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Book of Me

"The Book of Me, Written By You" is a GeneaBloggers project created by Julie Goucher of the Anglers Rest blog. The concept: a series of blogging and writing prompts that help family historians capture their own memories and write about themselves.

The prompt for week 1 is a recognized psychology test: 
Ask yourself 20 times “Who are you?” 
Each time you should give yourself a different answer, and if you can easily go beyond 20 entries then that is fine too. 
This prompt is about how YOU see YOU.

1. Daughter

2. Only Child

3. Cousin
4. Friend

5. Book Lover

6. Travelling companion
7. Wife

8 and 9 Aunt and Sister-in-Law

10 Mother

11 2nd cousin

12. Lady in Waiting to the Queen of the Tea Cosies

13 and 14. Knitter and Cat Lover
15. Step-Sister

16. Graduate and Mistress of Information Studies

17. Family Historian
18. Film Lover

19. Librarian

20. Blogger

Barbara and Alex in Manuka

Today is week two of what is going to be a 15 month project. The Book of Me, Written by You is a real opportunity to explore your memories, thoughts, information from your life, things that you can remember, and perhaps the passing on of oral history.  Thanks to Julie Groucher at Angler's Rest for this meme.

Do you have any baby photos?

Yes, lots.  See above.

Where were you born?

King George V Memorial Hospital for Mothers and Babies, Sydney, Australia.
There's a lovely Frank Hurley photograph of the entrance to the hospital here.  And if you want to see what the nurses probably looked like at the time go here or here.

Who was present at your birth?

Just my mother I think and maybe a midwife.  I'm not sure if Dr Holman made it in time.  And I think I was almost born in a broom or supplies cupboard.  It was a busy night apparently and my mother seemed to be doing well so was left largely to her own devices.  She remembers doing her nails while waiting and her father, my grandfather, coming to visit the next morning saying something funny like "Did you have a good night then?", completely blissfully ignorant of the labour she endured...although she always asserted it was not the awful or painful process that some women seem to go through. Just a lot of hard work.  She was alarmed by the some of the screams in the labour ward to begin with but the nurses assured her that the women were from a particular culture where if you screamed a lot you got more presents or some such nonsense.


21 inches
7lb 15 3/4 oz

What day was it? Time?

Thursday.  Ten past six in the morning.

From Hilda Boswell's Treasury of Nursery Rhymes

Did you have hair? Eye colours.

I'm assuming yes and blue.

Zodiac sign of Gemini in 15th century manuscript

Are you a twin?

No but I'm a Gemini - does that count?

Two weeks after I was born my mother wrote to her father Tom as follows:

"Dear Dad, Well, our house is our own once more.  I suppose now things will resume a sense of reality - the last couple of weeks haven't seemed very real now  that I come to think of it; quite a big change in our lives, I expect & the throwing out of our daily routine.....I'm not frightened of the baby, & although of course there's plenty to do, it isn't anywhere near as harrowing as I had expected."    

She concludes her letter with:

"I must dash; it's after five & I must feed Alex.  We're both fighting fit now, & joy of joys I'm losing weight like mad: I'm less that I was before I started with her.  It's feeding a baby of course, everyone loses weight.  But it means you can eat like a horse and nothing happens.  The miracle of childbirth never ceases to amaze me, of course.  Jim & I just can't associate what I looked like three weeks ago with what I am today!"

Today is week three of what is going to be a 15 month project. The Book of Me, Written by You is a real opportunity to explore your memories, thoughts, information from your life, things that you can remember, and perhaps the passing on of oral history.  Thanks to Julie Groucher at Angler's Rest for this meme.

Describe your physical self.

Your size – clothes size
Eye colour
Draw your hands
Finger Prints

Ooh this is a tough one.  Being middle-aged and obese and probably terribly vain, one does not like heading into this territory at all.  But them's the breaks and may it be a lesson to the young ones - not to sit in front of a computer all day doing genealogy ;)  

What do you see in the mirror asks Julie?

Well, I see and a messy bedroom....

I've been told I look Irish.  Many people think they have met me before but they haven't.  I'm afraid I look very ordinary.


5 ft 4 and 3/4 inches or 165cm.  

It seems to me that I have always struggled with my weight.  Although I remember my mother saying it was difficult to get me to eat anything when I was a toddler.  I remember being fine weight wise until I went to the UK when I was ten.  There was a particularly devastating shop in Edinburgh that sold the most fantastic chocolate eclairs.  I think I ate one every day that we were there (maybe a fortnight) and that was the beginning of the end.  People kindly told me it was puppy fat but I was never convinced.  My other friends never seemed to have to deal with it.

Alex 1971 trip to UK in Manchester

I've never been one for sport so that probably didn't help either.  

When we moved from Canberra to Sydney I made a huge effort to lose weight so that I might make friends at my new school.  I probably got down to a size 8 or 10 which was wonderful. Living in a four-storey house helped too!

Judith, Sue and Alex in Blue Mountains c. 1978
 I managed to stay that way until my early twenties and then I stacked it back on.  A concerted effort with Weight Watchers helped in my late twenties but it's been down hill ever since. I'm anywhere between a size 16 and a size 18 now.  Sigh.   

I avoid having photos taken and flinch every time I see one.  Here is one of me and my incredibly beautiful daughter Isabel on the afternoon of her school formal.  Boy we had fun getting that dress made.  Bel is at least blessed with a neck (from her father's side of the family).  I would appear to have no neck - well maybe a bit.

Alex and beautiful Bel for Bel's formal c 2008


Scars maketh the man.  And woman I dare say.

So, starting from my toes.  If you pinch the top of my left toe you will see a scar to the right of the big toenail where the TV fell on my foot while I was watching Z Cars at the age of 4 when we were living in Melbourne.

There's a little dint in my left knee from when I was practicing dancing in the bathroom at 3 Nungara St Aranda and caught it on the edge of the bath.  Ouch.

I have a little white scar on the inside of my left arm from a smashed cup or saucer catching it on the way into the bin at Miss Brown's Tea and Coffee House when I worked there as a waitress.  It started at the wrist and has worked its way up my arm a couple of inches !

Kitchen at Miss Brown's Tea and Coffee House in Centrepoint from Coffee with Roses miss brown's story by Bud Brown p. 125 - I worked with Lucy but didn't know Ruth.

I've got scars in places you don't want to know from two Caesars and an appendectomy.

Last but not least - underneath my right eye I think was a doozy of a scratch from our dear cat Yum Yum.  We were on holidays at the Blue Mountains with the three cats and some friends from school.  We were trying to convince the cats to stay near the holiday house by putting butter on their paws.  Yum Yum sat in the half pound of butter and then, struggling out of my arms, used my face as a springboard to run away.  That was the first time we had heard of butterfly bandaging or whatever it's called and it worked a treat.  You can't see the scar now - well I don't think you can but then I'm blind as a bat.

Yum Yum

L to R Anna, Bronwyn, Thea, Alex and Kris with Barbara sitting in front c. 1976 at Trecwyn Blue Mountains

 Eye colour


I need to wear glasses now for reading anything.  I'm hopeless if I go to work and forget them.  Can't thread a needle to save my life.  It's tedious.  Thank goodness for the Navman particularly at night.  Can't see horrible bushy eyebrows or moustache or hairs on chinny chin chin so am very grateful to lovely hairdressers who look after me in that regard.  I have a very pointy nose by the by.


I wash it every day or I'd go mad.  It's quite oily.  Yes I colour it - every eight weeks or so.  But it's pretty close to my natural colour which is dark brown with reddish highlights when I'm standing in the sun.  I am going grey mostly in the temple area.  Caspar helpfully pulls out the ones on top when he's looking down on his short-arsed Mother.  Hairdressers get terribly excited when they cut my hair.  "Look at the curl!" they say.  But it's all at the back and only when it's wet.  The minute it dries - it falls flat - so is best cut and blow dried into a bob.  Boring but safe.

Used to think they were my best feature but now I'm getting old.  My doctor cheerfully told me recently that I was getting senile warts.  Great!  
Here they are in all their glory .... I think I've got my mother's hands.

My left hand has my wedding ring and engagement ring and the ring that my second cousin Joy Jeffery (nee Wingfield) gave me.  It was an anniversary present from her husband in 1944.  

My right hand sports my mother's engagement ring. A black opal.

It's impossible to keep my nails long in my current job working with books all day.  They get broken all the time.

You can see the age spots.  Sigh.

Speaking of skin...I'm caucasian and a marked woman for skin cancer down the track me thinks.  Pale with hundreds of freckles and lots of moles.  Allergic to metals - getting my ears pierced was NOT a good idea.  I still can't wear earrings - even clip-ons - they just annoy me too much.  Can only wear 18 carat gold - oh dear...everything else irritates. I had asthma in my youth - it's all connected apparently.

Sorry Julie, too lazy to do fingerprints.

Feet and Shoes - and legs if you must.

My husband pronounces my feet very dainty which is very kind of him.  My little toes tend to tuck under my other toes and are shy.  Other toes are a bit more bold and have been broken several times when making the bed.  We got rid of the bed thank goodness.  I can't believe how painful breaking a toe is!  I tend to wear shoes all the time now for fear of doing it again.  

Shoe size used to be size 7, then 7 & 1/ it's size 8.  You cannot say anything nice about my legs except they are straight - just like telegraph poles.  


My husband says he married me for my teeth which makes me feel a bit like a horse.  Having said that, I grew up in Canberra with flouridated water - hoorah!  Didn't get my first filling (and just about my only one) til I was in my late twenties.  

 I tend to be as healthy as the proverbial ox.  And built like one too.

What about you?  Which bits do you like about you?

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 ;)

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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 !

This post is a continuation of Julie Groucher's fantastic meme The Book of Me, Written by You.

There is a useful You Tube video here too if you need some inspiration.

The prompt for week 6 is Journals and Diaries

Do you keep a journal or diary?
How far back do they go? What do you record?
Where do you keep them?
Do you always buy the same one or vary them?
Have you inherited any?
Do you intend to pass along your journals or destroy them?
Do you have a favourite?
What do you use to write with – biro, pencil, ink or fountain pen?


I've had a few.

Like this green one...not sure what the year is.  But it is the one after the one written in hieroglyphic code when I was going through my Egypt phase.  I seem to have mislaid that particular one for the minute which is a bit of a shame.

The green diary has some really boring entries but then some little treasures like this one....which tell you the year....

Goodness knows why I have Amanda Heap's ticket...I hope she managed to get in the door.  NB "No jeans please!" and it cost 80 cents to get in the door.

A couple of years later I left that school and the girls gave me this swanky and more sophisticated journal.  

They all signed it and wished me well....

Look !  There's my art teacher's signature written sideways along the middle there.

I scrawled furiously in there - about unrequited love and all sorts of dreary stuff.

I've kept school diaries

These are great because I kept tickets from concerts in them.

See!  There's my ticket to the David Bowie concert.

And here are the ones for ELO and Elvis Costello

Can you believe ???  $9.50 to see Elvis Costello!

Uni diaries record my reading...

Later diaries recall journeys such as engagement with particular causes...

or perhaps the predicatable...

Yes, I am a hoarder of tremendous proportions.

I have chucked some diaries as they were full of too much angst and vitriol.

Mostly they are used as a tool for reflection or to get rid of the nonsense in my head so I can get on with the real stuff.  If anyone is slightly interested in this method I found Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way enormously helpful in this regard.  And no, you don't have to consider yourself to be an artist to make use of her method.  It's great for getting through bad patches or when you feel stuck.

So what were those questions again?

Do you keep a journal or diary? Yes.
How far back do they go? 40 years
What do you record? Anything - major events and minutiae
Where do you keep them? In a box in the walk-in-wardrobe
Do you always buy the same one or vary them? Various though Julia Cameron does say they need to be of a particular size
Have you inherited any? Yes, a couple of travel diaries but letters are better
Do you intend to pass along your journals or destroy them? Bit of both I think.
Do you have a favourite? Probably the one I wrote in code but I can't find it..where did I put the wretched thing???
Pictures - yes I stick in things that I think might be amusing later e.g. newspaper articles, tickets, programmes, photos.
What do you use to write with – biro, pencil, ink or fountain pen? Biro - whatever comes to hand really.

What about you?  Do you keep a diary?

Go on...pump up your writing hand and get to it....don't let the music die in you and all that...

Today is Week 7 of a 15 month project inspired by Julie Goucher of Angler's Rest.

What were their names?

Where were they from?
Were they related? – Cousins perhaps
Where were they born, another Country or state/area
What did they do?
Did you know them?
What was your relationship with them?
If you didn't know them have you researched about them?

I have written about my grandparents quite a bit on my blog already so I apologise for any repetition.

I only remember two grandparents when growing up: one from each side of the family as the other two had died before I was born.  Let's tackle them one side at a time.

Maternal Grandmother

My maternal grandmother's name varies according to the certificates you read.

On her birth certificate she is called Helen Kate  Forfar.
On her marriage certificate she is called Katherine Helen Forfar.
On her death certificate she is called Kathleen Helen McLoughlin.

Kit (as she was known) died 11 April 1958 at the age of 55 (before I was born) at Gloucester House, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Camperdown.  My mother was only 22 when Kit died.  The cause of death on the death certificate says Pituitary Adenoma.  I remember the story being that they discovered a brain tumour.  She had an operation to remove it, which was successful, but she died of high blood pressure shortly after.  There was also a story about a family picnic in a park somewhere - years before the tumour was discovered.  A tyre was reported to have come off a car and hit Kit in the back of the head.  Family conjecture was that that was the start of the tumour which grew for years, undetected for a long time.  

Kit was born at 23 Bedford Streeet Newtown on 8 December 1902 (my mother's birthday was 7 December) - the younger of identical twins to her sister Grace Isabella.  

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The story of the Forfar family is quite sad.  Kit and Bel's mother died when the twins were only three and they spent most of their early childhood in The Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children with older brother Ernest and sister Dorothy.  When their father re-married in 1913, Kit and Bel were removed from the asylum by their father and taken home to live with their step-mother.  They were eternally grateful to her for this.

You can read more about the Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children here.

Walter William Forfar and his new wife Alice were listed as living at 1 Benahm St Petersham in the Electoral Roll.  Five years later they moved to 230 Old Canterbury Road Summer Hill.  This is not very far from Nowranie Street where my mother spent much of her childhood.

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WW Forfar has various addresses from 1922 - 1925 including:

843 Oxford St Paddington and
163 Elizabeth Street Sydney in 1922
99 Glebe Point Road Glebe in 1923
Owen Street Innisfail in 1925

I'm not sure whether these were all domestic addresses or whether some of them might have been business addresses.  Walter William (or Dick as he was called) was a pastrycook by trade.

Kit's twin sister Belle married in 1922.

In 1928 the girls' father had a rather spectacular accident as reported in this newspaper article.

courtesy of National Library of Australia website Trove

Note that Walter is described as living alone.  His wife Alice is living in Wollongong in 1930 at a place called "Inglebah" in Smith Street.  Upon further investigation it seems that "Inglebah" is a high-class guest house.  There's a badly scribbled on advertisement from the Goulburn Evening Penny Post from 1932 which describes its attractions.  I don't know whether Kit was living with Alice or perhaps with her twin sister and her husband - the Wingfields in Newcastle.

courtesy of National Library of Australia website Trove

I don't know anything about Kit at all in terms of her occupation and this is something that I need to follow up but I'm not sure how or where to begin.  She doesn't seem to appear on any electoral rolls prior to her marriage which makes it somewhat difficult.

Kit married Tom on 4th August 1934 at the age of 31 at St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church Bondi.  How did they meet I wonder????

There are no photos of the wedding to my knowledge.  

This was one of Tom's favourite photos of Kit I think - probably taken when they were courting.

She was described as a spinster and her usual occupation as domestic duties.  Witnesses to the marriage were V McLoughlin - I'm guessing this is Tom's brother Vince.  Helen Reily was also a witness.  I don't know who Helen was and I should follow this up with cousins.

Kit and Tom were married by The Rev. Michael Fitzpatrick.  He died three years later and this is his obituary.

courtesy of National Library of Australia website Trove

Kit and Tom's marriage was what was called a "mixed" marriage in those days.  She was Church of England and he was Catholic and I think it caused a great deal of heartache for much of their married life.  

Maternal Grandfather

In contrast to Kit, I have much more information about Thomas, her husband.

Here is a photo of him as a baby.  He ended up being the eldest of nine children with five brothers and three sisters.

He was named Thomas Joseph Benedict McLoughlin and was born 7th July 1898 in William Street Bathurst.  

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I called him Grandad.  I think everyone else called him Tom.

I have some great photos of Tom growing up.  There's this one.

Tom and John Byrne

Tom and John are described in this article below:
courtesy of National Library of Australia Trove.

There are a couple of photos of football teams

1912 - Tom back row right at the end on the right
1914 - Tom front row on the right

This is a scan of his certificate of enrolment in the Australian Military Forces in 1942.  His occupation is listed as Clerk.

I'm not sure when this photo was taken of Tom but it's a great candid shot.  I'm thinking the 1950s sometime.

I'd like to investigate Tom's working life some more.  He was a clerk, but I'm not exactly sure where.   

I do know he worked for De Havilland for a while and I suspect that it was during this work with engines that he might have become profoundly deaf.

Here is a photo taken I think at De Havilland with workmates.  He is the one in the white coat in the front on the left.

Tom lived to the ripe old age of 84.   The last few years were not happy ones.

  There was an accident I think in 1979 when he was about 81.  My memory is that he was run over while walking across a crossing outside the Leagues Club one night.  Others with better memories may correct me.  He survived the accident but was never the same.  One of my mother's letters from the time says: 

"He cannot walk, except for a few steps...He can say occasional words that can be understood, but they don't necessarily have anything to do with what is going on at the time; most of the time it is incoherent muttering...rarely is there any recognition and he has never answered one question I have put to him since the accident."


"Every third day the nursing home advises me in sepulchral tones, that I must prepare myself, that Daddy is about to go very quickly, after which, he rallies for dozenth time, and away we go again."

In November of that year there was a fire in the nursing home.  Five fire brigades were needed to control the fire.  My mother recounts that they were lucky as there were 100 patients and only three night staff.  The fire started:

 "right opposite Dad's room in a storeroom....everything is under control; he can still use his room and it looks as though no-one will have to leave as the affected patients are being doubled-up in other undamaged sections of the hospital."

Tom rallied for three more years eventually dying at the Nursing Home at Ashfield on 
2nd November 1982. 

I remember my grandfather as very loving.  According to my mother he had a temper but I never witnessed it so maybe he mellowed over the years.  He had a great love of history, books and chess.  

Oh and having a flutter on the ponies I understand. 

He introduced me to Readers Digest and Word Power.  He gave me lots of different books including many sets of encyclopedias.  

He liked a beer at Christmas.  

This is how I will always remember him - reading something of great interest

I'm conscious that this is a very long post so will do a new post for my paternal grandparents.

This is Part B of Week 7 of a 15 month project inspired by Julie Goucher of Angler's Rest.

What were their names?

Where were they from?
Were they related? – Cousins perhaps
Where were they born, another Country or state/area
What did they do?
Did you know them?
What was your relationship with them?
If you didn't know them have you researched about them?

Paternal Grandfather

I only knew two of my grandparents - one from each side of the family.

I didn't know my paternal grandfather.  He died just before my parents were married and before I was born.

That must have been very very hard for all concerned.

All the photos of my paternal grandfather make me wish I had known him.  He always looks a lot of fun and as though he had a great sense of humour.  I remember my mother saying that he would play tricks at the dinner table.  You know the sort of thing...
"Look at that enormous spider !"...and then he'd steal some of your dinner when you weren't looking.

His name was Edwin Arthur James Conner and, yes, he was an emigrant.  He emigrated to Australia from England arriving 6 May 1912 on the "Omrah". Two years later this was used as a troop ship in WW1.

S.S. Omrah of the Orient Shipping Line. It was torpedoed and sunk off Cape Spartivento in 1918, while troop carrying. Copyright expired.  From Picture Queensland.
The family spent some time in Melbourne first and then relocated to Sydney in 1920.  

Ted was born 10th June 1900 at 32 Connaught Road North End Buckland, Portsmouth.  

View Larger Map

Edwin or Ted as he was called was the youngest of three children with two older sisters Constance (Connie) and Lilian (Lil).  

This is a photo of him taken in England as a small child.

This is one of him with his mother Eleanor Eliza (nee Cook).

And another one...

This is one of him with his two of his children.

He married my grandmother Ethel on 18th February 1924 at St Matthew's Bondi.  If I'm to believe a calendar found on the web, 18th February was a Monday.  I understand my grandmother's mother did not approve of the wedding.  My grandmother would have been 19 years of age.  Her father signed the certificate as a witness and gave his approval.

To my knowledge, there are no wedding photos. 

Here is a map of where the church is located.

View Larger Map

What did he do?  Well - don't laugh - but I have inherited a very fancy ice bucket which has engraved on it:

'Presented to Mr E.A. Conner 
On the occasion of
His Retirement from the service
With best wishes from his many Friends in 
The Electricity Commission of N.S.W.
21st November 1958'

So I know he worked at the Electricity Commission of N.S.W.

On his marriage certificate to my grandmother Ethel, it says that he was a Drafstman.

I think my father said recently that he studied at RMIT.

So, there's two things for me to chase up.

This photo is of Ted aged 45.  The back of the photo is interesting too....

So I wonder if he was a member of a photographic club.

The caption on this photo says "pulled out of bed to say goodbye to the Maloneys"

The Maloneys were very good friends of the Conners.

I like this photo the best - Ethel and Ted, relaxed and happy in their home.

Paternal Grandmother

Where do I even begin to talk about my gorgeous Gran?

This isn't an especially good photo of Gran but it gives you a sense of her style.

Gran was christened Ethel Eileen Carrett and born 10 November 1904 in Riverview Road Canterbury.  Funnily enough, if you look at her birth certificate, it says Ethel Irene but she always maintained that was a mistake.

This is a photo of the house where Gran says she was born at Flinders Road Undercliffe

Ethel was the second eldest of seven children - five girls and two boys.  Her father was described as a bricklayer on her birth certificate.  By the time she was married, he was described as a builder.

The story goes that she met her husband while travelling around in her father's pony trap collecting rent from all the tenants.  The Conners were renting one of the Carretts' properties.

Gran was quite short - probably not much more than 5 foot - maybe even smaller.  

She loved hats.

She was a very quick walker.  I was flat out keeping up with her no matter how old I was.

I spent a lot of time with her in my youth.  She was the best babysitter and we enjoyed our weekends together.  We would talk until the cows came home and solve all the problems of the world.

She taught me to knit.  She was very good at all crafts: crocheting, embroidery, tapestry.  She completed several huge tapestries. We have several in our home adorning the walls.

Memories include making pikelets or scones with her while my father mowed her lawn on weekends.  She spoiled me rotten with breakfast in bed - a boiled egg and brown bread toast.  She made delicious roast chicken in a sunbeam frypan like no one else I know.  She made me a special icecream and jelly dessert called a Knickerbocker Glory.

She gave me a string of pearls for my eighteenth birthday I think.  She bought them from the Burlington Arcade in London.

She was a great traveler and loved cruise ships - particularly the Royal Caribbean Line.

She took me to the opera.

She shopped for everything at David Jones - even chickens!

She was a very good swimmer and I have blogged about her prowess here.

She had much tragedy in life.  She outlived her siblings, her parents, her husband and three of her four children.

Ethel died 20 October 1996 at the age of 93

She had, as they say, a very good innings.

Julie, from Angler's Rest has devised a series of prompts for a meme that will run for 15 months and this week’s prompt is –  

Who Do You Miss?

Having just gone through the Festive season our thoughts turn to those not with us. 

Whether that is people who live elsewhere and that we will not see over the festive season
People that have passed away.
Who do you miss?
Why do you miss them?
Them as an individual
Something specific to them

Christmas at Nungara Street circa 1973 - I am seated between my uncle and my aunt.  My grandfather is to the right of my aunt.

At Christmas time it is inevitable that I miss my mother who died 18 years ago.  Ghosts of Christmas past and all that.

Mummy loved Christmas.  Her passion for getting things "just right" tended to drive us all a bit barmy.  She always wanted a bigger tree, a bigger turkey and inevitably burned the midnight oil cooking or preparing something.  We were all emotional wrecks by the time the season was over but my goodness did she put on a good show and a fabulous feast.  Yes, I can do without the stress but of course I still miss her and all the hullabaloo.  

After my mother died I received beautiful letters from old school friends of hers.  They told me how much she meant to them and what they enjoyed about her company.  It was very kind of them and we keep in touch just once a year with mutual Christmas cards.  

This year, one of them very kindly sent me photocopies of old photos she had (many of the originals of which I actually have in my mother's old albums) but there were some I hadn't seen before and most precious of all, there were some descriptions of where the photos were taken and names put to faces - information that I could not know as it was well before I was born and before she met my father.  I am an only child and my mother was an only child, so relatives who might know are far and few between or long gone.

A 2nd cousin also reached out to me this week by email and provided (unasked) another precious photo.  

So let me show you my best Christmas gifts ever...

My mother would have been about ten in this photo and Shirley was just pregnant with Douglas who sent me the photo.  Thank you Douglas.  This is just precious.  Isn't Shirley pretty ?  

I've finally figured out who she reminds me of - she's just Cate Blanchett don't you think or vice versa?

The next lot are the photos I already had but now I know a bit more about them...

I now know that this series of photos was taken at Head of the River on the Nepean at Penrith.

My mother is the one with the Alice Band sucking on the straw

And this one was probably taken at Bundanoon

My mother is on the far right

And I knew this one was at the Blue Mountains but it's nice to know who is who now...

My mother is on the left

Last but by no means least I now know that this was taken at the Petersham Town Hall

circa 1951

The boys were from Hawkesbury Agricultural College - bless.

As some of the people in these photos are still living I won't identify anyone except my mother who in this instance is on the far right.  I think it's fair to say that she probably loathed this photo.  It's not the most flattering of dresses.  I suspect she couldn't wait for the 1950s to be over and was much happier in the more figure flattering Dior/Chanel style suits of the 60s.  

So there you are.

My mother may not be with us in the flesh but she is certainly with us in spirit through the generosity of her very dear friends.

Love you Mummy.

And thank you Laetitia.

Julie from Angler's Rest gives us Prompt Number 20

This week's prompt is  - The feeling of home

Home means different things to different people, so this week we are going to explore what it means to us

What does it feel like?
How do you recognise it?
What makes it home - people, place, time

My mother used to ask me - "Which is home for you?" ...

mostly because we had lived in a few homes and she wondered which one meant the most to me.  

It's hard to say....probably our home in Aranda but I loved our home in Glebe too.

I don't remember our first home - Hurstville...

This is where I came home to as a baby.

Then we traveled overseas and my home for a while was the had a pool and everything!

from SSMaritime

Here I am testing out the comfy furniture.  

We moved to Edinburgh...I think this place was had squirrels.  I liked squirrels.

And then this one...

See the VW Combie van parked out front....?  We called it Snoopy,

That became our home as we traveled around Europe...a home with wheels and somewhere new to wake up to every morning.

Here I am with my trusty Vegemite toast...

Back on the boat back to Australia and my home was wherever my donkey mother was very smart.  She invested in "backup" donkeys in case one got lost.  I had three.

We lived in Sydney in a flat in Bondi for a I am getting ready for Kindy....I liked Sydney.  There was a very nice little beach near where we Bondi...another one...I'm thinking it must have been Vaucluse Bay that I remember.

The unit block was pretty ugly on the outside as I remember...

Yep - I was right - there it is - Orana Flats, next to the Fire Station.  Great view though.  

Then we moved to Melbourne and I don't think we have a photo of the flat there....
we were there only a short time before....

We moved to Canberra and lived in Campbell...

Until we could move into the house we built in Aranda....

For the last term of Grade 10,  I boarded at School....

Then we moved back to Sydney to Glebe and had the fun of renovating an old terrace house.

Ouf what a mess and lots of hard work....but we really got to know the house inside out!

Then came a succession of share houses in Chippendale, Balmain and Woollahra until I moved to Brisbane...

There was Isedale at Carrington Street - another share house...

Then Leybourne Street - our first house on our own as a couple...but still a rental property with a lovely garden full of orchids...

Then Equinox Street.....our first home that we bought....with a hidden rainforest out the back...

And now our current home...with a forest out the front.... many homes is that?

What makes a home?

Well someone said to me once that she didn't think a house was a home if it didn't have a piano.  

So she thought music made a home.

I guess our house isn't a home then...wait, does a stereo count?

I don't think a house is a home unless it has books - LOTS of books....

Animals help make a home too and we are bereft of any at the moment.  I was always greatly cheered by the budgie chattering away to herself or the dog tripping me up or the cat nudging a book out of the way or the guinea pigs excitedly squeaking when they heard me chopping vegetables in the kitchen.

I still get a kind of ancient longing in my tummy when I go back to Sydney for my holidays - there's something primeval about that sandstone and thrilling about the harbour.  And boy did I realise Australia was home after a few weeks in London in my late wasn't until I was sitting in a cinema and saw the great big blue sky whilst watching The Getting of Wisdom that I cried at the thought of having to go back outside and endure a grey closed in sky for a few more weeks.

So sometimes home is a place...sometimes it's things....sometimes it's people....

A new baby and a grandmother make a make a home whether it's a tapestry like the one my grandmother made for me that you can see in the photo above or a print from a painting that my godmother gave me on our engagement that you can see there on the right or family photos just like this one.

A friend who lives overseas always feels at home when she smells the gum leaves.  I can't smell them anymore I'm so used to them.

I feel like I'm home when I get a 
great big bear hug from my father whenever I see him or someone is pleased to see you when you walk in the door.

Memories make a home I suppose...

Mostly it's where you can relax and be "you" for a bit.  

A word cloud for the Book of Me Written By You - the words are family history legacy memories writing journal genealogy you written discussion me prompts book by enjoyment the reflection of

This post is part of the Book of Me, Written by You meme created by Julie Goucher of Angler's Rest.

This week's prompt is - 
School Trips
Did you go on any school trips?
Where did you go?
Memories and trinkets of those special days?

An open suitcase on a bed with a pile of clothes behind

Okay - yes I did go on a school trip in what was I guess the September holidays when I was in Grade 10 in 1976.

The photo above is taken at 54 Wright's Road Drummoyne.  Looking at the map, I think this building must have been knocked down now because I remember it being an older style building, like the ones across the road.

My parents had moved to Sydney to look for a house and my father had started working at Sydney University.  The flats at Drummoyne were owned by the University and were somewhere for staff to stay until they found somewhere more permanent to live.  I was getting ready to board at Canberra Girls Grammar in Deakin.  I was very excited about seeing the desert and going on this big road trip.  

I remember working really hard to try and lose lots of weight because I was starting at a new school the next year and thought I would make more friends if I was thinner.  Ah yes - the teenage years.  Don't they just bring back great memories?

I remember that we flew to Cairns from Sydney. It's a distance of about 
2,417 kilometres and the flight probably took at least three hours.

A little island on the edge of the Barrier Reef

We took a boat out to Green Island.  We probably swam a bit but I think I found it all a bit too hot and ho hum.  I remember looking out the bus window in Cairns and seeing school girls running around playing hockey in unbearable heat.  Such a contrast to cold old Canberra.

Then we went up to the Scenic Railway at Kuranda and the bus trip really started.

I can't be certain but I think we went to Normanton, then down to Mount Isa, to Birdsville and then to Cooper Creek, the Burke & Wills Monument. I know I had a photo of the Birdsville Hotel somewhere and Mrs Shaw on the boat going to Green Island but they've got mixed up in another album. Sigh.  Oh to be organised.

Here I am trying to impress a young man I was a bit keen on...for the life of me I have no idea who he was.  I want to say his name was Barry but I can't remember.

A young man watches Alex expertly levering out tent pegs with a mattock

 Innaminka rings a bell so I think we went there and I suppose we must have gone to Cameron Corner and stood on three states at once - Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales.  Then to Broken Hill and back to Canberra.

You can see a rather badly drawn map of the trip that we took here.

Group of children pulling out tent pegs

We had to be on our very best behaviour though as our headmistress Mrs Shaw was one of the teachers on board.  What a stalwart she must have been to put up with all of us boys and girls.

I'm not sure where this is but I suspect it is a view of Mt Isa. I'm happy for someone to advise me one way or the other.  Broken Hill is a bit flatter I think.

View of Mt Isa with student photo bombing

Here we are having dinner somewhere in the desert.  Which desert?  I'm thinking the Sturt Stony Desert.  I remember being told that if we went to the loo in the night to make sure that we didn't stand on scorpions.  Great!

Group of children sitting in circle having dinner at dusk on camp stools

I would love someone to tell me where the photo below is taken.  I'm ashamed to say that I can't remember.  I think it's Innaminka but I can't be sure.  That's friend Judith with her back to us in the foreground with the dark top on the left.

Children standing near ruin of house on hill

I suspect that this is the Burke and Wills Dig Tree monument.

Two people standing next to monument

And that this is Cooper Creek.

Base of tree trunk beside creek

We had a lot of fun on the trip and the bus driver must have been enormously patient.  Remember that this is in the days before we had DVDs on buses so there was long days of driving in difficult conditions.  Photo bombing is not a new concept and this driver had a well developed sense of humour as I remember.  

Two girls and bus driver photo bombing photo

Here's a picture of the kind of terrain that we traveled through on a daily basis. My memories were of drifts of red sand - endless horizons.  At first you mentally fought the sheer size of the landscape and longed for variation.  Then you embraced it and never wanted to go back.  I remember feeling that this was the real world and the rest was a fiction.

Bus on side of road on flat terrain

I'd like to experience that again.  What a country we live in!

Julie Goucher of Angler's Rest created this fantastic meme The Book of Me Written By You and you can find out all about it here.

This is Prompt 55 of the meme.

What is your feel good movie?
Can you remember the first time you went to the cinema?
What did you see?
Can you remember the price?
Who did you go with?
Recall those magical movie moments?
What is your favourite movie or favourite genre?

What is your feel good movie?

Oh boy.  That's a tough one.  I looked at the lists on IMDB and honestly....can you believe that someone put Trainspotting in the list????  I mean it's a great movie but "feel-good" ???

This is difficult because I tend to like melancholic movies best.  Weird, I know.  But for me the best feel good movies (because I can't restrict myself to one) are (in alphabetical order):

The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Before Sunrise
Cinema Paradiso
The Full Monty
Muriel's Wedding
Notting Hill
Toy Story

Can you remember the first time you went to the cinema?  What did you see? Can you remember the price? Who did you go with?

No, I can't remember the first time I went to the cinema but my mother told me that my first film was A Hard Day's Night in Edinburgh.  I would have been about 3 years old.  No idea how much it cost.  I probably went with my mother.

Recall those magical movie moments?

I think this is such a great meme because going to the movies has been such an important part of my life.  Julie, it's like you have tuned into the cosmic consciousness as I was only thinking the other day that this would be a good prompt.  The reason I thought that was because I recently ordered my father's first book through the post.    Called A Guide To Canberra Buildings, it was published in 1970.  As someone who grew up in Canberra, I found it fascinating to look through the (black and white) photos and see how much has changed and how much has stayed the same.

As I flicked through it, I came across a mention of the Center Cinema. Unfortunately there was no photo accompanying the description but I was interested to read that the architect on the project was Enrico Taglietti. Enrico's daughter and I were in the same class at school.  The Center Cinema used to be in Bunda Street in the city.  All the photos I can find of it on the web are protected by can check them out here, here  or here. And I urge you to click on that last picture when you get to it because it will give you a better idea of what it was like waiting outside the cinema to get your ticket.

Thankfully Trove has a few good articles too about its construction and when it opened.

Architect's drawing of Center Cinema
courtesy of the National Library of Australia - Canberra Times, Wednesday 21 July 1965, page 4
It opened on 4 October 1966 and the opening film was Dr Zhivago starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie.  My son Caspar is trying to finish the book as you read this post.

photo of staircase going down to underground cinema
Courtesy of National Library of Australia, Canberra Times Tuesday 4 October 1966, page 15

I guess the most distinctive features of the cinema were that it was underground, had adjustable seats, huge pixellated mural style photos on the walls of stars/characters like Marilyn Monroe and Citizen Kane and porthole windows from upstairs where you could watch the movie from the Candy Bar if you were running late or had a coughing fit.  It seated 500 people.  Quite a big cinema I suppose by today's standards.

Yes, I remember standing up for the National Anthem (God Save Our Queen) before the movie started.

I remember going to see The Way we Were with Robert (be still my beating heart) Redford and Barbra Streisand with best friend Deb.  It took 6 - 12 months for movies to get here from the USA so even though it was released in October 1973, we didn't get to see it until May the following year.

Advertisement for Streisand Redford Together in The Way We Were
Courtesy of National Library of Australia, Canberra Times Saturday 8 June 1974, page 14

In my research, I also found out that the builder who won the tender was none other than Bob Eglitis, father of another school-friend of mine.

Article about the Manager, the Builder and the Projectionist
Courtesy of National Library of Australia, Canberra Times, Tuesday 4 October 1966, page 16
The Center Cinema closed 1 June 2003 and you can read more people's memories here.  So very sad.  It was absolutely my favourite cinema and none come close to it except maybe the lovely Palace Barracks Cinema here in Brisbane.

I have lots of fond memories of movies in Canberra.  I saw Picnic at Hanging Rock at the Capitol Theatre at Manuka on a school excursion.  Such evocative images and I always felt so privileged to work with Producer Pat Lovell later on in my career.

I went to the National Library on Sundays, I think, with my mother to watch Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies.

Judith and I went to the Boulevard Twin Cinemas (which opened in December 1973) and laughed ourselves sick at the Pink Panther movies with Peter Sellers.

Article about opening of Boulevard Twin Cinema
Courtesy of National Library of Australia, Canberra Times, Thursday 6 December 1973, page 23

I saw Sound of Music and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Civic Theatre.

And let's not be forgetting the Starlight Drive In!!  Once again, click on the picture to see what the entrance was like.

This is a great article about the building of the Drive In.

Courtesy of National Library of Australia, Canberra Times, Wednesday 2 January 1957, page 7

What is your favourite movie or favourite genre?

It's way too hard to choose a favourite movie, I love so many.  As I say I tend to choose melancholy films or thoughtful type movies.  Some of my favourites include: Whale Rider, The Truman Show, Rain Man, Breaking the Waves, Working Girl, 1900, American Beauty, To Kill a Mockingbird, No Country for Old Men....

See I told you I was all over the shop.  Just like a frog!


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