Monday Memories: Flying and travel

postcard-1242616_1280Yes, it’s Tuesday, but unfortunately my internet was on strike yesterday.

This (Monday) morning, I was reflecting on the changes over the decades to flying and travelling internationally (and domestic).

My mother-in-law had a mantra which we maintain: “tickets, passport, wallets, kids”. Now that the latter are adults and we’re empty nesters, we can automatically tick one box at least. Of the other three, perhaps passports have changed the least, but we’ve seen a great many other changes. I wonder how many you remember?

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Many of our early international trips were on Boeing 707s.

  • Tickets were multi-leaved flimsy documents and each page or leaf covered one sector of your flight booking. As you checked in, that leaf was torn out.
  • You were checked in by real humans -some scary (if you were worried about luggage allowances) and some all smiley and happy. The check-in process didn’t yet make you feel like a rat in a maze.
  • The in-flight cabin crew were usually men and women but the women were always young and beautiful. Qantas was renowned for having many male stewards. Of course there were no female pilots on any of the airlines at the time.
  • Economy was still cattle-class but at least it hadn’t progressed to chicken-coop-class (3C) where your knees are against the seat in front (if you’re more than 5ft 4ins) or your hips are wedged against the armrests (if you’re not a stick insect any more).
  • You were plied with large meals at every turn and received a glossy printed menu for each meal. The rationale that it’s better to have small, infrequent meals seems to have a lot less to do with health, than business economics.
  • There were no long-haul flights per se. Aircraft had not yet been developed to fly Australia to Europe in two hops, or even one, with the new Dreamliner. Our most memorable trip in 1977 was Port Moresby, Manila, Bangkok, Karachi, Teheran, Rome. Kangaroo flight indeed. It got very tedious when you’d just got your kids to sleep then had to wake them up at that transit stop.
  • In-flight entertainment was a whole other ballpark. The crew would offer you a variety of newspapers and magazines – of course the women were automatically offered “women’s” mags and the men the business papers and magazines. You carried the books you thought you’d read en route but obviously weight was an issue. Tiny packs of playing cards were sometimes handed out and the children got kid’s packs of colouring books etc. If they were lucky they were (rarely) taken up to the see the flight deck.
  • FrommerYou carried your Frommer’s “Europe on $5/$10 a day” because there was a limit to how much pre-planning and pre-booking you could do in advance. What’s the internet? What’s a computer?
  • If you worried about safety it was more to do with weather and potential crashes (especially flying in Papua New Guinea). While terrorist attacks happened in those days, they seemed less of a threat than they do since 9/11….or perhaps the powers-that-be have hyped up this fear.
  • Smoking was permitted on the aircraft and even when there was a no-smoking section it did little to improve the overall air quality.
  • Alcohol was free (I think) and many people made sure they took advantage. I was not impressed with the family behind us en route to Rome when the couple drank and drank, leaving their children to pester those in neighbouring seats.
  • The toilet facilities had toiletries even in economy – but then I guess they were long flights!
  • You received a proper in-flight pack of socks, eyeshade, ear plugs and toothbrush.
  • You could carry water through check-in and on board.
  • You had no clue where you were between transit stops – there were no in-flight maps or camera in the aircraft nose etc – but you looked out the windows and gained a sense of the world. I still remember flying over vast tracts of north-west India into Pakistan and seeing little villages lit-up in a sea of darkness.
  • There were no in-flight TVs (or streamed to an iPad – what’s that?) hence no music, TV shows, movies, games etc.
  • There were no eye-scanners at Passport control.
  • Vaccinations were still required for smallpox and cholera, even for trips to Europe.
  • International flights were something many people could only dream of because of the expense. We were lucky that our PNG employment conditions enabled us to convert our Australian flight entitlement to a (partial) overseas fare.
  • We’ve paid for cheaper fares and accessibility to overseas flights with many of the economic cost-cutting measures the airlines have implemented: fewer meals, more squashed seats, paying for checked-in luggage etc.
  • Of course the truly brave souls, including some of our friends, backpacked from London to Australia through many of the countries that are now international hotspots.

After 30 odd hours you arrived

  • On the ground in Europe, your passport was stamped as you crossed each border. If you were on an overnight train, you were regularly woken by immigration and train officials for ticket and passport inspections. This could get very tedious.
  • You had to check you had visas for the relevant countries you were visiting and also, for us, re-Entry Permits back to Papua New Guinea.
  • Every country had its own currency so it gave your mental arithmetic a work-out. Credit cards took weeks for payments to be processed. You carried travellers’ cheques as there were no ATMs or bank cash cards.
  • 1974 Europe tvl035 (2)You wrote aerogrammes home and sent postcards, not emails. If you needed to get in touch with home, you went to a large post office, booked an international call, and were sent to a particular cubicle.
  • You took slides or photos and sent the film home to be developed.
  • And when you flew back into Australia, before you could disembark, two men would come up the aisles with spray cans aloft spraying any wayward insects that had tried to hitch a free ride to Australia.

I did a rough tally of the airlines we’ve flown with internationally since 1974: Qantas, Emirates, Air New Zealand, Scandinavian (SAS), Air Nuigini, Malaysian, Philippines Airlines, Royal Nepal, British Airways/BOAC, United, Air Canada, Aer Lingus, Singapore Airlines, Thai, Japan Airlines (JAL), SwissAir, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, Jetstar and others I’ve probably forgotten.

I’ve only flown Business internationally twice: once when we went finish[i] from Papua New Guinea and on a Los Angeles-Brisbane flight in 1989, thanks to a dodgy move they tried on. I look at the cost, then at what we can use that for in other travel and back to chicken-coop-class we go. Maybe one day when we’re older and grey-er.

What are your memories of those flights of our youth? Fond and rose-coloured, or tinged with horrors?

[i] “Going finish” was the term used by expats in Papua New Guinea when they left the country for good. It could be a very emotional and pivotal time for each family.

Monday Memories, NFHM and Milne Bay

postcard-1242616_1280Over the years I’ve often written about battles and family members who have fought in them. Today is a little more personal. As a young bride, I went to the then-Territory of Papua New Guinea with my newly-minted husband. Nothing all that strange in that perhaps, as many young women made the same migration for love, curiosity or a sense of adventure. The difference for me was that we were going to Milne Bay, my husband’s “place” in the indigenous sense, or in Pidgin “as (=arse) ples bilong en” where he lived for 10 years….at the time his longest residence anywhere. For him it was home, familiar, and in his emotional blood.

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For me it was confronting, exciting, confusing and isolated. My family and other friends were thousands of kilometres away, not as today at the end of a phone or an email, Facetime or Skype. Our communications were mid-20th century: snail mail letters (and sometimes the snail would be faster!) and radio telephone calls when the weather didn’t interfere, over, over. Everyday conversation was scattered with a proliferation of acronyms, wonderfully clear to those in the know but bewildering to the newcomer (the ADC said to the DC that the ETA on the DC3 was 0900, for example).

Alotau 1960s house1 1968

THEN: The Cass family’s first home in Alotau, taken soon after the move from Samarai 1968.

But all this took place in the most wondrous geographical environment. We lived for a few months in the government home of my parents-in-law who were in Port Moresby for work. The house had a magnificent view over Milne Bay and was near the school where my mother-in-law taught. Mr Cassmob’s father had chosen the site as he sailed up the bay in the Education Department trawler – perhaps the only site with a better view was the District Commissioner (the head honcho for the district administration). If that all sounds rather colonial, I suppose it was, after all that was the world they were living in, as was I briefly, though the tides of change were already coming. We were, after all, a tiny minority population responsible to Australia for its governance of an emerging nation.

NFHM Blogging challengeThe local people of Milne Bay are among the nicest you could meet in PNG – open and friendly. However, only 74 years ago their world was turned on its head with the invasion of Australian troops sent to defend the then-territory of Papua against the wave of Japanese invasion. Milne Bay was to be the first place on land that the Japanese troops would be defeated, and yet it has long been overshadowed and forgotten in a similar way to the predominance of Gallipoli in our nation’s military historiography.

Plane Milne Bay fighting 026648

n.d. Milne Bay, Papua. 1942-09. Fellow pilots of 76 Squadron RAAF, lend a hand to push Squadron Leader Truscott’s plane back into the dispersal bay, as he steps out of the cockpit. Australian War Memorial image. (The plane is on marsden matting)

You have to have seen the jungles of Milne Bay (or north Queensland) to have an appreciation of how dense it can be. And you have to have lived there in a Wet Season to know how muddy and claggy the red clay could get, or how fiercely the creeks and rivers run. The clouds come down over the ranges that encircle Milne Bay and take up residence over the bay foreshortening the view and making flying hazardous today, let alone in the thick of battle. Pilot skills and aircraft readiness are challenged to the maximum and when we were there, a small aircraft was lost with all souls including people we knew. This brings home earlier realities for those at war.

Milne Bay ships war

Argus (Melbourne, Vic) & Australia. Department of Information 1943, NEW GUINEA. Milne Bay. State Library of Victoria collection.

Between Alotau (the district capital) and the airport, you could see the remains of war – marsden matting on the bridges or elsewhere, and the remains of boats half-buried. The Australians were stationed near the current-day airport (only an airstrip when we were there) and as a teenager Mr Cassmob worked on the adjacent coconut plantation, Gili Gili. One day at work he found an old street sign for Sadds Ridge Road which we’ve had on our houses at various times. It was some years before we found it came from Charters Towers and we still wonder who took it with them as a souvenir or reminder of home.

World War I discovery in Milne Bay, Papua

There is something that cuts to the heart of your understanding when you live near where the Australians fought for their lives, and quite genuinely, for the safety of their own country and that of PNG. And nearby, a Queenslander, Corporal John French from Crows Nest, won his Victoria Cross.

Milne Bay during World War II ca. 1942

Unidentified 1942, Milne Bay during World War II, ca. 1942, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

I’ve written many times about Alotau, Milne Bay and the battle that was fought there, so I’ll just include the links and those who wish to can (re-)visit them. If you’re looking for a better understanding of jungle fighting, you can read The Last Blue Sea which gives you sense of what fighting was like in PNG. Current Australian author, Peter Watt, also writes a fictional series which includes a family who lives in Papua and fights during the war.

Those genealogists taking the Unlock the Past cruise to PNG and Milne Bay in 2017 will get a taste of the place – but beware, like family history, it can be addictive. Thanks Alex from Family Tree Frog for this prompt in National Family History Month.

Return to Milne Bay

Milne Bay: the people and old and new friends

Home again

The Battle of Milne Bay remembered in stained glass

The Anniversary of the Battle of Milne Bay

Lest We Forget: The Battle of Milne Bay

Monday Memories: Scrap books

Many people these days are involved with scrap booking or scrapping as it’s sometimes known. They use the craft for all sorts of purposes from cards to travel and family history. While I’m quite visual and like crafts, it’s just a step too far for me to add another hobby to my family history obsession. Scrapping these days is not as we knew it when I was a child, as evidenced by the plethora of shops catering to the craft.scapbook 1

Among the bits and bobs my mother gave me when she moved was an old scrap book of mine from when I was a child. I was interested to see the diversity of images contained within. There are photos of royalty back when Prince Charles was my age, and QEII was still a young woman. There are characters from literature, with Dickens and Shakespeare featuring prominently…I doubt at that age that I had the faintest idea what that was all about. Angels, flowers and animals get frequent representation and I’m pleased to see there are even a couple of aviatrixes. Surprisingly there was even quite a few holy pictures available as well.

scrapbook 2

It takes some winding back of the mind, to remember that when I was a child there was no internet, no pinterest or instagram, and magazines were something rarely purchased. We illustrated our school books and map drawings with produce and industry relevant to the regions. It took some doing to sleuth out the necessary images.

scrapbook 3

Do you remember having scrap books like this? Do you still enjoy scrapping?

Monday Memories: Weekend picnics

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Hiking and picnicing at Brookfield c1965.

I’ve recently come to realise that one aspect of our family’s traditional life has faded into obscurity, due to a blend of improved circumstances, general disorganisation, and a social trend to eating out in cafes and restaurants. In our case, I suspect that it was the move to Darwin’s hot humid climate that contributed as well. So where are my memories taking me today? Why, on a picnic in the fresh air and sunshine on a day which once would have seen us desperate to pack an al fresco meal and escape.

We didn’t often do picnics in my own family as Dad worked shift work which wasn’t very family-friendly for school-aged children. We didn’t own a car so we were mostly dependent on the bus, train, or an outing with the neighbour down the back. I don’t recall ever eating out in a café on these outings – it was always a packed lunch of some sort.

Over the years we’ve picnicked in all sorts of places depending where we lived, and the age of our children. When Mr Cassmob and I lived in Papua New Guinea we picnicked rather more often, usually to explore some new place, and quite often with an entourage of interested villagers who would sit at a distance from us. Not entirely conducive to lolling around with a book, not that there was much time for lolling with a toddler!

Peter and girls at Buck Palace

We didn’t invite QEII to our picnic near Buckingham Palace in 1977.

 

After we moved to Port Moresby, on the coast, our weekend trips took us often to Ela Beach as we’d take the dog and check our mail box en route. We’d even hear the Police Band if we were there early-ish in the morning, or watch the beach-volley-ball players.

Our other favourite, but more distant spot, was  Varirata National Park. This involved the longer drive up towards the Owen Stanley Range and Sogeri, near where the Kokoda Track ends (or starts). The national park was such fun with open spaces, BBQ areas, and the tree house. All the family enjoyed the outing and we always took visitors there when they came to town. We have quite a few photos of groups of smiling families perched like starlings on a fence.

Variarata picnic view

Back in the Land of Oz, picnics were either by the beach (Sunshine Coast or Hastings Point) or in the ranges. One of our faves was Lamington National Park where we could camp as well. It could be chilly and you could have a camp fire at night. During the day there were bush walk and the chance to see the beautiful rosellas (birds) and regent and satin bowerbirds.

Depending on where we were going, the picnic would be fresh bread, cheese, ham and tomatoes (and a thermos of coffee!) Other times we’d take sausages (aka snags) and the portable BBQ. Last weekend we drove past one of the spots where we’d had a BBQ on the river bank. The name always amused us because Obi Obi Creek has multiple crossings. Our picnics were pretty lazy affairs – taking it easy, having a book or magazine to read – a way for the family to recuperate after the busyness of the workday week. None of those energetic cricket or footy games, unless we were camping…our best effort was a bush walk.

Peter and Louisa BBQ Obi Obi Ck

A creek-side BBQ at Obi Obi Creek.

Did your family go on picnics? What food did you take? Were you energetic or lazy like us?

Tura Lura Lura – hush little bubba

Today is another Sepia Saturday– Monday Memories combined post. The theme this week is sleeping babies, reading and related memories.

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The image prompt shows a woman reading quietly while her baby sleeps tranquilly. Most mothers would roll their eyes at this, thinking of how tired and busy they were with small children. Perhaps I was lucky, or just plain selfish and stubborn, but I took to heart the advice I received, to rest when the baby rested. My memory tells me that I would indeed sometimes read while they slept, though I certainly didn’t look like this immaculate woman. On the other hand somehow I seemed to fit far more into the day then than I manage now with sewing, cooking, freezing and other household chores.  Whatever I did while they slept, it appears not to have been take their photos!

Plainly here I was replicating a baby photo from my own baby-book with our eldest, though the two places were thousands of kilometres apart. If you could see the background of mine it was in a surburban garden, and I think that’s a clothes prop in the background. If we could see the background in the second photo you’d see a village with people, pigs and a pit-pit fence round the gardens…a vast cultural difference apart.

Louisa in her cot and bedroom nth Goroka 1972They say that you take myriad photos of your first born and that it’s a slippery photographic downward slope from there. We were different from this, mainly because we didn’t have a camera until later in the peace.

We did own a bassinet for each of them, but they quickly grew out of it and into a cot. I have zero recollection of where I bought the cot, but I do recall stripping and painting it on the front verandah of our house in North Goroka, Papua New Guinea. It looked quite smart and her room was jazzed up with some cheap decorative items. Later the cot would be re-painted yellow and recycled for our youngest daughter.

And an interesting theme appears – we seem to take more outdoor photos of our babies, probably because there’s no need to keep them rugged up all the time. I love this photo of my husband as a baby. Don’t you adore that gorgeous crocheted rug? I wonder if his mother made it or perhaps her mother?

Peter as baby 1949 low

Sometimes you just don’t care where your kids sleep, so long as they sleep (that probably accounts for my smile below). The two older daughters looking totally zonked out on the beach at Magnetic Island.

It’s nearly time to go to sleep little baby. Did your mother sing a lullaby to you? Mine always sang Tura lura lura to me, and my children, while she stroked my/their forehead and hair. I carried on the tradition with our girls, but I tried not to traumatise them by singing to them very often, though the forehead “patting” remains a family tradition. The lullaby tradition carries on to the next generation with it being sung by one daughter to her children.

This is a lovely Indigenous bi-lingual lullaby by Territorian Ted Egan . You might like to listen to it before heading over to read about other Sepian sleeping babies before you snooze off, dreaming of angels, fairies and shamrocks.

shamrock angel

Tura lura lura

Over in Killarney,
Many years ago,
Me mother sang a song to me
In tones so sweet and low.
Just a simple little ditty,
In her good ould Irish way,
And I’d give the world if she could sing
That song to me this day.
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral,
Too-ra-loo-ra-li,
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral,
Hush, now don’t you cry!
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral,
Too-ra-loo-ra-li,
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral,
That’s an Irish lullaby.

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Sepia Saturday: Aussie royalty – the koala

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How could I resist this wonderful Sepia Saturday prompt which had passed me by until I read Jollett Etc’s post today?

koala sign croppedThe koala is, of course, a key icon of Australia – they look cuddly and cute, even if all they do is sleep much of the day and between-times munch on a gum leaf or two. In fact, they’re rarely seen in much of Australia these days though I know LoneTester is lucky enough to have them near her home. Despite the local signs, I haven’t seen any koalas or roos as yet, and I surely don’t want to see them on the road!

One place I used to see them in the wild quite often was when we’d visit Magnetic Island off the coast of Townsville. It was a tremendous koala habitat and patience was rewarded with regular sightings. In those days the old Kodak camera just wasn’t up to capturing their images though.

koalas at lone pine 1939 copy

1930. Koalas at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, photographed for Mrs Forgan Smith, October 1939, Queensland State Archives. Copyright expired.

German Shepherd and Koala Lone Pine

Photographed c1960 by P Cass

Brisbane has a long-lived tradition of showing its tourists the cuddly koala at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. While many similar places have limited access to them, they can still be handled by besotted tourists from Princess Alexandra of Kent(1959) or the Russian Ballet troupe (1961) to The Legal Genealogist (2016).  Luckily for all of them the koalas were on their best behaviour and didn’t piddle on royalty, British or genealogical, although it’s possible they were bored and yawned.

Of course it’s not just the tourists who would make the pilgrimage to see the koala at Brisbane’s iconic tourist spot. Back in the day it was a “special treat” outing for children during school holidays. We would catch the ferry from North Quay and arrive upriver at Lone Pine to be greeted by the German Shepherd with a koala on its back.

pauleen Lone Pine

oh my, look at those freckles!

 

Pauleen Kunkel Valerie Carstens middle and Pauline Morris and brothers Lone Pine

A picnic with family friends by the river at Lone Pine c1960.

You can see from these photos that my family made occasional visits to Lone Pine. While our children didn’t get to go to Lone Pine, they’ve managed to cuddle a koala on a couple of occasions.

Rach Louisa and Bec and koala crop

My small bear is looking a little worried about that ‘bear”..perhaps she knew she was in the “firing line” if it decided to wee.

 

Koalas Lone Pine news fm TroveLone Pine has always been proud of its reputation, boasting proudly back in 1939 of four generations of koalas living there. The trend for popularity is long established as one was named “Princess” and another “Amy Johnson” and our own Aussie genearoyalty, Jill.  I notice that the sanctuary was still referring to koalas as bears, which they’re not.  Don’t you love the photo from our good friend Trove of a whole row of koalas?

So there we have it, one post combining “Trove Tuesday”, “Sepia Saturday” and a planned-for-another-day “Monday Memories” post.

Have you ever cuddled a koala? Are they on your bucket list? If so you might want to think about visiting Australia for Congress 2018, our triennial family history conference.

And if you think they’re always docile, check out this video which has been doing the rounds on Facebook and YouTube.

 

FOUR GENERATIONS OF KOALAS (1935, July 6). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954), , p. 12. Retrieved June 21, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article36766724

Here are some photos of my aunt and cousins, Patsy and Jimmy, at Lone Pine. Sadly they are all deceased now.

Mary farraher with koala

Aunty Mary, perhaps circa 1995.

My grandmother with cousin Patsy and koala.

My grandmother with cousin Patsy and koala.

 

My cousin Jimmy being introduced to a koala.

My cousin Jimmy being introduced to a koala.

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Monday Memories: My life in cats

Pauleen in basket with kittenIn my daughter’s memory photo album I wrote “where there’s a Cass, there’s a cat”. Very true, but equally so of my own family as the various photos here will attest.

From my earliest days to today I’ve been without a cat for only a few short months – and felt myself off-kilter and at a loss. It’s not that I don’t like dogs, and as a child I’d often pester for one, but Mum was somewhat afraid of dogs. She didn’t greatly like cats either, but on that she was over-ruled. Mum preferred our blue budgie, called – wait for it – Bluey! He would sing away on the back landing and call in the wild birds.

I know that one of our cats had kittens at one stage and I suspect Dad had to drown the kittens in the creek (the way it was done in those days). He would have hated that, because he loved animals, almost more than (most) people.

Pauleen cats and kittens

Which cat had the kittens? Perhaps Tammy or Sooty.

ChippyOne of our cats, Chippy, used to walk down the street with mum and I when she went to ring her best mate in Townsville from the public phone box. I don’t recall how old I was when we got the phone on, but I would have been in my early teens, until then urgent calls came through our friends over the road – as a (railway) engine driver he needed the phone in case he was called in.

Many’s the time I would sneeze my way through Sunday Mass thanks to the cat being curled up beside me – I wasn’t going to let a minor allergy get in my cat-loving way.

One of the big attractions of Mr Cassmob when I first met him at uni was his love of cats – they had a white cat called Wizzle who’d splash in the puddles.

Valerie with Sooty and Tammy

This photo of a family friend with Sooty & Tammy would be about 1960.

After we married and moved to Alotau we acquired a female cat who we named Tabitha. She was a great leaper which was unfortunate given her predilection for catching large tropical butterflies. It wasn’t uncommon to wake up and find scattered butterfly wings on the floor, along with shredded tissues – the latter delivered by my in-laws’ daschund who we were minding. The locals were bemused how her ears would stand out in the wind when we drove along – Er wah, they’d say. Sanguma (magic) and they’d call Tinka “bat dog”.

Louisa in basket and Pedro Nth Goroka 1972

Daughter #1 with Pedro – echoes of the one above of me.

Tabitha excelled herself when she delivered her first litter of kittens. It was Anzac Day 1971, very early, when I woke up the technicolour image of a kitten being ejected right above my face. That was too much even for this cat lover! We left Tabitha and the rest of the kittens behind at the High School when the government decided we needed to be in Goroka “yesterday”, but we took one of the kittens, a handsome boy we called Pedro.

Some years later we suspect Pedro came to a sticky end and wound up either as a hat or in the cooking pot, given our home on the route to various villages and squatter settlements. The bossy neighbourhood cat, Brandi, had pushed him out. Ironically she was to become our next furry feline when her owners “went finish” (leave PNG). It was a common tradition to pass pets on, because in those days the quarantine period was very long -a year or more from recollection. In much the same way we acquired out cattle dog, Whisky, who loved going to the beach with us each weekend. We threatened to get a budgie and call it Rum.

Brandi was a beautiful cat and we all loved her to pieces. She nearly came to a sticky end too, when the neighbourhood dogs caught her one day. Luckily we were able to rescue her, and with lots of TLC she survived. Very sadly we had to have her put to sleep when we left Moresby as, post-Independence, we had fewer friends left still in Moresby, and they weren’t really cat people. We were all in tears and I still regret that we didn’t bring her home to be buried in the garden rather than leave her with the vets. I still worry that dastardly deeds may have been done to my gorgeous girl.

Our lovely Brandi cat

Brandi – our much loved cat in Port Moresby, PNG.

Whisky was handed on to our neighbours when we left, but soon after went off to join the man who had done our ironing. She’d been taken to a village when she was very tiny and had an obsession with Mackerel Pike so I guess she’d have fitted in okay. It was very tough leaving special furry friends behind when we had to leave.

DD1 again with Socks Xmas 1978 with last week's chair in the background and my crocheted poncho effort.

DD1 again with Socks Xmas 1978 with last week’s chair in the background and my crocheted poncho effort.

Around the time we decided to “go finish”, Mum and Dad had adopted three kittens whose mother was completely wild. They kept one, as our old cat Sooty had crossed the rainbow bridge sometime previously. Another was allocated to us, and became another firm favourite (aren’t they all?), Socks. One vet suggested that she may have been part-Burmese – she had a beautiful colouring and a lovely nature.  She had an attitude though, when it suited her. When Ginger Megs came into our lives she swatted him across the face and established who was boss of this household! She also took on a Doberman which wandered into our yard one day – she could be quite fearless. Unfortunately, she didn’t live to a ripe old age but died of cancer aged about 10 years. Another sad day for the Cass mob.

Meanwhile Ginger Megs aka Gemma (AM = ack emma hence GM = Gemma) had arrived. Had we known his temperament in advance we’d have named him Garfield as he was very cheeky…and large. He grew to be about 10kgs (22lbs) and was totally quirky – when he wanted you to get up, he’d bat things progressively off the bedside table. And an afternoon nap was an excuse to lie on your back. He got cancer and he too was put to sleep and also brought home to rest in the garden.

Kizzle and Ginger Megs

A very tiny Kizzle with her mate Ginger Megs.

Kizzle was “just a tabby tat” but was immediately part of our family. At age 10, she came to live with us in Darwin, and boy did she give us heaps about her experience on the 4 hour flight. She had a couple of grand adventures in the drama of the house being packed and us relocating, but those yarns are far too long for here. She got very old (18) and wasn’t well, and we dithered whether to have her put to sleep before we went away to Europe in 2006. Sadly, she deteriorated badly and it was our daughters who had to deal with it. She rests in our Darwin garden.

Kizzie does Family history 1

Kizzle keeps an eye on the family history progress.

Despite a promise to myself to take “time out”, my cat-addiction took hold and Springer joined us only a couple of months after we returned home. You can read about this king of our universe here, and the follow up here. And yes, it does seem that we have a trend towards tabby tats.

Springer and craft

Springer in Darwin after “sampling” decorations from the Christmas tree.

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Tuesday Memories: the wicker chair

Somehow Monday passed me by in a flurry of Irish research…I really need to pre-program some Monday Memories posts. Today I’m just going to share with you some photos of a family heirloom which is now with my eldest daughter. Among her photos is also one of my granddaughter taken in the same chair. I really think that I have one of DD1 in it as well…but where?

Dad as a small boy in the chair with his parents Dinny & Kit.

Dennis, Catherine & Norman Kunkel crop

This photo of Dad and his cousin Belle may have been taken on the same day. I have the little wicker rocker, which I played with as a child.

Norman & cousin Belle

Dad as a young man in the chair with his mum, in the late 1930s/early 40s.

norman and kit in chair

Yours truly as an infant in the chair with my Mum.

Pauleen & Joan Jan-Feb 1949

No chance that the chair would cope with someone sitting on the arms now, but it has survived 90+ years so it’s doing well.

All these photos were taken at my grandparents’ house, which was next door to ours, and was my second home. You can read my story about it here.

 

 

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Monday Memories – Are you crafty?

postcard-1242616_1280One of the challenges of researching family history is bringing our women ancestors out of the shadows. They are often missing from official records, especially in early years, though Australia is fortunate with its early female suffrage.

One way to reveal more about our ancestral women is to look at the skills and hobbies which they employed to beautify their homes and clothe their families.

Embroider Chris Goopy 2A recent discussion on Facebook about school samplers brought my thoughts round to the “womanly” skills, even among working class women. I remember the samplers vividly, and the fact that I didn’t much like doing them, which I suspect explains why I no longer have any of mine. However my good friend Crissouli from That Moment in Time blog has very kindly provided me with an image of an embroidery she did, and for which she won a prize, aged 10, at a CWA show.

I don’t think my mother liked knitting and I don’t believe she ever sat with needles and wool turning out a cardigan or socks or whatever. However, I’m pretty sure it was mum who taught me to knit and in my younger married days I did manage to make a few items. I’ve photographed a lilac dress I made for my eldest daughter, which is now so worn and marked that it is headed for disposal. I’ve also knitted various cardigans for himself and me over the years but it’s never been a great activity of mine – perhaps related to spending so much time in the tropics?

DSC_0543

Mum seemed to enjoy crochet more, and again she must have taught me, though my memory lapses on this as well. The circular doyley is one of hers which I used to use in our home – I’ve since given up on them as I hate housework and can’t be bothered with the starching, ironing and dusting.

I did have a crack at some crochet when living in the Highlands of PNG where it got quite cold at night. I made a yellow crocheted poncho for myself and a blue one for DD1 (little did I anticipate they’d ever be back in fashion!). I thought this little set I also made was quite cute…knitted, and the daisies were made with a special metal wheel which I suspect is languishing among my craft things…somewhere.  I also made a shawl to go with it. Like the curly scarves that were all the go a few years back I quite enjoyed making these bits and pieces.DSC_0541

My aunty Melda was a guru at crochet but especially at tatting. This image shows a tatted collar piece she made. She sold her wares at various craft shops.

Similarly, my aunt Mary loved all sorts of handcrafts but most especially decorating dolls’ faces and making dolls’ clothes – so beyond my own level of patience. I have this tiny doll she made which sits in an egg-shaped “thing”. My granddaughter has some of Aunty Mary’s dolls and others were shared around when mum moved. This doll is tiny, maybe three inches long.

I have no recollection of my paternal grandmother doing crafty things – perhaps her professional life as a dressmaker cured her of that (not to mention she was elderly when I was growing up).

DSC_0540My maternal grandmother died when I was very young so I’m not sure about her craft skills -memo to self, ask mum.

Jubilee swap craft

I based this Jubilee swap craft on the Xmas ones we used to do.

Mum has shared her love of crafts with me and we both like making bits and bobs at Christmas time, even though our tastes are very different. One year when we were touring Europe around Christmas time with DD3, we spent our evenings making cross-stitch items which we gifted to especially kind B&B owners. A couple of years ago I made a modified version for an exchange swap via blogging…it was fun. The large cross-stitch of a Pierrot for DD3 was less successful and was finally bequeathed to an op shop when we left Darwin (complete with the wool etc) – it had been 90% finished for far too long, and there was no one who’d have wanted it.

One Christmas my boss made me an appliqued T shirt which sent me off into a frenzy of appliqued T shirts. While I’ve enjoyed dabbling in various crafty things, I most loved working with glass and learning a little about it in the last few years in Darwin, thanks to my teacher and friend Andrea who inspired and taught the class, and did the firing. I’m hopeless at making glass beads but have fun with free-form “applique” of glass to platters.

glass bowl Pauleen

One of Mum’s embroidered doyleys I’ve yet to finish. I imagine she did the crochet around the edge.DSC_0544

Are you or the women in your family crafty?

If so, what kinds of hobbies did they/you pursue?

 

 

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.