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Thursday, 31 July 2014

A pair of Dutch postcards

I generally try to keep my posts to matters that relate to family or family history, and as a result I didn't feel I had anything to contribute this week, but then I remembered these two sweet little postcards that my mother sent me from the Netherlands in 1954, when she and my father had a week there and in Paris, having left yours truly aged 18 months in the care of kind family friends back in Cambridge. Mum then retrieved and saved these cards in a scrapbook documenting our year on England, so at least the the origin of the cards is family history related.

In the first card the children are clearly up to mischief, trying to feed their pet dog some motor oil. The Dutch caption reads
                                                                    "Ergen dan zijn eigen pijn 
                                                                     Vindt Fik deze medicijn"

  I think this translates roughly to something like 'Fik will find this drug worse than his own pain'. Any suggestions on a better translation are welcome! 

I've included the second card of this matching pair for its caption, which says:

 "Wassen, plassen, boenen maar,
 we zijn zo in een wipje klaar"

In English this seems to be 'Wash, splash, scrub, but we are so in a seesaw'.  Again, a better translation or explanation of this would be much appreciated. Does it mean they can't get off the 'seesaw' of washing, splashing and scrubbing , or would they rather be enjoying a real seesaw? I'm not sure, but no doubt my mother thought I would like the cute little characters, as I'm sure I did. Anyway, it looks like I was having fun with my little friend David Norman and his parents while Mum and Dad were away, and hopefully I didn't play any tricks on this little fellow. I seem to be holding a can of what used to be Bird's Custard Powder, presumably empty, and definitely not containing motor oil!  I wonder what became of David.

To see more postcards, mischief makers and whatever else might take the fancy of other Sepians for Sepia Saturday #239,  just click here

Friday, 25 July 2014

Old signs - now you see them, now you don't ...

The photo below is of Albert Edward Olds, standing proudly outside his bootmaker's shop window, with his name on the sign above it, which was located at 231 Church Rd, St George, Bristol. The date of the photo is not known, but Albert had 'followed in the footsteps' of his father William Olds, who was also a bootmaker, and this is the occupation recorded for him in the 1881 Census when he was 14, and in subsequent censuses. 

Albert married Mary Ann Patt in 1889 in Bristol Gloucestershire and they had seven sons, five of whom are pictured here with their parents. One died young, another was killed in World War I, after having been  awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, and 'Little Arthur' who was the youngest son  lived to the age of 100. Fifth son Francis George Olds was my husband's grandfather, and husband of another centenarian Doris Newth, about whom I've blogged previously, for example here. The Olds family lived above the shop, and the grandchildren recall that Albert kept chickens in the yard behind the shop, and that there was always a basket of eggs for sale in the shop window, along with the shoes. 

Albert Olds died in 1939 aged 73 after falling and breaking his leg, and none of his sons had adopted the trade of their father or grandfather, so by 1940 the shop had become a gentlemen's outfitters. I haven't specifically researched its history in the intervening seventy plus years, but below is what it looks like today. I doubt if Albert would have approved, but perhaps he might feel that a shop selling 'Stuff' was preferable to the kebab shop next door. The shop front layout certainly looks very different, with even the doorway in a different place.  

Wider street view of Church Rd, snipped from Google Maps

Another kind of sign I thought I would mention here is the old advertisement painted on walls, which often gets hidden by development, but can sometimes be revealed briefly when an adjoining wall next door is knocked down, preparatory to a new building being constructed. This sign in High St Armadale for Bournville Cocoa is no longer visible, being obscured by a solid brick wall erected flush against it that is part of the block of 11 apartments being constructed next door, but I noticed and snapped it earlier this year when it became exposed for a short period. I don't know how old the sign is, but it seems to be in quite good condition, perhaps because it hasn't been open to the effects of sunlight and weathering for some considerable time. From the second photograph, which comes from from the web site of the developer, it looks like there might have been a large photograph below the sign, perhaps a gathering of people enjoying their cocoa. My glimpse from behind the hoarding couldn't see that, or perhaps it wasn't revealed at the time.

The following two walls of advertisements for various products are on walls either side of a construction site, also in High St Armadale, and are still exposed, but not for long. The sad thing is that once a building has gone, whether historic or not, it's often hard to remember what it looked like, but thankfully there are still a number of commercial buildings on High St that date back to the 1880s.

For more old signs, old buildings and more, check out Sepia Saturday 238

Friday, 18 July 2014

Dancing Girls

 No dancing photos to be found in my mother's old albums, perhaps because if she was dancing she couldn't take photographs at the same time, but I do remember her demonstrating both the Scottish Sword Dance and  Cossack squat dancing on various occasions. My sister learnt ballet and Scottish dancing, but I was considered to be too uncoordinated for ballet and instead was made to endure elocution lessons, now better known as speech and drama. I dreaded going each week, especially as I had to make my own way across town by bus and then take a circuitous route on foot to avoid any known fierce dogs that might be lying in wait for me between the bus stop and the teacher's home. Canberra doesn't allow front fences and as an eleven or twelve year old I was just petrified of all the local dogs that prowled the streets! The teacher herself even had a dog, but thankfully he was reasonably docile.  No photos whatsoever of me performing, although I did have to sit speech exams over the years and perform at eisteddfod competitions, for which I even won a couple of little trophies that I still have in the cupboard, but I did manage to find this photo of my teacher Yetty Landau and her dog on Ancestry, looking just as I remember her, with her beloved dog Sandy, who usually had to be moved off a chair if I wanted to sit down during a lesson. According to a site called the Australian Womens Register, Yetty Landau (1895-1971) was  "an actor and comedian who worked in Melbourne and with travelling companies. She was a popular broadcaster in Melbourne and Canberra and with her actor husband set up schools which taught drama, elocution and public speaking. After her husband's death Yetty continued teaching verse speaking, training choirs and successfully preparing students for the examinations of Trinity College, London".

Mrs Yetty Landau, aka Yetty Pearson, with her dog Sandy

  There is a sweet photo of  my sister Louisa's dance class, but  it was taken by a photographer from a local paper and has a copyright stamp on the back saying it can't be used without written permission, so unfortunately I can't show it here, even though it is now fifty years old. Here's one of her taken at home around the same time however, and you'll just have to imagine a class of six year olds like her in a studio setting.

Our elder daughter Claire took dance classes as a teenager, preferring jazz ballet to classical. These snippets were taken at one of her dance school concerts in about 1995. I think I must have clipped them this way to remove audience members' heads.

 I confess I didn't realise the prompt photograph was of men dressed as women, until I read Little Nell's blog. I took these three somewhat less than clear black and white shots at another of those dance school concerts at a time when I was doing a photography course and developing my own prints in the darkroom. No boys in the senior ranks at the dance school, so they are all girls here. Lots of costume changes involved between the different acts, and the concerts were always well choreographed, imaginative and fun to watch.

Final curtain call.
Daughter Claire is fifth from left in the front row, with the long curls, and is on the right of the other two photos.

A posed publicity shot taken by the dance teacher's husband. Claire is in the polka dot dress.

 Now dance on over to Sepia Saturday #237 for more blogs on the subject of dancing and dressing up.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Getting Ready for the Big Day

Nothing sepia from me on the prompt topic this week, but it did make me think of these photos from our two daughters' wedding days, back in October 2010 and September 2012 respectively. In the first group in the salon you can see the big dryers looming above people's heads, ready to be pulled down if required by clients, but in our case all that hairdresser Adrian needed was a blow dryer, and here you can see him and the makeup artist plying their trades. I'm sure it was an easier job than many would be, with only the bride, two bridesmaids and the mother of the bride to get ready for the ceremony that afternoon, and the bride not requiring any elaborate style. The whole thing took less than an hour, which left plenty of time to collect the bouquets, corsages and buttonholes from the florist nearby, go home, relax, get dressed, make everyone sandwiches for lunch and have professional photographs taken at home, before getting to the the church on time (2.30 pm on a beautiful sunny Friday afternoon in Melbourne).

Bridesmaid Steph gets the blow wave treatment

Bride-to-be Laura under the blower

Thankfully there was no wind to contend with later 

Makeup being applied

Final touches, then Laura's ready for the wedding veil comb to be carefully inserted later, as per Adrian's instructions

Our elder daughter Claire's wedding took place in Herefordshire England and the hairdresser and makeup lady arrived promptly that morning at the B&B where we had been staying for the preceding week. I imagine the hairdresser would have had a portable hair dryer if she needed one, but again, it was not required. Fewer photographs here, just a couple showing Claire being made up and her sister Laura getting the curling tong treatment to transform her straight hair into ringlets, to match her sister's naturally curly locks, as did Claire's other bridesmaid Penny (not pictured). I'm all done, and just visible in the mirror taking the shots, if you look closely. 

Flashback: The photo above reminded me of these two of Laura, taken when she was aged about 10, either after a home attempt at creating curls, or perhaps just the after effect of wearing plaits for a day or two. 

The weather was inclement unfortunately, but luckily the bride and her wedding party only needed to walk a couple of steps between the B&B to the waiting cars and the same at the venue, and their hairstyles remained intact.

A glimpse of Hereford from the B&B window - oh no, it's started to rain!

Under the big umbrella, the bride was delivered safely from door to door. Professional photograph taken by Russell Lewis

Another arrival photograph by Russell Lewis

You can seek recently posted photographs of the finished products here. I think they turned out very well, but of course, I am just a little biased!

For more blogs on this theme or otherwise, no need to make an appointment, just click here and check out Sepia Saturday #236.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Let me shake your hand and welcome you to your new home

The Minister for Immigration Mr Arthur Calwell welcomes a happy family of new post-war immigrants to Australia, c.1947.

The above unidentified photograph was published in this article in The Melbourne Age in 2007, which marked sixty years since the wave of post-war refugees arrived in Australia.

My husband's grandmother Grace Eleanor Calwell was a first cousin to ArthurAugustus Calwell, who was a dominant figure in Australian politics from 1940 until 1967. Mr Calwell was the Minister for Immigration under the post-war Labor Government and later as leader of the party he narrowly lost a Federal election in 1961. I've written a little about Arthur here in  previous posts, for example here and here

Arthur Calwell must have shaken the hands of a very large number of new European migrants who had come to Australia after being displaced from their home countries following World War 2, and he subsequently became a personal  friend to many of these new Australian families.

In 2012 Arthur's daughter Mary Elizabeth Calwell published a book about her father's life and work, and at the book launch Arthur was acknowledged as the father of multiculturalism in Australia.   For a report of the speech given at the launch by the then Minister for Immigration Mr Chris Bowen giving credit to Arthur for his considerable achievements in the field of immigration and dispelling a few commonly held misconceptions about him, click here

I don't mean to get political here, but in my humble opinion, the current Australian government's policy on refugees is very, very wrong, and the Labor Party's approach to the subject is no better. I believe we should welcome all people who come here. We should be shaking their hands and offering them a new chance at life, rather than turning back the boats on which they have attempted very hazardous voyages, refusing to allow them to land on our shores and condemning them either to indefinite incarceration in camps in other less fortunate countries or to a return to the hostile places from which they have desperately tried to escape. 

I simply offer this letter on the subject from Julian Burnside, AO, QC, a notable Australian whom I very much admire for his courage to speak out. He is a barrister, human rights and refugee advocate.

Letter published on Facebook by Adam Bandt, Australian Greens, with permission of Julian Burnside 

The inimitable British folk singer Roy Bailey has a song in his latest album, entitled 'Welcome'. Here are some of the opening lines:
'Welcome, come into my land. It's your land too now, I want to shake your hand. I want to know your story, the journey you've been on ..."
No video clip to be found, but you can hear Roy sing it on Spotify. I say 'welcome'!

For more hand shaking or any other matters that this week's photo may have prompted fellow Sepians to blog about, please go to Sepia Saturday # 235

Thursday, 26 June 2014

May I please, please just have a paddle?

This week's photo prompt shows some ladies and a couple of boys  paddling in a lake somewhere. The ladies have lifted their skirts so as not to get them wet. Only one seems to be smiling and maybe they are too worried about the possibility of getting wet, it's hard to tell, and perhaps the scene was just set up for the camera. I thought I might focus primarily on the fact that the subjects are fully dressed, apart from their shoes.

 Here is a photograph from my mother's second album, of some local children playing in a country creek, somewhere near Canvastown NZ in the mid 1940s,the district where my mother's grandparents and cousins lived. The boy is lying in the water but the little girl is just paddling, with their dog watching over them. I don't think the children are any relation to me, but it is a peaceful,  idyllic scene.

The next couple of photos from the 1940s are of my mother and her friends, who flatted together in Auckland while they were teachers' college students. They were having a weekend break at Piha Beach, where they stayed  in a bach lent to them by the headmaster. A bach is what New Zealanders call their weekenders or beach houses, and the  accommodation provided is often very basic. I can't quite decipher the little sign in the sand, but I think the girls may be standing on a little makeshift bridge across the sand to what  is known as Lion Rock, seen in the next picture, which they would then have clambered up. They would no doubt have needed to put their shoes back on for the climb.

The next shot is of my father Ian, on another NZ beach outing, c 1950. Clearly when wandering around the rocks at Kaiteriteri Beach in the Abel Tasman National Park near Nelson on the South Island of NZ, he had no intention of getting anything wet above mid-calf level!

Here are Jean and Ian on the beach. Jean is wearing her pearls and both are now fully shod.

This  photo captioned 'swimming the Avon' is a snippet from some publication put out by the University of Canterbury, where my father studied for his B Sc. The event was part of his college initiation ceremony. The River Avon in Christchurch isn't very wide or deep but it looks like everyone must have got wet through.

In the shallows of Margate Beach Kent in 1954, Jean is doing well to crouch down with me and not get her dress wet, or at least not before this photograph was snapped. I look to be spooning something into my mouth, and no doubt it wouldn't have tasted so good if I'd toppled over either. My father must have got his feet wet here too, as there were no zoom lenses in those days, just the two foot variety.

Back in Canterbury New Zealand, and picnics at Ashley River Bank (top right) and at Stewart's Gully. In both cases the adults are happy to watch and give me a helping hand, but it's clearly a case of so far and no further! 

These two little girls, the daughters of my parents' Dutch friends, must have been told they could get their feet wet in the stream but please, not their dresses, although in fact the next photo in the album shows that their mother has relented and produced their swimming costumes, but they are still just paddling.

We moved to Australia in  1956, and picnics at the Cotter Reserve for example became a regular weekend entertainment. There wasn't much else to do in Canberra back then and we always went there when friends and family were visiting.

Another picnic, another paddle in the Murrumbidgee, and another stick. I was easily amused!

 My mother took the three of us back to New Zealand for a Christmas holiday  in 1959, and here a friend and I are cautiously dipping our toes in the Wairarapa Stream that ran through her back garden in the Christchurch suburb of Fendalton. At the time I thought it was lovely. Hopefully it was well fenced off from unsupervised small children, although no fence can be seen in either photograph, and a toddler (my little sister) is playing not far away from the water's edge. 

This reminds me of my grandfather Jack's baby sister, Adelpha Morrison, who was eighteen months old when she drowned in a waterhole in December 1881 while her mother Mary Bridget went inside briefly. This tragic event took place about 8 years before Jack was born.  Mary Bridget and her husband Daniel Morrison eventually had a total of 15 children, but I'm sure they would never have forgotten poor little Adelpha.

Report published in the Marlborough Express, 30 December 1881, found on the Papers Past web site.

Of course adults can also drown, as was the case in 1876 with Annie Norrie nee Young, eldest sister of my great grandmother Jane Isabella Young. Anne was aged 31 and mother of a young son when she drowned in the Cam river near her home at Kaiapoi. It was believed that she had slipped into the water after suffering an epileptic fit. Here is a report of what happened that was published in The Press, (Christchurch) dated 8 April 1876, from the Papers Past web site:

                  A fuller report says that Charles Young helped his son-in-law to retrieve his daughter's body from the river. Charles was my 2 x great grandfather, and Annie was his eldest child. At the time of her death her son William Norrie was aged about nine. His father remarried a couple of years later.

Here my grandparents Mona and Jack Morrison from NZ are visiting the family in Canberra in March 1961 and naturally we have taken them for a family picnic, this time to Uriarra Crossing outside Canberra. Mona may have taken her shoes off but Jack hasn't, and Ian still has his shoes and socks on too. It looks like Jean must have been standing in the water to take the photo however, so at least she would have been able to rescue my sister or me if either of us ventured too far in. I remember how on one occasion when we were swimming in the river there was a sighting of what was believed to be a water snake and everyone left the water rather rapidly!

These last two photos are from a family camping holiday at Sussex Inlet on the South Coast of NSW. In the photo on the right, my sister is dipping more than just her toes in the water, while up on the jetty my father might have been suggesting that I jump in but that he is not about to follow me, or perhaps we were just looking for fish or admiring the view.

To see more blogs on this watery subject,  just paddle or wade on over to Sepia Saturday #234