An Orange Treat

June 17, 2014 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Australia, Family History, History | 7 Comments
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Group of oranges

Mum loved oranges. When we lived in England she would occasionally buy the Australian ones. They were the best to be had, large, sweet and juicy, something to put in a Christmas stocking, a real treat.

Dad made the decision to come to Australia when he returned from the war in 1946. He first applied to migrate in 1947, but it wasn’t until 1954 that families were allowed to have assisted passage.

Assisted passage adMum would have seen Australia, then a British colony, as many others did – rough, raw and wild. I’m sure it was Dad’s enthusiasm that drove the emigration; Mum was more reluctant and full of anxiety. Leaving the soft English country farms and moors and even the dank, dark and soot-stained town was a step into the unknown for her

One of the things that may have softened the anxiety she felt at leaving her home, her mother and all that was familiar to her, was the thought of those beautiful Australian oranges. She could enjoy them any time, instead of only when they were in season) and available from the local Oswaldtwistle greengrocer. That was in the Australian winter, summertime in England.

Orange export label Leeton 1940s

To Mum’s great disappointment, those big, sweet and juicy oranges were not even available in Australia. All the best of them were exported, mostly to England. What was available in Australian shops was the second and third grade fruit.

bad-orange-003

What a let-down!

Have you ever got your hopes up over something and had them dashed when you got it?

(c) Linda Visman 17.06.14

G is for Genealogy

April 8, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Posted in Experiences, Family, Family History, History, Society, Ways of Living, Writing | Leave a comment
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A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]

 

Genealogy has several meanings, but the one I focus on in my interest and activity is this: the study of family ancestries and histories.

To many people, genealogy means making their family tree. They look up names and dates and relationships and places, but that is as far as they go. All they want is a chart they can display in a book or on the wall. But to me – and to other serious researchers – genealogy involves many different facets apart from, but also including this.

Who I am

What is the point of knowing names and dates if you don’t know the people, their relationships within the immediate and extended family, the places they lived, what they did for a living, their place and station in society, their religious and political beliefs? You can’t know a person at all unless you know all these things and unless you know about the times and culture in which they grew up and lived as adults.

family

Knowing all these things gives us a background to our grandparents’, our parents’ and our own lives. It puts us into a context that can give us a much greater understanding of who we are and how we came to be who we are within our family and society as a whole.

Linda&Pauline T abt 1955

I started researching my family history for a college assignment back in 1976. I had to talk with my parents and anyone else I could in order to complete the assignment. I had always been interested in history but, when I went to school, history revolved around religion and politics, gods and kings. In undertaking this new task, my interest in personal and family origins was ignited.

history remembers

I worked on researching my background for the next thirty years. Because I was born in England and we had emigrated to Australia when I was only five years old, it was a slow process in the first twenty-five years. I had to do everything through the postal service – applying for my grandparents’ marriage certificates, their birth certificates, etc.

EdwardRThompson-birthextract 1893

It was a matter of slowly working back through the generations to verify names, dates, places, occupations, and so on.

James-EllenThompson-marr1792

Along with this slog through the records was a parallel course of research, centred on learning about the times in which my ancestors lived, so that I could catch a glimpse of how they might have lived.

Because those times were different from my own, I had always to remember that they had different beliefs to mine, different laws and understandings, different ways of doing things, and different ways of living. I could not judge them by the standards of the present, for their world was a different one to mine.

In the end, I published a 136-page family history book in 2002, which I expanded to a book of 278 pages in 2005.

Now&Then cover (919x1280)

I haven’t done much work on the family history since then, as I changed the focus of my interest to other kinds of writing. But I am pleased to say that my interest in genealogy has been inherited by my youngest son, who is carrying on with the original research I did on his father’s side of the family.

I hope that, when I die, I can bequeath my considerable research materials to the National Archives of Australia or to the one in the UK.  I don’t think my son has enough room in his house to keep them!

Chasing your own history

 

Do you have any interest in the history of your family? Have you done any research, or gathered oral evidence from family members? Have you created a book for your family to share their origins with them?

 

© Linda Visman 08.04.14 (605 words)

B is for Butcher and Bicycle

April 2, 2014 at 11:59 am | Posted in Family, Family History, History, Ways of Living, Writing and Life | 15 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]

Dad left school in early 1935 at the age of thirteen and a half. He was on his way home from school when he saw a notice in the window of a butcher’s shop in his home town of Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, England. The notice said “Boy Wanted”.

DSCF8547

He went into the shop and the butcher said, “Yes, son. What can I do for you?”

“It’s not what I can do for you, sir. You have a sign that says ‘Boy Wanted’. I’m a boy and I want a job.”

The butcher was impressed with Dad’s attitude and said that, if he was available and if his parents agreed, he could start the next day. He never returned to school, and went to work for the butcher six days a week, taking orders and delivering them by heavy bicycle to the local farms and villages, over rough roads and hilly country, in sunshine, sleet and snow.

Butcher's shop 1920s

Dad handed all his earnings to his mother to go towards feeding the family, but he was allowed to keep sixpence a week.

A few months later, Dad decided he wanted his own bicycle. He approached the owner of the local bike shop and asked if he could purchase a fixed-wheel bike (their cheapest) for sixpence down and sixpence a week.1909_Royal_Enfield_bike

When the owner found that Dad had a regular job, he agreed to the terms Dad had stated. Dad paid his sixpence religiously every week. By the time he moved on to an apprenticeship as a moulder at age fourteen, he had fully paid for the bike.

During the warmer days of the northern England summer weekends, Dad rode that bike, then a better one he bought later, over many miles of countryside. He would take some bread and meat, or bacon and eggs, and camp overnight by a brook, sleeping on a tarpaulin and wrapped in a blanket.

He said that those weekends were wonderful for a teenage lad with a sense of adventure, and regretted that the freedom he had then has now been lost.

Young man with bike 1920s

The story of the butcher and of the bicycle shows how Dad exhibited initiative and determination from an early age. He kept both of those qualities all his life.

 

Do you think youngsters show enough initiative and determination these days? Do you think they have lost many of the opportunities that once existed for youngsters with such qualities?

 

© Linda Visman 02.04.14

Whose Tradition?

October 27, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Posted in Australia, Family, History, Society, Special Occasions | 8 Comments
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Halloween, a corruption of All Hallows Eve, is celebrated on the 31st of October each year. It comes the day before All Saints’ Day, celebrated on the 1st of November.

Centuries ago in England and, later, in America, it was believed that the souls of the dead appeared among the living. Superstitious rituals grew up as people sought to protect themselves from the evil souls that had not died in a state of grace.

Over the years and into the 20th century, Halloween mostly lost its religious significance. It has now become, as have many other Christian rituals, a secular celebration of over-indulgence on the dark side.

Australia, because it was settled later than the Americas, and in more enlightened times, didn’t become part of the mania of Halloween until quite recently. And the only reason it has done so now is because of a different god – one created in the 20th century.

Multinational stores have extended their grip into our country, bring with them their sacred rituals for placing more, and yet more profits on the altar of Consumerism.

Now, every October, we are bombarded by the spooky: books, blogs and writing contests on the themes of ghosts, ghouls and gremlins; ads for creepy costumes and party gear; and whole stores full of “candy” – chocolates and lollies and every other sweet thing that can be created by man for sale to the gullible.

As if we don’t already have a sugar-coated and sugar-centred society! Dentists for the well-off rub their hands in glee. However, the people who cannot afford to go to a dentist – but the most likely to buy into this cacophonous culture of cash – are left with blackened and rotten teeth. I suppose that is apt, given the dark and sickly nature of Halloween’s origins.

When my children were young, in the 1970s and 1980s, Halloween had not yet caught hold in Australia – for which I am very grateful. But now, it is my grandchildren who are being coerced into a culture that celebrates darkness and consumerism.

I will not support this imported, destructive ritual. When children come to my door crying “trick or treat”, they get neither.

It is not my tradition!

© Linda Visman

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