Sunday, 29 December 2013

R is for Ruby

On a rainy day 40 years ago, just after Christmas, my parents were married at Shore Chapel. 

40 years later, with a few familiar faces but mostly new, we gathered at Borodell Winery in Orange to celebrate. Here is the toast I made.       
"We're here today to celebrate Mum and Dads 40th wedding anniversary. That's a bloody long time - as Mum says, you get less for murder! 

A lot can happen in 40 years - 
Australia's had 8 prime ministers, including a woman
Life expectancy in Australia has increased from 75 to 84 years.
The Sydney Opera House has been in Sydney's panorama now for 40 years 
The world first mobile phone call happened 40 years ago on a phone that weighed 2.5 pounds. We now carry some of the most sophisticated technology ever n our pockets that weighs 4.9 ounces and use it mostly to look at videos of cats doing crazy things. 
But most importantly, over the last 40 years Mum and Dad have built a family -
3 children, two daughters in law, 2 grandchildren, 3 homes, multiple pets - Dougie, Meg, Randy 1 and 2,  Jock. They've set hundreds of good examples and created thousands of memories.
May I ask you to please raise a glass to Mum and Dad, Jenny and Steve, Ma and Pops"

Saturday, 5 January 2013

V is for Violet

The photo above is my absolute favourite photo from all the hundreds I have scanned for the family archives.

The little girl circled in red is Didi's mum Violet Jowett. Violet was born on 28 December in 1895 to Albert and Eliza (nee Frost) in Waterloo, Sydney. Albert and Eliza both made the long trip to Australia from Yorkshire in about 1885, separately, and married in Sydney a couple of years later.

Violet was the second youngest of the six Jowetts, the eldest of whom sadly died in infancy. It appears after Violet's birth the family moved from the inner city area of Redfern / Waterloo to Hurstville. I don't know too much of what the family was up to at this time. Albert was a house painter / contractor so that probably kept him pretty busy. The only thing I have been able to find out is that he may have been kicked by a pony at a party in 1904. Ouch.

At some point Violet moved to Roseville as she was living there, working as an accountant, when she met Stanley Clark (who many of we younger Camerons know as Big Pa). They married in 1921 and as Big Pa was a farmer, Violet followed him to his property in Ando called Stoneleigh. Didi was born a few years later and Hilary some years after that. In 1958, Violet died too young, aged only 63.

It's in the Hurstville area that I believe the below photo was taken in 1900. The Jowett family lived on Lily Street for some years. Didi notes on the back that this was taken "at a celebration pageant to welcome the new century 1900."

What I would love to know is if anyone out there knows anything more about this photograph? Do you recognise any relatives? Know exactly where it was taken?

Any feedback very much welcome!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

W is for Wedding

A fair Friday last month, the day before my birthday, my brother married the love of his life. 11 years, 2 cities, 17 countries and a daughter later...

Not normally one to gush about weddings, I do have to say that J & C's was one of the most enjoyable I have been to: understatedly elegant (just like the bride), classy and heartfelt are just a few words to describe the day. 

The weather held and the view from Bradley's Head provided the perfect backdrop for the ceremony and the warm evening suited the wedding party venue at Eden Gardens. The fathers of the happy couple spoke well and the groom's speech barely left a dry eye: a wonderful way to celebrate a wonderful couple. 

So C has officially joined the family, although she has been my sister in more than name for a long time - Congratulations to you both, J & C xx

Saturday, 29 September 2012

U is for Uniform

Originally the "uniform" of this post was the khaki kind. Given the proud involvement of Cam and various members of his family, both past and present, in the military I planned to provide some history for you all. But plans changed when this post just dropped in my lap, as the saying goes. 

The uniform now the subject of this post is white - or rather blue and white striped (see below)!

Not only do we have four generations wearing khaki in the family,  there are three generations wearing the white of registered nurses. To celebrate our most recent generations' progression through their training, Didi was asked to share her recollection of her training. In her own words...

Nursing.LC001.FinalYear1947 by Preciousmetal_au


I had come from Stoneleigh, my parents’ home at Ando, on 30th January a very excited 19 year old to begin a career I had wanted to start for years!

I well remember my Uncle Archie, a dear man, quite old and not driving any more, offering to take me out to RPA the next day. Bless his heart, he and I carried my huge suitcase with a walking stick through the handle by train all the way to the Hospital! We were to start at the Preliminary Training School the next day (alias PTS).

As World War II had not finished and the American soldiers were still in the Nurses’ Home and various other parts of RPA as well, we were to be lodged in a block of units in Summer Hill, a suburb not far away, and commute daily to the Hospital by train morning and evening. What a blow!

We soon settled in to lectures and hands on practice with dummies or other nurses for patients!! We soon learned how to take temperatures, take a pulse rate and how to bathe patients in bed. To do so we had to find a basin, fill it with water and sponge the patient with a warm washer – hands, arms, torso, as far as “possible”. Then hand them the washer for them to wash “possible” themselves! We also had to “rub a back” to avoid bedsores, “carbolise a bed”, clean a bedside locker, make beds with top sheet turned down to an exact measurement, give an injection etc etc.

Six weeks later we graduated from PTS and were to start real nursing in the wards. First of all we were housed in huts specially built for us as the soldiers were still in large parts of the Hospital. These were rather crude and small but we didn’t mind – we were about to start real nursing.

My first ward was a Men’s Medical with rather sick patients. Two new nurses went together to our first ward. There I saw my first “Red Cross”, a man had died. It was very emotional but we soon learned with a senior nurse how to lay out a body and prepare it to go to the Hospital Morgue.

In First Year we were called “Probationers”. Our uniforms were blue/white striped dresses, our white caps had to cover all the hair on our heads which was very difficult with long blonde hair. We had one star on our caps to denote First Year and each year gained another star. We didn’t get our white aprons till much later and stiff cuffs and belts and that was what we wore for the 4 years, with black stockings.

We felt we had good training as we were sent to a different type of ward every few months including Theatres and Psychiatry, Neurosurgery, Children’s, Central and Dressings Autoclaving.

We were also very disciplined. If Matron came into a ward to ‘do rounds’, we had to quickly take off our cuffs, put them under our apron and with hands behind our backs say “Good Morning Matron” and wait till she had finished doing rounds with the Ward Sister and we were dismissed!!

Most of our intake of 32 girls was from the country – only a few were city girls and as we had very little money to go into town to shop on our time off we made very good friends with each other. Those friendships have weathered 68 years and the few of us left meet regularly to lunch in the city. We have minded each others’ babies while new ones were coming and our children are friends and so we cherish all that.

During our training we were in the wards by 5am to make beds and get our patients ready for the day. We usually had a 4 hour pass most days: 9am - 1pm or 10am – 2pm. Some slept through it but sometimes I would get on a tram to the city just to look around!! Evening duty was 1 or 2pm – 7:30pm. Night duty 8pm – 7am for several weeks.

Our final exams took place in the Great Hall at Sydney University, not far from RPA. When our results were out we had a Ball (where Jim and I, having that day bought a ring, felt we were engaged though I couldn’t wear it on duty – I had it on a string around my neck!).

Soon after we knew we would be called to Matron’s Office to find out results and be told where we would go as Junior Sisters with Veils.

I was very surprised to find out I had been 2nd in NSW in my Practical Nursing Exam so Matron wanted me to teach in PTS. With great courage I declined that posting and was sent to King George Hospital, the Gynae and Obstetric part of RPA.

It was the happiest time of my career as my job was to admit patients for surgery, take their history and when they were taken to Theatres I would assist the surgeon and get to know what they had had removed or otherwise tampered with so I could know how to nurse them through their time in Hospital. I stayed there about 18 months, went home to Ando for a time and was married in 1949.

After a time I did some local nursing in patients’ homes and also a while at a Hospital in Gordon owned by a nurse who had been Senior to me and loved to have PA girls on her staff!

After that no more nursing, just babies but I ran a Dental Clinic at the Spastic Centre for 12 years!!

Melodie and Skye, I hope your careers will be as happy as mine was. I am so proud of you both and what you have already achieved and thrilled to have 2 more “Sisters” in my extended family.

All my love,

Sunday, 3 June 2012

T is for Tartan

You remember that little challenge I started in April... I still have a few letters left and after the below message from cousin Helen:
hey steff, would you know the Cameron Clan Tartan by any chance? ive googled and you get a few..thanks so much! Hel
it seems a good time to continue on with the planned topic....

Today T is for Tartan. As in the patterned cloth that most associate with Scotland. As in the ties, kilts, tea towels and scarves that anyone with Scottish surname has received as a souvenir from a friend visiting Scotland!

There are 4 Cameron tartans (described best on the Clan Cameron website...)

From left to right: We commoners can wear this 'basic' Cameron tartan but not the second, the Cameron of Lochiel tartan, which should only be worn by members of the Chief's family. The third, Cameron of Erracht is more a regimental / military tartan and the last is the Hunting Cameron tartan because the basic Cameron tartan, with its fetching green squares on a red sett with its golden line is considered a little bright!

In anticipation of this post I did a bit of reading and found that tartan doesn't seem to have originated in Scotland. According to Wikipedia (who summarises everything so neatly I do tend to hit there first when looking for information on a new topic...) tartan as we know it wasn't a Scottish thing until sometime in the 16th century. Before this it was a more central European thing and tartan material has also been found on a 3000 year old mummy in western China. Who knew...

Once tartan was introduced in Scotland though it became quite the fashion for Highlanders. Not to differentiate between the different clans as Hollywood suggests in Braveheart but rather different types of tartan developed to different regional tastes and of course, resources. And because the tartan was associated with the Highlanders (who in turn were the majority of Jacobites who gave the English crown a bit of a scare in the 18th century) the wearing of tartan was outlawed in 1746 except by army regiments. When the Act was repealed in 1782 tartan wasn't just a Highland fashion anymore but representative of Scotland generally. Eventually various tartans became associated with each clan and were we to meet on the field in battle today it would probably be a little easier to tell friend from foe.

Emma Watson doesn't look too common in our tartan! :op

T is for Thanks

Thank you so much for your patience...  Nothing posted for a whole month but not without reason. I started a new job on 1 May and my attention and energies have been somewhat diverted. I'm slowly getting into the rhythm of the new role so stay tuned for more regular updates.

A BIG THANK YOU too to Maria from Genies Down Under for mentioning this little blog on her May podcast. Very much appreciated. That reminds me, time for the June episode!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

S is for Sea Spray

This post could also have been entitled 'S is for Shipping' or 'S for is Serious Accident' or the long-winded and tongue-twisted, yet descriptive, 'S is for Serious Shipping Accident on the Sea Spray'. 

The Sea Spray is another of the handful of ships owned at some stage by our Robert. From what little research I have done in preparation for this belated S posting (yes, I am aware that the AtoZ Challenge was supposed to finish on Monday but I am determined to complete it, date be damned!) it appears the 296 ton brig was built in 1864, purchased at some point by our Robert and then put on the run between Newcastle and New Zealand delivering coal, timber or even expensive champange! During one such ditch crossing, having disgorged one load of cargo and while being filled with another, our Robert who not only owned the ship but also worked in the capacity of boatswain, suffered yet another serious accident which saw him knocked unconscious, mostly buried under ballast and assumed dead. 

He survived with nothing more than concussion, thankfully, but the accident underscores the seriousness and risk involved in many occupations and in particular, shipbuilding and/or sailing as many other seamen aren't so fortunate to return from a journey. Two of Robert's brother included. 

[1] Auckland Star, Volume VI, Issue 1680, 7 July 1875, Page 2. Found on NZ's answer to Trove, Papers Past

Monday, 30 April 2012

R is for Robert

As in our Robert. The reason we're here and that we're Australian.

I have a list of names, dates, events and places to fill in Robert's past but, as I decried in my previous post, what I really want to know about Robert (and all our other dead rels) is why? Why Australia? Why Betsy? Why Newcastle? etc.  If someone were kind enough to build a time machine I could go back and ask him.... 

Until such time though, I've tried to put together a creative way of viewing the facts and dates I've collated regarding Robert. I found a cool (but sometimes slow) website called Dipity that has awesome interactive timelines and have put together the below for Robert. Have a play... it's fun! 

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Q is for Questions

Genealogy to me feels like a never-ending attempt to answer the question Where did I come from? or perhaps the more existential Who am I? I attempted to answer the first question in this blog's infancy with the creatively titled Where do I come from? Obviously a very literal answer! The second question is a little harder and may take a lifetime.

Q therefore is for Questions. As in an ever-growing and seldom-ending list of questions that begin:

Who is?
What was?
Where is?
Why did?
How much?

The questions that are in the forefront of my mind whenever I time travel through documents, websites, articles and photos, (and the ones that can't really be answered with facts and dates, or names or numbers) tend to begin WHY?

Why did Robert come to Australia? Why did he marry Betsy? Why did three of his four daughters not marry? Why did Elspeth come to Australia? Why did their brother Alexander stay behind?

The talk I attended at the beautifully housed Society of Australian Genealogists on Kent Street last Saturday threw up a handful of reasons to help answer why Robert and Elspeth may have come to Australia like: greater opportunities for their kids, better pay and economic conditions, encouragement from family or to join family, financial incentives like their way being paid, and perhaps landownership that would otherwise escape them. All very reasonable answers... But short of finding a diary, or letters, (or creating a real time machine to ask them myself) the answers I formulate are purely speculative.

And so the journey continues...

*the cool image above was created thanks to Wordle which I heard about on Genies Down Under!

P is also for Podcasts

I mentioned the National Archives Podcast that I enjoy listening to as I delve into our past. But, this is just the tip of the iceberg, or one tree in a forest of podcasts available to an amateur genealogist. Or, anyone really. There is pretty much a podcast available for every subject, language, topic, interest, point in history, science... you get the message! Even more amazing is that every podcast I have ever come across is free! The passion that people have for their area of expertise means that they are incredibly generous is sharing their knowledge and so for geeks like me, it's a feast.

One podcast that I really must mention though is Genies Down Under expertly put together by Maria.

Released monthly, Genies Down Under is an hour or so long podcast with tips and tricks for enhancing your search or presenting your results. All with an Australian bent. Almost all of the other genealogical podcasts I have found tend towards an American accent. As a result the records and techniques being related are slightly different. She has definitely filled a gap in the market in an interesting and informative manner.

So, if you're looking for a companion while doing your search - put Maria on in the background!