Monday Memories: Maternal Inheritance

Joan Kunkel young woman crop and low

A beautiful photo of Mum – perhaps for her 21st?

The past few days my mind has been occupied with planning my mother’s 90th birthday later in the year: a trip to Sydney and the theatre. Then to top it off, last night, after watching DNA Nation, I was trying to make sense of my mitochondrial inheritance (once again!).  I’m still very confused about that and have lots to learn but I’m very grateful that Mum was willing to provide a sample, or my results would be even more ambiguous.

Unsurprisingly, these thoughts led me to reflect on which of my interests came down from her.

However, it’s not only our mother’s mtDNA that we inherit, it’s often their characteristics and interests. Is that nature or nurture I wonder? I’m far too close to judge which personal characteristics we share and don’t share, so I’m not even going down that path.

From Mum I inherited:

joan and pauleenPhotography – I’m fortunate to have quite a lot of family photos thanks to mum’s interest in it, especially impressive since money was often tight. She was a self-avowed head or legs-lopper in the days of the old Kodak cameras. Mum and Dad also gave me my first camera (birthday or Christmas?) and this engendered my life-long love of photography.

A love of cut flowers – though mum loved to arrange them whereas mine just get plonked in the vase. We both share a love of pansies and roses. I love frangipani, she hates it.

Baking – every Saturday was baking day in our house and Mum inherited her grandfather’s and mother’s baking expertise. There were always cakes and biscuits made weekly. My sweet tooth won’t let me give them up.

Sewing skills – but a limited amount of patience for it so that I’ve long since given up sewing clothes. She was a very skilled dressmaker and the finish on her sewing left nothing to be desired.

Joan Kunkel poss Sth Brisbane

At South Brisbane?

The wonders of nature – through bushwalks on Magnetic Island with her and dad during our holidays.

Theatre, dancing, tennis and other useful social skills: as I mentioned last week my mother was the prime mover in these areas. No doubt she was determined I’d have advantages she hadn’t had.

Craft – Mum has always enjoyed new craft activities from flower arranging to decoupage. Like most women of her era she could also crochet though knitting was never her thing.  I thoroughly enjoy learning new creative skills but then there’s family history….a time-absorber.

Beautiful decorative items – we have completely different taste, but we both like those special-to-us touches in our homes.

joan Pauleen theatre

At the theatre.

Commitment – from persisting with giving me the best education and in a myriad small ways, I’ve learnt commitment to tasks.

Eveready batteries – this used to be one of my abilities in emulation of Mum’s busy days but sadly my family history has helped me to slow down – plus a somewhat better understanding of what’s good for my health.

Typing – Mum used to type my uni assignments for me at all hours and when she was no longer around after we moved to PNG I had to learn to type myself – the air was “blue”.

We don’t share:

pauleen norm at picnic bay

One of my favourite photos – Dad and me on holidays at Magnetic with the local kittens.

A love of cats and dogs, though we always had cats around the house…Dad’s inheritance.

A love of reading – Mum was always one of those busy women who never stopped to read much so this is another inheritance from Dad.

A love of painting and wall-papering: wall painting drives me mad – give me growing grass any day.

The ability to sing – Mum has this, I don’t!

Fashion style – Mum has always been interested in the latest styles whereas for me it’s rather ho-hum. Like many of her generation she’s probably also more formal.

Religion – although this was a huge part of my life until my 40s I’ve sworn off it since then, to mum’s great disappointment.

Curly hair – to mum’s minor envy my hair is thick and wavy. Not sure where the waves came from.

When I was a young girl, people would say to me “gee you look like your mother” and then when they saw me with Dad “No, you look like your dad”. Obviously a mix of both in many regards.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since having children in my early 20s, it is how difficult it can be to do all the right things as a mother…my quote is “I’ve learned lots about myself I’d rather not have known”. For all these things, and others, I’m grateful to my mother for what she’s done and the enthusiasms she shared with me.

 

 

 

 

Monday Memories: Let’s Dance

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Free image from Pixabay

During the A to Z challenge a few of my genimates wrote about their early memories – childhood and growing up. They were lots of fun to read and inspired lots of conversation with their readers.

Inspired by their theme, I’ve decided to start a Monday Memories meme where I’ll write odd memory snippets of my own. If anyone else wants to join in that would be great fun.

Last night I watched the 1992 Aussie movie, Strictly Ballroom, which evoked memories of the main enthusiasm from my teen years, ballroom and Latin dancing. Of course I also can’t watch a paso doble without thinking of Torvill and Dean’s inimitable 1984 performance in Sarajevo (good grief, that’s 32 years ago!).

Ballroom dancing

In your dreams Pauleen. Image from NAA Accession # 2004/00287481

Anyway back to a much lesser performer…in my mid-teens about Sub-Senior (year 11), Mum took me to Wrightson’s Dance Studio in the Valley (Fortitude Valley) for ballroom dance classes. I guess it was probably to prepare me for school formals (aka proms in the US) and for the future. The studio was upstairs in Wickham Street between Gotha and Gipps Streets about opposite the K2 shop today. This was pretty much my everyday “turf” as it was close to where I went to school. The traffic now is usually very busy and parking impossible, so I don’t have a chance to see if the building itself is still there. Orchard’s Dance Studio was just round the corner and I have no idea why mum chose one over the other.

In the beginning Mum would come with me to supervise – I don’t recall if she was the only parent there but I can’t imagine, in retrospect, that it improved my image any. One of my high school friends, who lived nearby, came to the studio with us at least some of the time. I remember when she came back from school holidays in Papua New Guinea and brought me my first bottle of French perfume (Jean Patou?). I have no recollection of what it was called perfumebut she turned me into a perfume snob at 17 and I still have the gorgeous little bottle.

Wrightson’s had quite a few instructors and we danced mostly with them, interspersed with other learners. We learned the waltz and the quickstep (of course) and looking back I find it astonishing that Miss-Goody-Two-Shoes-Catholic-girl didn’t go into a faint at being in a hip-lock during the dances.

Overall I much preferred the Latin components of cha-cha, rumba and samba. The jive we learned was very structured as well as fast and was great fun. We were also introduced to the other dances of the day like the Twist and the Hucklebuck (none of the youTubes videos are how we danced it). I have no photos from those dancing times – these days we’d be facebooking phone shots all the time.

Medal test DancingOver the years various friends would come along with me, but few lasted for long, apart from a childhood friend from my neighbourhood. I was rather devastated when the only great (male) dancer I knew from Wrightson’s – six feet tall and good looking, not only took up with my five-foot-tall friend but then later joined the priesthood. Seriously?! For a very brief period one Christmas holidays I dated one of the instructors – ironically one I didn’t dance well with. A couple of times we went dancing at Cloudland which made a change from doing exams there. He took me to the instructor’s Christmas party and my eyes nearly popped out of my head…there was lots of amorous activity and I was such an unworldly person in those days.

Throughout my uni years, dancing became even more part of my life and during holidays or less busy periods I would be at Wrightson’s three or more times a week. No wonder I was fit, between that and walking everywhere. I got my bronze medal and the comments reveal something of my uptight  A-type obsessiveness. (where has that paperwork, and my medal, gone??) Nevertheless I loved dancing and that experience remains among my fondest teen memories.

How ironic that I would marry someone who doesn’t/can’t dance, despite his myriad good features, we moved to Papua New Guinea and I never went back to Wrightson’s again. C’est la vie.

 

My Own Merry Month of May Movies

My Fair Lady programme

The programme cover for My Fair Lady, the film.

Turns out this was a trickier meme than I thought when I amended my own Music Meme. Of course I can never just keep it short and snappy, but here’s my own response.

  1. What’s the earliest movie you can remember: Fantasia – I went to see this with my mum and my great-aunt Emily in the city…those creepy brooms freaked me out! I was about five I think.
  2. Where did you go to the movies (place or type of venue): Mostly in the city but occasionally at the local picture theatre though I have no clear memories of this.
  3. Did you buy movie programs: Most of the block-buster films of the day had programs and I used to have quite a few. I’ve kept some of them but only the covers of others.
  4. Did you take in food and drink (and what did you like): Back in the day it was Fantales, Maltesers or Jaffas. Now it’s coffee <smile>. We only get popcorn with the grandkids.
  5. Movies of your teenage years: Gidget, some Elvis Presley (but which?), original James Bonds, Hawaii, My Fair Lady, Sound of Music
  6. Mischief you got up to in the movies: I was a goody two shoes like Robbie, but when we went as a group in my late teens, the blokes would often roll Jaffas down the floors (something of an Aussie tradition)Movies 1
  7. Did you watch movies at home: We didn’t get TV until late, but the first movie I remember was Three Coins in a Fountain (part of my travel addiction). Our own family often borrowed videos or later DVDs.
  8. What was your favourite movie to watch at home: With our own family: When Harry Met Sally, The Princess Bride, Top Gun.
  9. Do you prefer to watch movies at home or at the cinema: Some movies are best suited to the big screen which I prefer (for example Sherpa, or Eye in the Sky, which we’ve just seen, or The Water Diviner) but others I don’t mind either way.
  10. Does your family have a special movie memory: Taking the kids to see a Disney movie in the city and having to get tissues half way through because of the tears (we may be the only family that banned Disney); seeing a movie about a cat, Thomasina, days after we had to put our old girl down. One of my daughters letting out a loud sigh/sound during the Top Gun volleyball match – sounded like she was ecstatic rather than repulsed – turned a few heads <wink, wink>. Or seeing Hawaii with an early boyfriend – the birth scene was pretty dramatic from the front rows.movies 2
  11. Movies you fell in love to/with: I loved Out of Africa to the max right from the beginning. I remember I was in the ladies’ room afterwards and everyone was crying about Robert Redford dying and I was crying about her leaving the servant and telling him she’d send for him (haven’t quite forgiven her for that). We fell in love to Elvira Madigan and Dr Zhivago. On my first ever trip to Sydney, on my own, I cried and cried over Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.
  12. Favourite romantic movie theme music: I’d have to say Mozart’s 21st, from Elvira Madigan, since we used it for our wedding march and made my mum-in-law cry.
  13. Favourite musical movie: My Fair Lady.
  14. Which movies made you want to dance/sing: Sound of Music, Mamma Mia (pathetic movie mostly), Mad Hot Ballroom.
  15. Do you watch re-runs or DVDs of old movies: We have a stash (thanks Bali for our wide selection!) that we watch regularly. I’m not such a big fan of vintage movies though.movies 3
  16.  Do your children/family enjoy the same movies: Some of them: Summer Holiday (strangely), When Harry Met Sally, Princess Bride. It’s something of a family tradition as adults for us all to go to the movies on Boxing Day.
  17. What’s your favourite movie genre now: A tough one, mostly I go to the movies for escapism so I’m a sucker for a feel-good movie but I also like dramas. (My TV watching is nearly all crime…or house shows or WDYTYA)
  18. Did you read the book before or after the movie: After, definitely. There have been some where the movie captures the book perfectly: The Joy Luck Club; 84 Charing Cross Road.
  19. Which did you enjoy more, the book or the movie: The book mostly, but see above.
  20. What’s the silliest movie you’ve seen: Basically we don’t go to see silly movies so nothing leaps to mind…or perhaps I’ve sublimated them. Then again, one man’s film-596519_1280 moviesgreat movie is another’s person’s silly movie.
  21. Pet hate in movies: A sound track that goes from super-loud to super-quiet; “jumpy” or too “artistic” camera work. In my rebellious teen years it was having to stand for God Save the Queen….so we didn’t. Judy Garland movies. I remember we left the movie Papillon part-way through because it was too freaky for an anniversary outing.
  22. A movie that captures family history for you: Do you know, I can’t think of one – look forward to others’ suggestions. Maybe The Water Diviner since it covers the power of family relationships and the horrors and impact of war.
  23. If you could only play 5 movies for the rest of your life, what would they be: Out of Africa, Hopscotch, 84 Charing Cross Road, Mad Hot Ballroom, The Water Diviner.
  24.  Favourite movie stars (go ahead and list as many as you like): Glenda Jackson, Audrey Hepburn, Katherine Hepburn, Meryl Streep (mostly), Hugh Jackman, Sean Connery, Harrison Ford, Kenneth Brannagh, Morgan Freeman, Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth, Spencer Tracy.

And a late addition:

  1. Other movies that caught my imagination: Reds, Dances with Wolves, Passage to India, Samson and Delilah, Romeo & Juliet (di Caprio and Danes).

And here’s where I wrote about movies in the 52 Weeks of Personal History and Genealogy series a few years back – I wonder how consistent I’ve been?

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Merry Month of May Movie Meme

Things have quietened down since the A to Z challenge so it’s time for a bit of fun with a May Meme. A few years ago I did a May Music Meme so I thought this year we’d go to the movies. Put your movie hats on, look into the past and dredge up your memories…LET’S HAVE FUN!

film-596519_1280 movies

The way it works is this:

  • Copy the questions I’ve listed here and add your responses – short or long as you please.
  • The image is from Pixabay and free to use so share away.
  • Link back to your post in the comments.
  • During the next week I’ll put my own response up.
  • Around 22 May I’ll put up a summary of the posts.

Here are the questions:

  1. What’s the earliest movie you can remember:
  2. Where did you go to the movies (place or type of venue):
  3. Did you buy movie programs:
  4. Did you take in food and drink (and what did you like):
  5. Movies of your teenage years:
  6. Do you remember how old you were when you went unsupervised:
  7. Mischief you got up to in the movies:
  8. Did you watch movies at home:
  9. What was your favourite movie to watch at home:
  10. Do you prefer to watch movies at home or at the cinema:
  11. Does your family have a special movie memory:
  12. Movies you fell in love to/with:
  13. Favourite romantic movie theme music:
  14. Favourite musical movie:
  15. Which movies made you want to dance/sing:
  16. Do you watch re-runs or DVDs of old movies:
  17. Do your children/family enjoy the same movies:
  18. What’s your favourite movie genre now:
  19. Did you read the book before or after the movie:
  20. Which did you enjoy more, the book or the movie:
  21. What’s the silliest movie you’ve seen (silly funny or silly annoying):
  22. Pet hate in movies:
  23. A movie that captures family history for you:
  24. If you could only play 5 movies for the rest of your life, what would they be:
  25. Favourite movie stars (go ahead and list as many as you like)

I hope my blogging mates join in and share their memories of movie moments: anyone can join in and have fun.

demonstration-767983_1280

Image from Pixabay

 

Australia Day 2016

wattleYesterday I was reflecting on my Aussie heritage and why I am such a proud Queenslander.

I had a little play with my immigrant stats and this is what I came up with, an analysis of my first immigrants to Australia, all bar one of them to Queensland.

8 Pre-Separation Queensland ancestors (pre-1859):
George Mathias Kunkel (Dorfprozelten, Bavaria)
Mary O’Brien (Broadford, Co Clare, Ireland)
Denis Gavin and his wife Ellen nee Murphy (from Kildare and Wicklow respectively)
William Partridge (from Gloucestershire, but born London)
Richard Kent, his wife Mary nee Camp and their daughter Hannah (from Sandon, Herts)

7 Post-Separation Queensland ancestors: (1860-1901)
Stephen Gillespie Melvin (Leith, Scotland)
James Sherry and his wife Bridget nee Furlong (from ?, Ireland and Tullamore, Offaly). Name changed to McShArry in Australia
Their son Peter Sherry (b Tullamore, Offaly) and his wife Mary nee Callaghan (Courtown, Wexford) Name changed to McShErry in Australia.
and Peter and Mary’s son James Joseph Sherry (born Gorey, Wexford)
Margaret Gillespie, later Melvin/Ward/Wheaton (North Shields, Northumberland)

2 Post Federation (after 1901): Annie Sim McCorkindale and her daughter, Catherine (Kit)

illustrated-front-cover-from-the-queenslander-october-2-1930

Illustrated front cover from The Queenslander October 2 1930  John Oxley Library Image 702692-19301002-s001b. Copyright expired.

8 Irish ancestors arrived from Clare, Wicklow, Wexford, Offaly, Kildare

7 of my direct ancestors were born in Queensland including 3 pre-Separation

6 groups of families immigrated: McCorkindale, Melvin, Gavin, McSherry, McSharry, Kent.

5 English ancestors emigrated from Northumberland, Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire.

4 were solo emigrants: George Kunkel, Mary O’Brien, William Partridge and Margaret Gillespie Ward.

I’m a 4th generation Queenslander – makes me a fair dinkum Maroon.

3 Scottish ancestors emigrated from Lanarkshire, Midlothian, Stirlingshire.

2 name changes: Sherry to McSherry; and Sherry to McSharry – same family.

1 German ancestor from Bavaria.

1 settled in NSW before coming to Qld: Margaret Gillespie Ward.

No wonder my roots run deep in the country.

Preserved in Pandora

I’m thrilled to share the news with my readers that this blog, and two of my others, have been accepted for archiving on the National Library of Australia’s Pandora website.

pandora_logo

It is very special indeed to have my blog posts preserved for posterity in this way. My fanciful mind imagines a great-grandchild discovering my meanderings. Wouldn’t that be fun?

I’m also delighted to be in the company of other blogging mates who’ve been Pandora’d for a while.

Thanks to the Pandora team at the National Library!!

thanks

“When I was young” geneameme

Alona from LoneTester blog has offered us this fun “When I was young” geneameme and it’s been a pleasure reflecting on the answers.

  1. Pauleen baby book131

    Already there’s a cat:)

    Do you (or your parents) have any memorabilia from when you were a baby? (ie. baby book, lock of hair, first shoes etc.) Yes, I am lucky to have a baby book, baby photos, bracelet and other odds and ends.

  2. Do you know if you were named after anyone? Quite the opposite – I was named so none of my name included any of my paternal grandmother’s…hence the “een” ending. Ironically Catherine is a name I now know to be threaded through generations of my Irish, German and Scots ancestry.
  3. And do you know of any other names your parents might have named you? Paul,  because I was supposed to be a boy.
  4. What is your earliest memory? Hard to say, I have vague memories of my maternal grandmother who died before I was four and used to bring biscuits when she visited. No specific memory other than that.
  5. HeidiDid your parent/s (or older siblings) read, sing or tell stories to you? Do you remember any of these? Yes both read to me. Mum liked fairy tales and Dad would buy me religious comics when I was sick (odd because Mum was the religious one). Mum used to sing around the house and at night would sing “turaluralura”, an Irish lullaby.
  6. When you were young, do you remember what it was that you wanted to grow up to be? I wanted to be a marine biologist until 2nd year uni…just as well it didn’t work out as I get claustrophobic with snorkel masks, let alone scuba diving gear.
  7. Did you have a favourite teacher at school? Sr Gemma in Grade 8 and Sr Mary Benedict for Years 11-12. Both made an enormous difference to my eduction.
  8. How did you get to school? Primary School: Walking – it wasn’t far and we didn’t own a car. Secondary school: bus to Fortitude Valley. University: Bus and tram.
  9. What games did playtime involve? Skipping, tiggy, elastics….??? At home, dolls and dress-ups or guns and cowboys.
  10. Did you have a cubby house? Not a fancy one, but a special play space under the house (remember Qld houses are on stilts), and I’d sometimes build one with old sheets etc under the steps etc.
  11. Cousin Jimmy, me Aunty Mary, Mum and Dad in Cairns.

    Cousin Jimmy, me Aunty Mary, Mum and Dad in Cairns.

    What was something you remember from an early family holiday? The 2.5 day train ride on the Sunlander from Brisbane to Townsville for holidays on Magnetic Island. Throwing newspapers to the railway gangers in their tents by the line. Buying fish, chips and (potato) scallops in Rockhampton. Meeting up with Mum’s childhood friend and her family, and a couple of aunts.

  12. What is a memory from one of your childhood birthdays or Christmas? The smell of the small gum tree that dad would cut from down the creek bank. I remember that my friends were often away for my birthday as it was school holidays…poor me, boo hoo.

    Our gum tree Christmas tree when I was a child.

    Our gum tree Christmas tree when I was a child.

  13. What childhood injuries do you remember? I was lucky to have no broken bones etc (touch wood!) so one stands out….I cut my left calf on a sticky-out bit on a bike pedal. The family friend in the next street carried me home with it bleeding everywhere then we went to the hospital – strangely I don’t remember how, given we didn’t have a car. I still have the faded scar as a memento.
  14. What was your first pet? Cats, cats and more cats.
  15. Did your grandparents, or older relatives tell you stories of “when I was young ..?” Not really. My paternal grandparents lived next door but they didn’t tell those sorts of stories. Instead my grandmother introduced me to Scottish music, bagpipes and dancing.

    Pauleen baby book 136

    Some things don’t change!

  16. The record-playing part of the gramophoneWhat was entertainment when you were young? The radio I guess, though I don’t remember listening to it a lot until I was a teenager. My grandmother had a gramophone which I’ve inherited (currently being minded by my friend in Brisbane) and I loved checking the needle, winding it up, and playing those heavy old records. Sometimes if you visited a home where they had a piano there might be singalongs but my family didn’t do this much, perhaps because of Dad’s shift work. Otherwise entertainment was books, hence my addiction, one I shared with Dad. Sometimes we’d go to the neighbourhood picture theatre for the movies. I remember seeing Fantasia in the city with Mum and Aunty Emily and being scared silly by all those marauding brooms.
  17. Do you remember what it was it like when your family got a new fangled invention? (ie. telephone, TV, VCR, microwave, computer?) Heck, I even remember when we first got some colour camera film when a “rich” relation brought some back from the USA for us. Until we got a telephone when I was in my mid-late teens I used to have to sit nearby while Mum rang her friend from a public phone box…man they could talk! We bought a Commodore computer for our own family in the late 1980s and a VCR in the mid-1980s.

    One of our first colour photos - Dad among his roses.

    One of our first colour photos – Dad among his roses.

  18. Did your family have a TV? Was it b&w or colour? And how many channels did you get? I remember the neighbours down the next street getting a black and white TV – maybe because they had several children? We got a B&W one when I was in my teens – probably a good thing because we didn’t have any in PNG after we were married. Channels – no idea.Two or three I think.
  19. Did your family move house when you were young? Do you remember it? No, I lived in the same house until I married and Dad lived on the same block his whole life.
  20. Was your family involved in any natural disasters happening during your childhood (ie.fire, flood, cyclone, earthquake etc) I remember an early trip to Magnetic Island when there was a cyclone and the palm trees seemed to touch their toes. Despite this Dad took me up the back to go to the toilet….probably I was scared….it’s a wonder he didn’t say to use a bucket! We got taken off the island by army duck then a couple of days later we took the ferry to Green Island and as Mum always says “were green on the way over, and green on the way back”. I still remember the boat dipping from side to side, just touching the water. Dad was one of the few who didn’t get sick, but put him on a mill-pond and he’d be violently ill.

    One of my favourite photos - Dad, me and the kittens.

    One of my favourite photos – Dad, me and the kittens at the holiday flat at Picnic Bay, Magnetic Island, where we stayed during the cyclone.

  21. Is there any particular music that when you hear it, sparks a childhood memory? Tura lura lura, Bing Crosby, Oh Tannenbaum, certain hymns. My daughter still sings turalura to her children. I wonder who Mum learnt it from – perhaps her Irish father.
  22. What is something that an older family member taught you to do? Mum taught me to sew, and must have taught me some crocheting too I think.Dad’s mother had been a dressmaker but as she was already in her late 70s when I was a child, she never bothered sewing any more, though I did enjoy playing with the buttons she had in a jar.
  23. What are brands that you remember from when you were a kid? TAA, Ansett (thanks Alona!), Waltons, McWhirter, TC Beirne’s, those heart-shaped lollies with writing on them (and yes, fags lollies), Persil washing powder, Reckitt’s blue bags, Lux flakes. I’m sure there are many I’ve forgotten.
  24. Some of the lovely shells I still have in my collection.

    Some of the lovely shells I still have in my collection.

    Did you used to collect anything? (ie. rocks, shells, stickers … etc.) Shells and books. (see above) Now I feel very guilty about the environmental impact of shell collecting. Like Dad I still have a partiality for collecting the odd stone that takes my fancy.

  25. Share your favourite childhood memory. Hmm,
    A gift from Aunty Emily.

    An Easter gift from Aunty Emily.

    this is a tough one. We’d sometimes go to a highpoint nearby and admire the city lights or the stars….one of Mum’s much-loved things to do.  Or, at Easter, getting to eat all the lollies one had given up for Lent but kept stored in a jar….time for a pig-out. Getting special treats like tiny cups and saucers from my maternal great-aunt. Visiting New Farm Park with her and Mum and seeing the beautiful roses there. Helping Mum with the cake and biscuit baking on Saturdays….and licking the bowl. School fetes etc etc.

  26. Sport: I was pretty rubbish at sport though I enjoyed informal sprints down the streets with the neighbourhood kids. I also learned to play tennis which I can’t say that I loved…or was very good at. Ditto swimming classes and swimming club at the Valley Pool….ugh.
  27. Music: I learned to play the piano for a while with the nuns at my primary school. I remember playing chopsticks or Elvis Presley’s Wooden Heart on our neighbour’s piano with my friend. We would race to complete it in the shortest time possible -it’s a wonder her parents didn’t throw us out.
  28. Games: Who remembers this game…it seems to be having a resurgence as we saw some in Sydney. http://youtu.be/X1DArckNWdM And then there was the introduction of hula hoops and yo-yos. And what about board games like snakes and ladders or Chinese chequers?

.Thanks Alona for this trip down memory lane. And thanks Mum for all the photos I have and my own love of photography.

Accentuate the Positive 2014

Once again GeniAus has spurred us on to consider our geneachievements for 2014 and Accentuate the Positive. It’s all too easy to be daunted by the tasks ahead, or the (perceived?) deficiencies in our past year of research. It has made me realise that I achieved more than I thought – I tend to be a girl with a half-empty glass. Thanks Jill for encouraging us.

  1.  An elusive ancestor I found was…still hunting for James Sherry aka McSharry but I have an APB out on him.
  2.  A precious family photo I found was: While in Sydney I visited my 4th cousin and scanned heaps of her trove of family photos with the Flip Pal.
    Thomas Zeller's grave at Tyne Cot cemetery.

    Thomas Zeller’s grave at Tyne Cot cemetery.

    3.  An ancestor’s grave I found was…while I wasn’t specifically grave-hunting for ancestors this year we did visit quite a few military cemeteries in northern France and Belgium. I was able to place an Australian flag on the Tyne Cot grave of one of the Dorfprozelten descendants, Thomas Zeller. It was especially sobering to stand where Mr Cassmob’s great-uncle, heading the 54th Battalion, was positioned during the Battle of Fromelles.

    4.  An important vital record I found was discovery I made was identifying the ship my ancestor’s sister arrived on. This was Bridget O’Brien, sister to Mary O’Brien on the Florentia….but why is her name not on the manifest?? And despite searching I’ve found not a single vital record/primary document.

    5.  A newly found family member shared mutual discoveries of our Dorfprozelten ancestry, another of DNA, another family photos. I also enjoyed connecting with an Aussie living in Sweden, who shares my Sydney cousin, but from the paternal rather than maternal line.

The sailing ship Florentia. Image from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and reproduced with permission. Image PW 7704

The sailing ship Florentia. Image from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and reproduced with permission. Image PW 7704

6.  A geneasurprise I received was finding the clues which led to identifiying that Bridget O’Brien almost certainly arrived on the Florentia….it’s only taken 27 years to find a clue. Thanks Trove! I was also surprised to discover that George Kunkel had all his assets sold, possibly why they ended up following the railway line.

I had another railway geneasurprise when we visited Poperinghe station to see where my grandfather was stationed during World War I. In a WDYTYA moment, a railway worker spoke to us and provided me with print-outs of photos from that era. Our tour guide was more astonished than I was.

Poperinghe Railway Station near the time when my grandfather served there.

Poperinghe Railway Station near the time when my grandfather served there.

7.   My 2014 blog posts that I was particularly proud of was the stories about the Florentia. You can read them here, here and here and the one that started it, on 29 December 2013.

revisit record revise circular_edited-1  8. My 2014 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was….my blog likes went up, my comments went down, possibly partly because I’ve been a neglectful commenter lately. Probably the best was my 5th blogiversary post recently with my goals and reflections. In a more general context I was proud of my Three Rs of Genealogical Research on the collaborative Worldwide Genealogy blog in September…it attracted lots of interest.

We also seemed to have a bit of fun with my Australia Day Geneameme and the National Family History Month Geneameme. Thanks everyone for joining in! I also had fun, along with many others, doing Sharn’s Christmas geneameme.

9.  A new piece of software I mastered was…not sure I did. Even though I’m using Evernote a lot now, I’m quite sure I haven’t mastered it. I bought the offline version before we went travelling and it was pure gold for keeping track of documents, travel arrangements etc.

10. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was Pinterest, when I just want a chill-out and fun. I’m enjoying Facebook far more now I’m in touch with my genimates.

11. A genealogy conference from which I learnt something new was all the sessions on the Unlock the Past cruise in February 2014. You can read my synopses here.Pauleen FANs presentation

12. I am proud of the presentation I gave on the UTP February Cruise. The subject was Becoming a fan of FANs which the attendees told me they really enjoyed. You can read my presentation slides here. I also really enjoyed Jill Ball’s “fireside” chat where people shared their favourite books.

  1. A journal/magazine article I had published was…none.
  2. I taught a friend how to…not sure…I often seem to be rabbiting on to people about how a geniechallenge might be pursued.

15. A genealogy book that taught me something new was…I have downloaded lots of genealogical Kindle books which I’ve started but many are still only partly read. When I take time out to read I tend to read frivolous crime novels etc so discovering Steve Robinson’s and Nathan Goodwin’s genealogical mysteries was a treat. I was also astonished to find references to what looks like my Callaghan family from Courtown, Wexford in the book Sam Reilly: Ace of Spies which has lots of geneadata to be followed up in the Irish parish registers.

16. A great repository/archive/library I visited was the Tasmanian Archives and, as always, Queensland Archives, where I did a lot of preparation for my talk on hospitals for QFHS on Accidents, Illness and Death (not one of my most successful moments in 2014 – needs a major revamp).

17. A new history book I enjoyed was Hugh Dolan’s 36 Days which tips our inherited ideas on Gallipoli on their head. As we were visiting Gallipoli mid-2014 I also read Matt McLachlan’s Gallipoli: the Battlefield Guide and Peter Pedersens ANZACs on the Western Front and Fromelles.

Voyage of the Seas dwarfs most other ships, just imagine it beside a barque like Florentia.

Voyage of the Seas dwarfs most other ships, just imagine it beside a barque like Florentia.

18. It was exciting to finally meet lots of my genimates on the UTP cruise as well as a new cousin in Melbourne. I was also pleased to spend time with other genimates on shore during the year, as well as meeting Angela from The Silver Voice in Brisbane.

19. A geneadventure I enjoyed was going cruising for the first time with a bunch of mates following our genie-obsession. On ship or on shore, we had a ton of fun!

20. Another positive I would like to share is how our Kiva Genealogists for Families’ loans have grown as the repayments have been reinvested. Over Christmas I roped in my two older grandchildren and got them to help me to make December’s loans. I will make a habit of this over 2015 to try to teach them about giving to those in need.

Extract from Inside History magazine, Sept-Oct 2014, page 49.

Extract from Inside History magazine, Sept-Oct 2014, page 49.

I originally omitted to mention Alex’s inspiration to revamp our blogs during the year. Thanks Alex (aka Family Tree Frog) for giving us a nudge to do this and Susan for reminding me to mention it. You can read what I did to mine here.

I was also very pleased to be listed in Inside History’s Top 50 blogs again in 2014 and consequently earning an entry in their Hall of Fame. This was topped off by being voted in as a Genealogy Rockstar again in 2014, even though I think there are many other equally good geneabloggers out there in the geneaworld.

Thanks again Jill.

Mr Cassmob at the Cobbers memorial at Fromelles. This is where the 54th Bn under Lt Col WEH Cass reached during the battle.

Mr Cassmob at the Cobbers memorial at Fromelles. This is where the 54th Bn under Lt Col WEH Cass reached during the battle.

Sepia Saturday 258: Meeting the GI Cousin in Sydney WWII

Sepia Sat 258 This photo gave me an instant connection to some from my 3rd cousin’s photo albums. This particular cousin, Nora, has provided me with so much information over the years: old histories, photos of my Kunkel ancestors and our mutual O’Brien relatives. I owe her an enormous debt in terms of what she’s given to my research, which is why I asked her to launch my Kunkel family history book.

Cousins meeting at Circular Quay, Sydney.

Cousins meeting at Circular Quay, Sydney. The American with glasses is not a relation. The three on the left are 1st cousins, once removed to the American on the right and his first cousin Nellie Garvey.

During World War II, many American soldiers were stationed in Australia, and to be honest they weren’t all that popular with the Aussie men who were left behind for whatever reason: the snapshot phrase was that they were “overpaid, oversexed and over here“…a case of jealousy I fear. The girls were not so reluctant to meet these men, and many married and became War Brides, relocating to the United States after the war, some successfully and some not so much. I think the American GIs had rather more finesse when it came to women than the rather blunt Aussie style.

Two cousins meet: John Garvey (USA) and Reg Gill (Sydney).

Two cousins meet: John Garvey (USA) and Reg Gill (Sydney).

SCAN1298_edited-1However in some cases this wasn’t all about the whole “boy meets girl” story, it was about cousins meeting cousins from across the world. This particular branch of the O’Brien family descended from Honora Garvey nee O’Brien from Bodyke County Clare, one of my Mary (O’Brien) Kunkel’s siblings who remained in Ireland. However Honora’s children were, and are, part of the great Irish diaspora with some moving to the States and some moving to Australia. I wonder why, and how, they came to the conclusion regarding which place to choose.  No doubt the increasing literacy of the Irish population assisted this branch of the family to keep in touch over the miles and the years and across vast distances.

The Sydney siblings, Nora, Kevin and Marie with their aunty Nellie (in the hat).  I like the war bonds notice on the building.

The Sydney siblings, Nora, Kevin and Marie with their aunty Nellie (in the hat). I like the war bonds notice on the building. I was intrigued that Marie was the only woman wearing gloves as I’d have expected the to be de rigeur in this era. Those 1940s shoes were really not glamorous. I can’t quite figure out what Nora is carrying…is it just a purse?

The war provided a chance for the cousins to meet. On reflection it seems possible these photos were probably taken by the street photographers that have been the topic of blog posts lately…it just hadn’t occurred to me…we do tend to assume that cameras were as readily available then as they are today. On the other side of the Pacific, two other Aussie cousins were being welcomed by the American branches as they commenced their WWII Air Force service. These connections, many years after their grandmother, Honora Garvey, had died, reinforced the kinship links.

No one remembers what this guy's name was...will anyone recognise him I wonder?

No one remembers what this guy’s name was…will anyone recognise him I wonder?

So today we have a bunch of cousins and a ring-in GI mate, whose name is no longer recorded…I wonder if anyone will recognise him? Why not march over to see what other Sepians have made of this week’s prompt? And because I’ve found an image among Nora’s collection that suits last week’s image very well I’m going to post it here as well – I’d forgotten all about it.

The reverse says "Michael Keane and friend" circa 1900s. He would also have been 1st cousin to John Garvey.

The reverse says “Michael Keane and friend” circa 1900s. He would also have been 1st cousin to John Garvey in the photos above. Their chaps look as woolly as the dog in the featured image.

Sepia Saturday 257

So this is Christmas 2014 – a geneameme

Christmas_L6My friend Sharn from FamilyHistory4U blog has set us all a Christmas geneameme challenge.In previous years I’ve posted on the Geneabloggers’ Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories and this meme offers a change of pace for me. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to check with mum on a couple of the questions.

1. What kind of Christmas did you have as a child? 

Baby Jesus in mangerChristmas was always a religious event at our house with Midnight Mass and adoration on Christmas Eve. I’d often pester my father, who was a non-Catholic, to come with us….poor man, he got no Christmas peace. Our Christmas celebrations were pretty low key as we have a small extended family and so it was usually just roast dinner with Christmas pudding and cake.

  1. Where did you spend Christmas?

We always spent Christmas at home, apart from when we’d visit my maternal grandfather’s house across town – no mean feat on a public holiday using public transport.  Mum tells me we mainly did this before her mother died, and only occasionally after that, which surprises me that I can remember, as I was only a small child when she died.

The maximum number of people we had were my own family, plus grandfather and sometimes one set of maternal aunts and uncles and cousins, so between 7 and 11 tops. For the life of me I can’t remember my paternal grandparents, who lived next door, being invited to partake in Christmas lunch….don’t go there, sigh…perhaps Grandma came over after Grandad died. Mum tells me the rellies would come over on Boxing Day mostly.

Image from Shutterstock.com

Image from Shutterstock.com

When I was a child we never went away on holidays at this time of year because it was peak period and expensive.

When we lived in Brisbane I used to dislike (hate/loathe) sitting in the northbound traffic to visit rellies, while the southbound freeway was totally free.

Mostly we’re at home for Christmas, though once when we lived in Papua New Guinea and once (or twice?) since we’ve been in Darwin, we’ve been back to Brisbane for Christmas. Once we had a white Christmas in Lucerne (some of the family) and once Himself and I returned from a trip on Christmas Eve, just a tiny bit jetlagged. And a few years ago we had Christmas in Tasmania with DD1.

  1. A letter and something yummy for Santa

I may have written to Santa (surely everyone did?) but I have no recollection of doing so. We certainly didn’t leave anything out for Santa or the reindeer – I remember being a bit mystified to find that other people did that.

Our gum tree Christmas tree when I was a child.

Our gum tree Christmas tree when I was a child.

  1. The Christmas Tree

Yes, we always had a Christmas Tree and it was always a small gum tree (eucalyptus) from down the creek bank near our house I’m pretty sure we only put it up close to Christmas so it would survive.

We still maintain our family tradition of putting up the tree together, though now it’s an artificial one, and we always decorate it while playing Christmas music. It basically stays up over Advent.

  1. Decorating the Christmas Tree 

Mum and I would decorate the tree together as Dad would either be on shift-work or think he was too clumsy. I think we had a mix of handmade and special glass baubles. I see in one photo we had balloons – I guess gum trees are less spikey than firs.

We have a wide variety of Christmas tree decorations – no colour-coordinated themes for the Cass mob. Some go back to the first year of our marriage, some were made by our children, some were gifts and quite a few have been brought back from our travels which has become a family tradition, helped by the fact we often travel off-season.Xmas decorations collage

  1. Did you decorate outdoors? 

Not really. I think we may have had some sort of wreath but no lights as they were not readily available then, as far as I know.  I don’t remember anyone else doing it either, unless it was those paper chains we made as kids…but then it is the rainy season in Queensland (and Darwin). These days we put up a wreath and solar lights in the frangipani.

7  Christmas Cards

P1160921Mum would write our Christmas cards and send them to a small group of family and friends…she has amazingly neat writing, even in her advanced years. What did we do with them? Hmmm, I think we may have cut them up and used them for craft and Mum would save the stamps and send them to the Missions. If I remember correctly they were hung on tinsel with our clock in the centre (why, I don’t know).

Remember when the postie would do two mail “runs” a day in the stinking heat of a Brisbane summer? We would always have a cold drink for him when he came by with his big pack…I think he was more like Santa than Santa himself.

These days I send electronic cards to some, paper cards to the older generation and try to ring my interstate friends for a catch-up chat…more fun, and informative, than a card.

I made this kermit stocking for my youngest daughter but it is really only used for decoration.

I made this kermit stocking for my youngest daughter but it is really only used for decoration.

  1. Christmas Stockings 

No, I never had a Christmas stocking other than those ones you bought in the shops with little round lollies, blowers, cartoons etc, which I really liked. All our presents would go under the tree. In my husband’s family there would be one gift at the bottom of the kids’ beds and they were told when they first woke up they could open that and read (it was usually a book). We maintained that tradition too, but the joy of Midnight Mass is that it makes the kids too tired to wake up super-early.

9. Christmas Presents

I got presents from Mum and Dad and Santa, something from my grandparents and a small gift from my aunts and uncles, and I would swap gifts with close friends. I think I made small gifts for my parents and I remember the first time I was able to go shopping in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley for gifts for my parents. Mum’s confirmed we didn’t do gifts for the nuns who taught me.

My bride doll Mary on display.

My bride doll Mary on display.

I remember that it was traditional to always leave out some beer as gifts for the garbos in those days when they had to carry the bins and empty them manually. The milko also got something.

These days we’ve rationalised our family present buying: the adults exchange a secret Santa gift to a limited amount and I swap presents with some of my friends. Ironically my oldest friend and I don’t do presents any more – we ran out of inventiveness – but if we see something during the year we’ll buy it at the time.

Each year we have a craft session with the grandchildren when they make gifts for their parents. They seem to have a good time and so do we. I remember some school holidays when the girls were young and we had chaos while neighbourhood kids made fymo necklaces and decorations.

  1. Your favourite Christmas Present

Well I’d be stretching it being confident about this but one I very much remember was a large Readers Digest book on animals. I was desperate that it would be among my gifts and was thrilled when I did, but was it a Christmas or birthday gift? I still have it in my library.

Actually my favourite Christmas present was always a book, any book. A sad Christmas would be one with no book (don’t think that every happened). I still have many of them, especially some from one of Mum’s close friends.

  1. Was there an unrealistic present you wanted but never received?  

I was going to say “no” but on further reflection, every year I wished for a baby sister or brother but it never happened. Obviously that was not in God’s plan for our family.

12. Did you give gifts to teachers and friends at school? 

I thought I might have given presents to the nuns in high school but mum thinks not, and since she would have done the buying (what mum doesn’t?) then I’d guess not. I don’t think it was the almost compulsory activity it has been with our children onwards. Perhaps we just gave them a holy Christmas card.

Again, close friends exchanged gifts but the wider circle of girls would exchange holy pictures with messages on them.

Christmas in Tasmania was all about the seafood and a fantastic meal by DD1, oh yes, and the company :)

Christmas in Tasmania was all about the seafood and a fantastic meal by DD1.

  1. Christmas Food
Green Peppercorn Xmas cake recipe from the Australian Women's Weekly (I think) circa 1990

Green Peppercorn Xmas cake recipe from the Australian Women’s Weekly (I think) circa 1990. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

Now this I do remember!

Despite the heat we always had a hot Christmas meal. Chicken was an expensive treat in those days and I don’t recall anyone having turkey or seafood. Roast potatoes, carrots and onions with peas for vegetables. Steamed Christmas pudding, custard and cream for dessert (yes please Dad would say, meaning all three). Shortbread was made according to my Scottish grandmother’s recipe and we would always have crystallised ginger on the table….one of Mum’s favourites. Dad might have a  beer (remember that Scottish mother) but no one else had anything alcoholic.

We always had our meal inside on a formally dressed table with all my parents’ quality linen and crystal…one of the few times each year that the crystal made an appearance.

  1. A special Christmas Recipe

Yes we made the shortbread (see above) which I still make to Grandma’s recipe. The pudding was also her recipe and is a delicious, moist version. Mum made the same delicious Christmas cake for decades which I also made until I found a new recipe for a Green Peppercorn Christmas Cake which we really like but which no longer likes me…sigh.

  1. Christmas Traditions 
Backyard Christmas celebrations Gerehu, Port Moresby.

Back yard Christmas celebrations Gerehu, Port Moresby.

Bon bons were always on the table too with their usual sad jokes but still fun. We didn’t go carolling – that was done around the church services and we also listened to them at home.

And yes, grace before and after meals –always, not just at Christmas.

In Papua New Guinea where we were all far from our families of origin, we would hold Christmas gatherings of friends and rotate through different households from year to year. It was always great fun.

  1. Christmas Music 

Me, in a choir?? Thank heavens, no! Mum has a good voice and I would sing at home but that was it. Dad was tone deaf unfortunately and couldn’t even carry a tune. We would listen to the music on LPs once we got a player and one of our first Christmas records was one which included Oh Tannenbaum. That was when I was learning German so I guess we got it when I was in Grade 10.

At church in Brisbane the band would play carols before and during Mass, but then let rip with the liveliest ones as the Mass ended.

It’s a shame that the abuse of Christmas carols in shops as a marketing ploy has taken the edge off our enjoyment of such a happy part of Christmas.

For a very long time our family would go to Carols by Candlelight in the park in Brisbane – our youngest even went when she was only a few weeks old. It was a very special part of our family’s Christmas tradition until it became way too commercialised and tacky.

nana-mouskouri 1_edited-1We love listening to a CD we have of Carols from Oxford…just so relaxing.

  1. Your favourite Christmas Carol 

Can I remember that far back? I guess the traditional ones like Silent Night and Away in a Manger then as a teenager Oh Tannenbaum. As an adult, Feliz Navidad, the Little Drummer Boy, and Mary’s Boy Child are my absolute favourites.

  1. Christmas Parties

Our family didn’t do parties, period. I remember being taken to the Railway Club where I got presents but not every year. I was in Guides but again, I have no recollection of having parties there.

Hmm, I guess I contradicted myself with the Gerehu parties above, but then I didn’t really see them as parties per se.

  1. Christmas Concerts/Plays

Mum confirmed for me that we didn’t have Christmas concerts at my primary school, only St Patrick’s Day ones. We didn’t have them at All Hallows’ because every second year was the state-wide exam so we all finished school on different days.

20. Christmas Holidays

As I mentioned, we never went away over the summer holidays so mine were spent hanging around the house, playing with the kids who also were at home. I remember that at least once we went up to my aunt and uncle’s camp site at Noosa, right in the midst of what is now a very upmarket resort. My cousin says we stayed with them at least once, but I only remember visiting.

I loved it when I got books as Christmas presents and could just hide from the heat and read…not that mum was so keen on that idea when there were jobs to be done <smile>. One Christmas in high school I read an entire collection of Dickens’ books which my cousin had left with us to mind. Since I read books like a glutton at a smorgasborg I’ve forgotten much of what I read.

Christmas Holiday camping at Hastings Point in northern NSW

Christmas Holiday camping at Hastings Point in northern NSW….a packed “house”…better to just visit.

21 What is your earliest Christmas memory? 

Whew, my brain is stretched from all these questions….I don’t have a specific memory but I guess it might be the year I got my bride doll.

Thanks Sharn for inventing this meme for us. I’m looking forward to seeing what others have written – it’s so interesting to see the things we have in common, and the ways we differ.