Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 19 Ode to a Friend

4 x 7UP collageToday I want to introduce you to one of my oldest friends, one whose permission I don’t need before we “go public”. Ms Bernina first came into my life when I was seven months pregnant with my first child. We’ve been mates ever since, but like all friends there are days when we have a falling out because things aren’t working well between us. However over the years we’ve shared so many experiences. She’s been such a robust friend, notching up many air miles travelling between Papua New Guinea and Australia, and then coming on a road trip with us to Darwin.

Poor Ms Bernina, she's looking a bit tired and needed some flowers to cheer her up.

Poor Ms Bernina, she’s looking a bit tired and needed some flowers to cheer her up.

Together we’ve shared memorable moments like christenings, balls, First Communion, school formals, Christmas gifts and ice skating as well as those day-to-day moments like school uniforms, travel outfits, work clothes or new curtains each time we’ve made a new home. So many fabrics have passed under Ms Bernina’s dainty feet: chiffon, velvet, lycra, brocades, knits and cottons in geometric patterns, stripes, flowers, prints, polka dots and paisley. Together we favoured patterns made by Vogue –they may have looked complicated but in a different version of “read the *** manual” were just fine so long as you followed the steps. Butterick and Simplicity also got an occasional workout but Burda wasn’t a favourite.

Ms Bernina is getting older now and after a lifetime spent in humid climates, her joints don’t always work as well as they could, especially if they’re not given a regular spa bath of oil. Many months go past when she’s superseded by that Johnny-come-lately laptop, but there’s life in her yet.Pauleen Cass Lees wedding Mt Hagen

The connection to today’s collage photo is fairly obvious I think. Ms Bernina made this outfit for me when I was matron-of-honour to my sister-in-law. Around my neck I have a simple lilac velvet ribbon on which was a pretty cameo in lilac and green with a  marcasite surround, a gift from my Aunty Emily whom you’ve already met.

In the best traditions of family dressmaking, the bride’s lovely frock was made by her mother and she looked gorgeous. It was quite the event in Mt Hagen, one of PNG’s tea-growing areas, as it was held on the tea plantation where the groom worked. The reception was at the Club and the guests were all “ex-India” don’cha know, “not a single Singalese” (property) among them! I smiled and helped serve the canapés…there were benefits to all those school lessons in charm and deportment.

Thanks for always being a reliable friend my dear Bernina…I hope we have a few years friendship left in us yet.

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 18 Wedding Bells

4 x 7UP collageOne of the big differences between when I was a young adult and today, seems to be that many of us married young. I don’t mean this is a commendable thing, nor am I being judgemental of today’s delayed marriages or civil partnerships….simply making a social observation. We were among the early batch of our friends and family to marry: two cousins beat us to the altar, and one set of our uni friends. Now I look at our photos and think “Good heavens, we were young!” Of course like every young adult that ever walked we thought we were terribly mature <smile>.

P&P cut cakeOur plans had changed and we were to head off to Alotau in Papua New Guinea about ten days after our wedding rather than remaining in Brisbane. You might imagine that everything was in a bit of flurry. I remember one of the seminarians at  Pellegrini’s asking me how the wedding arrangements were going….I’m sure he thought either a crocodile or Doberman had got loose in the bookshop.

With so much to organise and Mr Cassmob flying in just days before the wedding I was just a tiny bit frazzled so it was great that my cousin took a Super 8 movie of some of the day’s events (but not in the church, heaven forbid!) Much of our day remains a series of snapshots.

  • Convincing the priest we could have folk hymns rather than the “old faithfuls”, and all that in the middle of Lent when no one was supposed to marry, and there was supposed to be no music –quite an achievement in retrospect.
  • The cringe-factor compulsory pre-marriage classes with the priest.
  • Rejecting the traditional hymn to Mary as my entrance hymn.
  • Making my mother-in-law-to-be cry (not easy!) as I walked down the aisle to Mozart’s 21st.
  • The priest’s injunction to the groomsman to ignore the best man if he fainted and just get the ring.
  • The priest’s instructions to us not to look sideways at each other (he meant well but, I ask you, how silly was that! Even sillier that we tried to comply!)
  • The gap in my friends, and bridesmaids, because one of my best friends was away.
  • My friend, a seminarian who was assisting at the ceremony, making a joke afterwards about how I finally matched my parents’ house’s colour scheme (a standing stir)
  • Mr Cassmob fiddling with his ring as we came out of the church.
  • The crazy speed race by the limo driver to the reception because he had another booking: No chance of any sort of romantic moment as we lurched from side to side while he slalomed around corners.
  • Hiding Dad’s 1st car from our uni friends so no one would make a mess of it as our getaway car.

    Leaving the reception. My outfit is another of Mum's creation -in a watermelon red colour.

    Leaving the reception. My outfit is another of Mum’s creations -in a watermelon red colour. It would be nice if we were both still this thin!

  • Our reception in one of the university’s function rooms, appropriately so much part of our story.
  • Mum’s floral decorations on the tables.
  • Our decluttered wedding cake after I removed lots of the icing  decor – I was having a “simple” phase. Mum had made the fruit cake to her recipe but we’d had it iced professionally.
  • My wedding dress made by my mother as well as my “going away” dress. Do they do those any more?
  • Driving through a monster storm to get to our first night’s honeymoon accommodation.
  • Being recognised while on honeymoon as our photo had been in the paper, and I guess we looked exactly what we were, honeymooners.
  • Trying our first Mexican meal at a place near Palm Beach on the Gold Coast.

 Do you remember your wedding day or did it pass in a blur? I’m not sure I’d go through a “bells and whistles” wedding any more, but then maybe that’s because I’ve already had the traditional wedding. At any rate it’s had a pretty good rate of return on everyone’s investment <smile>.

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

Sepia Saturday 164: Red Bicycles Touring Club, Brisbane 1913

Sepia Saturday 16 FebThis week’s Sepia Saturday photo offers a variety of possibilities: pipes, pets, tortoises and hats (especially military). As luck would have it, I’d just come across this photo which I acquired as part of my aunt’s estate. I have no idea why she would have it, because the reverse shows it’s a photo from 1913, some years before either her husband or she were born.

Red Bicycles Touring Club 1913

Red Bicycles Touring Club 1913

If you look carefully you will see that two of the men in the back row have their pipes lolling from the sides of their mouths, much as my grandfather used to do and several of the men are wearing spectacularly silly hats. What I love about the picture is the whimsical attitudes of the men, the casual clothes and the mix of seriousness and frivolity.  A question I asked myself is what on earth the Red Bicycles Touring Club has to do with musical instruments but unfortunately I don’t have an answer.

The notations on the reverse. I can't help wondering if 6.6.85 was someone's birthday.

The notations on the reverse. I can’t help wondering if 6.6.85 was someone’s birthday.

I turned to my good friend Trove which came up with some interesting snippets, including the identical photograph, but presumably without the notations on the back (what do they mean?).

The Queenslander newspaper, 20 December 1913.

The Queenslander newspaper, 20 December 1913.

The Red Bicycles Touring Club was a cycling club based in Brisbane.  From the stories I read it was part fun and definitely a large slice of seriousness. They were incredibly fit, riding in bike races, swimming, running, playing water polo, boxing and diving, interspersed with fun like blindfolded boxing! However they also had a club house at Cleveland, which is on Brisbane’s outskirts and on Moreton Bay. which they used for weekend camps of increasing popularity. I’m guessing that’s where this photo was taken hence the sky-larking element of it. It may even be from the December 1913 camp mentioned in The Queenslander.

I also found this more formal photo of the men from 1913. I’m assuming that the two photos should include all or most of the same men (there’s 10 in each picture) and it would be intriguing to see if the ones in the fun photo could be identified. According to the formal photo, the members of the club in 1913 were (back row) W Hurst, Dave Young, W Allen, F Johnson, B Muir, (front row): F Pryor, John (Jack) Hilton, F Campbell, Jim Dunning (see below) and S Gee. The members do seem to have changed a bit from year to year.

Image from Trove.picqld-2007-09-11-13-36

Image from Trove.picqld-2007-09-11-13-36

The Queenslander 4 Feb 1911 (click to enlarge)

The Queenslander 4 Feb 1911 (click to enlarge)

It’s interesting to compare the two photos and see if the same man can be identified in both. Although the club only commenced in 1910, it essentially shut down in 1914, only a year after this photo, as several of the members went off to war. I’d really like to know which of them served and whether any of them failed to return, but unfortunately with only initials to go by in most cases, it’s difficult to pin them down. Unfortunately the only ones named are generally those winning the prizes.Red Bicycle tour club 12 Aug 1911 Qlder

The Brisbane Bicycle Touring Association 2007 newsletter, page 4, quotes former RBTC member, Jim Dunning, aged 93: “The First World war caused the end of our touring club. Several of us joined the forces. We were in different units and lost touch with one another after we return. I rejoined

The Queenslander 13 May 1911

The Queenslander 13 May 1911

my racing club after I returned from the war, but as an official – I was too badly wounded for racing. I have not ridden a bike for nearly thirty years.” The WWI service records show that he suffered from a gunshot wound to the right arm.

So I suppose in the end there were two links between this photo and the Sepia Saturday topic: the pipes and the fact that some of these men would soon have been wearing the Australia Army’s slouch hats.

The Queenslander 1 April 1911

The Queenslander 1 April 1911

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 17 A place in my heart

4 x 7UP collageNow I’ll bet you were thinking this was going to be about Mr Cassmob. But you’d be wrong, because he wasn’t my first love….sorry, dear.

Under the Jacaranda Tree, UQ

Under the Jacaranda Tree, UQ

In fact my first love wasn’t even a person, but a place. It was on a holiday-activity, bus trip around Brisbane that Mum & I first visited The University of Queensland’s campus at St Lucia. For me it was love at first sight. At the time I’d have been a year or two away from heading to uni, and the gorgeous sandstone surrounds of the Great Court stole my heart. There in its centre was a carpet of green adorned with jacaranda and gum trees. The colonnaded cloisters with their deep shade were equally appealing. Little did I know at the time that the sandstone was quarried in Helidon, not too far from my Kunkel ancestors’ home at Murphys Creek which also had sandstone quarries. Around the buildings are grotesques or gargoyles which are maintained to this day.

This history[i] of the key Forgan Smith building describes it thus:

All of the Great Court buildings were to be joined together by colonnaded sandstone cloisters around the two hectare (six acre) courtyard. The mix of violet, lavender, cream and brown sandstone from Helidon created a mottled but beautiful unified core for the St. Lucia campus, which remains much as the architects envisaged….

The Great Court at UQ c1998

The Great Court at UQ c1998

 Falling in love is one thing, sustaining the relationship is another. With the freedom of leaving school and the excitement of 1960s life on campus, not to mention meeting the man in my life, academic performance wasn’t what it could have been. But I have such great memories of those undergraduate years:

  • Newman society debates and socialising
  • Folk Masses in the Forgan Smith building at lunch times (post Vatican II)
  • Listening to the radical speakers (students and academics) at other lunch times talking about civil liberties and the Vietnam War
  • Civil liberties marches and demonstrations
  • Sitting with Mr Cassmob listening to music in the Music room of the Refectory
  • Meeting Mr Cassmob for the first time
  • Hanging out with friends in the Refec between lectures and science pracs.
  • The pervasive blooming of the jacarandas signalling the start of the exam (or swatting) period
  • Sitting exams mostly off-campus (Cloudland or the Wool Pavilion)
  • Hot, hot days writing exams as invigilators prowled constantly pouring cold water, girls sat with their skirts up to the point of indecency and boys took their shirts off.

Cloudland: famous for its balls and big-band dances; infamous for exams. From Trove and SLQ bishop.slq.qld.gov.au:64211

Cloudland: famous for its balls and big-band dances; infamous for exams. From Trove and SLQ bishop.slq.qld.gov.au:64211

Little did I know at the time how pivotal the university would continue to be in my life, despite my chequered undergraduate degree. On our return from PNG I eventually finished my degree and got a casual job with UQ, thanks to the fact that the interviewer actually understood the work I’d been doing in Port Moresby. That job turned from casual to permanent during my employment in the Business Services Division. Later on again my employment would turn to contracts as I took on research administration, not all of it at the St Lucia campus. It was here that I would meet many great friends, including my other best mate Linda. Lunch times at the Staff Club, coffee at Wordsmiths, long hours of high intensity work, and even a family history conference. My time at UQ ended with our move to Darwin: I had spent 18 years studying or working there.

While the core of the university remains the same, someone revisiting for the first time since the late 1960s would get a large shock as the architecture, and campus density is so very different. Buildings have mushroomed around the campus including on the front lawn where the featured collage photo was taken. Of all the changes that is perhaps the greatest loss: the sense of presence it gave to one of the approaches to the university. If you ever wonder about the significance of bequests and donations, wonder no more, as the whole site for The University of Queensland’s St Lucia campus was paid for by Mayne family, whose subsequent bequests continue to benefit the university, its research and buildings to this day.

I should have photos galore of the university but I guess in those days I didn’t take my camera to work. There are a few on Flickr but under copyright.

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


[i] Crossroads, UQ centenary 1911, Volume 5, Issue 2, pages 19-33.

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 16 Cinderella and the ball

4 x 7UP collage

Another debutante in rural Victoria: Mr Cassmob's mother

Another debutante in rural Victoria: Mr Cassmob’s mother

Perhaps it’s all those children’s stories of Cinderella et al being transformed and sent off to the ball that makes formal outfits so appealing to teenage girls (well at least this one, as was). I did feel very like Cinderella at the ball in my Debut gown. I had professional photos taken but the real satisfaction came from the stunned look on my date’s face. He’d been dragooned into being my partner that evening and suddenly he looked as if it might not be such a hardship.

I’d asked a guy from uni who I’d been dating occasionally if he’d be my partner, and initially he said yes, only to renege a few days later. I suspect that when he got back to college, the other blokes told him just what was involved in being a deb’s partner: the white gloves, the formal waltz, the Archbishop presiding and the nuns with an overseeing eye. It couldn’t possibly have been that he didn’t want to go with me <wink>. The irony was that like Mr Cassmob he also came from Papua New Guinea, although nothing like him in colouring….seems I was fated to end up in PNG.

pauleen deb

There's that curtsy.

There’s that curtsy.

My mother’s dressmaking skills feature prominently as she made all of my evening wear dresses for formals and balls, but my Debut frock was her piece de resistance. I remember very clearly that we chose the white chiffon which she then took to a firm (no idea who/where) to have it permanently pleated into a concertina format.

How did she get it from a long piece of pleated fabric to this? Well, what happened was that she kept the tightness of the pleats at the top near the waist then of course the bottom spread out beautifully (perfect for waltzing and curtsying). She cleverly used a piece of the fabric, stretched out, to make the gorgeous collar. I just looooved this dress. Our bouquets for the evening were muffs (it was the Dr Zhivago era), with blue and white flowers and ribbons, the school colours. It looks as if, for once, I hadn’t gone home and washed all the teasing and hair spray out of my hair before the event which was held in the ballroom of City Hall.

Aunty Olive's deb photo circa late 1930s.

Aunty Olive’s deb photo circa late 1930s.

Heaven knows why I decided to make my debut though I don’t think it had anything to do with the “being presented to society” rigmarole. Perhaps for the sheer fun of getting all “gussied” up? The debut was hosted by our recently-departed school, and we were presented to the Archbishop. We had to make this deep curtsy –worthy of meeting the Queen. You could tell the All Hallows’ debs at uni, by the way they walked the week of our training – those curtsies killed your calf muscles, let me tell you.

I suspect that making one’s debut was not as much a social class thing in Australia as it is or was in Britain. Among our photo archives I have Deb photo for my husband’s mother and aunt, and also one of my mother’s friends.

This is the Vogue pattern for the pink dress, and also the basis of my wedding dress.

This is the Vogue pattern for the pink dress, and also the basis of my wedding dress.

Looking back at all the old photographs  it’s surprising how vividly I can feel the texture and cut of the many fabrics either Mum or I made into clothes.

Off to the UQ Science Ball with Mr PNG.

Off to the UQ Science Ball with Mr PNG.

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 15 Dressmaking tributes

4 x 7UP collageIt would be interesting to know how widespread it was for mothers to make their children’s clothes “back in the day”. My mother was a good dressmaker, and very particular, though I think she sometimes felt overshadowed by my paternal grandmother who had been a professional dressmaker.

This a pyjama top made by my grandmother.

This a pyjama top made by my grandmother. Pity I didn’t iron it 🙂

Click to enlarge and see the neatness of the inside seams.

Click to enlarge and see the neatness of the inside seams. I’m not game to try removing the stains which have come out over time.

I still have my grandmother’s sewing machine, which is a dust-collector display shelf now painted white. I’ve had it since I returned to Australia. I used to love playing with Grandma’s buttons and bits when I was little.

My grandma's sewing machine.

My grandma’s sewing machine.

A smart winter outfit created by Mum.

A smart winter outfit created by Mum.

Throughout my childhood Mum made me winter coats, dresses, shorts, hats, beach tops, casual clothes, etc etc. You’ll see many of them through this collage series. Mum also excelled at making beautiful ball frocks which will feature on another occasion. Similarly Mum’s own clothes were always well sewn and she always looked very smart and fashionable. I have many great photos of her in these outfits but to respect her privacy I’ve not included them here, which is why you have to suffer through mine.

Soon after New Year every year, the major department stores would have their annual sales –remember those, in the days when they occurred once a year rather than every “five minutes”. Our primary objective was to hit the fabrics department running, gathering up fabrics by the armful that we could later sort into priority order. It was a fine balance between price and yardage to ensure the selected fabric was actually long enough to turn into an appropriate form of clothing. Not much point getting a bargain if it wouldn’t even make a top let alone a dress. Of course, the mini skirt made that much simpler <smile>.

One of my first store-bought dresses,and a favourite.

One of my first store-bought dresses,and a favourite.

I never felt that my clothes were unfashionable or, heaven forfend, looked “homemade” ie poorly sewn.  Still and all I remember my jubilation when we saw this dress at a January sale. Not only was it beautiful and on special, but it was complex enough with its matching stripe pattern, to make us feel like it was worth paying good money for, rather than attempting to reproduce it ourselves. Each and every stripe met the other perfectly, exactly as if my mother had sewn it herself. The skirt was cut on the cross so would have been even more of a challenge to sew.

I loved this dress, which is why I just had to include the photo in this series. My recollection is that it was my first store-purchased dress but perhaps my memory is playing tricks on me. Soon after I also bought a fabulous red woollen pant suit with a Nehru collar and buttons down the front. I loved that outfit too. It’s quite possible that I contributed to the cost from my Christmas holiday job savings. Perhaps the joy of store-bought clothes was not having to be fitted and re-fitted for whatever was being sewn, and not having to stand on the kitchen table while it was hemmed.

This cropped enlargement is fuzzy but you can see the hours of work Mum put into the beading. This was my Year 12 Formal dress for school, in the school colours.

This cropped enlargement is fuzzy but you can see the hours of work Mum put into the beading. This was my Year 12 Formal dress for school, in the school colours. It was pale blue chiffon over some sort of lining.

Taking photos in front of the Poinciana tree at the end of our street (cul-de-sac) was one of our family traditions.

Beware: more dressmaking stories ahead.

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 14 Young Love

4 x 7UP collageI just had to rejig my sequence of photos so I could accommodate Valentine’s Day!

In the 60s and 70s, Valentine’s Day was a non-event in Australia but as a devoted reader of Seventeen magazine from the USA I’d caught the “love bug”! Of course having titled this post “Young Love” I also had Cliff Richard on my mind –ironically our children are even greater fans of his movie, Summer Holiday. Who knows why?!

Wasn't he cute?

Wasn’t he cute?

Mr Cassmob and I met during my first year at Uni, and after that for various reasons we spent long blocks of time apart. Having distracted each other enough to need to repeat part of Year 1 at Uni, he returned to TPNG to supervise the labour line at Gili Gili Plantation. As I said previously I’m sure they loved being under the supervision of a teenager.

During his year back in PNG and sometime after his family relocated to Alotau, the new district headquarters, Mr Cassmob sent me the featured collage photo. I’m sure you can see why it promptly became one of my treasured items.

Photo of Mr Cassmob's family home in Alotau taken from much the same place as the old one. P Cass 2012

Photo of Mr Cassmob’s family home in Alotau taken from much the same place as the old one. P Cass 2012

Hearts and flowersI also couldn’t resist the self-indulgence of including this photo of us out to dinner at a theatre restaurant (remember when they were in vogue) in our “courting” days. We’d planned to go a couple of years earlier but we did eventually make it there. Haven’t a clue what the theatre aspect was, or indeed the food, but obviously the company was worth it <wink>. Were we young, or what?!

Happy Valentine’s Day, Mr Cassmob!

Out to dinner.

Out to dinner.

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 13 – The Youth March

4 x 7UP collageAs my theme for this collage festival was my first 28 years, I had to include a very important influence: my all girls secondary school. I’ve talked about it previously here, here and here in quite a bit of detail so what more is there to say? Heading laterally today’s topic is about an event of some importance to all Brisbane schools in my era.

A view of one of the school's oldest buildings c1988.

A view of one of the school’s oldest buildings c1988.

When I was at school in Brisbane, there was a big Youth March each year. As far as I recall all schools could choose to be part of this event and would turn out and march through the streets and pass a dais of VIPs on the steps of the GPO (General Post Office).  I have no idea what the point of all this was, unless it was to display the wonders of the upcoming generation, which seems a bit odd.

British Flag on Buckingham Place, Image from Wikipedia.

British Flag on Buckingham Place, Image from Wikipedia.

Mr Cassmob says that was pretty much it, plus a hangover of Imperial hoo haa…remembering that in those days God Save the Queen was still played at the movies. Actually a quick search of Trove suggests himself might be right (unusual….not!). Marches in much earlier years seem to have been associated with Empire Day celebrations. No wonder the whole event has died out.

At our school this event was bigger than Ben Hur! The school “imported” a consultant to make sure our standards were high enough. Each year we’d be sorted into progressive heights from tallest to smallest. This took little enough time for me ….I went straight to the top 10 and we juggled ourselves around marginally from year to year. One of my friends did the same at the shallow end of the marching group. It was those pesky girls in the average height range that took hours to sort out, and trust me, every millimetre or quarter inch counted!

Then the fun began as we were drilled to a standard worthy of (if not in excess of) the military! Heads up, chins in, chests out, stomachs in, bums in….try doing all that at once! The only excitement came in the form of a few dragooned teenage boys from St Laurence’s College across the river, who provided us with the necessary march music. I tell you those poor boys must have been due for a bravery medal having to arrive before the eyes of hundreds of young teenage girls.

On the day we would assemble (at the Gardens?) and then set forth. The march must have been in the winter because we always wore our winter uniform with blazers and beret-type hats. Every hem had to be at the precise height, no girl’s hair could be below her collar, gloves and stockings in perfect order, every step in time. Did I mention the similarity to the military?

All Hallows' School, Brisbane Youth March

All Hallows’ School, Brisbane Youth March

Inevitably there’d be photos in the newspaper and recalcitrant hair or hem lines would be circled and the offenders spoken to. And then there was the year when those of us in the front line got into severe strife because we had done our “eyes right” before the official order…even though we were by then past the dais. Who to offend? The Visiting Dignitaries or the school’s uniformity? Oops, wrong guess!

It’s moments like these I wish Trove went forward just another decade to reveal more about some of these memories.

AHS Youth March

All Hallows’ School in the Youth March, mid 1960s.

 Do you think schools used to have a bigger profile in the city’s life than they do today?

The of the city from the All Hallows' terraces c1964

The of the city from the All Hallows’ terraces c1964

The view of the Story Bridge from All Hallows' terraces.

The view of the Story Bridge from All Hallows’ terraces.

I’m also including some photos of Brisbane’s changed skyline. The school had a great view over the city and the river and those who know Brisbane now will see significant differences in the outlook, high-rises and apartment blocks among others.

Fab Feb imageFamily Hx writing challenge

This post is part of the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.

Trove Tuesday: Joseph Francis Kunkel

This evening I learned through my TDDFHS membership emails that the Western Star and Roma Advertiser newspaper (published in Toowoomba, Queensland) is in the throes of being digitised by Trove. With three branches of my Kunkel family living in that area at the time (Paterson, Kunkel, Lee), I immediately hotfooted it to the computer to check it out.

Today’s post tells the back story to the death of Joseph Francis Kunkel, the second son and second child of George Kunkel and his wife Mary, nee O’Brien. Contrary to the newspaper report, only George was German-born while Mary was Irish. He was indeed born in Ipswich though by this time his parents had been residing in Murphys Creek for some time. A cautionary warning to check multiple sources!

The death of Joseph Francis Kunkel, Western Star and Roma Advertiser, 28 August 1897, page 2.

The death of Joseph Francis Kunkel, Western Star and Roma Advertiser, 28 August 1897, page 2.

The previous information I had from the death certificate was that Joseph had died of “acute parenchymatous hepatitis[i], pyaemia and syncope” and had been ill for 10 days. This certainly appears to contradict the news report which says he died of inflammation of the lungs having caught a cold while on duty. The paper calls him a “fine strong man” whose death is attributable to the adverse condition under which the railway gangers worked. Joseph was only 37 when he died leaving his wife and six children to fend for themselves. It’s quite likely that penicillin would have saved his life, if it had been available at this time.

While Joseph was the first of George and Mary’s children to die, only a few years later his older brother would also die of a heart attack due to “valvular and fatty degeneration of the heart”.

Joseph had been very active in the establishment of a school in the small settlement of Poybah (aka Pickenjennie) and had served as the committee secretary. It’s nice to know that despite his early death, he made his mark on the education of the local children.[ii]

Through my offline research I also know that Joseph’s estate included 149 acres of land with a three bedroom weatherboard house and a three-wire fence, valued at £102. He had only £1 cash, five horses valued at £6, and 10 steers and heifers £2/10/-, a dray and harness £8 and household furniture valued at £5. By the time all the debts were cleared his estate had lost more than half its value.

With each release of newspapers digitised through Trove, more snippets at grassroots level, come to light. Even though I assiduously pursued as many research opportunities as I could only 10 years ago when I wrote this family’s story, every day brings new micro-stories that make that history so much richer. I knew that Joseph had died in Roma and been buried there, but this story would have been a fine complement to the other information I had on him.

I’m looking forward to seeing even more of the stories that are close to being finalised for the Western Star, some that I already know about from other sources, and some new ones.


[i] Synchronous with acute massive liver necrosis.

[ii] Queensland State Archives, Pickenjennie State School PRV8807-1-2209 (Z2204)

(iii) Queensland State Arhives, Intestacy JF Kunkel.

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 12: Cousins, aunts and uncles

4 x 7UP collageI’m not going to change the image I’ve posted in this collage but I am going off on a lateral tangent yet again. I had thought to write (even more!) about Magnetic Island but then I thought “why? I’ve done that to death”. Then in another of my midnight mental rambles I was thinking about relatives and so this post is about cousins and aunts and uncles.

Kunkels and Farrahers Cairns

My aunt and uncle, my parents and I, Cairns, Qld.

In the collage photo we were standing outside the Sunlander train, probably leaving Cairns for Brisbane. Earlier we had visited my aunt and uncle and cousins in Cairns where they were then living at the time. My uncle had something of a habit of changing bosses jobs and they moved from out west (Augathella comes to mind), to Far North Queensland, Tugun on the Gold Coast and Brisbane where my grandfather lived with them. At each move my uncle would chuck out my cousin’s toys and dolls…not exactly a therapeutic way of dealing with relocation.

army friends

Why is someone always doing rabbit ears?? My uncle is the cook in the middle (and possibly Mr Rabbit Ears).

Uncle Pat had been an Army cook for some time and been in Papua New Guinea during WWII. I’m lucky to have some of his photos which I found after my aunt died and without looking on the reverse (not all were annotated) I quickly realised they were from PNG. I hope to put these on my Tropical Territory blog in the near future.

My aunt and cousins

My aunt and two of my 8 cousins

His wife, Aunty Mary, was my favourite aunt. Sweet, kind with a quirky, cheeky sense of humour I always liked her. Mary’s daughter predeceased her and her son was far from well for many years and is now also deceased. As the eldest daughter, Aunty Mary was also privy to some of the family stories and shared (some of ?) them with me. Both before and after Mary’s death I was able to get scanned images of many of the family photos as well as my grandmother’s address book. As I cleared Mary’s house after her death I was able to ensure quite a few family “heirlooms” did not end up in the skip.

 Are you close to your cousins?

My grandchildren are enamoured with their cousins, and will hug and greet each other as if they haven’t seen each other for months, rather than only days before, regularly saying “I love my cousin.”

 My cousinly relationships are rather more haphazard. I was close enough to Aunty Mary’s daughter though she was a fair bit older than me. She used to paint my nails (purple) and let me have sleepovers at her boarding house when I was about 12 or 13.

My cousin Patsy (Patricia), named for her father.

My cousin Patsy (Patricia), named for her father.

Two of my cousins I have probably only seen three or five times. I wouldn’t recognise them if they walked through the door tomorrow. Their mother I would have seen only a few times more, though I would have recognised her if I came upon her. Her husband, again, I wouldn’t know from Adam.

But it was my male cousin from another aunt, with whom I have the closest long-term relationship rather than with his sister who was a year younger than me. We used to go ice skating together with our spouses and kids, and I’ve forgiven him for deconstructing my childhood Xmas toys to see how they worked. <smile> Their two much younger sisters, for one of whom I was the godmother, I also know a little, but life has taken us in different directions and to different places.

My non-cousin, daughter of my uncle’s widow’s second marriage, lived with us for medical reasons for about six months, but again we never persevered with our relationship. In many ways I think our longish time in PNG affected many of these family bonds.

(I do have photos of these cousins, but I don’t have permission to use them here as they are still alive).

Among my cousins, I was the only one of the first-born not named for their father.

For similar reasons Mr Cassmob has an even worse track record in the cousin stakes. In the decades that I’ve known him we’ve seen one of his cousins twice, some others only once: a consequence of his living far away from them. Another we met up with in Dublin years ago: they both thought “how will I know him” and found it no problem because both so resembled their fathers!

 Did you have close relationships with aunts, uncles and cousins? Are you still friends rather than just relatives?

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