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 – 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).

 

 

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.

Sepia Saturday: Windows and heritage

sepia Sat 7 June

A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside. Denis Waitley, American author. (Brainyquotes.com)

nora bodyke

This beautiful lady is Nora, my third cousin once removed. Over forty years ago, she visited the home of her great-grandmother (my 2xgreat grandmother’s sister). The home was in the townland of Ballydonaghan, near the town of Bodyke in County Clare.

It was thanks to an oral history tip from a Kunkel cousin that I learned about Nora and her sister in Sydney. I was lucky enough to visit them while on work trips initially and more recently on any trip to Sydney. Over the years Nora has shared so many family stories, provided me with photos and funeral cards, and linked me to the US branch of our O’Brien family. I am truly indebted to her, and for this reason I asked her to launch my Kunkel-O’Brien book in November 2003.

Nora was a trail blazer in her career as a woman clerk with the New South Wales public service as well as serving with the WRAAC Citizens Army Force, eventually rising to be a Captain. This is her entry in the Australian Women’s Register. She is as smart as a whip as well as being a kind and generous person, and I’ve been privileged to have her in my life.

NORA STUFF 097 (2)

Nora’s Irish cousins and mine. We’ve been lucky enough to meet a couple of times when our travels have taken us to Ireland. If you’d like to read more about Hanora(h) Garvey nee O’Brien, you might like this blog post.

The Garvey family in Sydney remembered their ancestors in a stained glass church window at St Peter’s in Surry Hills.

Garvey windows crop

Nothing on this window gives a clue that John and Honora Garvey lived and died in Ireland.

Keep creating new windows from which to look at your world. Never accept your current view of the world as the only view. Let new awareness help you to alter your view and motivate you to be the force of change in your life. Don Shapiro.

Why not pop over to see what other Sepians have found when they’ve peeked out their windows?

 

Sepia Saturday: Railway maintenance

Sepia Saturday 522 30 May 2020One of the things I like about Sepia Saturday is that it makes you think about how the image might relate to your family’s stories. This week’s image just didn’t ring bells for me even though there are farmers on my tree. It took until Sunday for me to have a lightbulb moment. I may have no photos of my farmers but I also have lots of railway workers who I’ve written about before.

When we travel by train we tend to give little thought to the men who built the lines or who maintain them. Both sides of my family were involved in building Queensland’s railway lines and then maintaining them. George Kunkel, my 2xgreat grandfather certainly followed the construction of the line between Ipswich and Toowoomba but the jury is out on whether he was selling meat, or actually helping with construction. His son, another George, was a railway ganger so responsible for the lengthsmen working on a particular stretch of the line. My grandfather was actually born at a railway camp outside Dalby in what can only have been pretty primitive conditions for the women, as “home” was usually a canvas tent.  On my maternal side, the men worked the line between Rockhampton and Longreach.

Railway knocking sleepers into posn Qlder 4 Feb 1899 p214

(1899, February 4). The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 – 1939), p. 214 (Unknown). Retrieved June 1, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page2516738

These were hard, physical jobs especially during the heat of a Queensland summer or the chill of an outback winter where it does indeed get cold. Hospital records at Queensland State Archives offer testimony to the hazards of the work for the men in the tropics as so many fell ill with tropical diseases.

Railway Camp The Week 21 nov 1913

If this was 1913, just imagine what life was like in the 1850s-1880s. AT HOME, RAILWAY CONSTRUCTION CAMP, LOWER BURDEKIN. (1913, November 21). The Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 – 1934), p. 20. Retrieved June 1, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article188948214

Trove also offers insights into the experiences of the men if you search by a generic phrase like “railway ganger” or” railway maintenance”. You don’t need to find you specific family name if you can gain information about their lives on the line from newspaper stories. This article gives an excellent insight into the tasks of railway maintenance. Drilling down to search for illustrated articles can provide images from the times as well. I’ve been adding stories to my list “Qld Railways” which is public.

Murphys Creek railway camp The Week Qld

No title (1912, October 18). The Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 – 1934), p. 20. Retrieved June 1, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article188916590

From my personal experience, I remember when we’d be travelling to Townsville on the Sunlander train, dad (another railwayman) would always throw out a newspaper or magazine to the men working beside the line. I remember that they’d have a lean-to and a billy on the fire, but whether they lived in tents close by or travelled on one of push-pull cars to a more distant location I just don’t know.

Railway loading ballast Qlder 4 Feb 1899 p214

(1899, February 4). The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 – 1939), p. 214 (Unknown). Retrieved June 1, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page2516738

 

Thank you to Sepia Saturday for making me think more about these men, even if it’s taken me until Monday to get my thoughts organised. You can head over to the link to see what other bloggers have dug up about their families.

railway CAMP south coast line The week 1909

My grandfather worked on this line. RAILWAY, CAMP, SOUTH COAST LINE (1909, January 15). The Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 – 1934), p. 25. Retrieved June 1, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article183689234

 

Jack Bishop: A champion bike racer

Sepia Saturday 521 23 May 2020This past weekend’s Sepia Saturday theme brought to mind a story I’ve been intending to write up about a prize winning racer in my Kunkel family.

Family discoveries can come from all sorts of cryptic clues. They may even reveal hidden stories – if we’re lucky. One such came to light over great grandson of George and Mary Kunkel. A cousin recounted how, while still a little girl, she attended the funeral of a young Paterson cousin who had died racing motorcycles overseas. Various searches on this family’s deaths was unproductive – until the three-month gap between Mary Bishop’s son’s dates of death and burial were finally noticed. The internet provided the final loop of the puzzle revealing that Jack Bishop was a renowned pioneer of dirt track racing in both Australia and England in the 1920s and early 30s.[1]

BISHOP Jack grave (2)

Died 20 March 1933, England. Ashes interred Drayton and Toowoomba cemetery 17 June 1933.

 After leaving school, Jack started work in the motor trade. It’s likely that’s where he gained his enthusiasm for dirt bike racing which was a new sport in those post-WWI days. In 1928 Jack Bishop was recruited by AJ Hunting to race in England and along with other Australian racers signed a contract which paid him £5 per week and a return first class voyage. Jack Bishop and the team sailed on the Oronsay from Brisbane, arriving in London on 9 May 1928.[2] Jack was 19 years old and he and all his team-mates listed their occupation as “professional motor cyclist” with their address c/- International Speedway Limited London. Although the Australians made a prominent opening in May 1928 on the dirt tracks at White City and Crystal Palace, the heavy rain made the muddy tracks hazardous and Jack was thrown and received concussion. In July 1928 he was injured in two races which affected his early career in the United Kingdom.

BISHOP Hull Daily Mail 22 August 1928 p3

Who wouldn’t want a box of smoked herring? Hull Daily Mail 22 August 1928, p3

The thrill of dirt track racing appealed to many spectators and the sport became very popular. On 19 August 1929 he was part of an Exeter team who faced the Stamford Bridge team from London in front of a 25,000 strong crowd of spectators. The “red and white” team from Exeter won the race 13-8 with Bishop leading the final lap and team-member, Jackson, covering him.[3] Jack was then the “undisputed champion of the track at Exeter”.[4] There are many reports in the English press about the achievements of the team from Down Under including Jack Bishop. They even received gifts from their fans and I was amused by the one included here.

Jack Bishop became sufficiently famous to have his own cigarette card in Ogden’s “Famous Dirt Track Riders” series. He is described as “a successful Australian rider who came over to England in 1928, Jack Bishop is one of the most daring riders, and his dashing displays are very popular with all the Speedway fans. He has been especially successful when competing in the Handicap events and sometimes when starting from scratch has run through the field and won by a big margin. He has also a number of lap records to his credit both in England and Australia.”[5] 

BISHOP Jack dirt track card

The copy of the Jack Bishop card kindly provided by Gary Milne of Cartophily cards UK.

 There were plenty of thrills and quite a few spills – some that were physically very damaging. In the early days Jack was apparently riding a basic bike which quite likely contributed to the falls. In 1930, on a return visit to Brisbane, he acquired a much more sophisticated bike which was better suited to racing. It was during this visit that he brought his young English bride, Lilian (nee Grist), with him. They’d married in London in late 1929 and although the newspaper report above mentions he already had a son there’s no indication of a child on the passenger manifests for the Jervis Bay[6].

BISHOP The Sphere 2 June 1928 p14

The Sphere, 2 June 1928, p14

Over the next few years Jack pursued a successful racing career in Australia, New Zealand and England. It seems his wife Lilian remained in Australia while Jack travelled and competed. This must have been a lonely life for her with no family to support her, especially when her husband was injured or sick overseas.

Jack later worked under contract to the New Zealand Speedways[7] and was regarded as one of the finest riders in the Dominion. In 1931 he was badly injured there in an off-track accident but by 1932 he had returned to England to race. During this trip Jack became so seriously ill that specialist medical attention could not save his life. He died in England on 20 March 1933, only 24 years old. Jack’s death was reported extensively in both British and Australian newspapers. Only general references are made to his widow and two children.

BISHOP Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping gazette 21 Mar 1933 p12

Supporters and friends made it possible for “his earthly remains to be interred in his home town” by rallying to raise funds. Jack’s ashes were interred in the Drayton and Toowoomba cemetery on 17 June 1933 with impressive solidarity and respect from his fellow riders. A sidecar carried the urn with the ashes, contained in an oak casket which was draped with the colours of the Downs Club.[8]

BISHOP Jack funeral Bris Courier 19 June 1933p13

The Brisbane Courier, 19 June 1933 p13

The motorcycle was driven by Jack’s old friend and fellow racer, Cyril Anderson. A car with the relatives followed in the cortege and then behind it, two by two, came motor cyclists, their headlights draped in black. The Club remembers the funeral as probably the first motor-cycle funeral in the world.[9]

Jack’s widow, Mrs Lillian L Bishop, 24, returned to England on the Largs Bay on 25 September 1933. With Lillian was her young son, Daniel J Bishop, aged 3 and possibly named for Jack’s uncle, Daniel Paterson. Lillian and Daniel Bishop’s intended address was 19 Glyn Mansions, Kensington, London.[10] There is only one child on the British immigration records and that reveals another tragedy: just nine days after Jack’s interment, their daughter Patricia’s death was registered. There is no indication that she was buried in the Toowoomba and Drayton cemetery with her father and I’m left wondering if Lilian took her daughter’s ashes back to England with her.

UPDATE: I purchased the death certificate for Patricia Mary Bishop, daughter of Jack and Lilian. She died in the Mackay Mater Hospital on 26 June 1933 of meningitis and cardiac failure.  Poor little mite. She was buried in the Mackay cemetery on 28 June 1933. What a tragic end to this story. I’ve left a flower for her on FindAGrave. I wonder if one day Daniel’s descendants may find this story and learn more.

Nothing further is known of Lillian and Daniel after their migration “home”. Research so far has been unsuccessful. I would love to hear more of them or make contact with descendants.

The extensive obituary from Jack’s home town. MOTOR CYCLING. (1933, March 24). Toowoomba Chronicle and Darling Downs Gazette (Qld. : 1922 – 1933), p. 10. Retrieved May 25, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article254304278

Why not race over to the Sepia Saturday page and see what prize-winning stories have been told?

———————————–

[1] Such moments are the lifeblood of dedicated family historians because they make the long frustrating hours of searching worthwhile.

[2] Originally from Australian Speedway Motorcycles webpage: http://www.ausm.info/aus_history/speedway_pioneers/aust_speedway_pioneers_2.htm Site no longer online.

[3] http://www.exeter-falcons.demon.co.uk/prewar.htm The history of Exeter-Falcons dirt racing makes many references to Jack Bishop. Also no longer online but this may have replaced it: https://cybermotorcycle.com/archives/exeter-speedway/spencer.htm

[4] Toowoomba Chronicle, 24 June 1933, page 5 contains a detailed report of Jack Bishop’s life and funeral.

[5] http://www.gdfcartophily.co.uk/carditem.php/itemid/1528

[6] Passenger lists leaving UK 1890-1960 at http://www.findmypast.com.

[7] There is an excellent photograph of Jack Bishop in his racing leathers on the National Library of New Zealand, Timeframes webpage.

[8] Toowoomba Chronicle, 24 June 1933, page 5.

[9] Email from Downs Motorcycle Sporting Club researcher, Garry Luchich in 2007.

[10] UK Incoming passenger lists 1878-1960, BT26, piece 1029, item 1 on http://www.ancestry.co.uk.

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.