Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 18 Wedding Bells

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Under the Jacaranda Tree, UQ

Under the Jacaranda Tree, UQ

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

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

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

The Great Court at UQ c1998

The Great Court at UQ c1998

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 15 Dressmaking tributes

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

This a pyjama top made by my grandmother.

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

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

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

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

My grandma's sewing machine.

My grandma’s sewing machine.

A smart winter outfit created by Mum.

A smart winter outfit created by Mum.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beware: more dressmaking stories ahead.

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

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 14 Young Love

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

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

Wasn't he cute?

Wasn’t he cute?

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Valentine’s Day, Mr Cassmob!

Out to dinner.

Out to dinner.

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

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 13 – The Youth March

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

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

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

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

British Flag on Buckingham Place, Image from Wikipedia.

British Flag on Buckingham Place, Image from Wikipedia.

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

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

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

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

All Hallows' School, Brisbane Youth March

All Hallows’ School, Brisbane Youth March

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

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

AHS Youth March

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

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

The of the city from the All Hallows' terraces c1964

The of the city from the All Hallows’ terraces c1964

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

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

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

Fab Feb imageFamily Hx writing challenge

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

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

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

Kunkels and Farrahers Cairns

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

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

army friends

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

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

My aunt and cousins

My aunt and two of my 8 cousins

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

 Are you close to your cousins?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 11: the Ekka

4 x 7UP collage

Front cover of The Queenslander newspaper 11 August 1927. Copyright expired.  SLQ bishop.slq.qld.gov.au:503000

Front cover of The Queenslander newspaper 11 August 1927. Copyright expired. SLQ bishop.slq.qld.gov.au:503000. It captures the kewpie dolls, icecreams, balloons and sample bags…and the happiness.

The featured collage image is really a story about Brisbane’s Exhibition or Royal National Association (RNA) Show, a 10 day event beloved by all Brisbaneites. However to Brisbane people it really only has one name, the Ekka, or occasionally the Show.

The Ekka is still a cause for great excitement but in my childhood even more so, as there were fewer competing events and treats to capture our imaginations. The Ekka existed mainly for the display and competition of produce, crafts and livestock especially for people from the bush, who would arrive in town en masse. It would be something of a novelty to see the country people in town dressed to the nines, or occasionally wearing an Akubra.

The Ekka was held at the RNA showgrounds, not too far from my home, so we would see the progressive unveiling of the accoutrements of the fair. It covered a lot of ground so you needed to have your walking shoes on and even that didn’t guarantee that you wouldn’t end up exhausted.

There were basically four areas to visit and a wise visitor planned their trip well in advance.

The Show bag Pavilion

Two young girls enjoying their show bags. Copyright expired, SLQ bishop.slq.qld.gov.au:139717

Two young girls enjoying their show bags. Copyright expired, SLQ bishop.slq.qld.gov.au:139717

The building (now demolished) which housed sample bags was of course one of the most popular with children. We would plot and plan just what we’d buy to make our pocket money stretch the distance….few children would have unlimited funds. My own children did much the same when their turn came round, costing each item in the sample bag to maximise bang-for-the-buck. But of course in those pre-decimal currency days before 14 February 1966, our purchases were in pounds, shillings and pence.

Sample bags actually offered samples of goods and I remember that they’d include things like a weetbix in a packet, for example or lollies. We would then use the empty boxes afterwards to play shops. In my uni days I remember working on a stall with my friend. Our job was to encourage people to try the free freshly-ground coffee, no doubt because tea was still the usual drink of choice. The stand smelled absolutely delicious, and I barely drank coffee in those days.

How old was I when this was done? Maybe about 11?

How old was I when this was done? Maybe about 11?

Upstairs in the same building was the display of arts and crafts and baking. It was always intriguing to see what children your own age had produced and wonder over the skills of the cooks who’d produced the delicious looking cakes, biscuits and confectionery. Little did I know at the time that my great-grandfather had won prizes at the equivalent show in Ipswich (Qld).  Near the steps going up to the arts displays was a man who would make your portrait by cutting out your profile with scissors from black paper. This is where my featured photo for today came from.  Nearby was the kewpie-doll stand with those gorgeous (to small eyes) dolls on sticks with frilly netting skirts and lots of glitter.

Wool Pavilion, Tasmanian Potatoes, and Machinery (and sometimes exams)

Across the road in the other buildings were the rather boring things like machinery but the nearby Wool Pavilion was much more fascinating with its wonderful fashion parades featuring Australia’s superb woollen fabrics. The Wool Parade was a great hit with girls and mothers, but less so with husbands and fathers. In later years I sat several exams in the Wool Pavilion. In the November heat, without any form of fans or airconditioning it wasn’t the more conducive atmosphere for doing your best. Still and all I can’t blame my Chemistry I exam results on that! Another popular spot was the Tasmanian potato stand where you could buy delicious fresh, hot chips on buttered rolls..they were constantly in high demand.

The showground: animals, motorcyclists, and fireworks

Hereford bull SLQ 1948

Hereford bull judging at the Ekka 1948. Copyright expired SLQ bishop.slq.qld.gov.au:101780

The hub of the Ekka was the main showground where the livestock exhibitions were held. When your feet gave up you could go and chill out and watch the premium stock being paraded or the expert woodchopping. At other times there were also exhibitions by the Police motorcyclists who would perform skilled choreography on their bikes, leaving everyone with their hearts in their mouths at the near-misses. As darkness fell everyone made sure of getting their place in the various stands so they could watch the night’s fireworks display. Everyone would choose their favourite colour and barrack for which one would go highest with oohs and aahs of happiness or disappointment. Behind the stands were various food outlets and I remember my mother working on the Guide stand serving food. Even the city-slickers would go and have a look at the large bulls and cows, the cute calves and the horses. Of course the smell was a bit overwhelming but it was fun even if we didn’t have the knowledge to assess the animals’ worth.

Livestock parade main arena Ekka c1981

Sideshow Alley

Sideshow alley was one of the “must visit” areas of the Ekka. Just imagine all the thrill of the fair: spruikers selling their shows, the wrestlers, the Fat Lady, the Mirror Maze and Slim Dusty’s singing show. And then there were the opportunities to win a cuddly animal or some other (often tacky) item: the sharpshooters stand, the clowns with their smiles swishing back and forth (more suitable for littlies) and the big Mater wheel.

Side Show Alley from the ferris wheel late 1980s

Side Show Alley from the ferris wheel late 1980s. P Cass.

And the rides!! As a small child you would start with the gentle horses on the carousel and progress to the train before moving up to the centrifugal force of the Octopus or the stomach-churning fear of the Wild Mouse roller coaster. Each year the scary rides got scarier. The stately ferris wheel was an all-time favourite and good for all ages. Each day as I went past on the bus to school I could assess just how close the Ekka was by its steady growth.

Sideshow alley lights

Sideshow alley lights and the Octopus (?). P Cass

My Littlest one (some time ago) enjoying her strawberry and cream ice cream

Our Littlest Bear (some time ago) enjoying her strawberries and cream ice cream

If we’d finished for the day we could duck out the gate near the hospital and catch the bus home, but usually we had to go back to pick up the show bags that had been put in storage rather than carrying them around: a good excuse to stop near the underpass of the railway line and get some bright pink fairy floss and that Ekka staple, an ice cream with strawberries and cream. Yummo!

To top it all off we got a public holiday on the Wednesday but wise people didn’t go to the Ekka on that day!

 And there you have it, a day at the Ekka. If you used to go, what do you remember most?

Fab Feb image

Family Hx writing challengeThis post is part of the February PhotoCollage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 10: Aunty Emily

4 x 7UP collageToday’s post is an absolute pleasure to write. The lady featured in this photo is my great-aunt Emily, sister to my maternal grandmother, Laura. Emily was Laura’s younger sister, the next in line, born in Charters Towers less than two years after her to parents Stephen Gillespie Melvin and Emily Partridge.Aunty Emily Williams nee Melvin

Sadly my grandmother died in her sleep from a heart attack when she was only 64. Our family was on holidays at the coast at the time, so you can imagine what a terrible shock it was to everyone. I’m pleased that I still remember small things about her, which is surprising given I was quite young.

Her sister Emily had lived in Cairns for a long time and memory tells me we’d seen her there perhaps on the eventful cyclone trip. However around 1960 or so, she moved to Brisbane where she lived at New Farm for a while. I have clear memories of meeting her with Mum and going to New Farm Park to look at the spectacular roses. Whenever I visit the park now I inevitably think back to those special days with her.

Aunty Emily became my default grandmother, showering me with love and affection and buying me special treats.  During Lent when she couldn’t buy me chocolates or lollies she would buy me teacups and I treasure these even though they have no commercial value. You might want to look at this photo of an Easter egg cup she also gave me. I associate her with lavender and violets and I’m not sure whether these were her fragrances.

Tiny teacups from Aunty Emily.

Tiny teacups from Aunty Emily: I’m saving them for my grandchildren.

Emily had two sons from her marriage to John Arthur Williams, and I think one grandson who was ill. I guess Mum and I were also daughter and granddaughter substitutes for her. Aunty Emily was one of those truly lovely people who you occasionally have the privilege to meet. I don’t remember her ever being nasty in any way, and always being kind and tolerant (as evidenced in part by her acceptance of our religion even though it wasn’t hers).

Aunty Emily's entry in my autograph book.

Aunty Emily’s entry in my autograph book.

Later on Aunty Emily had a stroke and went to live with her son at South Brisbane, on the former Expo 88 site at South Bank. In those days the docks were still there and I recall the building as being quite old with steep steps inside. She used to have to massage her hand using those stress balls which are now quite popular. A few years later she must have returned to Cairns to live, perhaps because that’s where another sister lived. She died there in December 1965 and is buried in the Martyn St Cemetery, separated in death as I suspect she was in life. At some point I was given a cameo and a filigree bracelet of hers with a matching pair of earrings. Again no commercial value, but very special to me because it came from her.

 Aunty Emily remains one of my most treasured family members: one of those people whose memory gives you a warm glow.

This story has reminded me that I need to do more research into this branch of the family.

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

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 9: Primary School Days

4 x 7UP collage

At primary school, perhaps about aged 9 or 10.

At primary school, perhaps about aged 9 or 10.

When I chose this image for the college, I’d forgotten how extensively I’d written about my primary school in the 52 week series. So I’m going to let you read about the context in that post.

Just lately I was re-reading Hugh Lunn’s book Over the Top with Jim, on growing up in Brisbane. He captures the essence of attending a convent primary school only a few years before me. He even captures the same chants of learning the alphabet: a is like an apple, a says “a”; b is like a bat and ball, b says “buh”.

I don’t have especially fond memories of my primary school where I always felt like a fish out of water. In my first years at school, Australia, and the Catholics in particular, were in an uproar over the risk of the Red Peril coming from the north. Consequently one of the nuns felt she had to tell us (all of five and six years old), what the “Commos” would do to us if they arrived, with details of torture. No doubt it washed over many of the class but with my obsessiveness I took it all on board –and had nightmares for more than a decade after.

This photo includes at least two classes from my primary school.

This photo includes at least two classes from my primary school. If you recognise yourself, why not leave a comment?

At least some of the nuns (all our teachers were nuns) were mediocre and often elderly. When I couldn’t fathom aspects of maths in about Grades 3 or 4, it was my father who helped me to make sense of it so that I had no further problems. It was Dad from whom I got my love of reading, but in retrospect I think he may have been dyslexic and so his spelling and grammar weren’t strong. English and social studies were my mother’s jurisdiction because she was very good at them and she especially loved geography ( I get my travel bug from her).

From my autograph. The unusual spelling of my name has always been a challenge.

From my autograph. The unusual spelling of my name has always been a challenge.

Scattered over the years I had a couple of excellent teachers, especially Sister Gemma who was young and taught our final primary school class, Year 8 or Scholarship. This was a vitally important gateway to high school, especially for working class kids, because not only did you need to pass before you proceeded (I wasn’t worried about that), but if you wanted a government scholarship to assist with fees and expenses, you had to do well in the exam (that was very important!).

My father at a similar age. Unfortunately I can't find one of my mother.

My father at a similar age. Unfortunately I can’t find one of my mother from her school days.

Scholarship, as it was called, involved public exams, set universally for all children across the state. My memory tells me there were three components held in three different sessions: mathematics, English and social studies (history and geography). I distinctly remember going to visit Sr Gemma after the exams to talk to her about the questions that stumped me: one in particular was a “duh” moment as I realised I just hadn’t “translated” it correctly. Sr Gemma was definitely my star teacher in the nine years at primary school.

The delicious irony was that the Scholarship exams were held at the local state (government-run) school among those kids whom we’d loved to taunt (and vice versa!) as their bus went past. It was also the same school which my father had attended years before.

Between Sr Gemma’s excellent teaching, my mother’s many prayers and persistence with the high school, and my study, I got my scholarship and my gateway to the wondrous delights of my Catholic high school with its reputation for excellence.  The next year the government passed legislation to cease the Scholarship exam for various educational reasons. It’s strange to think that mine was the last generation to complete nine years of primary school, including a Prep year (aged 5), and also sit for Scholarship.

Kelvin Grove State School c1930. My father is in the 2nd back row looking rather pugnacious.

Kelvin Grove State School c1930. My father is in the 2nd back row looking rather pugnacious.

For my overseas readers it’s likely that it seems unusual for students to wear uniforms. This has not been a passing fad and the schools which permit the students not to wear uniforms are in the minority even today. There are arguments for and against of course, but I must admit I’m glad that I didn’t have to worry about what to wear every day and it avoided the hazards of economic difference.

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

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 8 Girl Guides

4 x 7UP collageLike many young girls of my generation I became a Girl Guide when I was about 10. However unlike many others I hadn’t followed the normal path through Brownies. Joining the Guides was a big deal because in those days it had the reputation of either not being friendly to Catholics, or vice versa. Certainly one of the deciding factors was that the Guide leader of our company was herself a Catholic and would take the three or four Catholic Guides with her to Mass when we went camping.Pauleen Guide test

I don’t know what the rationale of the objections might have been. Certainly there doesn’t seem too much in the Guide oath to be threatening:

I promise that I will do my best:
To do my duty to God,
to serve the Queen and my country,
To help other people, and
To keep the Guide Law.


The equal prominence of the British flag as well as the Australian is interesting yet typical of the era.

Perhaps my joining up had to do with my neighbourhood friend who joined at the same time and whose parents would often drive us to events. On other Saturdays we would walk through the shoulder-high grass along the creek bank with one or other of our parents watching us until we reached the NARM bridge (near the local tannery) and they could see us heading to the Guide hut.Pauleen Guide tests crop

I really enjoyed much of my Guiding experience and learning and passing all the various tests. The image featured today is one of my tests, possibly the one entitled “Nature” for my Second Class test. I also remember doing another one for which I documented the changing seasons, flowering trees and birds in the bush at the end of our street. Along the way I learnt a variety of skills, some useful and some not. I remember being aghast that people didn’t know the names of all the streets in their area, and now I’m one of those too ….remembering where places are but not bothering with street names.

It doesn't look like any of us were having fun here.

It doesn’t look like any of us were having fun here.

There were also local hiking and picnicking outings, always making sure to bring our plastic sit-upons so our personal sit-upons wouldn’t get wet. We would make damper and cook it over the open fire. There would also be periodic camp fires near the Guide hut and we’d have a fine time singing.

The other fun thing about Guides was going on camp and my first Guide camp when I was about 10 was the first time I had overnighted, or perhaps spent more than one night, away from home. I distinctly remember that my parents had felt quite lost without me <smile> or that’s what they told me.

My old Guide badge for our group.

The old Guide badge for our group.

Whenever we went on camp we would travel in the open back of an old five ton truck driven by another Guide’s father who lived near us. We would sing Guide songs as we went along and it was great fun, though these days of course it would never be permitted for safety reasons.

We used to have those great big heavy canvas tents and flimsy sleeping bags ( I had mine for years) and woollen blankets. The dining area was in a big marquee and all the meals were cooked in big metal dixies. I suppose we must surely have helped with the meals but I don’t recall. We would also dig our own latrines and erect hessian screens around them. Bathing was done in big round metal tubs in another screened area. My first camp was at Brookfield and was beside a creek bank. I remember that we were provided with fresh milk each morning straight from the farmer’s cows, and also that there was a water snake in the creek when we went swimming.

Guides flooded Samford

Flooded in at Samford. We were on the land to the right, Water Police mid-stream and anxious adults on the far side.

However my most memorable camping trip is one I described a while back. You can read all about it in this 52 weeks series post on disasters…my sole experience of being on the front page of the paper.

I did enjoy Guides a lot but gave it up when I was heading to my Junior or Year 10 exams, probably just after being awarded my First Class Guide Badge. Unlike some of my friends I wasn’t tempted to continue along with the more challenging Queen’s Guide text.

Fab Feb image

Family Hx writing challenge

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