Advent Calendar: Day 6 – Santa Claus

santa-cookies-milkThe Prompt for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2013, Day 6, is Santa Claus. Geneabloggers prompt says “Today is the Feast of Saint Nicholas and the origin of Santa Claus. What are your memories of Santa Claus and waiting for him to come at Christmas? What does Santa mean to you today and how do you pass along that meaning to family and to others?

Post your best Santa story and your memories of Christmases past.”

I wrote a little about my own memories of Santa as a child in the ACCM 2011. During my teens I also had penfriends, one of whom came from the Netherlands, and that was my first exposure to Saint Nicholas and the different gift-giving traditions. We still have a book we bought for our children which tells the stories of Christmas celebrations world-wide.

In my 2011 story I made a passing reference to the different ways our children had experienced Santa’s arrival. On reflection it’s also interesting because I suspect that Santa has been nudged out of schools in our multi-cultural, religiously diverse society even though the kids still sing Christmas songs at pre-school, at least. Our youngest grandchild recently sang of Santa in his red, red hat, carrying a sack. The kids were just oh so cute, but of course privacy prevents including their photos here. Meanwhile the family’s littlies are preparing their Santa lists and sending our letters with their wishes.

However back to a “best Santa story”. When we lived in Port Moresby one of my work colleagues invited us to a Christmas party hosted by their club or society. I no longer have the faintest idea which club it actually was, but a great troop of people travelled by various boats to one of Moresby’s offshore islands where everyone had fun in the sun, swimming, playing in the sand, getting sunburnt, and having one or two cold beers and a picnic.

The highlight of the day was Santa’s arrival by small single-engined aircraft, in fact the very one I took flying lessons on a year or two later. Having landed the red-robed gentleman made his way up the beach where small children rushed to greet him. Our eldest, then about five, was among the forefront of the fan club. The sheer delight and admiration on her face as she walked along the beach holding Santa’s hand and swinging it back and forth, devotedly looking up at him, is an image that’s very precious to both of us.

Santa arrives by fire engine at Boroko East Pre-School in Port Moresby 1977.

Santa arrives by fire engine at Boroko East Pre-School in Port Moresby 1977. The children combined it with a fancy-dress day.

Our younger daughter was far more cautious and only reluctantly reached from Mum’s arms to snatch her present from Santa. She wasn’t about to trust any stranger in such cold-weather clothes! She was far happier when they undid their parcels with their red-dressed Barbie dolls but it didn’t change her opinion of Santa that year.

Unfortunately while we have it on old Super 8 film (and now on DVD) we don’t have a still of it, so your imaginations will have to suffice. I really do need to learn how to take still clips from movies.

Since I don’t have a photo of the flying Santa I’ll make do with one of Santa’s arrival at pre-school in a red, red fire-truck to go with his red, red suit.

Did your family leave cookies/biscuits and milk out for Santa and carrots for his reindeer? I never did as a child, but we did in a low-key way with our children.

This post is part of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) which allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com. You can see the posts others have submitted on the Advent Calendar Pinterest site.

Sepia Saturday 204: Royalty and Ceremony Business

This week’s Sepia Saturday 204 features royalty doing what is their core business: turning on a ceremony. It also ties to the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination.Sepia Saturday 204

My photos this week come from our personal collection from our time in Papua New Guinea during the 1970s. When I look at these photos now, what strikes me forcibly is the apparent lack of security. We could get within a very close distance of them without any hassle. It also impresses me in this day and age, that they are courageous enough to move through the crowds with minimal security where other world leaders have constant high security protection from the crowds who might want to see them.

Queen and family GKA 1974 copy

Queen Elizabeth II on arrival at Goroka airport, February 1974. Prince Philip, Capt Mark Phillips and Lord Louis Mountbatten near vehicle. Scout groups were highly profiled during this visit.

Queen Elizabeth II and her family visited Goroka in the PNG highlands in February 1974 while we were living there. She did various “meet and greet” activities and inspected a huge crowd of PNG nationals at the Show Grounds before travelling to Port Moresby. I also wrote about this visit in an A to Z post, using the same photo.

Queens Visit GKA Princess Anne and Mountbatten

Princess Anne, Capt Mark Phillips and Lord Louis Mountbatten in Goroka 1974

The other reason this feature photo has relevance to the theme is that it includes Lord Louis Mountbatten who was assassinated six years later when an Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb was planted in his fishing boat.

Queens visit GKA

Capt Phillips, Barry Holloway MP, Prince Philip,Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth II, Goroka 1974.

Barry Holloway was the local member of Parliament and later Minister for Finance.

Why not visit Sepia Saturday to see what other Sepians are featuring this week?

Anniversary of Battle of Milne Bay

This week is the 71st anniversary of the Battle of Milne Bay.  Far less known to the average Aussie than Kokoda in the annals of our military history, it was a vitally important victory against the Japanese Forces.

This is the approximate location at which the Japanese landed: very difficult to get a good photo when bouncing along in a banana boat.

This is the approximate location at which the Japanese landed: very difficult to get a good photo when bouncing along in a banana boat.

You can read what I wrote about it for last Remembrance Day, not long after we returned from visiting Milne Bay, as well as the memorial stained glass windows in the Catholic church.

This excellent link provides an interactive map of the battle field, and progress of the battle itself.

Facebook fans might be interested in liking the Milne Bay Memorial Library and Research Centre.

Milne Bay Province is on the south-eastern corner of Papua New Guinea. Image from Google Earth.

Milne Bay Province is on the south-eastern corner of Papua New Guinea. Image from Google Earth.

An army marches on its stomach

Sepia Sat 180It seems that my uncle Pat Farraher is determined to have his moment in the Sepia Saturday sun. Pat appeared back in Sepia Saturday 166 and today’s topic is tailor-made for him.

The World War II nominal roll only gives bare details but it lists Patrick Joseph Farraher enlisting on 15 September 1942 in Enoggera, Brisbane at the age of 34. He was attached to the 4th Field Bakery (AASC) as a private. His next of kin was my Aunty Mary.

Among my aunt’s estate were some old family photos including some of Uncle Pat’s military service, including those mentioned above. Today we start moving into the field and the Australian War Memorial’s photographic collection places Pat’s photos in context. I knew he’d served in Papua New Guinea, and immediately recognised some of Pat’s place photos from his time there, but knew nothing about these service photos of his.

It may be this is field training prior to departing to Papua New Guinea -it looks like Australian scrub in the background.

It may be this is field training prior to departing to Papua New Guinea -it looks like Australian scrub in the background. Photograph from Pat Farraher collection.

The cook "train" -you can see this photo links with the one above.

The cook “train” -you can see this photo links with the one above. Photo from Pat Farraher collection.

I could see this was an Army Dukw (amphibious vehicle) photographed, I suspect, at Enoggera army camp by Uncle Pat but what relevance did it have?

Perhaps they were heading off to the ship to PNG.

Perhaps they were heading off to the ship to PNG. Photograph from Pat Farraher collection.

But the AWM website makes it clearer in its caption for this photo: A FIELD BAKERY BEING ESTABLISHED ON THE NORTHERN BANK OF THE BUMI RIVER. THIS PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS MEMBERS OF THE 4TH AUSTRALIAN FIELD BAKERY PLACING SHEER LEGS IN POSITION ON TWO “DUKWs” PREPARATORY TO UNLOADING THE BAKERS OVENS.

Photograph 61074 from the AWM Collection, taken in the Finchhafen area of PNG.

Photograph 61074 from the AWM Collection, taken in the Finchhafen area of PNG. Image in the public domain. Men from the 4th Field Bakery.

Armies need food as well as ammunition so the army bakers were kept busy making bread, rolls, meat pies and who knows what else. I don’t suppose that with people being shot at, any concerns for health regulations went out the window. I was lucky to find so many great photos of the 4th Field Bakery in the AWM collections.

Image 061258 AWM. 4th Field Bakery men preparing bread rolls.

Image 061258 AWM. 4th Field Bakery men preparing bread rolls. Image out of copyright.

In a hot and humid region, working in the bakehouse must have been incredible sweaty work though they were probably well-served by their bush-materials bake house. In the bigger scheme of things I guess the Diggers probably didn’t care too much about a salty addition to their bread rolls.

The AWM states on one picture “with improvised ovens and huts and the help of native boys, the men of the 2/4th Field Bakery baked thousands of bread rolls each day to supply the Division”.

Some bakers from the 4th Field Bakery heading back to quarters after a busy day’s work. The contrast between the featured image today and the men in this image is amusing, I think. No wonder the British officers complained about the casualness of Australian soldiers during WWI.

AWM Image 061613 of the 4th Field Bakery men leaving the bush materials bakehouse at Dumpu in the Ramu Valley, PNG.

AWM Image 061613 of the 4th Field Bakery men leaving the bush materials bakehouse at Dumpu in the Ramu Valley, PNG. Image out of copyright and in the public domain.

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 27 Christmases Past

4 x 7UP collageAs this series was all about my early years and those of our own family, I had to include some Christmas photos. I’m not going to write much about the different Christmases here because I’ve written extensively about them in the Advent Series a year ago.

So without further ado, here are some family snaps from that period, some not great photographically but good family memories. I’ve substituted the collage photo with a similar one with both girls in it.

Xmas delight

Xmas delight

Miss-Nearly-Three and the joy of seeing the Christmas tree in all its glory.

Peter Louisa Rach open presents Xmas 1973

This year the Xmas tree was a casuarina.

This year the Xmas tree was a casuarina.

The little one was very miserable with an ear ache for her first Christmas -we had to put them in the car and go for a drive to settle her down. Poor possum. If you’re wondering why all the long sleeves and jumpers, it’s because Goroka is at an altitude of 1600m or 5249ft, so it can be chilly overnight and in the morning.

Louisa and Rach Xmas pres 1977 or 76

And then we moved on to a gum tree (eucalyptus)

And then we moved on to a gum tree (eucalyptus)

Apparently by the end of our stay in Moresby we had bought the artificial tree which we kept for many years, but first there was the gum tree version.

The clowns were presents from my parents.

That same year Mr Cassmob excelled himself (with a little help from Mrs Claus) in the making of a dolls’ house. It was a good home for the Fisher Price dolls!

This is the house that Mr Cassmob (aka Santa) built.

This is the house that Mr Cassmob (aka Santa) built.

Fab Feb imageFamily Hx writing challengeThis post is part of the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 26 Going Finish

4 x 7UP collageGoing Finish was a pivotal point in the life of those who had worked in the administration of Papua New Guinea. Some of the old-timers left prior to Independence, as did those who were convinced “we’d all be ruined”. Others remained for a number of years after Independence. Some left as their jobs became handed over to Papua New Guineans as they gained the skills and competencies for their newly formed country. Others left before then, knowing that otherwise they might never leave the ties were so strong.

Kaye and Les going finish

So the ritual of going finish was a significant cultural event. As nearly all those who left the country permanently departed through Port Moresby, where were living by then, we have many photos of groups of people going finish. This photo is an important one for our family, showing Mr Cassmob’s family leaving PNG after 23 years. Never ones to wear their emotions on their sleeves, they look quite calm but I imagine that inside they were feeling very sad.

One of our going finish parties.

One of our going finish parties.

A few years later we would join the trek to the south where we learned to be Australians in our own country all over again. Strangely we have no photos of our departure though it’s likely our friends have one, so I must put out a query on that. What we do have though is this picture of one of our many farewells, this one by our gang of Gerehuligans (Gerehu was the suburb where we lived). As we flew out of Jackson’s airport I know I had tears in my eyes, mitigated only by the champagne handed to us, and the camera lending some emotional distance.

 I’m going to leave you with a special poem written for Mr Cassmob’s parents when they left Milne Bay (but not going finish). Written by the local teachers it’s a very touching tribute.

Kaye and Les farewell Milne Bay

Fab Feb imageFamily Hx writing challengeThis post is part of the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 25 Behind Independence

4 x 7UP collageThe theme of this collage was the events and experiences of my first 28 years so how could I not include a photo which related to the Independence of Papua New Guinea. Regular readers will have read other posts on this topic here so for this story I needed a different angle. It occurred to me that while I’ve talked about the celebratory events, I haven’t actually talked about what it meant on a day to day level.

As with any celebration, there was a certain amount of waiting around on 15 Swept 1975. The high school kids were in colourful costumes and some were wearing traditional dress.

As with any celebration, there was a certain amount of waiting around on 15 Sept 1975. The high school kids were in colourful costumes and some were wearing traditional dress.

I asked Mr Cassmob for his thoughts on this last night and to an extent we were surprised at how little practical difference it made to our lives: we went to the same workplaces, we got our pay in the same bank account (even though the bank’s name had been rebadged), we did the same social things and lived in the same government house. For sure the structures and legislation underpinning all of this had changed, and there were more brown faces than white at the top level, but that didn’t bother us as it had been an emerging trend throughout out our then-short careers. We were neither senior enough to be displaced from our positions, nor were in positions which gave us any real power. We just kept on doing our jobs to the best of our ability.

Prince Charles arrives for the flag lowering ceremony.

Prince Charles arrives for the flag lowering ceremony.

There were some changes to consider at work: the need to consider the implications of a changed currency, from the dollar to the kina or vice versa, on the payment of school subsidies (Pauleen), or the practicalities of helping to establish the diplomatic training corps program at the Administrative College (Peter).

The Australian flag was lowered formally for the last time "with respect".

The Australian flag was lowered formally for the last time “with respect”.

After I moved from Education to Finance I suppose I was involved in minor administrative ways with the new bank Board structures as well as some organisation for visiting delegations from the International Monetary Fund which came to assess PNG’s financial status. We worked with local colleagues who were developing their skills and experience preparing for more senior roles within the public service over the years to come. Working in Finance was the only time I ever got to use the theory I’d learned in my economics degree.

The Police Band looked very smart in their sulus/lap laps with Bird of Paradise emblem.

The Police Band looked very smart in their sulus/lap laps with Bird of Paradise emblem. Independence Hill 16 September 1975.

Many Australians did leave after either self-government or Independence. Some of the more colonial types couldn’t handle the relinquishing of power to those whom they’d once had power over. Others, like Peter’s father, left because their jobs were superseded or had been localised. Over the years between self-government and Independence one of the employment trends was the departure of these Australians and the increased reliance on recruitment from the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the Philippines.

From the Prince to the Bishop and the warrior, everyone was in their finery.

From the Prince to the Bishop and the warrior, everyone was in their finery.

We were pleased to stay for another few years and in the end decided to relocate to Australia so we could re-start our careers there before time got away from us. We were also determined our children would not go to boarding school.  Although there were jobs for us in PNG and we loved being there, it was time to go despite our sadness. We had contemplated taking out citizenship but decided against it. Peter had already been challenged that he wasn’t a Papua New Guinean by some over-eager student, to which Peter simply replied “I’ve lived here longer than you’ve been alive”. And so the next stage of our lives began, back in our country of birth, but forever changed by our experiences in that amazing, challenging and exciting country, PNG.

Michael Somare arrives at the Catholic Cathedral near Ela Beach for the church service.

Michael Somare arrives at the Catholic Cathedral near Ela Beach for the church service.

It’s appropriate that the collage photo I chose for today was one of Michael Somare walking towards the Catholic Cathedral near Ela Beach for an Independence service. Lots of dignitaries were there from Prince Charles to Australia’s Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam and former Foreign Minister Andrew Peacock.  Apart from being the inaugural Prime Minister Somare was one of a select group of men who were chosen to fill the most senior roles in the country. Among the public service heading departments were Mekere Morauta (Finance), Charles Lepani, Rabbie Namaliu and Tony Siagaru, the commonly named “Gang of Four”, two of whom we worked for either closely or indirectly.

Fab Feb imageFamily Hx writing challengeThis post is part of the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 22 Let’s go picnicing

4 x 7UP collageMuch as we love the little snippets of information about our ancestors, we still tend to keep focusing on the “big ticket” items in our own lives. My photo today is about the ordinary moments, the ones we often forget to capture. Over the years picnics have been big in our family: at the beach, in the hills, in the bush, overseas, with others, on our own. I’m not going to write much about each because there’s no need. So let’s go picnicking…as much a challenge in the snowy north at the moment as it is Down Under with 35C heat.

Peter and DD1 and 2

Peter and DD1 and 2

This may have been our classiest picnic -across from Buckhingham Palace on our 1977 trip. Mr Cassmob and our two darling daughters (henceforth DD1 and 2).

Peter and DD1 and 2 at Ela Beach.

Peter and DD1 and 2 at Ela Beach.

How better to celebrate our relocation from the Highlands to the coast than a picnic at Ela Beach 1974.

Peter Heidelberg 1974

Mr Cassmob, roast chicken and a wine in the grounds of Heidelberg Castle.Variarata picnic view

(Above) Varirata National Park (we used to call it Variarata) outside Port Moresby, up in the hills near Sogeri, was a family favourite for picnics and BBQs. Boxing Day, visitors, any day. Often a group of us would go up travelling in convoy.

(Below) Most times we visited we took photos from the lookout which had a lovely view down towards Moresby and out to the sea -not that you’d know it from this picture. Unfortunately the good ones all have lots of still-living people in them.

Cass family edited 1975 Variarata

DD1 photographs her Dad while Mum photographs both!

DD1 photographs her Dad while Mum photographs both!

For some reason we quite liked a picnic BBQ beside Obi Obi creek near Nambour (this is a later photo).

Cass families picnic Mary Cairncross Park

A rare photo of a picnic with Peter’s parents at Mary Cairncross Park near Nambour (his Mum didn’t do picnics).  His father obviously took the photo. Another from beyond the 28 year span.

Fab Feb imageFamily Hx writing challengeThis post is part of the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 21 Family Christenings

4 x 7UP collageIt will come as no surprise after my Day 5 Collage post, that our children were all christened.  Eldest daughter was baptised in my home parish in Brisbane shortly before we returned to Alotau a few weeks after her birth. My paternal grandmother was still alive, and I feel there should be a photo of the two of them together, even though she didn’t come to the church. If it exists, where is it, that is the question?!

Our children's christening frock.

Our children’s christening frock.

Her christening frock was one of the earliest creations on my new Bernina. The beautiful hand smocking was done by my mother and I have the notion that I did the crochet despite my lack of expertise. I should check to see if Mum can remember, perhaps she did it.. I checked with her today and she’s not sure either. I’m thinking now it’s more likely to have been her work. She also had a special crocheted coat, bonnet and bootees outfit that I think my parents bought her for the occasion. Our other daughters wore the christening robe also in their turn, one in Goroka and one in Brisbane.

Daughter 2's christening at home in West Goroka.

Daughter 2′s christening at home in West Goroka.

I just had to include this photo of Daughter #2’s christening, mainly for the joy of knowing how much this photo stirs them up! So much paisley in evidence: his shirt, his tie, and my dress. I’m surprised that I hadn’t also made Miss 2 a paisley outfit for good measure <smile>. This christening was in our home rather than the local parish church, from memory because we wanted a priest, who was a good friend, to do the ceremony. It was also very ecumenical as many of the attendees were non-Catholics.

My christening dress. What was my thing with handbags, at this age!

My christening dress. What was my thing with handbags, at this age!

Among my baby book photo is this one of me wearing my own christening dress. It certainly wasn’t taken when I was christened so it must have been a good deal larger than necessary when I first wore it. I also have this frock in my possession even though it’s quite fragile being made of a type of chiffon.  Mum tells me my Aunty Mary (whom you met last week) made this dress for me, with specially covered seams to meet my grandmother’s critical professional dressmaking standards.

As far as I know we have no photos of Mr Cassmob’s christening or any of the earlier generations.

I would regard both these christening frocks, and the bonnets, as family heirlooms which I hope will be treasured whether or not they’re ever worn again.

A trio of hand-crafted baby bonnets.

A trio of hand-crafted baby bonnets.

Fab Feb imageFamily Hx writing challengeThis post is part of the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 20 Papua New Guinea

4 x 7UP collage

Imagine if you will a country with spectacular, awe-inspiring scenery from fierce mountain ranges clothed in almost impenetrable jungle to deep aquamarine seas with an abundance of tropical fish.

Highlands children on a pit-pit fence near Lufa, Eastern Highlands, PNG © P Cass 1972

Highlands children on a pit-pit fence near Lufa, Eastern Highlands, PNG © P Cass 1972

Imagine a country with hundreds of tribal groups, languages and specific cultures. Imagine the potential for clashes between those tribal groups, the payback[i] and potential for inter-clan fighting, and the translation of traditional sorcery into the recent horrors of witch-burning.

The Asaro Mudmen at the Goroka Show. © Pauleen Cass 1972

The Asaro Mudmen at the Goroka Show. © Pauleen Cass 1972

Imagine the variety of costumes and sounds when thousands of warriors come together from diverse places for a sing-sing, or music and dance. Where even other clans and tribal groups look on astonished at what they’re seeing. This can either be in a traditional environment or replicated from traditional practices into a form of performance for visitors eg the Goroka Show or the Kenu and Kundu Festival which we recently visited.

Wahgi warriors at the Goroka Show © P Cass 1972

Wahgi warriors at the Goroka Show © P Cass 1972

I think this was 1973. The showground was a tad muddy, as you can see. © Pauleen Cass 1972

I think this was 1973. The showground was a tad muddy, as you can see. © Pauleen Cass 1972

This truly unique place is Papua New Guinea, venue of A Million Different Journeys. When I moved there only weeks after my marriage it was still the Territory of Papua New Guinea, under the jurisdiction and administration of the Australian government.

What an amazing experience, so incredibly different from suburban Australia, and where sights and sounds are like nothing ever before experienced. For close to a decade, this country was home. For my husband it will always be home as apart from his earliest years, and school absences, this was his place which very much shaped who he is and how he sees the world.

Memories of coastal villages, mountains and mountain valleys and passes, semi-naked people dressed in elaborate costumes. The unique smell of pig-grease spread on the skin to keep out the cold, blended with smoke from a chimney-less hut. Women loaded down with kau-kau[ii] in their bilums[iii]. The blood-red stain of buai spit on the ground. The sounds of the kundu and the ululation of chanting during a sing-sing.

Milne Bay women at the 2012 Kenu and Kundu festival. © Pauleen Cass 2012

Milne Bay women at the 2012 Kenu and Kundu festival. © Pauleen Cass 2012

I feel very privileged to have lived in PNG and come to love it. In my heart it’s like a good friend who I’ve lost contact with, and from whom I’ve grown apart, but is treasured for how it shaped my view of the world, and myself, turning me into a very different person from the one I’d have been if I had stayed in Australia. I’m privileged too that it’s enabled me to understand my husband’s formative years.

Fab Feb imageFamily Hx writing challengeThis post is part of the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge


[i] The practice of exacting punishment from another person or clan, for injury to the pigs or people of another clan or village.  Punishment may be exacted by payment of fines or by physical violence.

[ii] Kau-kau is the Tok Pisin name for sweet potato.

[iii] A bilum is a string bag worn by women with the strap over the head, and carrying the load (or the baby) leaning against their back.