Old folk at lunch

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The first "Frank" Ray






Picture of him above.  His full name was Edward Arthur Walter Francis Burnside Ray.  Burnside was his (convict) mother's maiden surname so it looks like it just got in as an afterthought amid all that clutter.  Family tradition is however that he was normally known as "Frank", and his grandson (my father) was named Frank after him.  My father recollected him as a bit of a villain (Taking timber logs off crown land, for instance) and a press cutting has come to light which may give some substance to that. The 1884 government Gazette tells us:

"Edward Arthur Walter Francis Burnside RAY, alias Frank Ray, is charged, on warrant issued by the Cooktown Bench, with deserting his wife Elizabeth, of that place, on the 19th ultimo. Description :--A native of New South Wales, 38 years of age. 6 feet high, medium build, dark complexion, dark hair, whiskers, moustache, and beard (the latter turning grey), hazel eyes, follows the occupation of sawyer or bullock-driver; wore light tweed trousers and coat, white helmet hat with black band. He left Cooktown by the S.S. "Maranoa" or “Quiraing" on the 19th ultimo, and it is believed he will go to New Guinea.
4th August, 1884."
Of interest is that the clipping confirms that he was popularly known as Frank and that he was 6' tall.  Seeing his mother, Anne Jane, was only 4'9 3/4" tall that is a surprise  Her short stature must have been due to early nutritional deficiency. His father was a sawyer so that fits.  And his father Joseph (Height 5 ft 6 and a half inches) had hazel eyes too. "Frank" was born at Narellan in Sydney in 1844, so his NSW origin is also correct.

Note that the Quiraing is a landslip on the eastern face of Meall na Suiramach, the northernmost summit of the Trotternish Ridge on the Isle of Skye.  So the ship had a Scottish Gaelic name.  It's not a misprint.  The Government Gazette got it right.

And in the Cairns post of 29 August, 1891 we read:

On Thursday, a bullock driver named Frank Ray, in the employ of Lyons and Downey, Myola, met with a nasty accident through a cask of cement rolling on him.  Dr. Dobie was called in, who found the man's leg badly fractured and he, after doing the needful, advised the removal of the patient to Cairns hospital.

Myola is on the outskirts of Kuranda in Far North Queensland and the Warren family were also there at the time.  Frank probably knew Bob Warren.  His son and Bob's daughter married, from whence my father sprang.

And in the Morning Post of April 23, 1901 we read.

Mr Frank Ray

The  Post is pleased to learn that Mr Frank Ray, the well-known timber getter is recovering satisfactorily after two severe operations performed by Dr. Koch.
My father was also a timber getter (lumberjack in American parlance).  Timber getters were normally independent contractors rather than employees so Frank was in effect a prominent businessman in his little pond.

The above excerpts came to me by the courtesy of the inestimable Silvia, wife of Peter Fletcher, a determined explorer of "Trove", the Australian government's online record of early newspapers..

Finally, I put up below a picture of Elizabeth Ann Ray, (nee Holt), who was born at Bury in Lancashire in 1859.  She was Frank's wife and hence my great grandmother.  Does the picture suggest why he might have shot through on her at one stage?





Friday, November 16, 2012

More from the archives




The "horns" episode has energized me to scrabble around in my portful of photos for ones that go back a long way.

And here is one when I was about 4 and my sister Jacqueline 2.  Colour photography was in its infancy then so they took the photos in B&W, developed them in sepia and then hand-coloured them.  I am sorry to say that the sepia in the photo below is now coming through in spots but at least the scanned copy should stay stable



And below is a real treasure:  It is my father aged 2 in 1917  They had a custom back then of dressing little boys like little girls but I can only speculate why. We had a few laughs about it at home every few years and I enquired why but my parents simply said it was the custom then.   On the back is written (presumably by his mother):  "My dear little Frank, Xmas, 1917"



And I suppose wedding photos are fair game here.  Below is the wedding photo for my parents.  My mother and father are on the Left, followed by my  father's brother Hal, my mother's sister Maude and Robert Nankerville [Nankevell?]. The Nankervilles were family friends and there was a convict Nankerville in the early days.



I have another wedding photo in which my father is looking particularly spiffing.  He is on the far right.  It is the wedding photo of my uncle Hal and his wife Dorothy.  That attractive lady beside my father would have to be his sister Lucy and the guy in the middle would be the father of the bride.



And, finally, when I was going through everything, I came across  this nice photo of my second wife Joy in her bumble-bee bikini:   Taken at Peregian beach on our honeymoon.



Thursday, November 15, 2012

More from the old days




The photo below denotes considerable pride.  Jack Ray (in the middle of  photo) often used his team to "snig" (drag) out of the bush (forest) some of the huge trees they cut down in those days.  He also felled trees himself and I suspect that he both cut and moved the monster in the photo.  Jack was about 6' tall so that is the diameter of the tree



Imagine cutting down a huge tree with just an axe and a crosscut saw then imagine getting it to the railhead with bullocks pulling it along an unmade bush track and you will see the reason for the pride behind the photo.  Those guys were not supermen so it is rather amazing what they accomplished with just brains and doggedness.  They understood the challenges they took on and rose to them.  And they were just ordinary men.  Jack never went to school but was taught at home to read and write.

The second photo is of my grandmother's father Bob Warren.  He was a dairy farmer among other things and at one stage moved his herd via ship from Kuranda to Home Hill.  I have an idea he got some sort of land grant at Home Hill. The farmhouse and creamery at Kuranda is in the background, which I believe he built himself.  He was also a carpenter.



The photo above appears to be from 1909 and an interesting thing is that we actually still know the names of the beasts in the picture.  Their animals were like people to their owners in those days. Bob is with his bull "Sultan" and the cow in the picture is the prize-winning "Coconut".  In the background is "Bluebell".  I think it was Vin Warren (Bob's youngest son) who gave us those details.  He knew those animals himself.  I was looking at a picture of another one of Bob's cows at one stage and Vin said:  "That's Buttercup".  I asked how he knew which cow it was.  "By the curl in her tail" he answered.  The animals were all real individuals to him.  He remembered them like people.

The photo was taken at Myola, near Kuranda in North Queensland.

I actually remember Bob Warren myself.  We visited them at Home Hill when I was about 6 and he gave me a penny.  Even at that time the amount seemed small but he was an old man then and a penny would have bought a lot in his youth.

Vin's sister, Annie, my grandmother, died young and her death was deeply felt in the family.  Vin would have been in his 80's when I asked him:  "And what sort of person was she, Vin?  He replied:  "She was a lovely person".  And his eyes filled with tears.  So I too now feel grief about the death of a person whom I never knew.  But she was my grandmother so maybe that is allowed.



Grandfather Jack Ray and grandmother Annie nee Warren

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Did my brother grow up in a drain?




In a conversation recently, my brother said he grew up in a drain. That amused me  -- not least because it is true.

So what are we talking about here?  Bombay, Calcutta or some Third World slum?  Not at all.  We both grew up in a spacious three bedroom house with all mod cons in the pleasant Australian city of Cairns.

99% of what my brother was talking about is explained by the picture below  -- a photo I took myself about 50 years ago.  It shows the local kids playing in a stormwater drain out the front of our house in Cairns.



Kids in the photo are: Nolene Kelso in red raincoat, Ray Kelso standing on the bank.  In the water are my sister Roxanne, brother Chris and Carl Foster, from Fosters auto spares, next door.  Geoff Michna wasn't there that day!

Chris says that for most of the year the drain was quite "yucky" but was a fantastic place to play after the tropical storms came and the flood waters washed it clean and filled it up .

Note also from the foreground that we grew up in a house with a white picket fence  -- which is, according to our "intellectuals, an unimaginable horror  -- though I have no idea why.  I have subsequently put up a few white picket fences myself.

For birthdays and Christmasses these days, kids get DELUGED with plastic toys from China.  I have bought a few such toys for little kids myself at times.  But NO such toys are as remotely as satisfying to kids as a half-overgrown stormwater drain  -- particularly if you never wear shoes and are allowed to play without adult supervision.

So my brother and I were discussing that photo and what he actually said was:  "Geoffrey Michna and I grew up in that drain" -- referring to his childhood friend from a couple of doors down.  He is not in the picture above but he sure was often in the drain depicted!

Perhaps these days computer games do far more for kids than a drain ever did but I wonder.  There is no doubt of the endless fascination that drain offered to the neighbourhood kids.

So what my brother meant was that he spent many happy hours in that drain during his childhood.  He made his remark when we mentioned that the drain has long since been sent underground and so is now lost to kids forever.  It felt to Chris that an important part of his childhood had been buried.

The picture above is a bit rough but it is off a colour slide so I should be able to put up a better version of it in due course

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A big trip




Being something of a hermit these days, twenty minutes is usually the maximum journey time for me.  But today I excelled myself.  I took a three hour trip to Kingaroy!

So what incentive was behind that?  Bullock horns.  Yes:  Bullock horns.

About a quarter of a century ago, I visited my father's cousin,  Alex Fletcher (now deceased), at his farm in Ban Ban springs.  And when I noted a set of bullock horns mounted in his living room, I asked after them.  And he told me that they were actually the horns of my grandfather's favourite bullock.  My grandfather and great-grandfather were both bullockies (teamsters in American parlance).  They were the heavy carriers of their day, using teams of bullocks.

And I am actually rather proud to be a descendant of bullockies.  Henry Lawson's poem "The Teams" tells you most of what you need to know about them.  Lawson portrays the men as strong silent types and that is certainly my memory of my grandfather Jack.

So when I saw the horns I thought that I should ask for them when Alex died.  I did not keep in touch, however, so was not around when Alex died.  Not long ago, however, I received an email from Peter, Alex's son.  Peter was seeking help with genealogy in general and the identification of old photographs in particular.

I mentioned the bullock horns to Peter and -- wonder of wonders -- Peter not only had taken them with him when he had to give up the family farm but actually offered to give the horns to me!  It was good luck that I hardly deserved.

So my brother Christopher and I got into his ute today and drove up to Kingaroy for a prearranged meeting with Peter.  We went to a local cafe for morning-tea/lunch and spent a lot of time looking at old family photos and trying to identify them (without much success).   I was pleased that I was able to give Peter a rarity in exchange for the horns.  It was a copy of a large old family photo, taken in about 1880, of his and my great-grandfather.



Handing over the horns.  Christopher, myself and Peter (L to R)


Peter turned out to be a very nice man and his wife too was very pleasant so it was a good  meeting.  Peter rather surprised me when he told me he liked the little jokes in the genealogy I have put on line.  People usually seem to miss most of my jokes.  It's probably a tribute to Peter's own good nature that he got them.

On the way up and back Chris and I had lots of discussions.  We rarely do that because we tend to think alike on most things so there is nothing left to say!  We are both a bit fired up over the persistence of global warming nonsense, however, so we both spent a lot of time pointing out absurdities in that theory.

When we got back to Brisbane, I left the horns in my brother's keeping.  He lives only 10 minutes drive from where I do and already has a small private museum of family mementoes so he is the obvious person to look after the horns.

Christopher took a big collection of family photos to Kingaroy with him and there were quite a few with me in them that I did not have copies of so he left the collection with me temporarily.  And out of the collection, I have reproduced one below.  It is about 60 years old and was developed in sepia.  I put it up because I think that it is the last photo in which I looked reasonably good-looking.  It has been a long slide downhill since then!



There is a larger copy of the photo  on Facebook.

I think my little brother looks rather gorgeous in the photo and he is still as good humoured to this day.  I am on the right (as ever) and my sister Jacqueline (now deceased) is in the middle.


And, last but not least, my grandfather's team



Peter, who is a cattleman, thinks that the best bullock in a team was always up the front to steady the mob.  So  the horns should be from one of the bullocks in the  photo. And he thinks that the one on the nearside of the team at the front, looks to have the same shaped horns as the set we have.  If only we knew the name of the bullock concerned.  Bullocks all had names that they were known by.

Friday, November 9, 2012

I don't know if I should comment on this ...




But I note that Britain's Daily Mail has put up very derogatory coverage of the Melbourne Cup, Australia's most beloved horse race.  As happens at almost any race meeting anywhere, there were some people who stayed on after the horses had finished running and partied on -- leading to some unattractive drunken behavior.  The "Mail" photographed some of that behaviour and used the photos to condemn the Melbourne Cup generally and the patrons in particular.  They used photos such as the ones below









But the photos above were not taken in Melbourne.  They were taken at Aintree, location of Britiain's premier jump race, The Grand National.  I got the pictures not by wandering the grounds with a camera and looking for the worst I could find but rather by spending 5 minutes looking at the pix returned by Google in response to the search term "Aintree".

There were many other pictures I could put up  -- of tarts in short skirts, ladies showing a lot of breast and, above all, more painted FAT ladies than you would ever want to see.  But I will be kinder than the "Mail".

So why are Brits in glass houses throwing stones?  It's simple, really.  For 200 years Brits have been migrating to Australia for a better life.  And they still do.  A recent survey suggests that half of them would move to Australia if they could.  So that puts "The Old Dart" in a poor light, does it not?  All those Brits voting with their feet don't make Britain look very attractive.

So to retain their self-respect and explain to themselves why they are still in grey and poverty-stricken Britain instead of sunny and comfortable Australia, it helps a little to find a few faults with Australia.  Freud would understand.


UPDATE

I wonder how this fits in with British criticisms of Australian racecourse behaviour?

CCTV images have been released by police investigating a mass brawl between Swansea and Cardiff City fans which brought terror to an afternoon at the races.

Between 50 and 60 people clashed in front of families at Newbury Racecourse in Berkshire at around 4pm on July 14.

It is thought the violence erupted on the ground floor of the grandstand and then spread to the racecourse, marring what should have been an enjoyable afternoon at the Newbury Summer Festival.

Superintendent Robin Rickard said: 'This was a nasty incident involving up to 60 people fighting in the middle of the afternoon and impacted on lots of innocent people and families who had planned to spend an enjoyable day at the races.

More HERE

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The cup!



I am no gambler or follower of the neddies but like most  Australians I do watch the Melbourne Cup on TV.  It is a great occasion that generates a lot of excitement.  The ladies all get into hats and fascinators and glam up generally and the men place their bets.

I didn't do too badly.  I know nothing about form so I go into sweeps only.  And one of the horses I got in a sweep came third.  So I think I am ahead on the day.

Anne was off to a fancy ladies' day at the Sofitel (once known as the Sheraton) so I looked like viewing the race at home on my own.  As it happened, however, Jenny had resigned her job a couple of days ago so was free to come over and join me.  Most people I know were working or out of town.

Jenny and I had a very restrained cup party  -- with watermelon and freshly squeezed orange juice instead of cakes and champagne.  I guess we are getting old.

It was a very exciting race with the winner coming from well behind but ending well ahead.  The cup is like that, though.  I was rather pleased that it was not a photo finish this year.  Last year was so close that I would have been inclined to call it a tie, or at least a draw.



The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were in attendance and the Duchess presented the cup to the owner.  Both seemed to be in good form.

I noticed that the jockey made the sign of the cross at the end of the race.  I wonder if anyone will criticize that?  They would be well advised not to.  Any cup winner is close to God in Australia.


I also like to have a look each year to see who won the "Fashions on the Field" prize.  It's said to be Australia's richest fashion prize.  Ladies as well as horses compete at the Melbourne Cup.  And the fashions are always wearable, unlike the monstrosities that appear on Paris catwalks etc.  The winner this year, Lauren Andrews, has been competing in such events for about 5 years so the prize this year went to a stayer.  That is she in the middle below



I can't really see what's good about the outfit but what would I know?  Someone who appears to know informs us:  "Ms Andrews purchased her winning outfit more than a month ago, a navy-and-neon-yellow tweed pencil dress with a half peplum on the waist, from British label Erdem. Her winning pleated headpiece was by Melbourne milliner Kim Fletcher... she backed some of the day's most popular trends: neon colours, a fitted pencil silhouette and a peplum ruffle."

So there!


UPDATE

At great risk of political incorrectness, there is one small thing that I noted during the hour or more that I was watching the events at Flemington:  I did not see one black, brown or East Asian face.  So it was one of the last holdouts of the old Australia.  And having the Heir to the Throne present (Australia is still a monarchy) certainly underlined that.

The absence of East Asians was a little surprising.  Not only are the Chinese great gamblers but they generally fit in seamlessly with our traditions.