52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History: Week 20: Fame

The topic for Week 20 in Amy Coffin’s and Geneablogger’s 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History series is “Fame”: Tell us about any local brushes with fame. Were you ever in the newspaper? Why? You may also describe any press mentions of your family members.

Fame is a fickle food – Upon a shifting plate:  Emily Dickinson.

This topic gave me pause when I first read it –I’ve already posted about my solitary excursion onto the front page of the paper, under the 52 weeks topic of “Disasters”, so that topic was used up. My daughter, who used to be a TV journalist, used to say something to the effect of “if something’s going to happen to you, you may as well wind up on the front page” but overall that’s something I can happily avoid given how often bad news is what makes the front page.

While not quite front page news, a number of my ancestors’ exploits have wound up in the newspapers, especially in the early days of Queensland, so Trove has been absolutely wonderful in fleshing out the personal elements of their history in a way which would have been virtually impossible, or only serendipitous, by the old microfilm-turning method.

But from a personal perspective …what to say on the topic of Fame in Week 20?

Some months ago I posted about missing images from the Australian Women’s Weekly digitised on Trove (Australia’s online newspaper digitisation program).

This brought to mind the “fame” that surrounded our wedding photo in the pages of the (Brisbane edition) of the Australian Women’s Weekly. To this day we have no idea how it came to pass that our photo wound up on the social pages, hardly being social butterflies, though we suspect Mr Cassmob’s maternal grandmother had written in and his vaguely exotic background gave us enough journalistic interest to make the cut.

The missing wedding photo from the Australian Women's Weekly, Brisbane edition.

Not only were we surprised by our feature, but it caused something of a minor sensation in the tiny town of Alotau in Milne Bay where he and his parents lived in Papua New Guinea. Being in the Education Department this in turn generated great gossip among the school children in the local primary and secondary schools, with some having the picture cut out on their lockers…go figure.

Mr Cassmob had been away at university, and his parents not being great chatterboxes, had told the town gossip of our upcoming wedding, and expected the usual flurry of the bush telegraph to kick in (you’d usually know whose car had been parked outside someone else’s house overnight before they had time to breakfast). For some strange reason the gossip circuit dropped out (a lot like the radio telephones we had to use) so our marriage was something of a surprise to many people, as was my arrival in town.

Back in those days an unknown, unexpected wedding meant that people assumed it was a shotgun wedding so my waistline was carefully monitored for some months, tempting me to blow my tummy out or suck it in, just to tangle with their minds. How times change! By the time our first child arrived >12 months later they’d become resoundingly bored by it all.

Hardly great excitement in terms of fame, but amusing enough as a family anecdote.