Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Book of Me, Written by You - Week 5

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Today is week 5 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30am UK time the lovely Julie from Angler's Rest will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

The prompt for week 5 is Your Childhood Home

When did you leave home?
Where was it?
Where did you move to?
Was it rented or owned? –  with parents/Grandparents
Was it inherited
What was it like – describe it – each room.
Were there a favourite room?
Is there anything you particularly remember from the house?
The road & area

I left home when I was about 20.  I moved to a friend's place first and then into a rental property in Chippendale.  

Our home was in Sydney and was called "Avondale" at 44 Toxteth Road Glebe.  We hadn't lived there for very long - say about five years.

In the Google picture above Number 44 is the behind the gum tree.  The first of a row of three terrace to the house with the portico.

We officially moved in there 7th December 1976 from Canberra - though I boarded in Canberra for the last term of school while my parents hunted for a house in Sydney.

Here's how my mother described the move in a letter to her father:

"I'm writing this at the Drummoyne flat (a Sydney University flat where we stayed until we found somewhere to live).  We still live here but I think we should be actually living in the house after this weekend.  We have had considerable problems.  Jim fell down the stairs at Drummoyne last Saturday week and had to be taken to Royal North Shore at midnight.  He has been on crutches for a week.  .....we ended up moving the furniture in on 7th: it was chaotic.  With Jim on crutches, and supposed to be lying with his leg elevated for seven days, the Selles came down en masse from Faulconbridge on Sund, 5th, and tore up all the old stinking carpets for us, nearly killing themselves in the process.  Warren ripped out 5 kitchens with his trusty crowbar and all in all they rendered it possible for Grace Bros to move in on the Tuesday.  It was fumigated on the Monday.  Serje came over while Grace Bros were there and helped organize the whole hideous business.  The removalists kept referring to Professor Domicelj as "son" everytime they spoke to him, much to his delight.  This country is a constant source of entertainment to him....For the first time, I completely forgot my birthday....(it was her birthday on the 7th)  On the 8th I drove to Canberra to collect Alex and the cats.  That simple sentence covers a wealth of events and minor disasters, starting and ending with the agony of going from place to place & begging for petrol to get there and back..(there was a petrol shortage at the time)....Situation of the house.  Basically sound.  We have to build a bathroom and a kitchen, so you can imagine what it is like.  No cupboards or wardrobes so our clothes are lying around on the floor and packing cases.  Jim is building like a beaver.  The boat is in the front hall.  There are 110 cases of books & belongings, mostly books.  It all has to be painted and carpeted inside and out.  A garage has to be built immediately to store everything.....Haven't done anything about Xmas this year.  Can't cook, no stove; however I'm determined to go to Church this year! "

This was such a big move for my parents in so many ways.  Real estate in Sydney was much more expensive than in Canberra, so we essentially moved into a fixer-upper.  My mother and many others saw Glebe as a slum.  For me it was tremendous fun...though I'm sure for my mother it was akin to a nightmare.

I don't have very many photos unfortunately...or not many that I can find easily (when will I ever have the time it takes to get my photos in order????)

Here are some that might give you an idea of what it was like....

This was taken when we were trying to build a laundry.  I learned bricklaying under the expert tuition of my father.

You can see the roof tops of the houses across the lane-way in that photo.  Oh and the ubiquitous Hills Hoist.  I'd never lived somewhere with a lane at the back.  It was novel and quite interesting for me.  After a few years I was ducking across the back lane to babysit three children - I'm trying to remember their names - I think they were Dymphna, Imogen and Billy...not sure.

While we were renovating and because we didn't have a kitchen, we often went out to dinner to a cheap Italian restaurant in Darlinghurst called No Name - where no questions were asked and no-one cared how you were dressed.  Lots of fun.  We'll never forget the man standing over the huge vat of pasta with a fag hanging out of the corner of his mouth constantly.  The food was great and by all accounts still is !

Yes we were probably part of the vanguard of the gentrification of Glebe in the 70s and I remember the hoo-ha over whether one was renovating or restoring.  We tried to do a bit of both.  Stripping back staircases and fireplaces was fantastic.  As a fledgling historian I loved the uncovering of history.

When we bought the house, it was divided into six flats.  Here are some photos of the bathroom everyone would have shared. Tiny and less than my mother would have desired......

The house was four storeys which I loved, having lived in a single storey dwelling most of my life.  I lost lots of weight running up and down those stairs.  My room was in the attic.  

My memory is that the kitchen was originally two rooms - maybe a scullery and a ??? but we made two rooms into one and this is a photo of part of the kitchen.

I loved that kitchen.  Exposed brick walls were very new and "in" in those days.  The kitchen utensils hanging from a hoop was also very groovy.  You can see the interest in the family history was already firmly entrenched by the photo collection on the back wall.

Whilst I'm an only child, we were fortunate enough to have my best friend from childhood eventually come and live with us.  Judith tried boarding school in Sydney but we all decided it would be much better if she came and lived with us.  It was great fun having a sister for a couple of years while we finished school.  We went to different schools.  Hers was on the North Shore and she left home very early every morning at about 7 if not before to get to school on time.  I left at about 7.30 I think.

Here's Judith on the front verandah outside my parents bedroom at the front of the house reading a letter.

Here we are playing dress ups in the costumes I had to wear in the school play "Charley's Aunt"

Here we are again near the front door in our school uniforms.

Here's another shot looking the other way.  We are standing in the handkerchief pocket sized front yard.

I guess my favourite room was my bedroom or the kitchen, though my father's study was lovely too.  We painted the walls of the study a deep burgundy.  It looked great.

My bedroom was wallpapered with really yummy old fashioned vine-type wallpaper which hid several unsightly stains from previous tenants.  On a Friday night you could lean out the window of my room at the back and watch the trots at the Harold Park Raceway down the road with their bright floodlights and hear the relentless calling of the races over the loudspeaker.  In the morning you might be woken by the sounds of horses hooves clip clopping as they did their training around the suburbs in the early morning.  I see they've put another window in the front of the bedroom from that Google photo to give it a bit more light.

Parking in our street was a nightmare on a Friday night as Harold Park Raceway was very popular and people parked for miles around.  My mother loathed anything to do with racing or betting so I think that really probably got on her goat a bit.

Ironically I have just discovered on the net that a former alderman, mayor and bookmaker used to live there or at least bought the place.  There's a great history of Glebe which I saw yesterday at Bent Books and am sorely tempted to buy.  It's called Grandeur and Grit by Max Solling.  You can get a sense of it here in his online article for the Dictionary of Sydney.

Living in Glebe was never dull.  Judith and I used to laugh about our public transport experiences.  It was never too early to find a drunk sitting next to you on the bus.  Sometimes the smell of urine was overwhelming.  We came from Canberra (really a large country town and pretty new in the scheme of things) and so were much struck with the evidence of poverty and lots of old people who often seemed homeless.  I learned to walk quickly and negotiate the mentally unwell.  We probably grew up very quickly in those last couple of years of school.  But Glebe and inner city Sydney was exciting to live in.  Lots of different cultures and great restaurants all along Glebe Point Road.  Lots of pollution too though and I suffered from lots of hay-fever attacks as a result.

Later, when I went to Uni, I could walk there which was great.  It took about half an hour and I loved finding my way through the back streets of Glebe and looking at all the architecture. 

If I miss anything about the house, it is the sense of history and the different levels.  But I don't miss the traffic, the pace and the pollution of Sydney.   Although I am glad I learned to drive in Sydney - now that prepares you for anything !

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sepia Saturday 196: 28 Sept 2013

Little Nell says:

This week's prompt comes from the George Eastman House Collection on in the set of Nickolas Muray. Regular Sepians who click on the link of his name will immediately recognise images of his that have been featured before. Yes I know they're anything but sepia and for that alone they are remarkable. Muray was a pioneering commercial photographer, responsible for establishing many of the conventions of colour advertising. This example is for an insurance advert and those Sepians who like to theme may choose from any number of prompts here. The photo appears to have been taken by the doctor, who has left his coat draped on the bedposts and his bag on the bed itself, thus ensuring that any bacteria is neatly carried on to his next patient. In addition we have a boy in bed, toys and patchwork quilt. If the prompt throws up (sorry) any other themes we look forward to reading them on your blog, which should be posted on or about 28 September. I've put a mini-banner at the foot of this post and it's virus-free - as far as I know and an injection of humour should cure it anyway.

Robert's boat 2013

When I first saw the prompt picture chosen for Sepia Saturday, I could not believe it was from 1935.  It was so clear and the furniture, to my eyes, looked contemporary in an "Early Settler Recollections" shop kind of way.  

We all notice different things when we look at photos.  I was taken with the boat the little boy was holding and the one on the bedspread or counterpane.  It reminded me of the one my husband's mother gave him a few years ago when she was tidying up.  "Here's your boat Robert - you can look after it now."  

I asked him this morning what it was and who had made it.  He told me that he had made it and painted it with marine lead paint.  "Does it float?" I asked.  "Yes, but not very well" was the response.  "Did you float it in the bath?" I asked.  "No, in Roger Wolff's pool" was the reply.  Roger and Robert were thick as thieves in his youth, I understand.  I wonder whatever became of Roger Wolff.

I was put in mind of other boats and other boys....

Model boat on Cook's River

Model boat

Sailing on Cook's River c1949

Not very good photos to be sure but the only ones we have.  

My father's brother Ted used to make model boats.  

I have spoken about it before here on my other blog.  Here's an extract from a letter to the RAAF where he talks about it....

Extract of letter to RAAF 13 December 1946

The Cooks River was not very far from where the Conners used to live when the boys were growing up. It must have been heaven - mucking about with model boats.

If you really like model boats and want to see some more semi-sepia photos, go to Trove and thence to Pictorial Canterbury for more recent photos.

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How many have you slept in?

Sleepovers, hotels, holiday houses, rental properties, mates' places....

I've slept in a few...

Alex in Master Bedroom Edinburgh

Alex mucking up the bed in Edinburgh

I have no memory of that bedroom in Edinburgh....

but was delighted to find tiny photos of it recently in my father's collection.

This is the bedroom from my childhood at 3 Nungara Street Aranda.

A typical girl's bedroom I'm afraid.

Dolls everywhere from my Gran who went on lots of overseas trips.

Oh and books.

I remember fondly many poems about beds and voyages in beds from the book pictured below.

The Land of Counterpane.

I have strong memories of these pictures/poems too....

A Good Boy

And best of all....

My Bed is a Boat

Do you remember these poems?

I hope you sleep well tonight with a toy or two and perhaps a slice of cake.

Hmm....I'd better go and make my bed...the day is getting away from me...

Sail away and visit other beds, won't you?  

Sweet dreams.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Book of Me, Written by You - Prompt 4

Courtesy of Julie Groucher's blog Anglers Rest here is my response to the fourth prompt in this series.

Favourite Season

Do you have one?


A Happy Memory or association

Close your eyes and imagine your favourite season – write down what you see, feel, hear.

Truth be known, I don't have a favourite season here in Brisvegas because....we don't really have seasons.....

I miss the seasons dreadfully.  I think I liked autumn best of all with the leaves changing colour. 

Alex at Leura Gardens c.1984
Alex and Robert Leura Gardens

Bel at Leura c1993 photo by Barbara Conner (nee McLoughlin)

I can't bear hot weather - those days when it's too hot to do anything except immerse yourself in someone's pool or turn the air-conditioning on which makes me feel guilty for wasting power.

Here, it's pretty much of a muchness with not much difference....always sunny and bright...well one can't complain.

Tingalpa Cemetery with jacarandas
Jacaranda season is the best in Brisbane.

It means exam time for students at Uni but it also means the end of the year and Christmas holidays fast approaching.

There are purple carpets of the jacaranda tree flowers everywhere - which can be a bit hazardous and slippery on pavements.

But the colour is luminous..really luminous...a bit like the dress I wore as a bridesmaid at Judith's wedding all those years ago.  

All the bridesmaids wore different colours - like a rainbow.  

I wore jacaranda blue, Megan wore apricot I think  and the other bridesmaid wore yellow.

Judith was in green.

We were all "green" then come to think of it ;)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sepia Saturday 195: 21 September 2013

Little Nell from Sepia Saturday introduces this week's post as follows: 

"It is not enough to teach children how to read, write and count. Education has to cultivate mutual respect for others and the world in which we live, and help people forge more just, inclusive and peaceful societies." 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; 100-day countdown message to the International Day of Peace

This Saturday co-incides with the International Day of Peace and more specifically to Peace Education; this is too good an opportunity to miss. It is often said that we learn so much from Sepia Saturday, both as participants and visitors to each other's blogs, so now is our chance to embrace the theme and do our bit for this important day observed throughout the world. The splendid photo above comes from the archive of the Library of Congress and features  the American delegates to the International Congress of Women, held in the Hague in 1915. One of the delegates, Jane Addams, was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Activities around the world this year will include; ceremonies, prayers, choirs, tree-planting, art exhibitions, lighting candles and peace walks. Your response could be one of these from the past, historical or personal, or you may like to go with the Nobel Peace Prize or Peace Education.

I'm very excited about this week's theme because of a recent find in our small corner of the world which seems very suitable to share with you this week.  My very lovely sister-in-law, Pat (or Miss Pat as she is fondly called, even though she shacked up with the lovely Terry so very long ago) was tidying up her mother's papers recently and found some postcards addressed to her paternal grandmother Dolly Daw or Dolly Hinde as she was then.  I've always been a bit envious of other Sepians' collections of postcards over the months...well now, hoorah, I can show off our postcards.  Here they are in all their glory. By the way, go to the toilet now as this is a very, very, long post...

February 6th 1917

Back of February 6th 1917 postcard

France Feb 6th 1917 Dear Dolly a card in answer to your very welcome letter and was very pleased indeed to hear from you. Would like to write you a letter but it is to cold just at present & is freezing for all it is worth, I am getting along tip top Doll & am on Duty again after a spell in hospital. We are still at the same place & are quiet safe from front for the present will write later Doll so ta ta for the present and I'll remain your sincere ??? Thanks for papers. J Cole

February 22nd 1917

France Feb 22nd 1917 Dear Doll a card to let you know that I'm still doing well. The worst of the winter seems to be over, so we are beginning to live in comfort again. We are still at the same place with plenty of work to do. And manage to knock up a little sport among the Froggies whenever we have a few spare hours to ourselves. Thanks very much Doll for the present & remain your sincere friend Jack Kind regards to all at Mudge (crossed out) Gilston papers which I receive regularly there is a thousand things I would like to tell you Doll. But of course we are not allowed so I'll have to.....

France April 2nd 1917 Dear Dolly A card to let you know that I'm quite alright at present & still dodging Fritzie.  Ours Lads are in Great heart now that there beginning to get their own back on the Boche & if things only keep going for a few months more the way they are doing a present I reckon some of us should see home again before the year is out.  had a letter from C. Mills a few days ago he is still In bed but Doing well hoping this card will find yourself & all at home well & happy I'll say ta for the present & Remain your sincere Friend J. Cole.  Kind regards to all at Gilston

June 6th 1917

France June 6th 1917 Dear Dolly a card to let you know that I'm still doing O.K. & am having a fairly easy time of it considering the circumstances & am a Decent Distance from the firing line. Had a letter from C. Mills a few days ago. He is still in the Hospital. But says he expects to be out again in a couple of weeks. Charley was hit pretty bad & I myself do not expect to see him oer here again. There is no news worth giving you that we are allowed to write so hoping this card will find my Dear little friend & all at home well & happy. I'll say ta ta & Remain your affect chum Jack Cole

Oct. 30th 1917

France Oct 30th 1917 Dear Dolly a Card to let you know that I'm still quite alright & in fairly good health.  The weather here has taken a great change lately & it is getting quite cold. so I suppose now we can settle down to six or seven months real misery.  I suppose C Mills will be home long before you get this card.  So it will not be a very great time before you know as much about France and the war as we do over here, I'll write you a long letter next time Dolly so hoping this card will find yourself and all at home well and happy I'll say ta ta & remain your sincere friend Jack Cole.

Not quite sure what this translates to but something like "Happy Birth - Like a sleeping flower, at last I unfurl; my godfather is love, my godmother, the Dawn."

France Nov 15th 1918 Dear Dolly Just a card to let you know that I'm still doing well & am in the best of health, have not heard from your for a long time, But as there is a mail in I expect our letters shall arrive shortly, had news a few days ago that Both Jack and Dan Barton had been killed, hard luck for the poor lads wasn't it, especially as the war was so near an end, shall write again when I hear from you doll.  So ta ta for the present & I'll remain your sincere friend Jack Cole.

France Decr 1st 1917 Dear Dolly a card to let you know that I'm still above ground and Doing pretty well, we are still camped at the same old place and as far as I know are likely to be here for a long time, have not had my furlough yet., But will do so as soon as I get better news from home, had a letter from old Sandy this mail, the first since I came over here, I was quite pleased, have not saw any of the Mudgee lads yet, & do not expect to while we stay here, will write you a letter next mail, so ta ta & I'll remain yours Sincerely Jack Cole

France 24 March 1918 Dear Dolly was pleased to hear that you had received my letter dated October 30th and am pleased to say that I received yours today dated 7th Jany and of course am gold to know that you are all doing well.  So Charlie Mills has arrived home at last.  Well thank goodness for that give him a good time Doll for poor chap had a Develish rough up while he was here although of course he might not say so.  you say you have had no definite news of Darcy Berg yet.  Well Dolly Dear if the information I had is correct I'm sorry to say that poor old  

Back of waves postcard - date stamped Milano 3-5-17 Darcy has gone west a long time since when I wrote you last Doll.  Things were very quiet this way.  But for the past few days it has been fair h... not so much for us as for the lads in the trenches although god along knows it has been bad enough for us for the past day or two.  It is the biggest stunt of the war by a long way.  I could tell you two thousand wonderful things Doll.  But as usual Mum's the word here so hoping this short letter will find my little Friend and all at Gilston well and happy.  I'll say ta ta and remain your affect chum.  Jack Cole Gold bless you all.

Okay - so who were all these people?

Dolly was my husband's paternal grandmother.  Her maiden name was Hinde and she was born in 1901 so would have been about 16 or 17 years old when these postcards were written.

Here is a not very good copy of a photo of her on her wedding day in 1927.  She married Robert William Daw.  

We had never heard of Jack Cole until the discovery of these postcards.

After a bit of digging around we think he is likely to be John Patrick Cole who was born in Lismore in 1887.

In the 1913 Electoral Roll, Jack was listed as a labourer at the Mudgeeraba Hotel.

Mudgeeraba Exchange Hotel 1915 copyright expired courtesy of Picture Queensland

We searched military records on the NAA website and reckon this is his military record here.  He is described as a fruit grower from Ballina, Richmond River NSW.  He was 29 when he enlisted on 15 Jan 1916.  I think the signature on his attestation closely matches the signature on the postcards.

I contacted a fellow researcher on Ancestry and he tracked down the military records of the other chaps mentioned in Jack's postcard.  You can see their military records here.

I am editing this as I go....looking at Jack and Daniel's records...they were twin brothers.  Daniel was 2 inches taller than Jack.  Daniel was a teacher at Mudgeeraba School and Jack was a railway porter.  Here is a link to a monument about them.  

Here is the newspaper article announcing the death of Jack.

courtesy of Trove The National Library of Australia The Brisbane Courier 19 Feb 1919
They were barely 20 years old if indeed they reached their 20th birthdays.

and last but not least 

Not quite sure who Old Sandy is but I think it might refer to a Duncan as Dolly's mother was a Duncan and there was an Alexander Duncan on that side of the family so it might have been an uncle.

I haven't had a chance to read all of their records yet.  Darcy was described as a barman at the Commercial Hotel Nerang on his attestation.  He was 21 years old.  I think I found his mother and father on the 1913 Electoral Roll.  His father was a hotel keeper at Logan Village in 1913.  Matilda, his mother, is listed as home duties.  
Commercial Hotel Nerang 1884 copyright expired courtesy of Picture Queensland

By 1919 Matilda is listed as Commercial Licensed Victualler at the Commercial Hotel Nerang.     
Enid Healy, Darcy's cousin, wrote from the Commercial Hotel in Nerang 9 May 1917 to ask of his whereabouts as he had been missing for 6 months.  

Here's the list of all of the 13th reinforcement of the 26th Battalion.

Here's his name in the Roll of Honour published in The Queenslander 18 August 1917.

courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

It seems he was killed in the Battle of Gueudecourt according to this website.

You can read more about the battle here.

If you visit the Australian War Memorial and want to see his name on the Roll of Honour check this handy map first.

Darcy is buried at Warlencourt British Cemetery - Plot 2, Row J Grave 7.  If anyone out there in blogland can find a photo of his grave, I would be most grateful.  There's a nice bit of a blog about what happened round that area here.

Just so you know, the bureaucracy wrote to Darcy's Mum in January 1922 to check if she really was his next of kin...even though it said so on his papers....before they sent her his medals because strictly speaking the order of next of kin goes like this:


The bureaucracy just wanted to make sure that his father wasn't alive.

She wrote back in October to let them know she was a widow.  Her husband died in 1913, I think according to what I can find on the likes of Ancestry and Find My Past.  

This whole male/female order of precedence thing has been in the news a bit of late...don't get me started....

Here is a map showing the location of Darcy's grave on the other side of the world.

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That's enough from me now...I could go on forever....but I'm feeling very glum and need to cheer myself up by visiting my best mate.  

For other posts promoting the cause of Peace visit Sepia Saturday....