Tag Archives: retro

Weekend Coffee Share 2nd July, 2016.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share, a new financial year and GROAN…the Australian Federal Election. I have voted and the polls close in 15 minutes and then the coverage begins. For better or worse, we live in a very marginal seat and so our votes really matter. I’ve long been conscious of that and taken my vote seriously, even though I’m not a party player. This sense of the importance of the power of those individual votes, however, has been reinforced by Brexit, which I’m still watching from the sidelines.

Thanks for popping by! Could I get you a cuppa while we’re catching up? How about a Double-Coated Tim Tam?  We also have an open packet with only four biscuits remaining so you’d better get in quick. Tim Tams are an extremely endangered species but thank goodness they reproduce quickly enough to overcome the high attrition rate.

I’m not going to whinge anymore about the cold and the imminent possibility that my fingers and toes are about to drop off. Or, simply shatter like ice! They’re usually deep purple or very worrisome shades of grey! This isn’t just a product of the cold but Reynard’s Syndrome, another bonus thanks to my auto-immune disease, dermatomyositis. While I LOVE research, it can also get a bit scary, even terrifying: “while infrared therapy play’s it’s part in relieving the painful symptoms, drug therapy or surgical intervention may be necessary.”

I was joking about my fingers and toes falling off, wasn’t I? Looks like I’d better get back on my bike and get the blood pumping. I think it’s almost frozen too.

However, as the saying goes… cold hands, warm heart!

Family-Tree

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was doing some family history research. This has been an obsessive passion of mine since I was a child. Over the years, it’s grown way beyond names, dates and finding our where we come from to becoming more of a sociological project, placing my ancestors back into their geographical and historical contexts. Many of our historical Australian newspapers have been digitised and uploaded, enabling ready searching where you can really scrounge up some dirt on your ancestors. After all, you don’t earn yourself a headline being virtuous and helping little old ladies across the road. Oh no! It’s all about crime, divorce, notoriety and back then petty theft made the papers and the nitty gritty sordid details about divorce made the papers as well. So, if your ancestors were even just a little bad, there’s some good reading!

Unfortunately, what seemed like a relatively simple task of finding out when John Gardner/Gardiner came from has become mission impossible. To that unfathomable mystery, you can add his wife, Mary Sullivan. She could actually be a bigger concern because, two roads which had seemingly been divergent in the geneological woods, could to be merging together. Just because Sullivan is a fairly common name, that doesn’t mean that your ancestors aren’t common…if you catch my drift. Being related to yourself isn’t what this quest is all about! While I’ve bagged my husband out about Tasmanians being inbred, it seems the Irish Catholic community in Sydney’s Surry Hills could be worse! Thank goodness, my mother has German/Scottish heritage and comes from inter-state and we’ve diluted the pot!!

Convicts NSW

Convicts in Sydney, 1830s.

By the way, you might also be interested to know, that it looks like I’m related to three sheep-stealing, Irish butchers from County Cork who were caught, sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in 1838 and dispatched to the colonies at His Majesty’s pleasure. While I don’t condone theft, you could argue that they were enterprising businessmen with a keen eye on the bottom line, reducing costs and maximizing profits!

Aside from playing Sherlock Holmes with my geneological research, I’ve had a fairly quiet week. Tuesday night, we watched our daughter dance with her school at Showcase, a regional dance festival and the kids are involved in final rehearsals for the Scout Gang Show which is now only 2 weeks away. I am continuing my ongoing Roald Dahl reading/research project and am getting through Charlie & The Great Glass Elevator.

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A View of Heaven…Sunset Down the Road.

Probably the highlight of the last week, has been Thursday night’s breathtaking sunset where the entire sky metamorphosed into a mesmerising sunburnt orange. It was electric and needless to say, I catapulted straight out of my lounge chair and down the street my camera despite a bung foot, cold, and encroaching darkness.

It was definitely worth it! It’s amazing how that bung foot got moving without any kind of complaints, when I was only seeing through my eyes with that same absolute tunnel vision as the children of Hamelyn being lured away by the Pied Piper. Such intense and captivating beauty, was a much needed pick-me-up when I’ve been feeling flat, achy and blah! Moreover, having those photos to remind me of the moment, carries that wonder forward. Keats and so many poets, artists and philosopher’s didn’t get it wrong when they advised turning the the beauty of nature as an instant pick-me-up!

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Yum personified…Koi Dessert Bar, Sydney.

The kids will now be on school holidays for the next two weeks. We have no plans to go away but a trip down to the Koi Dessert Bar in Sydney’s Chippendale is must.

Doll in bed

The 1940s-1940s Paisley Eiderdown

By the way, any of you thrift shop/ retro junkies, I picked up two single bed eiderdowns today. Don’t know how many of you remember the 1940s/1950s paisley eiderdowns but my grandmother had one and it migrated to our place. So, even though I no memories of ever jumping in either of my grandmothers’ beds, I can wrap myself up in this and think of Mama Eunice. I might even have a cup of Twining’s English Breakfast tea in one of her tea cups as well. By the way, I also picked up an original 1970s metal milkshake cup and some vintage cake covers/fly screens. This is Australia and I’m also hoping these domes might protect our dinners from marauding dogs! I’m sure Lady’s ancestors had been sent out with the convicts for repeated food thievery and take it from me, I bet they stole more than just a loaf of bread. Indeed, I reckon those so called royal Cavaliers, were operating in cahoots with those wicked sheep stealers. Never trust a pretty canine face!

How has your week been? Good, I hope!

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster. You can click  for the linky to read the other posts.

Best wishes for the week ahead!

xx Rowena

 

 

Bride Doll Leads Me Astray.

There are time you REALLY don’t want to run into someone you know and being seen photographing a doll in a cemetery could very well top the list.

You see, rewinding back to Monday, I am still on my way home from my train trip to Surry Hills and the medical appointment, which really was the reason for the whole trip, not the deviation I’ve portrayed it.

You can read about the train trip down here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/me-myself-i-writing-a-complex-character-profile/

And the trip from Surry Hills to Gore Hill here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/08/20/surry-hills-to-gore-hill-sydney-a-hill-climbing-odyssey/

So, I go to my doctor’s appointment and am told I have mild Barrett’s Disease, caused by reflux. They change my medication but are concerned about the stomach acids damaging my lungs and so they want to see me in a month and there’s talk of a small operation. On the upside, the tell me that I won’t need another endoscopy for two years. However, it was looking like I wasn’t going to need another one at all.

One thing is certain. No more chocolate or other snacks just before bed! I don’t drink. I don’t smoke and yet again my one vice comes under attack. What did I ever do to deserve this? Humph! Sometimes, I swear the Wowsers* are out to get me!

I haven’t really given the latest too much thought but there are a few warnings there. The most obvious being “see you in a month”. That’s not a good sign. That’s doctors’ speak for: “Danger, Will Robinson!”

It’s no wonder I’ve been posting quirky photos on my blog…distraction.

The bride doll on the train.

The bride doll on the train.

Anyway, as you might recall, I bought a vintage bride doll for my daughter from the Salvo Store in Surry Hills and I’m lugging her around in a huge Ikea bag along with a chenille bedspread and a cookbook, despite the long trip home. I’m someone who takes their bargains seriously but even I thought it was a bit mad trying to lug this lot up hill and down dale and on multiple trains…especially as I’m not exactly well.

One of my attempts to create a ghost.

One of my attempts to create a ghost.

But these are the sort of feats which build resilience and it could just be that one day that resilience could save my life…if it hasn’t already.

Gore Hill Cemetery in Bloom.

Gore Hill Cemetery in Bloom.

Anyway, not unsurprisingly, there’s an old cemetery just across the road from the hospital: Gore Hill Memorial Cemetery. Established on 19 May 1868, the first body was interred in 1877 and it closed in 1974. I have a few relatives buried there, although I’ve never found their graves.

These days the cemetery is almost used as a park and there are park benches and in Spring, the place comes alive with a diversity of flowers.

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Anyway, since I was walking past, I thought I’d photograph the bride doll, which I have since named Lucinda, in the cemetery. I wondered if she would come out looking like a ghost with the long white dress and I thought there might be some good backdrops as well, given the age of the place.

Looking very glamorous!

Looking very glamorous!

However, even though we are at the tail-end of Winter, very few flowers were out but photographic conditions were perfect so I decided to mostly just take advantage of the light.

This one looks quite eerie, especially with a bit of help from Photoshop.

This one looks quite eerie, especially with a bit of help from Photoshop.

While I find the idea of taking photographs in the cemetery intriguing, I am, of course, mindful that these are not just names etched in stone but the remains of loved ones, which need to be respected.

So, after a few photos, Lucinda and I caught the train home and I was able to find out a bit more about her on Google. She is a Mighty Star Doll and was made in Canada during the 60s or 70s. I am thinking that she might have been used to model wedding gowns. I’m not sure. The clothes have actually been sewn onto her. If anybody knows more about her, I’d love to know.

It’s also a bit intriguing how she came to Australia. No doubt brought over by a little girl or perhaps brought back here as a gift.

Hard to believe how much I managed to cram into one day and how many new ideas are peculating around inside my head.

There is such a thing as creative overdrive!

xx Rowena

*Wowser: In Australia, it is a derogatory word denoting a person who saps all the fun out of any given situation. Derived from the temperance movement in Australia and New Zealand at the turn of the C20th, when it was hurled as an accusation towards conservative teetotallers who were too prim and proper to relax and socialise, it has become a more generic term that can be assigned to any straight bore lacking a sense of humour, especially petty bureaucrats and Aussies politicians. http://www.urbandictionary.com

Time Traveling Through A Vintage 80s Magazine…

Everyone has a secret. Well, mine isn’t exactly a secret. I just haven’t got around to sharing  my passion for history and almost anything retro. This hasn’t been a conscious omission. I’ve simply been writing about other stuff. Besides, it’s a bit like stating the obvious.

You see, when you visit our place, there’s a Morris Minor parked out the front. There are rows of antique bone china tea cups which have broken out of the display cabinet and have started to wander. Old, black & white family photos peer through ornately carved, antique wooden frames and my computer is perched on top of an old oak desk with a gorgeous wood grain finish.

Being the eternal good Samaritan, I’m forever salvaging the past from our local charity or “op” shops as we call them. Indeed, you could say that I’m quite the “archaeologist” or even that I’m “kind to the homeless”. While I do have dogged persistence, most of my “finds” are beyond coincidence and were clearly: “serendipity” or “meant to be”. I had to take them home!!

Anyway, while my greatest archaeological weaknesses is vintage tea cups closely followed by illustrated books and cookbooks, another love of mine is collecting old magazines, which is quite odd in a way because I rarely buy contemporary magazines at all. My most cherished magazines are copies of the Australian Women’s Weekly dating back to the 1950s, which I picked up from an antique shop in the Queensland country town of Marburg, where my mother spent some years as a child. I love really getting into how people lived in “the olden days”.

Australia Day Wishes 1988.

Australia Day Wishes 1988.

Recently, I came across a new find for my collection. It was  an Australian Women’s Weekly dating back to January 1988. That’s now 24 years ago. While it is not as old as my other editions, it was the “Bicentennial Souvenir: Special Collector’s Edition”, which celebrated Australia’s “200th Birthday”. The Bicentenary was a very special time in Australia’s history when we really thought about our identity as a nation and there were all sorts of special events as well as much sorrow.

Personally, 1988 was also a very special year. You see, I’d left school at the end of 1987 and you could say life began in March 1988, when I walked through the gates of Sydney University and discovered a social whirl like none other. Aside from having my heart broken by my high school sweetheart, 1988 was a jolly good year!

While the magazine has much to say about the bicentenary, I’ll get to that after further research. I’m sure you can appreciate that any national celebration of that magnitude was “complex”. Meanwhile, I just want to bask in the light of the glorious 80s and soak up the social, fashion and technological changes and let the good times roll back.

Charles & Di: the greatest modern tragedy.

Charles & Di: a great modern tragedy.

With a touch of schadenfreude, I opened up my Women’s Weekly to find the usual suspects, Diana and Charles, who were guests of honour for the Bicentenary. The headline read: “What will Australia see this time…Diana: Royal Charmer or Spoilt Princess?” After finding this little gem, I would probably advise royal reporter Ingrid Seward to stick to journalism as she makes a lousy clairvoyant: “If the fairytale royal romance were going to crack apart, overheated in the furnace of public scrutiny, it would be now. But it hasn’t. And it won’t.”

This, of course, is one of the disadvantages of getting published. Your words really are set in stone and can indeed come back to haunt you.

Not unsurprisingly,fashion was hot.

Lady Sonia McMahon 1988

Style Icon Lady Sonia McMahon 1988

I came across an interesting feature called “Women of Style”, where they interviewed Australian style icons about their views on Australian fashion. Not unsurprisingly, Lady Sonia McMahon, wife of former Australian Prime Minister Sir Billy McMahon and mother of actor Julian McMahon, was interviewed.

Lady Mc Mahon had climbed to fashion royalty in 1971  when, as the wife of Australian Prime Minster Sir Billy McMahon,  she wore “that dress” to a reception held by US President Richard Nixon at the White House. The daring dress was split both sides to the armpits though held together by rhinestones about two centimetres apart from the waist up. While the dress appears quite revealing, it was actually lined with a pantyhose-type, flesh-coloured fabric.

Sonia McMahon in THAT dress at the White House.

Sonia McMahon in THAT dress at the White House.

Apparently, Lady McMahon was too impressed with how Australian women were dressing in the 80s. “She (Lady McMahon) used to think Australian women were among the best dressed in the world. But then came the jeans revolution and women relaxed- something Lady McMahon does not approve of. Smart clothes, she says, make a smart woman. Neatness and attention to detail, which some women are born with, but Lady McMahon says can be learnt, are paramount to style”. (I can’t help wondering what Lady McMahon would think of the current girl’s fashion…denim short shorts…)

Dame Edna Everage wearing a signature piece of Australiana

While Dame Edna Everage wearing a signature piece of Australiana

Meanwhile, not one to be outdone in the fashion stakes, Dame Edna Everage also featured in fashion pages in: What Dame Edna is Wearing Overseas. If you haven’t encountered Dame Edna before, she has a certain je ne sais quoi, which completely defies any kind of interpretation. As my daughter said when I introduced her to Dame Edna tonight: “What kind of person is she?”

Only Dame Edna could manage to incorporate the Auistralian flag and a 3D version of the Sydney Opera House into a frock.

Only Dame Edna could manage to incorporate the Auistralian flag and a 3D version of the Sydney Opera House into a frock.

In contrast to Lady McMahon’s classic elegance,  Dame Edna is wearing a garish canary yellow outfit with two koalas up a gum tree. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she’s also pictured wearing a blue dress with the Australian flag sequined on the bodice. But wait!!! It gets worse. I just noticed that the white starchy collar is actually the Sydney Opera House. Yikes!!! Hasn’t she ever heard that less is more? Oh my goodness!! I can feel some kind of severe anaphylactic reaction setting in. Oh! I mean… there’s the pink hair, purple hair and I’m not even going to discuss the glasses…Oh my goodness. There just aren’t enough superlatives to do Dame Edna any kind of justice whatsoever!!  She just has to be the most truly cringe-worthy, “national symbol” EVER!!!!!

The big question I have is this: Who allowed Dame Edna to leave the country dressed like that and why on earth did a magazine like the Australian Women’s Weekly publish the evidence?

Quite frankly, someone should have grabbed Dame Edna by the horns and told her in no uncertain terms: “Go to your room. You’re not leaving the house looking like that!!!” I know fashion was a bit out there in the 80’s but I’m flabbergasted.

Indeed, when it comes to managing Dame Edna stronger measures would have been required. The fact that she ended up overseas dressed like that and representing our country makes her fashion choices a matter of national security.  She was destroying our National Credibility Rating (NCR). What with those crazy outfits, the pink and purple hair and all her “hello possums” and parading around as Australian royalty, she was a national embarrassment.

I understand that customs usually stop undesirables from entering into a country but couldn’t they have done something to stop her from getting out??? Anything!!!

Of course, there are the fashion police. If ever there was a case demanding their expert attention, this was it. They should have locked her up and thrown away the key! absolutely!! Sentenced her to life imprisonment rather than let her flaunt her peculiar fashions overseas and in The Weekly.

Yet, as much as Dame Edna has that incredible cringe factor, for some strange reason, we still love her even though we want to hit her with the nearest fly swat!!!

Gee, I hope Dame Edna never gets hold of Lady McMahon’s “dress” from the Powerhouse Museum. Seeing the epitome of kitsch dressed as the epitome of style would be the outrage to end all outrages…especially as I doubt Dame Edna has ever shaved her legs!!

Moving on from fashion, I also found an interview with then 60 Minutes journalist Jana Wendt. Among other topics, she was responding to a magazine article which appeared two weeks after the birth of her son, Daniel. The article had implied that Jana was “afraid of motherhood” and was fearful that motherhood would make her less effective as a journalist. She had not been consulted for this article and explained: “I can’t believe that any responsible journalist, who supposedly values the qualities of motherhood, would come out and try to undermine a working woman’s life by saying that, just because she’s had a child, she’s somehow going to be different, or unprofessional, or, all of a sudden, softer in her interviewing technique. The prejudice that women often lay at the feet of men- well, I think some women should examine themselves for that prejudice because it’s clearly there.”…

“Your priorities do change when you have a child. Not your personal priorities but the fact that your lifestyle has to accommodate another person.You have somehow to work out how you’re going to make that person happy and contented so, yes, it did- or is- taking a lot of thought and I’ve no intention of stopping work at all. My work is very important to me and it makes me a complete person. I don’t think I’d be very successful at just sitting at home,” Jana said.

I personally have mixed views about Jana’s comments. I wholeheartedly support her desire to combine motherhood and career but her assertion that full time parents are just “sitting down” is poorly informed. They’d be lucky enough to sit down long enough to get through a cup of tea uninterrupted.

Another point of interest was a joint photography feature between the Australian Women’s Weekly and Fuji Film: How to Take Perfect Photos…Every Time!

Of course, this was written before digital photography when cameras used film and you couldn’t see how your photo had turned out until you’d had them processed. That’s right. There was a door on the back of your camera for putting in the film and not a screen. You also had to choose the right speed of film and you couldn’t switch easily between colour and black and white either. Photography was a lot more conscious than it is now. You really did need to try to set your shot up well and get it right before you took it, rather than checking as you go. This feature also suggested that if you were traveling and wanted to remember characteristic sound effects, you could take along a small cassette recorder. Now, that really starts to date the magazine.I’d imagine that if we could travel backwards in time and tell them we’re taking selfies on our mobile phones, they’d tell us: “You’re dreaming.”

I also came across this photo of a computer 1988 style:

Computers 1980s style...a terminal connected to a mainframe.

Computers 1980s style…a terminal connected to a mainframe.

However, as much as things have changed since January, 1988, some things have also stayed the same.

Thank goodness for Sao biscuits!!

Thank goodness some things never change!!

Thank goodness some things never change!!

I don’t know if I really miss the 80’s but wouldn’t it be great to be 18 again for just one day!!

Yes, I’d have a lot to say to my 18 year old self!! What about you?

xx Rowena

Sources:

The Australian Women’s Weekly, January, 1988.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/a-love-beyond-understanding/story-e6frg6z6-1111114526775

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/celebrity/sonia-mcmahon-elegance-loyalty-and-that-dress-20100403-rkcv.html