Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Oh Tannenbaum

Advent calendar 2Today is the first in the 2013 series of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories. I participated in the series in 2011 so thought I might have another go-around this year though some posts may simply be link-backs to earlier topics.

Gum Tree Christmas and bride doll.

Gum Tree Christmas and bride doll.

In our family the Christmas tree has changed over my lifetime. As a child it was always a branch of a small gum (eucalyptus) tree from down near the neighbourhood creek, or perhaps even a small tree. Because it was live we only put the tree up in the days before Christmas. It infused the house with the distinctive fragrance of eucalyptus oil. It’s strange how memory works because I have no recollection of the process though there was definitely ceremony attached and I was always involved in the decorating.

Our fake pine tree, DD1 and 2, Port Moresby 1977

Our fake pine tree, DD1 and 2, Port Moresby 1977

As a young married couple we followed the tradition of branches of live trees, like the casuarina. It was decorated with indestructible baubles in bright 1970s colours and cheap trade-store ornaments, many of which lasted decades. Later on we moved to a plastic, pseudo-pine tree which did look the part. No doubt we bought it at one of the Chinese trade stores in Port Moresby though I’m not sure which.

Another generation discovers the Xmas tree -and an original bauble from 1970.

Another generation discovers the Xmas tree -and an original bauble from 1970.

That tree followed our family back to Australia and through our children’s growing up. It remained in Brisbane when we moved to the Territory and eventually was retired from service by daughter #2 a few years ago as even a fake tree loses its needles after decades.

Meanwhile we progressed through another two trees thanks to the services of a small furry creature who thought having an indoor climbing adventure, complete with tempting trinkets, was just the ticket! We downsized to a small one for just the empty nesters, then upsized again as the grandchildren came along.

For as long as I can recall we’ve put our tree up around our youngest daughter’s birthday in early December, and taken it down for mine, in early January. It is definitely a family tradition so I smiled quietly to myself when I heard her telling our grandsons yesterday that they would put their tree up next weekend. Of such things are memories and traditions made.

Xmas delight

Xmas delight -first sighting of the tree. c1973

It’s also traditional that Christmas carols must be played during the decorating of the tree, and each person in the house contributes to hanging the decorations, even if someone else occasionally relocates a particular bauble. The tree inevitably had the addition of children’s craft decorations from preschool and school, some of which have survived over time and some which fell apart.

Wherever we travel, especially in the prelude to Christmas, we purchase Christmas decorations, and every time we declare “no more”, “that’s enough”, so I won’t tell you that on our recent trips to Kenya and Brisbane, our bauble stocks increased. Perhaps we should start an A to Z of Christmas baubles and where they were bought!

The cat contributes by downsizing our somewhat excessive decorations with a niftily turned paw and claw. It’s also amazing how much neater the house looks as soon as the busyness of trees and decorations cease in January. But nothing says Christmas is on its way like a beautifully decorated tree, and nothing makes kids’ eyes sparkle like all that bling.

This is my link-back to my original Christmas Tree post.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.

Sepia Saturday 205: Moustaches and mysteries

Sepia Sat 205I featured this photo on my blog nearly three years ago but since the mystery continues to elude me, I thought I’d include it under this week’s Sepia Saturday topic of moustaches. There’s certainly a plethora of all styles of moustaches and whiskers in this photo.

The history behind the photo is that it was found backing another picture which hung in my grandparents’ house. It is quite a substantial size but very much worn as you can see.

Mystery photo includes Denis Kunkel: are the other people Gavin family members?

My father identified his father as the man to the left rear of the elderly seated gentleman. It is very like other photos of Grandad taken about the time he went to war, 1917, or perhaps a year or two earlier. There are a number of young men in the group which might also tie in with that. There are definite family resemblances in some of the faces eg the man at the front left always reminds me of my Dad, and the young woman beside him looks like an older version of Grandad’s youngest sister whose photo appears in a wedding photo.

The presence of women in the group suggests it is not something like a Masonic group, and he had “spat the dummy” with the church so it’s unlikely to be a church group. There is a proprietal air, and I think a facial familiarity, about the older man with his hand on Grandad’s shoulder.

But is it a family group or some sort of social group? If the former it’s most likely to include members of the Gavin family from Pechey and perhaps a handful of Kunkels? If the latter it could have been taken on the Darling Downs or in Brisbane.

It’s certainly a mystery which I would love to solve.

Why not pop over and see what other Sepians have written this week.

Dad’s and Mum’s Neighbourhood Reminiscences on Trove Tuesday

I was mentioning last week how Dad had lived in the street in Kelvin Grove his whole life, and had memories stretching back decades. Some years ago I asked him a little about it. There was a time when he would “clam up” and not tell stories like this, but when I wrote my family history, he realised I did really want to know more about life in the suburb. I’ve used Trove extensively to see if I could track down more information on what he told me. After starting this story I also had an extensive conversation with Mum to clarify some of the comments, and she also added information.

So here are his brief reminiscences, with my own comments, or follow up research relating to it. Mum’s conversations last week are included in green.

An image from SLQ looking towards Kelvin Grove (but which part?) http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/185011646

An image from SLQ looking towards Kelvin Grove (but which part?) http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/185011646

When I was young you could catch a feed of prawns down the creek (Enoggera Creek) and when it was mullet season, you could just about walk across the creek across them.

When Pauleen was young we sometimes caught catfish in the creek. Perhaps the floods washed the creek clean in the earlier days considering there was more industrial waste going into it. Mum used to sometimes call Dad “Elastic Jack” when he started telling tall tales, like walking across the creek on the mullet.

When Pauleen was a child, the mangroves were quite dense and the wretched lantana held sway over the creek banks.

Hayes had a dairy[i] and willed all the land to the council for the public. The dairy was located where the Mynor cordial factory was (at the bottom of Gould Rd). He used to run all the cows on Ballymore where the rugby union is now and a bit over the other side of the creek. The creek used to dogleg over the road and they cut it straight for flood mitigation. There was a weir over the creek across from Ballymore until they straightened the course of Breakfast Creek (technically Enoggera Creek) after the 1974 floods. The Commonwealth paid 60% and council and states paid the rest and the council was supposed to maintain it (presumably the land).

Flooding around Enoggera Creek Windsor 1893 (1)

It seems likely this was Henry Thomas Hayes as he’s mentioned in a Trove newspaper article as a dairy owner though the electoral rolls record him as a labourer of Gould Rd.

Enoggera/Breakfast Creek is tidal to the weir at Bancroft Park on Kelvin Grove Road and has a history of flooding and drainage problems that has led to flood mitigation measures including widening, straightening and dredging.[ii]

The bakery (Hassetts) in Butterfield St, was a family bakery –it was there when Dad was twelve (mid-1930s) because he went over on the pushbike.

In fact, in later years Dad and I would ride over to buy bread –the smell was heavenly and you would pull a bit out of the soft part in the middle…yum! Mum says this was often during the school holidays.

Mum remembers that someone used to come around selling clothes props.

There was a vegetable farm down where the NARM (sandshoes/sneakers factory) was, where the new Post Office depot is now. They used to call them Chinese market gardens. Mum says there was also one across the creek where it flooded as well as at Stafford.

This is interesting because a health inspection refers to the terrible conditions of Chinese abattoirs in this area.

This dairy, Ozanne's, was in nearby Ashgrove but shows what must have been a similar mix of rural and urban. c1920 http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/36908896

This dairy, Ozanne’s, was in nearby Ashgrove but shows what must have been a similar mix of rural and urban. c1920 http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/36908896

Another dairy (was owned by) Hicks, where the baseball and Italian Clubs are now (in Newmarket, near where Pauleen used to go to Girl Guides). I was surprised to learn how many dairies were in the area, but it makes some sense in that pre-pasteurisation era. I still remember getting fresh milk from the dairy at Samford where we camped with Guides.

On the flat opposite Bally St, another bit of a dairy, owned by a couple, McShea and Vowles. In Pauleen’s time this area flooded whenever the creek flooded heavily. Mum says there were also Chinese gardens there in her time. 

Mum also said that there used to be a horse track, with fencing, in the middle of Ballymore Park then in the 1950s every time you caught the bus there would be less fencing there, until it all disappeared.

Hayes used to pick up all the old produce in Roma St. One day Dad saw him with the old big draught horse pulling the dray and he (Hayes) is asleep and the horse was leading the way. At the railway the horse went straight up, round the policeman, up College St and into the railway stables, while the policeman watched with all the traffic stopped.

One of the Kelvin Grove tanneries circa 1890, SLQ http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/185011646

One of the Kelvin Grove tanneries circa 1890, SLQ http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/185011646

Johnston’s tannery was in Bishop St and there was one over in Finsbury St and another one where the retirement development is near Catholic church (in Newmarket?). This one was possibly Granlund’s.

I remember the smell of the tannery quite vividly, but not pleasantly. It was okay except when the wind came from the west.

There has been some debate about these tanneries on the various websites but Queensland Places has this to say[iii]: Away from these public uses Kelvin Grove developed a landscape of Queenslander houses, most of them within half a kilometre of the tramline. Those further away were closer to Ballymore Park. Kelvin Grove Road had shops and a picture theatre (1912) (which Pauleen remembers). There were a couple of tanneries down Bishop Street near the creek, and the area is still industrial.

Dad got in a row with the tannery and council because he couldn’t breathe – “they used to release all the muck from the tannery when tide went out. Sent a diver up the pipe to near Bancroft Park and it was that tannery that was putting the muck down the pipes so there was a big kerfuffle”.

There was a big tannery at Stafford near where the shopping centre is (this coincides with a conversation on the web). There used to be a beautiful swimming pool (natural) at Kedron Brook until the tannery came along. 

An 1873 newspaper article praised the Kedron Brook tannery owned by J & G Harris (I wonder if these were the same people who obtained the initial land grant on the Ballymore estate?)Or was the tannery that Dad mentions a different, newer one. Either way the Council took exception as this report indicates. A 1934 newspaper story takes a different view with one MLA wondering why the tanneries had ever been allowed to empty their waste into Kedron Brook.

A fellow had a mirror factory down Bishop St for which they use cyanide to do backing of mirror (Bishop St was hardly a salubrious place to live, and it was good thing we didn’t catch many fish!)

Finney (Isles) and Ure had a carriers where the garage is on Herston Rd (cnr of Kelvin Grove Road). There was a paddock at the endof Picot Street for the Clydesdales and they took them along the creek near the Chinaman’s gardens.

via Trove: sale of property in 1929, large house in Herston Rd, one street off Kelvin Grove tram line. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article21373382. This follows Hubert Finney’s death –papers refer to him as ex-Alderman. He and Ure were members of the Master Carriers’ Association.

Mum recalls that she was told euchre parties were held in the house across the road, to raise funds for the church and school.

Perhaps these are not profound recollections but they add some personal flavour to the local history, and offer stories that would otherwise disappear. I’m just sorry I didn’t “pump” him for more.

The Lawrence family had a tiny shop at the end of Bally St in Dunsmore St. They also ran the bus to Fortitude Valley until the Council took it over

I also asked Dad who lived in the street when he was growing up and have since compared the names with those on the electoral rolls with great success, though he add some additional snippets to add. This may be the content of a post another day. My childhood friend still lives in the street behind ours and my guess is that her family has the longest continuous for the two streets, perhaps shared with one other family. I wonder if her father passed on any anecdotes to her?
Trove Tuesday is a blogging theme created by Amy of Branches, Leaves and Pollen, revealing just how incredible a resource this is, even when making comparisons with oral history.

Sepia Saturday 201: History Slips Away

2013.10W.07This week’s topic for Sepia Saturday 201 is houses and fits perfectly with a story I’ve been contemplating for some time. It will also link to my Book of Me stories about my childhood house.

Image from Google Earth, street view: my parents' (left) and grandparents' (right) houses.

Image from Google Earth, street view: my parents’ (left) and grandparents’ (right) houses.

Back in July 2013 my mother sold the house my parents lived in virtually all of their married lives – they’d lived next door with my grandparents for a year before I was born.

Map AG2 40 chains to the inch.

Map AG2 40 chains to the inch.

With that simple move to a retirement unit, all shiny and new, a tiny piece of Brisbane history slipped away. Yes, definitely a piece of my own family’s history, but also an unnoticed change in a near-city suburb. The sale of my childhood home was the final break in our family’s link to the street, after nearly 96 years. In Australian terms this is a quite an extensive association with an area, especially in an urban environment.

Brisbane and Suburbs Sheet S 1917, scale 8 chains to the inch, courtesy Museum of Lands Surveying and Mapping.

Brisbane and Suburbs Sheet S 1917, scale 8 chains to the inch, courtesy Museum of Lands Surveying and Mapping. The Recreation Reserve adjacent became Ballymore Park, home of Queensland Rugby from the 1960s.

You see, back in September 1917, my paternal grandfather was relocated back to Brisbane by the Queensland Government Railways. His railway employment card makes it clear he’d been in Gympie since mid-1911. (I was very lucky to find that card in the old railway offices in Ipswich back in the late 1980s). Family anecdotes tell that Grandad had boarded his young brother Ken with a woman in Kelvin Grove, after all the children had been orphaned in 1901. The carer was later said by Ken to have been quite cruel or at least demanding, but if any of the anecdotes hold water, I’m sure my grandfather can’t have known this or he’d have moved Ken elsewhere. My concern with the stories is that the timelines don’t quite gel for me.

Mackellar Sheet 4 dated 1895 from Museum of Lands Surveying and Mapping.

Mackellar Sheet 4 dated 1895 from Museum of Lands Surveying and Mapping.

At any rate when Grandad moved back to Brisbane he bought a block of land in Bally Street, so perhaps this was indeed were Ken had been living, and how Grandad came to know of it. The Ballymore estate had only been subdivided for resale in 1912 and before that had been called Ballimore – the large block of land where Ballimore House had been remains intact but the house is no more, supposedly destroyed by fire.

A section of the title deeds for my grandfather's first land purchase in 1917.

A section of the title deeds for my grandfather’s first land purchase in 1917.

Grandad’s purchase and title deeds are documented as 13th September 1917 and the block he purchased was re-subdivision 29 of subdivisions 22 and 23 from the original Portion 270 granted to John and George Harris.  The block of land was 16 perches and it was this block that my grandparents gave to my parents after my birth. On 22 October 1917 my grandfather enlisted in the Railway Unit and headed off to northern France.

In December 1920, on his return from overseas, Denis purchased the adjoining allotments, 30 and 31, a combined block of 32 perches block from the woman who was said to have been Ken’s carer. Denis built his house in the middle of the three blocks, but the date of construction is something I still don’t know, though Brisbane Council valuations may help as the valuations should increase around the time of building. My guesstimate is that it was built before my grandparents’ wedding in April 1922.

My grandparents’ house was sold, some years after Grandma’s death, c1980, so around sixty years after Grandad took ownership of the block. It has been substantially upgraded since then, though superficially is recognisable as the same house. I wrote in some detail about it in 2011, as part of the 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History series, and also here in terms of the red tape surrounding houses. I also worked the electoral rolls over to analyse the history of the street, its residents, and their occupations. You can read the two stories here and here.

1932 Sewerage maps from Brisbane City Council.

1932 Sewerage maps from Brisbane City Council.

I’ve mentioned before that sewerage maps can be incredibly useful – a tip I learned from a talk given by Susie Zada. This area of Brisbane was sewered quite early: the Council approved a budget of £19,167 in February 1939 (thank you Trove!) However the maps themselves predate this by seven years, and since many of the houses in the street are indicated by their names, it will make it easier to link the people on the electoral roll to them, an unexpected benefit. Who’d have thought it was interesting to know where one’s grandparents’ dunny was?

After my parents took ownership of the block initially purchased in 1917, my grandparents’ house was moved a few metres to the right, and my childhood home was built. Over the decades the house was extended slightly, to include a front verandah and carport, and an extension at the rear for a sunroom.

And so, with the sale of all three blocks of land, and the two houses, a link was broken with the establishment of this Brisbane suburb. A small, unremarked part of personal and local history disappeared along with the family’s 90+ year residence in the street. Or as Mr Cassmob puts it succinctly “there goes the last of the originals”.

Meanwhile the mango tree, planted when my father was born 90 years ago, remains sentinel to the family’s erstwhile presence.

This photo of my grandparents' house was given to me recently by my mother. I estimate that it would be in the 1930s as the backyard toilets are still in evidence.

This photo of my grandparents’ house was given to me recently by my mother. I estimate that it would be in the 1930s as the backyard toilets are still in evidence.

There has been a local history published of the area, Herston, Recollections and Reminscences. It adds valuable background to the area’s history something which is lacking for many suburbs. However it also suffers from a lack of footnotes, and a typical omissions of local histories: the tendency to source information from a familiar section of the community. So it’s ironic that my father, who at the time had lived in the area for over 70 years, was not consulted,when he could have added so much.

For example he would easily have corrected what I believe to be an error on page 15, where it is stated that Ballymore House “would probably have suffered several floods before a fire reputedly damaged the interior….and it has since been demolished”. My conversations with Dad confirm that as far as he was aware, the street had never been flooded, making in fact highly unlikely that Ballymore House had suffered flooding since it was on the higher side of the street. The error probably arose because while the tributary of Breakfast Creek is very close in horizontal distance, the height above the creek means any flood waters are absorbed into the parks across the river.

My criticisms are probably churlish given the depth of information provided on the suburb, but it remains frustrating that more could have been added. The wonderful resource of Trove would no doubt have added all sorts of little snippets that would once have been nigh on impossible to find in the newspapers.

Herston, Recollections and Reminiscences, DJ Hacker, DR Hallam, M Spinaze, Brisbane 1995.

A tale of threes

Sepia Saturday 191They say “two is company and three is a crowd” and there are times when that can feel quite true. Growing up as an only child, it was easy at times to feel odd one out, or conversely to lend allegiance to one or the other parent: a triangulation of emotions. Envy of those with siblings, bouncing around them like puppies, was not uncommon and yet, once accustomed to, a change in the sibling status would have been a shock to the system, however much wished for or welcomed.

Scared of a camera...me?

Scared of a camera…me?

On reflection it seems that the number three was destined to play a significant role in my life.

Throughout high school I had two best girlfriends to share the highs and lows of those teenaged years in an all-girls school.

Joan Pauleen and Norman Kunkel query Anzac Sq crop

Different tertiary paths eroded the friendship but two of us remained, and a new one was added –the boyfriend, now husband. Broader friendships were formed but at the core those two.

Then over the years we were to have three daughters to brighten our lives and keep us on our toes.

The three sisters in front of the rock formation in the Blue Mountains called the Three Sisters.

The three sisters in front of the rock formation in the Blue Mountains called the Three Sisters.

Now we have three grandchildren, delightful all, with the gender distribution changed to two boys and a girl.

Isn’t it strange how “fate” follows you around, and in my case, three has been a recurring theme. Comparing these photos with the Sepia Saturday one, it struck me that in mine, the balance is different: the youngest has centre place in every one with the older family members providing a protective barrier.

Why not have a look at what other Sepians have had to say about threes.

Sepia Saturday and Trove Tuesday: Two for one on picnics

Sepia saturday 190There I was, thinking of the myriad picnic photos I could use for this week’s Sepia Saturday 190, when I had a sense of déjà vu. A quick search of this blog and I realised I’d posted at some length on this very topic during the February Photo Collage Festival. If you’d like to read what I had to say about family picnics back then, here is the link.

I thought I’d have an early mark for Trove Tuesday and see what was on offer for picnics near Murphys Creek, Queensland where my Kunkel ancestors lived.

oai:bishop.slq.qld.gov.au:92588. Negative number: 54369 SLQ, Copyright expired.

oai:bishop.slq.qld.gov.au:92588. Negative number: 54369 SLQ, Copyright expired.

This image of Charlie and Alice Patrick and their family is from the State Library of Queensland (copyright expired). Are they setting off on a picnic or some other more formal event? The image is taken near White Mountain, very close to the Kunkel property at the Fifteen Mile.

And then there are picnics with a purpose. I’d guess that most Aussie school kids have been on picnics and things were no different in earlier times.  One school picnic I remember in particular, took us to Stradbroke Island across Moreton Bay, however privacy prevents me from sharing the photos with you.

The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), Monday 24 December 1928, page 21

The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), Monday 24 December 1928, page 21

And then there were the church picnics:

The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), Friday 7 May 1926, page 18. The Chapmans were neighbours of the Kunkel.

The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), Friday 7 May 1926, page 18. The Chapmans were neighbours of the Kunkel.

When I went searching Trove I had in mind a particular image of boys swimming au naturel in Lockyer Creek near Gatton and Murphys Creek. Imagine getting away with taking a photo like this today!

Group of boys swimming in Lockyer Creek 1890-1900. oai:bishop.slq.qld.gov.au:52304 Copyright expired.

Group of boys swimming in Lockyer Creek 1890-1900. oai:bishop.slq.qld.gov.au:52304 Copyright expired.

The newspaper gave me a different perspective of what seemed like youthful fun. Mr Gill, another resident of Murphys Creek was upset that his cows were disturbed by the boys swimming in the creek –or was it that they were nude? I love the Council response: the boys could keep swimming so long as they were appropriately attired. Do you wonder if Mr Gill and his cows were satisfied by this outcome?

The boys, the cows, the creek and the fences.

The boys, the cows, the creek and the fences. Queensland Times (Ipswich) (Qld. : 1909 – 1954), Wednesday 7 February 1923, page 8

And then there’s this lovely 1896 report of a cricket competition between the Toowoomba men and the Murphys Creek team, and ancillary picnics. The fifteen mile route by horse is likely the one through the Fifteen Mile where the Kunkels lived, or perhaps it’s the more direct route down the range? And what on earth does he mean by “the blackboy in the waste paper basket”?

Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), Saturday 18 January 1896, page 11, 12

Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 – 1907), Saturday 18 January 1896, page 11, 12

Do have a look at the Linky Lists on both themed topics to see what other bloggers wrote about this week.

German migration news: From Dorfprozelten to Australia

After the recent blogging drought, I’ve been doing some research into my Dorfprozelten families from Bavaria, with a focus on discoveries from the digitised German newspapers from Google books.

Researchers with German ancestry might find today’s posts on my much-neglected From Dorfprozelten to Australia blog worth a read in case they can apply the results to their own family history.

I will be trying to upload stories of my Dorfprozelten families in the coming weeks.

Sepia Saturday 178: Faces with Drama

sepia saturday 178This week’s Sepia Saturday image is a dramatic image of a young woman against a dark background. My thoughts flew immediately to the cover of my Kunkel Family History book, designed by local graphic artist Vanessa Schulze from photographs of my Kunkel great-great grandparents.

For years I’d been researching this family and writing up their story was in my “gunna” pile. One day I decided it would be a major life regret if I didn’t buckle down and complete it. And since I was going to write it, it seemed only appropriate to have a hard back cover that would last for ages and become a family heirloom. I had some feeble ideas about the cover design but I couldn’t believe the huge difference my daughter’s contact made to the final product. The faces of George Mathias Kunkel and Mary O’Brien gaze almost confrontingly from the darkness of the background. You can see the strength of pioneers in their faces.

Kunkel book cover crop

One of the greatest thrills of my life was seeing my book in print and holding it in my hands. Not quite up there with my marriage or my children’s births, but pretty good all the same <smile>.

For all that Mary’s face seems as if it should be the less dominant, her steady gaze is what catches my eye first. And I can’t help wondering if I can see her eyes two-toned as mine are. You can read a little about her here

There are lots of references on my blog to the Kunkel family but this post reveals how I finally handled the roadblock (or mental block?) I’d had about describing George Kunkel’s departure from Dorfprozelten in Bavaria. It was clearly indicated as a hypothetical story but based on the facts of the village which I’d visited a few times and read about in the local history.

Or you might be interested in learning a little about how this pioneering family celebrated Christmas, and the Bavarian traditions that George brought with him, from this story.

Sepia Saturday 175: Thinking of my Dad

Sepia Saturday 175Late again! This week’s Sepia Saturday had me thinking of all the smokers in the family, especially my Dad. I have never been a smoker, but most of those around me at work or at home, were. It was just normal at the time.

I was surprised looking through my photos that I actually had relatively few of anyone, cigarette in hand. One or two of Granddad with his pipe, none of Mr Cassmob but quite a few youthful photos of Dad, some alone, some with me.

Dad at the beach during my parents' honeymoon, pipe in hand.

Dad at the beach during my parents’ honeymoon, pipe in hand.

With me at the beach, cigarette in hand.

With me at the beach, cigarette in hand.

On the rocks at Rocky Bay, Magnetic Island.

On the rocks at Rocky Bay, Magnetic Island.

Dad was healthy – he had to be because he walked for eight hours straight every day in the railway yards, many miles in a dangerous environment. For possibly the first twenty years of his working life there were steam trains, progressively fading out over the years. By the time Dad was fifty, our friend, a physician, said he had the worst lungs he’d ever seen, full of coal dust. Dad also smoked until he was in his 70s.

For ten years before he died Dad was on oxygen 24/7. Coal dust or cigarettes: which was the major problem? Impossible to say. No doubt the coal dust played a part offset by the lung capacity from walking every day and a longevity gene. 

I wouldn’t wish it on anyone to watch someone they love cough hackingly, be too embarrassed to go out in public accompanied by the oxygen cylinder, totally dependent on it for breathing and vulnerable to power outages. Smoking isn’t sexy or sophisticated: it can and does kill. Hence the bans on cigarette advertisements and the warning notices on cigarette packs. I could have included a photo of Dad, wired up for oxygen, but I preferred to show him full of youth and vigour, and also to respect his privacy in ill-health.

The timing of Dad’s death is inextricably linked in my mind with the re-election of the ALP to government in Australia which was happening during his final stint in hospital. Dad died on the same day as Australia’s campaigner for compensation for those with illnesses caused by work-place asbestos. Both men’s deaths were, at a minimum, contributed to by work-place dangers. Ironic I suppose in conjunction with the election into government of Australia’s party for the working person.

Sepia Saturday 172: A hiking we will go

2013.03W.34This week’s Sepia Saturday 172 image features some enthusiastic hikers setting off for time in the countryside. The image opens the floodgates of opportunity for hiking, camping and outdoor pursuits. Although I’ve a number of the latter, not so many of the former, still I’m going with hiking just because a couple came to mind.

This one of a friend, my Dad and me on an excursion to Brisbane’s outer bush suburbs.Somehow Dad’s cheery wave reminded me of the Sepia Saturday photo, though I can’t say I look that cheery -or was it that I was looking into the sun.

Hiking and picnicing at Brookfield.

Hiking and picnicing at Brookfield.

norm-and-joan-at-picnic-bay11

I’ve always liked this photo, not because it’s a winner in the photographic category but for the memories it evokes. It shows my parents climbing the steep hill through the rocks from Rocky Bay on Magnetic Island where we holidayed regularly when I was a child, taking the long (1 day, 2 nights) train trip from Brisbane to Townsville then across by ferry. You can read a little of why I loved these holidays so much here and here.

Norman Kunkel at Rocky Bay

I also love this photo of my Dad standing on one of the big rocks for which Rocky Bay is named.

Guide camp and hike

Another oldie is this one of some of my Girl Guide mates on a bush hike. Everyone looks a bit tired don’t you think? Or disinclined to have their photo taken?