of a family’s dysfunction.

When next visiting Melbourne it will be interesting to see the primary documents relating to this event.

On the positive side I can find no evidence of Elizabeth in later Trove news stories or in the Victorian Prison Records, so perhaps this caused her to mend her ways and swear off alcohol.

———————————————————–

[i] Elizabeth Brophy daughter of Elizabeth McKenna and John Silvester Brophy, born 1877 reference 23712 / 1877 and died 1881 reference 5262/1881. I have called her Lizzie throughout this story to avoid confusion with her mother, Elizabeth Brophy, nee McKenna.

[ii] INQUEST. (1881, June 7). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 6. Retrieved September 29, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5977084

[iii] “THURSDAY, JUNE 2, 1881.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 2 June 1881: 5. Web. 29 Sep 2019 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5984419&gt;.

[iv] INQUEST. (1881, June 7). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 6. Retrieved September 29, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5977084

[v] ibid

[vi] SUSPICIOUS DEATH OF A CHILD. (1881, June 4). Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 – 1918, 1935), p. 21. Retrieved September 29, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196566183

[vii] INQUEST. (1881, June 7). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 6. Retrieved September 29, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5977084

[viii] A Doubtful Case. (1881, June 4). Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 – 1954), p. 21. Retrieved September 29, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article219425980

[ix] SUSPICIOUS DEATH OF A CHILD. (1881, June 4). Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 – 1918, 1935), p. 21. Retrieved September 29, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196566183

[x] CENTRAL CRIMINAL COURT. (1881, June 18). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946), p. 21. Retrieved September 30, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article137815924

[xi] INQUEST. (1881, June 6). The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved September 29, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article241329167

[xii] CENTRAL CRIMINAL COURT. (1881, June 17). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 3. Retrieved September 29, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5987754

[xiii] Baby Catherine, a one-year-old infant died on 15 February 1881. Victorian Death Certificate 454/1881

Zany, Quirky or Weird?

AtoZ2019ZThis series of blog posts is part of the A to Z 2019 Blogging Challenge in which I will write snapshot memories of my early married life in the then Territory of Papua New Guinea?

 

The ground crew rush to the aircraft

“Take this box to Hagen”

“What’s in it?”

“Mosquitoes from the coast”

Aghast the tourist asks

“What happens if those things get loose in here?”

 

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zzzzzz zzzzz I suck your blood! Image from Pixabay.

Zzzzzzzz the annoying whine of a mozzie round your ears

Hope you’ve taken your Camoquin.

Ours is stored in a maxi Pablo jar –

To avoid the risk of poisoning –

Rationed out each Sunday.

——————–

Tinka and Tabitha

The dachsund and the acrobatic cat

Enliven our early mornings

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A PNG butterfly. Image from Wikipedia

Shredded tissues from one

Shredded butterflies the other

A colourful snowstorm in the bedroom.

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Now an adult cat, Tabitha decides to wake me up

And my eyes open to a kitten emerging onto my chest

No respecter of the delivering fur-mum

She is deposited promptly on the floor

My memory is that it was near Anzac Day…why?

—————

A Goroka event draws crowds

Meet up with Aunty Lee and

Let’s go see the gumithon…

Inner tubes and crazy passengers

Hurtle down the chilly river.

Family657

Ferry crossing PNG style – between Kerema and Malalaua (Gulf District). All government vehicles were spray-painted (or bought) in this dark blue colour.

—————-

A late night phone call frightens us

News of a colleague’s murder and

Name confusion in the panic

Anxiety and sadness follow.

————–

We head to the movies

To See Easy Rider

(Of which I remember nothing)

Family669

What did the bishop say to the Prince? I’m lost for words! Independence ceremony at the Catholic Cathedral, Port Moresby 1975.

At the Goroka Cinema

Next to the Zokozoi Hotel.

And our truly weird movie experience

Papillon – for our anniversary

The only time we’ve walked out of a movie, I think.

—————

“Mummy, there’s bugs in my room”

“No there’s not, go to sleep”

Afternoon nap time in Moresby

Eventually I check it out

He is sound asleep with the small fan

Whirring away in flames, sending black specks

Over the space to their bedroom. Whoops, good save.

————-

 

You might think there’d be a zoo in PNG

Instead we took friends to the croc farm

Where we also saw cassowaries and

Magnificent Birds of Paradise

Day to Day we saw little fauna (frogs, snakes, geckos, possums)

And some ordinary birds

It may that many zoological specimens wound up as costumes.

Perhaps more quirky and weird than zany, but life was never dull in PNG.

 

 

Yumi bung wantaim

AtoZ2019YThis series of blog posts is part of the A to Z 2019 Blogging Challenge in which I will write snapshot memories of my early married life in the then Territory of Papua New Guinea.

The start of our life together in Papua New Guinea brought many adventures and experiences, and challenges.

Mitupela: At our reception as we start our new life wantaim.

 

Peters 21st Tower Mill 1970

The newly weds soon after our honeymoon. Dinner at the Tower Mill with his family and mine. Sadly, half of this group have already left us.

 

Tripela Time with the family. Above left: Great-grandmother Cass, Great aunt Olive Cass, maternal Grandma and spoiled baby. Lower left: Happy to be with dad and Aunty Lee. Right: Sending Uncle Philip home for Christmas.

Tripela: My dad with the grandchildren.  Tupela: I always loved this photo.

Kaye and Les Cass with Louisa and Rach 1976

Fopela: Cass grandparents and the grandchildren. The dog was a visitor.

Grandparents Joan and Norman Kunkel with Louisa and Rach 1976

Fopela: In Brisbane with their maternal grandparents at a cousin’s christening.

 

Peter Pauleen and girls c1978

This photo was taken not long before we left Papua New Guinea permanently. Before the year was out we would be faipela.

Tok Pisin:

Yumi bung wantaim – we come together

mitupela – the two of us

wantaim – together

tupela – two people

tripela – three people

fopela – four people

faipela – five people