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Category Archives: nostalgia

My December-January South Sydney Herald story

Shuffling the years with Bev Hunter

Like old Dan in Judith Wright’s “South of My Days” John and Bev Hunter have seventy years of Darlington memories hived up in them like old honey. “It was a great place. We had the best of it,” Bev recalls. “It was a really safe area. You could leave your key in the door, or leave it open, or the key under the mat. You never got shut out.”

“It was terrible, what happened. ‘Progress’ they call it, but the Town Hall where everyone had their birthday parties, engagement parties, wedding parties – that went. But we did save the old school, which is a music room now, and the gates with the war memorials. How many were affected? You’d have to look at the James Colman Report on the expansion of Sydney University into the Darlington area.” Bev has a copy in front of her; it came out in 1976 and is in Waterloo Library.

There were some, apparently, who helped themselves to people’s property even before they had fully moved out. Some of the local hard men soon dealt with that. “It was pretty tough in those days,” Bev says. “But we did get enough support to stop them crossing Shepherd Street” – referring to the University of Sydney which began encroaching on Darlington in the 1960s and has now swallowed up almost half the suburb.

Not the first time the area was devoured of course. In 1788-9 the “Kangaroo Ground” (as it was then known) was set aside for educational and other purposes, though it would be the 1850s before the University actually appeared just above the swamp and lake that formed one of two sources of Blackwattle Creek. By 1791 most of the Cadigal had succumbed to smallpox and other hazards. In 1835 the botanist Thomas Shepherd had a nursery there named in honour of Governor Ralph Darling; the street names – Ivy, Rose and so on – reflect that origin. By the late 19th century Darlington was well established as the working class suburb John and Bev Hunter were later born into.

One of the attractions for young people in the 40s and 50s of last century was the Surryville. Johnny Devlin & the Devils, from New Zealand, started a permanent Tuesday night dance at the Surryville, but the place had been jumping long before that. St Vincent de Paul’s had an event there: “In the winter of 1903, the Society organized at ‘SurreyVille’ for the’ distressed poor of the parish’ a Bread and Butter Dance which was hailed as ‘a perfect success’. Thirty-three lady parishioners, ranging from Madame Huenerbein to Madame McSweeney furnished a generous table free …Rickett’s string band discoursed the music and Miss May Stanley played the extras’ . G.Smythe provided Arnott biscuits, E. and G.Humphreys the cordials, the chemist Mr. M.H.Limon the programmes, and four local butchers the meat.” Bev remembers the alcohol-free dance nights. “We used to walk up to the Surryville, where the Wentworth Building now is, and walk home again around 11pm – that’s how safe it was then”

But the University did provide work too for local people in the 60s and 70s. Bev herself worked as a cleaner in the Wentworth Building from 5-9am, then worked at a shop on the corner of Calder Road and Shepherd Street, which she eventually owned. Later she was in the hamburger bar upstairs in Wentworth. The Calder Road shop did much business with students from the new Engineering School; among Bev’s customers was Frank Sartor with whom Bev would in time be on Sydney Council. Bev’s activism in that role is local legend now. Her community work was acknowledged by the Council in 1988 with an Australia Day Award for voluntary work. She had also become a JP during those activist days so she could save people having to walk up to Newtown Court to get their documents witnessed. She is still an active JP.

Bev and John raised three children in Darlington. Retired to Long Jetty, she still feels part of the Darlington community. Some of their old neighbours now live not far from their new home, including one who was John’s next-door neighbour in 1939. Bev still has relatives and friends in Darlington and visits quite often. A sister-in-law and her family still live in Calder Road.

Acknowledgement: St. James’ Forest Lodge parish history (online) for the account of the St Vincent de Paul event of 1903

 

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Mary Travers – and more nostalgia

Here is the very album I bought as a teenager.

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Posted by on September 18, 2009 in America, memory, music, nostalgia, USA

 

…another school term, and much else, going down the tube…

New Series: Entry 12

rabbit 16 September 2004: It turns out the Salt Mine’s Deputy went to the same school in Armidale where Mister Marsden (see previous entry) was a junior seminarian…

Oh yes, the computer – a Pentium 4 – in my Salt Mine staff room was stolen yesterday afternoon: all its inner workings neatly removed. There’s been a bit of this happening lately.

Back in 1962 Dr Marsh, the best lecturer on Shakespeare I ever had – he had completed a book on Cymbeline while in prison in South Africa, told our tutorial group who, at the time, were discussing Yeats’s "The best lack all convictions, while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity" that the problem with the then South African regime, which he opposed, was not that they were evil but they were so absolutely sure they were right. This came back to me while watching With God on our Side last night.

You will get the general picture very effectively by perusing The Jesus Factor, a PBS production. On that site Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourner Magazine – well worth visiting, says:

… When Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney talk about the necessity of American power and supremacy, military supremacy in the world as the only way to peace, I understand that as a foreign policy. I think it’s not a wise foreign policy, but I understand it.
When President Bush adds God to their formulation and says God’s purpose or intention is somehow linked with American military preeminence, that’s a very dangerous thing. President Bush [and] the White House basically choreographed a liturgy at the National Cathedral. President Bush was a chief homilist. In the pulpit of the National Cathedral, he made a war speech. He called the nation to arms in the pulpit of the National Cathedral, and he claimed a divine mission for our nation to rid the world of evil.
That is not only bad foreign policy or presumptuous foreign policy — I would say it’s idolatrous foreign policy to claim God’s purpose for that mission. And in the language that Mr. Bush has used, he does this again and again and again. Our role, and his role as president, this is acclaiming a righteous [decree] that Pax Americana is God’s foreign policy. This is a very unsettling thing.

Unsettling all right. "It is sobering to recall that … Athens, as the leader of the Delian League, was destroyed when it arrogantly began to impose its will on other states," writes Denis Kenny in the latestDissent. "President Bush especially, has been congratulated by his supporters for his ‘moral clarity’ in waging the ‘war on terror’, when by any recognised thical standards his pronouncements read like those of a moral cretin." In the same magazine, Dirk Baltzly says: "Whatever its moral value, deception has sometimes been used successfully as an instrument of foreign policy. Self-deception never has." Looking at the escalating insurgency in Iraq, and the manifest continuance of terror elsewhere, not to mention the fact that recruitment to terror is actually rising, it is hard not to see the black-and-white nostrums so beloved by George Bush and his offsiders – Condy Rice is another born-again for example – as setting them all up, and us, for self-deception. Not evil: just too damned sure they are right.

"Two-valued orientation, the mindset that perceives a clear separation between good and bad, black and white, right and wrong, is a stage of consciousness that everyone experiences as part of the maturation process. Some people remain there instead of growing into the more nuanced stage of formal operations and beyond, and these people can be described as fundamentalists. They exist in Islam, and also in our society. Not all, or most, fundamentalists are terrorists or capable of terrorism, but all, or nearly all, terrorists are operating at the fundamentalist level of human consciousness." So writes Courtney Nelson in "THE NATURE OF THE CONFLICT: AFTER 9/11/01." Good stuff too.
We have not been well led…

  • "Let’s look at the facts for a second. The Bush/Cheney administration’s record on terrorism is not exactly the best. They delayed military operations in Afghanistan long enough for Osama bin Laden to escape our grasp. They failed to crack down on Saudi Arabia, the country that produced fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers. And, in the coup de gras, they attacked Iraq, a war that terror experts feel was a diversion from the real war against Al Qaeda. In the words of the author of Imperial Hubris, who wrote anonymously but is known to be a senior CIA official fearful of losing his job, the Iraqi war was a ‘Christmas present’ to bin Laden. We gave him a delay from our operations against him while at the same time leading many new recruits to terrorist groups." — "The Politics of Terror" by Dave Rosenberg (The Bentley Vanguard | Bentley College Thursday, September 16, 2004.)
  • Far graver than VietnamThe Guardian (UK) Thursday September 16, 2004: "’Bring them on!’ President Bush challenged the early Iraqi insurgency in July of last year. Since then, 812 American soldiers have been killed and 6,290 wounded, according to the Pentagon. Almost every day, in campaign speeches, Bush speaks with bravado about how he is ‘winning’ in Iraq. ‘Our strategy is succeeding,’ he boasted to the National Guard convention on Tuesday. But, according to the US military’s leading strategists and prominent retired generals, Bush’s war is already lost. Retired general William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency, told me: ‘Bush hasn’t found the WMD. Al-Qaida, it’s worse, he’s lost on that front. That he’s going to achieve a democracy there? That goal is lost, too. It’s lost.’ He adds: ‘Right now, the course we’re on, we’re achieving Bin Laden’s ends’…"

    Falwell_Robertson Last night we had a reprise of Jerry Falwell’s disgusting comments on the subject of September 11 2001:

    I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way–all of them who have tried to secularize America–I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."

    A soul-mate of Abu Bakar Bashir?

    # Just in case you have been wondering and hadn’t noticed the date, this is from my long dead Diary-X blog, second series 2004. I have found a CD-ROM with quite a few archives on it.

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    Posted by on September 14, 2009 in blogging, nostalgia, reminiscences, reminiscing, replays

     

    A five-finger exercise

    While my coachee slaved away on a Trial HSC English Advanced paper this morning I undertook to answer the creative writing question from our previous session: “Select one of the following quotations. Use this quotation as a catalyst for your own piece of writing on belonging.” I think I rather overdid the thematic side, but I was hoping to demonstrate how this rather artificial task may be done. It isn’t fiction, but that’s in the parameters given.

    c) “My fondest childhood memories”

    When you think about it there is a lot of truth in the old Catholic saying “Give me a child to the age of seven and I will show you the man.” By that age our sense of identity, which is so much shaped by our sense of belonging to family, home, town and country, are basically set – if not in stone, at least firmly enough that escape if needed is quite difficult.

    In my case my grandfather rather than my father was the key influence. My father, you see, was rarely home, being overseas with the RAAF, so my family were living with my grandparents, and the one who had time for me most was my grandfather.

    My grandfather was a retired teacher. I don’t know how he did it, can’t remember, but before I went to school I could already read and tell the time. This led to early alienation in Kindergarten. Invited in week one to “write” on the blackboard I wrote “Sydney Morning Herald” and the date. I gather the teacher was not amused and rang my mother to complain – strange as that may seem.

    He was a mine of information, my grandfather, and I was a hyper-inquisitive child. Once he was gardening and I asked him: “What are snails for?” He stood up and took me round the garden, showing me snails, describing their life-cycle, their means of locomotion and their feeding habits and why, if we wanted our lettuces, he had to get rid of them. “Yes,” I replied with precocious analytical skills, “but what are they FOR?” Since the metaphysics of the snail was not something that had occurred to him he became uncharacteristically short with me and called out to my mother, “Get this bloody kid out of here!”

    I never have found out what snails are for, but I guess they fit into the web of life. Even snails belong, don’t they?

    Another thing about my grandfather was that he talked to just about everybody. He was genuinely interested in their lives and what they did. I would accompany him on his walks and get impatient as he stopped at this fence or that gate to chat to someone for what seemed like hours to me. I was not displeased though when he would climb over the railway fence to chat to the driver of the milk train when it was waiting at the siding for the express train to go through. There were steam engines in those days and I was enthralled standing on the tracks with my grandfather as the fireman and driver leaned down from the cab to share finer points of their trade.

    On the other hand, so I am told, when my father at last returned from overseas my first words to him were “Get that man out of here!” (Perhaps I learned the expression from my grandfather.) To me my father was the picture on the dressing table, not this large imposter who had suddenly disrupted my life, just when I had my mother pretty much in control. What this may have done to our relationship, indeed to my father’s recovery of his belonging, I can now only guess – but it did rather colour our later lives.

    You can see what a network one close relative can set up for you in those formative years. With my grandfather I explored so many aspects of my environment and he was, you could say, my map-maker. Through him were developing all those templates of background, culture and place which shape so much where “I” fits in – belongs, indeed.

    There are many other stories I could tell of my grandfather. Did I mention he only had one eye? No? But that is another story.

    I was 21 when my grandfather died. He had mentored me in so many ways, easing the pain of high school maths, answering my incessant questions about other countries as we browsed the atlas together, showing by example tolerance of people from other cultures, leading me (without pressure) to emulate him in my choice of career. If he were removed from my life story I wonder if I would today have the network of belongings that I now possess, modified as they may have been by other experiences and circumstances. Nonetheless, if I look for the rock on which it all has been built I need look no further than those childhood experiences with Roy C. – my grandfather.

     

    Sunday is music day 24: Click go the shears…

    … or perhaps “Quick go the shears…”

    Yes, that is SO Australian. But it tells of time past rather more than time present, and is more true of 1909, even 1959, than of 2009. All things must pass, as the article I linked to above in The Australian notes.

    THEY are becoming icons of a passing era. As sheep numbers continue to plummet, so do the carloads of shearers crisscrossing the backblocks in search of work.

    In Western Australia, where some of the big remote stations could carry up to 60,000 head of sheep in their heyday, the harsh realities of modern life are threatening to turn our most romantic profession into nothing more than a curiosity…

    In 1971, there were 155 million sheep across the nation, propping up the long-held notion that the country had made its luck off the sheep’s back. Today, there are fewer than 70 million, and that number has been dropping annually by anywhere between 5 and 8 per cent over the past decade. That trend is not expected to change…

    Here is another rendition, in its own way a marker of how this country is changing.

    Well, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube…

     

    Glebe revisited

    As I mention on the photo blog, I went over to an old stamping ground of mine today: Glebe and Forest Lodge. One reason was to drop off copies of The South Sydney Herald at the bookshops whose proprietors I had interviewed (on Skype!) for my article in the July edition.

    Bit of a private joke this:

    glebe 001

    Cornstalk Books was one of my destinations. The room above the shop – empty then – was the place all but the last issues of Neos were launched between 1981 and 1984. Memories!

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    In the $5 tray outside I picked up something of a treasure: A D Fraser (ed), This Century of Ours: Being an Account of the Origin and History during One Hundred Years of the House of Dangar, Gedye & Malloch Ltd, of Sydney, 1938. I am sure Jim Belshaw would be interested. (I’ll sell it to you for $100, Jim! ;)) I see it is $25 on that catalogue at the link.

    This is the frontispiece by artist Raymond Lindsay.

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    Sunday is music day 16: Paul Robeson

     
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    Posted by on May 10, 2009 in America, music, nostalgia, Sunday music