Tag Archives: Church

Ghosts of Memphis…Friday Fictioneers.

The stench of raw sweat and the blood of a thousand broken dreams permeated the decaying walls of the old boxing gym, and Hope Unlimited Church had bought it for a song.

This was where Australian boxer, Les Darcy, had fought his last fight. The grim reaper might’ve claimed his body. The Lord had claimed his soul. Yet, all the boxers knew that a part of Les Darcy still lingered in the ring and wasn’t giving up.

There must’ve been something about Memphis, because Les Darcy wasn’t the only king, who’d come back from the dead to haunt the living.

……

Les Darcy 1910

Australian Boxer Les Darcy in 1910.

James Leslie “Les” Darcy was born on the 28th October, 1895 at Stradbroke, near Maitland, NSW, Australia and he had all the makings of a folk hero. His remarkable ring record—he lost only four professional fights and was never knocked out—was associated with a quite extraordinary physique: a muscular body apparently impervious to the heaviest blows and a reach 7 ins (18 cm) greater than his height of 5 ft 7 ins (170 cm). He neither smoked nor drank, and spent most of his income on his family; he attended Mass most mornings, one of his closest friends being the local priest. His decision to leave Australia secretly, in breach of the War Precautions Act, provided the controversy (and the enemies in high places) without which no hero-figure is complete: his lonely death in Memphis, Tennessee at the age of 21, gave him an aura of martyrdom. So powerful a legend did he become that fifty years after his death flags flew at half-mast, and a memorial at his birthplace was unveiled by Sir William McKell, former governor-general. When he had been dead for two generations, he was still inspiring the pens of Australian nationalist writers- Australian Dictionary of Biography

Australian author, D’Arcy Niland, had a life long interest in Les Darcy and spent many years compiling notes and stories and even traveling to America and interviewing those who knew him back in 1961. However, Niland died suddenly and was unable to complete the story. However, later in life his wife author Ruth Park took on that challenge. Using the extensive material they had collected over many years, Park wrote Home Before Dark: the story of Les Darcy. It was published in 1995 by Penguin Australia.

As a personal aside, my grandparents were close friends with D’Arcy Niland and Ruth Park. Indeed, the night before D’Arcy Niland passed away, my parents met for the very first time when my grandmother held a soiree in their Lindfield home for upcoming young pianist, Gerard Willems. My grandmother was teaching my mother the piano at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music at the time, and my father was sent up to the station to pick her and Gerard Willems up. So, it seems that night marked more than one line in the sand.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. You are more than welcome to come and join us either as a writer or a reader. Simply click Here to go through to the linky.

Back to Earth.

A devout Anglican and stalwart leader in women’s ministry, Margaret Wesley didn’t believe in magic. Magic was the Devil’s work.

However, unwittingly Margaret’s new gardening book had taken her into unchartered territory, promising remarkable growth through talking to your plants.

Putting on her reading glasses, she started with the struggling Ipomoea purpurea vine:

“What comes out of the earth, returns to the earth…”

Astonished by the instant results, Margaret almost choked on her dentures. The vine was growing faster than a triffid, and was about to engulf her house.

“Mrs Wesley? Mrs Wesley?”

WHAT would she say to the Reverend?

……

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers.

 

Mothers’ Day Is Floating Away…

Mothers’ Day is inevitably full of surprises. Not that I’m naive enough to script the day. Indeed, the older I get, the more I let it go. Run by itself.

That says quite a lot, because I can be something of a control freak.

Anyway, as I said, Mother’s Day is full of surprises and usually goes off script.

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The Family with the balloons before blast off.

So, this morning as we’re heading back to the car after Church, I’m wondering why the kids have wandered off AGAIN. I wasn’t impressed! Started wondering why we can’t all get to the car at the same time and why our family herds like meandering sheep…

Trying to round everyone up, I could see our son was clearly distracted. Indeed, all his attention was clearly focused at the sky and nowhere near the car, going home or my Mothers’ Day lunch.

Yet, in a moment which would’ve made his science teacher proud, he’d launched a shopping bag with a Mother’s Day card into the clouds powered by a bunch of helium balloons. I just managed to catch it visibly heading into the clouds like a dream. Apparently, he’d carefully tested the number of balloons required to achieve the desired amount of lift. This was a scientist at work, being observed by an absolute dreamer (his mother).

This spontaneous gesture filled me with such immense pride. He might not have broken any records, or invented the first shopping bag in space, but my heart was glowing.

That’s not something you can count on with a teen, especially on Mothers’ Day.

Although we did manage to get some photographs, he might just have to: “Play it again, Sam!” (Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca). These pics were hastily snapped on our phones.

It truly was a magical moment!

More Mothers’ Day entertainment to come.

xx Rowena

Featured Image: Photo Credit – My daughter “Miss”.

The Audrey Roster…Friday Fictioneers.

Playing the organ on a frosty Sunday morning, Audrey sat the bulky hymnal on the front seat of her battered Toyota Corolla, and struggled to get the key in the ignition. Her eyesight wasn’t what it used to be. Although her vision was patchy, the Church was only two blocks away. She could get there blindfolded.

“Mrs Ledger, can I give you a lift?”

“No, thank you love,” she smiled. She’d heard about the Audrey roster. Next they’d be calling her son. She’d burned her bra in the 70s. No one was confiscating her car keys.

Not even the Police.

……….

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

The Chaplain’s Voice, Port Arthur, Tasmania 1870-1877.

If you have been following my steps around the convict ruins at Tasmania’s Port Arthur, you’ll appreciate my efforts to gain some insight into what it meant to be a convict there, especially as Geoff’s 3rd Great Grandfather was a prisoner there.

While researching the Chapel in my previous post, I stumbled across this newspaper story covering a talk given by Rev. Rowland Hayward recounting his experience as Chaplain of the Port Arthur Settlement during 1870-77.

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Preacher at Port Arthur.

“At the Church of England Institute on Wednesday night the Rev. Rowland Hayward recounted his experience as Chaplain of the Port Arthur Settlement during 1870-77.

The Rev. F. S. Poole was in the chair, and the attendance was large. The lecturer prefaced his remarks by a review of the earlier history of the location of the prisoners at Macquarie, which, owing to its inhospitable character and difficulties of communication, was abandoned in favour of Port Arthur in 1835. In a little time this place became the most systematized of all British convict settlements.

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Convict Leg Irons on Display at the Chaplain’s Cottage.

Mr. Hayward was on the spot when the appointment was offered to him, having gone there for the sake of his health. With the duties of Chaplain, however, he combined Magisterial functions, but the dual capacity was embarrassing, as in his character of Chaplain he had often to soothe the wounds which he was bound to inflict as Magistrate. The manner in which he exercised the obligations of the latter, however, won over the convicts, who frequently refused to be tried by any other official than the Chaplain, as they had grown to fear the severity of the local officers, whom years of familiarity with the men and the conditions of their life had necessarily robbed of leniency or sympathy.

The natural beauties of the harbour and the station were painted by the lecturer, whose description, the audience were assured, was truthful, and opposed to the gloomy picture of both drawn by Marcus Clarke. The penitentiary was described, and although designed to accommodate as many as 600 prisoners during Mr. Hayward’s incumbency, the number of its inmates never exceeded 300.

A particular account of the institution was given, as also of the separate prison for refractory prisoners, who underwent in former days the refined cruelty of solitary imprisonment for an unlimited period. Here every prisoner immediately on his transportation suffered solitary confinement a month for each year of his term. Barbarous Mr. Hayward regarded this mode of punishment, although it was in substitution of the more brutal flogging, which was often administered in plenty for the most trivial offences.

At the same time, Mr. Hayward believed that in some cases a ” schoolboy flogging” would have rescued some unfortunate lads in the penitentiary from more serious mental and physical injury which were traceable to solitary confinement.

Referring to “The Term of His Natural Life,” the lecturer did not regard the work as exaggerated, but the horrors portrayed by it were rather an accumulation of all the atrocities that might have happened in connection with criminal life in Australia than a faithful account of the ordinary life at Port Arthur.

The lecture was freely interlarded with anecdotes, chiefly concerning two truculent ruffians named Mark Jeffries and Pat O’Hearn, who were a source of great trouble to the prison authorities.

The prison discipline was described, with its comprehensive system of supervision, including the plan of keeping dogs at Eaglehawk Neck to prevent the escape of the prisoners.

Altogether Mr. Hayward considered that provisions made for the bodily wants of the convicts were very generous, they being at least better cared for than the honest poor of the island. The lecturer spoke of his connection with Port Arthur as one of the happiest periods of his life. When asked his opinion by the Government as to the advisability of abolishing Port Arthur he was strongly opposed to the proposal, believing that the settlement offered to convicts the best opportunities of reformation. During the lecture, which lasted for two hours, there was an intermission devoted to music.

Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 – 1912) Tuesday 6 July 1886 p 3 Article

xx Rowena

The Galloping Little Man.

The Cathedral was packed.

“Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Black and yellow, red and white
They’re all precious…”

Suddenly, the unholy little terror broke free from his mother’s grasp.

“Gallop! Gallop! Gallop!” He squealed, charging down the aisle riding his horsey. Even overpowering the organ, his clip-clopping sandals thundered over the floorboards.

Heads turned! Eyes glared!

Exhausted, his mother unconsciously staggered in his wake. Number Two on the way, she was no longer “Princess” but “Mummy”. No more putting her feet up!

“Such is life!” her mother always says.

And yet…!

And yet…!

xx Rowena

February 24, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about galloping. It doesn’t have to be about horses. Is galloping a burst of energy, a run for freedom? Or is it a sense of urgency that borders on anxiety to get tasks accomplished? Explore the motion in different ways — a galloping stride, a galloping relationship or a galloping mind.

……

Today, I was on the train down to Sydney and decided to write my take on “Gallop.”

I’ve been writing flash fiction for a few weeks now and have really been surprised at what I’ve been able to write within this very short word limit.

You see, while Dorothy Parker might have said: “Brevity is the soul of lingerie”, getting to the point has never been my strength. Indeed, I’ve often had trouble finding it at all. But John Lennon was on my side: “Life is what you live while making other plans.”

It really is quite challenging to create a character, a complication and any kind of resolution in only 99 words and yet it’s much more doable than I thought. Indeed, these stories can pack quite a punch.

Anyway, here I am back on the train thinking about galloping. Of course, my first thought was about how time is constantly galloping away but that’s nothing new.

Next, I thought about how my Great Grandmother went to the horse races back in the Great Depression and used to bet on a great Australian horse called Phar Lap and had won enough money to buy my grandmother a coat. This story had legs but required further research.Not something I could put together on the train.

 

However, while all these ponderings were in motion, I was distracted by a little boy aged about three or four who was seemingly travelling with his Mum and Grandmother. He was absolutely gorgeous and reminded me of my son at that age. Mister loved anything even remotely to do with trains and both kids have loved catching the train into the city. Indeed, I still remember how much I loved it and I get a thrill when the train rumbles over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s truly exciting…even for a grown up!

So, I’m writing and yet captivated by this little boy and also by how his Mum and Grandmother are engrossed in conversation and he’s an interruption. Well, at least most of the time.

As the train rumbles towards Milson’s Point Station which is located right on the Northern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, we go through a tunnel and I hear his excited little voice call out: “Tunnel! Tunnel! Tunnel!” The rest of the carriage is virtually silent so his little voice really carried but rather than being annoyed, it seemed that all of the passengers were just struck by how melt-in-the-mouth cute he was. His enthusiasm was so infectious (not unlike a cold on the train!!!)

“Tunnel! Tunnel! Tunnel” became “Gallop! Gallop! Gallop!” There are few worse places for little kids to go for a noisy gallop than in Church, especially in a very stiff upper lip kind of Cathedral…the sort with an organ.

Managing boisterous children in Church has inevitably always been an issue. After all, sitting still and being quite is mission impossible for most young children. That is, unless you’re blessed to have one of those angelic colouring-in types. The kids kids don’t even need to be “bad” to offend. Or, have any kind of diagnosis. Just being a kid really seems to be enough.

I do sometimes wonder whether children are truly welcome at Church or merely tolerated. That said, we’ve attended a very child-friendly Church for the last few years. They’ve gone to a great deal of trouble and have a special family service on Friday nights where we have a meal together and the service itself has songs where the children can dance as well as dress-ups to enact the stories. These are simple things really but they work more with the nature of children than being diametrically opposed.

Mind you, after advocating for making Church more child-friendly, I must admit I really do enjoy my peace and quiet.

Indeed, silence is golden!

xx Rowena

 

 

Angels and Shepherds Smile at the Camera

We might have had a real baby playing baby Jesus this year but there weren’t even any dress-up sheep this year for the shepherds to round up…just toddlers. Once again we were late for Church even though I was doing a reading and Mister was a shepherd and Amelia an angel. But we made it… Didn’t break any bones before this “performance” and the cough behaved itself as well. Even managed to photographed the children afterwards in costume in front of the tree.

I almost forgot to mention that we drove home via a scenic tour of the Christmas lights. decorating your house in Christmas lights isn’t huge here but some people really have gone all out. Being summer and daylights savings time over here, the kids are usually in bed before you can really get a good look at the lights. Hence, it’s become a bit of a tradition to have a look at the lights after the Christmas Eve Service.

Anyway, we could like to wish you and yours a loving and blessed Christmas and a peace-filled New Year. Let’s see if we can really set the Golden Rule in motion in 2015!

Love & God Bless,

Rowena Geoff, Mister, Miss, Bilbo and Lady xxoo

Angel and shepherd smiling at Mummy's camera.

Angel and shepherd smiling at Mummy’s camera.