Friday, January 26, 2007

Australia Day

Today is Australia Day. We get a public holiday for the occasion so it's popular for that reason.

I am not going to go all nationalistic and put the Australian flag on this entry.

I find it quite disturbing that the flag has become an issue in terms of The Big Day Out, where the organisers attempted to ban people wearing it in an attempt to curtail racist violence. The PM of course was all against this action by the organisers and forced them into an about face.

Since when have Australians become so nationalistic? It appears to be a fairly recent development and has escalated since the Cronulla riots of 2005.

In my youth, the only flags I was interested in waving were revolutionary flags when we marched our little feet off in the anti Vietnam war rallys of the early 70s.

Australia, being such a multicultural place, has never been all that nationalistic until recently. Yeah, we had to salute the flag when we were at primary school and parrot the words:

"I love God and my country, I will honor the flag, serve the Queen and cheerfully obey my teachers, parents and the law"

But that was more king & country sort of stuff.

My most vivid memory of one of these occasions was in Woods Point...
There was a epileptic child who threw fits and he succumbed to one during the patriotic ceremony, much to the fascinated interest of us children. I also remember this child every time I hear the song "Irene Goodnight" as he used to wander around the school and into classrooms where he'd say "I'd like to sing the children a song" and launch into "
Irene Goodnight". Actually, I really like the song - it has great lyrics and was apparently written by Lead Belly.

Anyway to mark Australia Day in my own fashion, here are a couple of family photos from the 1930s.

The first is of my Uncle Edgar, my mother's older brother who died during the second world war. This photo is one of several sent to me some years ago by one of Edgar's old girlfriends, a lady called Betty Cox. I've never met her, but she rang me up and asked if I wanted the photos as she was getting on in years and wanted to pass them on to someone in the family before she died. I was only too delighted to take them as I have quite a collection of old family stuff donated through the years by various relatives. I seem to have taken on the mantle of family history keeper. One of these days I will have to pass it on to someone else.

The photo shows Edgar with Betty and another friend, out on the town in Manly (a suburb of Sydney) in 1932. It has a wonderful dated look with the three friends so stylishly dressed for a day out.

The second photo is of my parents (in the foreground) and was taken in 1936. As they weren't married until 1945, it's obvious they knew each other for a very long time before they did tie the knot. My mother in the photo must be 19 years old and my father 26 (he's the one missing a leg). The other people, as is written on the back of the photo, are Girlie (peculiar name), Aunt and Frank whoever they are.

It's a picture of an Australia that no longer exists. Like, I mean, can you imagine the above young people attending The Big Day Out draped in an Australian flag?


chiefbiscuit said...

I loved reading this Anne - you're so right! I can't imagine the flags draped around these people. What a treat to receive those photos. I admire people, like the woman who contacted you, who realise the value of things and don't just have a big burn-up. I was horrified to hear about someone doing this to old family heirlooms - I'm going to write a story about it one day it's such a vivid picture in my mind.) What lovely photos. Happy Aussie Day! (I've never saluted our rather unimaginative flag in my life (it's exactly the same as the Australian flag apart from one less star!)or worn it anywhere about my person, and never intend to do either. Somehow it seems just silly.

Jan said...

Anne: my parents met in the mid 30's but didn't marry til 46. I have all their letters written between them for those 8 years.

Anne S said...

CB: I treasure all the old family history stuff. A number of relatives did all the genealogy searches and send it to me. I intend some day to collate it all electronically so it will be recorded for good and not just exist as bits and pieces of paper.

Jan: How lucky you are to have your parents corrspondence. I don't have a thing like that. My parents probably knew each other since childhood, as my grandmother ran a maternity hospital and delivered some of my father's younger brothers. My mother was a nun for a short time until her health couldn't tolerate the rigours of convent life. She got married after she left the convent.

Jan said...

That was fascinating stuff, particularly about your mother being a nun. There's a fabulous book by Jenny Newman( Writing tutor at a L'pool Uni)called " Going In" about her own similar experiences. Some years after leaving the convent, she married David Evans who had been a political prisoner in S Africa. Two people who had led enclosed lives, their own choices or not.