Wednesday, July 13, 2011

a post that shall remain nameless

From classical to rap
some is good
some is crap:

This is a definite masterpiece from a not so old not so new genre

This is a good demonstration of the famous "brick dance"... pretend you are standing on a brick and not allowed to move off it while you move to the music.

Of course, if you never wore a pair of slacks like these, you probably won't remember the dance.

Budding film editors should check out the smooth transition at 1:30
Moonee Ponds, early 1960s, a hot summer night, a bunch of kids playing out in the street - til someone's mother stands at her front door and yells "Pina !"... and half a dozen kids automatically turn around to see who is calling them.
Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.

Many of you will remember Con Dikaletis [aka Con the Fruiterer], the man with six daughters; Roula, Toula, Soula, Voula, Foula and Agape.

What I can't remember is the name of a Greek bloke I met once whose name was so long the typesetter struggled to squeeze it all into one line on his business card. I do remember his advertising slogan though:
'The Longest Name in the Removal Business". 
[The slogan took up less room than his surname!]

I worked with a Greek girl for a while whose name was Maria. She was always talking about another girl named Maria. One day I asked exactly who this other Maria is, and Maria replied, laughing, "They're all my cousins".
They were all named after her yaya [grandmother] Maria. Her mother was named Maria, and in her generation, every family had a Maria. 
"There are 27 kids in my generation," I told her, "and that's just on my mother's side of the family, and we all have different first and middle names." Maria said she didn't know how she would remember them all. She just goes to family get togethers and calls out "G'day Maria, g'day Djimi" and everyone is covered.

All of this came flooding back while I was working on the next chapter of The Gap, Gangs and Golliwogs. 

There's no way to talk about the Cummeragunja walkoff without hunting down the decision in the Yorta Yorta land rights claim. This in turn led me to the Goulburn River Aboriginal Protectorate. Suddenly a [low energy] light bulb popped on above my head, reminding me that some of my Great Great etc Grandparents had worked there. 

A search for the Protectorate went around in circles for a while then I chanced upon a blog which had a family history full of familiar names in it. For just a wee while I thought I had finally discovered why a certain family took my grandmother in, when her own mother died just after she was born in 1902.

The Other, a genealogy nut, spent her whole day off using these fresh clues to add branches to my family tree. The mystery was not solved after all, and the day finished with more questions than ever. 

Just one of the complications is that "in those days" [i.e. late 1800s] a lot of children died quite young, and it was very common for families to have a John who died and then name a later son John... there are families with two Georges, two Marions and so on. I would have thought it would be bad luck, or tempting fate. So the big thing I've learned today is that I am superstitious after all.

"My Lord!", said The Other, more than once while looking at the hatch, match and despatch records. "It's not just you Catholics after all... the whole bloody town were going at it like rabbits!"

Some other things I learned about this genealogy business are:

  • Most of the time I have no idea what The Other is on about. I have no spatial skills at all, and get lost when she leaps from generation to generation talking about a heap of different people with the same name.
  • People who lived in places like Upper Kangerupna Downs often went to places like Melbourne to get married. This would have meant travelling several days over a bumpy dirt road in a stage coach and a lot of expense, but apparently this was common because women were sometimes 'with child' before the marriage, and the 'holiday' was intended to conceal the fact.
  • Nobody ever spelled their surname the same way twice. [Perhaps, as Spike Milligan put it, they were illiterate but didn't know it because they couldn't read.]
  • A lot of the people who transcribe details originally recorded in copperplate script can't read copperplate script. [Wish they'd give me a job; I can, I'm desperate and I'm obsolete.]
  • Most of these adults got married two or three times [or not at all...].

Until I read Dina's blog I had no idea first cousins were allowed to marry in Australia. I don't know if that's what was happening in Upper Kangerupna Downs back then, but it was a small community... I can still walk down the street there today and bump into strangers I know I'm related to because I recognise the eye/hair/skin colour combinations.

One thing that most migrants have in common is that a few people settle, and then encourage or help relatives to join them in the same area, so in any one place, many people in the first migrant generation are related to each other.

But everything comes down to timing, as usual. I emailed the lady whose blog provided the big family history, and discovered she got some details from someone else who has Great Great etc's notebook from his time at the Protectorate. There was a big reunion of that branch of the family in Upper Kangerupna Downs a few weeks ago, but I missed it. Darn.

I had an aunt who spent her whole life putting the details of family trees together, but sadly she passed away just before the era of the internet and digitised records. I miss her; not just because I was given my middle name in her honour, but because she was an extra special lady. 


  1. I had fun with genealogy the other day; but didn't have luck a few years back when I tried researching my own.

    That's sad about your aunt. Although I wonder if she could have been overwhelmed in some ways. Would the internet have been a dream come true for her; or would it have taken some of the joy out of the hunt? Then again, without the seems like the hunting would be nearly impossible. What would you do without email and websites? I guess you'd find things, but it would take snail mail and traveling.

  2. I think she spent years physically going into record offices and sifting through bits of paper, or looking at microfiche entries. Genealogy is a big income earner in Ireland [they say all the world is Irish on St Patrick's Day]. A lot of that part was done by mail.

    My Aunt was a very adaptable, energetic go-getter [with 9 kids she didn't have a choice I suppose].I think she would have loved linking up with people all over the world through

    But I guess we are fortunate, when so many people in the world have no hope of finding relatives.