A Quartet of Hats

Hat to the power of four should satisfy Sepia Saturday’s need for groups of four this week.

Put something on your head and  it automatically becomes a hat, in this case 1960s style.

 

And now, having performed my quartet, I can go and indulge myself by investigating a single postcard with a trip down memory lane.  You can join me to read about

that handsome, dashing hero

The Red Shadow – in Melbourne

 

Or go to Sepia Saturday for more groups of four.

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The Red Shadow – in Melbourne

When young I didn’t have to contribute much to the household chores except for doing the dusting on a Saturday morning. On my mother’s dressing table was an old-fashioned cream celluloid photo frame displaying a photo of my father,     I discovered that there was a postcard photo of someone else slipped in behind my father.

Lance Fairfax as The Red Shadow in The Desert song, Melbourne, 1928

Lance Fairfax as The Red Shadow in The Desert song, Melbourne, 1928

I would put this photo of Lance Fairfax to the front and at some later stage someone would restore my  father to the front position without anything being said., week after week, after week.

In the photo Lance Fairfax (1899-1974) is pictured in his role as the Red Shadow in The Desert Song which had  opened in Melbourne in September 1928 for a 28 week run. Lance, who was born in New Zealand, had been a distinguished soldier in World War 1 and a sportsman, then pursued a career as a baritone both in Australia and overseas.

The Desert Song is an operetta by Sigmund  Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein.  At the time. the Arabs in North Africa were romanticized as they rebelled against French Colonial rule. Think of Beau Geste or Lawrence of Arabia.  In 1925 there was an uprising by a group of Moroccan fighters called the Riffs and this inspired the storyline for The Desert Song. Then in best Scarlet Pimpernel fashion we have the  quiet, uninteresting character who though known to us but not by the cast keeps transforming into the handsome and dashing hero who wins the beautiful maiden.

Of interest on the back of the postcard is Broadcasting Co of Australia Pty Ltd.  This the independent national public broadcaster founded in 1929 and which took over several other funded radio stations to form a single  whole.  There were many live broadcasts and Lance was a part of that.  The front of the postcard mentions 3LO and 3AR the two Melbourne stations.

Lance rode his horse on stage in the production of The Desert Song so it was interesting to see this newspaper report in 1931.

Lance Fairfax’s Steed. MELBOURNE, March 29. 1931

A horse used by Lance Fairfax in the operetta, The Desert Song, last night figured In an amazing accident In Carlton. The horse, which was attached to a cab. bolted half a mile. and then slipped in a gutter. The cab overturned on top of an Italian woman. Sablna Benporath. aged 30 and her three children, one of whom 13 months old was critically Injured. The others suffered minor injuries

The Desert Song was staged at his Majesty’s in Melbourne again in 1945 with Max Oldaker in the lead role.  This was my introduction to the Desert Song.

The outside and inside of the four-fold paper theatre programme in Melbourne in 1945

The show had  premiered on Broadway in 1926 and was made into an early sound film in 1929 which was very faithful to the original stage show,  Here is John Boles singing The Riff Song in the movie.

 

Isn’t that just gorgeous  !

Lance Fairfax played  the role of the Red Shadow in Melbourne in 1928 but I can’t find video of him in that role,  but here is  a very brief view of him singing Toreador in a movie of Carmen.

The 1929 movie of The Desert Song  has an interesting history. By the 1940s, the original 1929 film had become illegal to view or exhibit in the United States due to its Pre-Code content which included sexual innuendo, lewd suggestive humor and open discussion of themes such as homosexuality.   Well,Well !  I would dearly love to see a copy of that first movie just to see what I’ve been missing out on.

Dennis Morgan starred in the 1943  movie version which had the Red Shadow fighting the Nazis and now being call El Khobar instead of the Red Shadow.  And in 1953 there was a  “cleaned-up” version starring Gordon McRae and Kathryn Grayson , here singing The Desert Song.

 

In 1955 there was a live performance on TV  with Nelson Eddy of movies fame, in the lead role, the only time he performed a live role, here singing One Alone.

 

Barry Humphries once asked the second Melbourne Red Shadow, Max Oldaker,   how he managed to smile so sincerely at the curtain call on a thin Wednesday matinee. Humphries recorded: ‘He said, “Dear Barry, it’s an old trick Noel taught me, and it never fails.” He demonstrated, standing in the middle of the dressing room in his Turkish towelling gown, eyes sparkling, teeth bared in a dazzling smile. “Sillycunts,” beamed Max through clenched teeth, bowing to the imaginary stalls. “Sillycunts,” again, to the circle, the gods and the royal box. “It looks far more genuine than ‘cheese’, dear boy,” said Max, “and you’ve just got to hope that no one in the stalls can lip read.” I couldn’t help thinking of all my mother’s friends at those Melbourne matinees, their palms moist, hearts palpitating as Max Oldaker, the Last of the Matinee Idols, flashed them all his valedictory smile.’

What would we do without a little bit of nostalgia in our lives.

Sepia Saturday

Danger on the Roads

Danger – always present in varying degrees but rarely thought about.

Being alive is dangerous

Crossing the road is dangerous

Driving a car is dangerous

And a hundred years ago driving a horse and buggy could be dangerous.

Here is  a photo taken on the occasion of the wedding of Garnet Waldemar Fricke and Ida Kirk at Maryborough in 1923.  There was someone missing from the wedding.

The wedding of Garnet Fricke and Ida Kirk at Maryborough in 1923

The wedding of Garnett Fricke and Ida Kirk at Maryborough in 1923

The bridegroom, Waldemar Garnett Fricke  ( 1881-1940) was the baby of his family and the eldest of the family had been a brother Charles Frederick Henry Fricke, born in 1865.

But one day in October 1911 Henry was trotting along  Bucknall Street in Carisbrook , in Central Victoria, driving his horse and buggy with Mr Bruhn, a former Mayor and a butcher, as his passenger,  Garnett was a farmer and the pair of them had been visiting Mr Bruhn’s farm.  They came to a railway crossing which was about 100 yards from the Railway Station and were looking at the Melbourne bound train which was standing at the station. But they failed to notice that the train from Melbourne, travelling in the opposite direction, was nearly upon them until it was too late.

Newspaper reports tell how the train crashed into them.  Bruhn was thrown over the fence of the railway line and was cut about the face and bruised on the chest.  Henry was thrown under the train and had his legs nearly severed.  He died a few hours later after having been taken to the Maryborough Hospital.

A prze winning horse and buggy from the State Library of South Australia

A pr1ze winning horse and buggy from the State Library of South Australia

This is an example of a four wheeled buggy used in Australia

In November the coroner  heard from witnesses who gave conflicting evidence about the train’s whisle being sounded.  He brought in a verdict of death by the culpable neglect of the driver and the fireman  who were charged with manslaughter and  were sent for trial.

Then in December  a Nolle Prosequi was issued, i.e. the case of manslaughter would not go ahead possibly because of the difficulty of proving the case.  I believe this is not the same as an acquittal and the case could have been re-opened in the future.

The now unusee Carisbrook Railway station as seen from near the Nucknall St crossing.

The now unused Carisbrook Railway station as seen from near the Bucknall St crossing.

You can see how it was a single line track but originally there was a short piece of parallel track so that two trains could pass.  On the day of the accident one train was in the station waiting for the other to pass.

Another view of the station platform but this time looking towards Bucknall St

Another view of the station platform but this time looking towards the Bucknall St  crossing.

A Goole Map showing the raiway line running from bottom letft to top right and crossed by Bucknall  St to the right of the image.

A Google Map showing the railway line running from bottom left to top right and crossed by Bucknall St to the right of the image.

You can see the two railway buildings, one each side of the line, towards the bottom left of the image.  The platform is the upper building.

 

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A cautionary tale for any era.   Don’t allow yourself to be distracted when driving. It’s too dangerous.

Now I’m off to see who else has been living dangerously in the danger-themed week at Sepia Saturday

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Fred and the Incident of the Flooded River

Here is a picture of three men on horseback.  The one on the right is Frederick William Fricke  (1870-1949). and towards the end of this post he will have a little trouble with a flooded river.  I will just call him Fred.  Why is he on horseback ?  Let me tell you something about him.

1913 on horseback in Gippsland.  Fred is on the right.

1913 on horseback in Gippsland.    Fred is on the right.

Fred was brought up on a farm in Central Victoria.  Whereas two older brothers stayed on the land he went into the Victorian Public Service and started off on the bottom rung,  Then in 1913 he and two others were appointed by the Government to be the initial members of the Country Roads Board.  This had been set up to identify the arterial roads in Victoria, to plan their construction and maintenance, a strong central authority to  ensure consistent standards across the state.

Inspecting the remote Dargo Road in a chauffeur driven car, also in 1913.

Inspecting the remote Dargo Road in a chauffeur driven car, also in 1913.

So off they set, by horseback and by car, to inspect Victoria.  The three of them gradually endorsed construction contracts and by 1917 had produced a map of Victoria identifying  what they considered to be the necessary arterial and main roads.

Athe 1917 Coutry Roads Board Map of Victoria identifying the shires, the main roads and the railways.

The 1917 Country Roads Board Map of Victoria identifying the shires, the main roads and the railways.

As time went on there were few changes in the membership of the board.  Originally Calder, McCormack and Fricke in 1913,  by 1935 McCormack had become the Chairman with members Fricke and Calloway.  Fricke was to become Chairman in 1938.

So at the beginning of May in 1935 it was raining.  At Warburton the Yarra River was rising rapidly,  isolating the small township, flooding houses and driving the residents to higher ground.  The river rose 10 feet in 12 hours and washed away two bridges above the town. .  Downstream through Melbourne the river had been rising at 4 inches per hour.and in East Kew the river was nearly a mile wide.

So what were the three CRB members doing in Warbuton.  Two days after the flooding started they were in Warburton to inspect the damage done to roads and bridges. Fred, Chairman McCormack  and two locals were crossing the river on a temporary punt at Hazelwood Road, between Warburton and East Warburton.  The rope which was used to pull the punt back and forwards became slack and suddenly the floodwaters poured over the upstream side of the punt, drenching the occupants. The punt was bouyed with empty oil drums and fortunately the rope didn’t break so that they were able to recover and pull the punt to the far side, with nothing worse than a fright and a soaking.  A walk back towards Warburton brought our bedraggled men to a footbridge over the river and they were able to make their way to the comfort of the Warburton Chalet where they spent the night before returning home the next day.

Warburton Chalet

Warburton Chalet

Q:  Were they initially expecting to spend the night and so had a suitcase with a change of clothes or did they have to spend the night wrapped up in towels while their clothes dried.  And would a man in 1935 pack a spare suit in his suitcase if he was only going away for the night.  Quite puzzling  !

And before you wander off to view some other flood stories on Sepia Saturday, a few pictures of and early Warbuton,  overlooked by the Donna Buang Range.  There is a pause button, lower central, on each photo, if you want to inspect any photo more closely.

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A Dog sitting on a Tuckerbox

On a road trip from Melbourne to Sydney in the Christmas holidays of 1957 we passed by this monument 5 miles from the town of Gundagai which is on the Murrumbidgee River in New South Wales.

The Dog on the Tuckerbox five miles from Gundgai

The Dog on the Tuckerbox five miles from Gundgai

Originally set up in 1932 as a money raiser for the Gundagai hospital and as a memorial to the European pioneers who settled the district, it shows a typical working dog sitting on his master’s tuckerbox, a box for storing food supplies. This faithful dog would guard the  tuckerbox until his master returned, no matter how long it took. The idea was based on a song about Bullocky Bill which had been around since the 1850s and ended with.

     And the dog sat on the tuckerbox nine miles from Gundagai.

Then in 1922 Jack O’Hagan came out with the song The Road to Gundagai which doesn’t actually mention a distance..  Since the original song about Bullocky Bill there have been many incarnations of the story in song, and with different distances,so there was plenty of motivation for Gundagai to build its own dog on a tuckerbox.

But as well as its original intention to be a tribute to Gundagai the monument  has acquired an aura all of its own  It can be regarded as  a national icon and  just like that loyal dog it represents all people  who stand and wait for for the return of those who are away from home, whether it be peacetime or wartime.

1932 tuckerbox dogThere were no railings around the monument in the early days as this photo from the Gundagai Shire Council shows us.

But now there is a nearby Food Court with KFC, Subway, McCafe, BP service station and Tuckerbox restaurant.  How  tacky  !!!!!

So to deviate a little, what did a tourist do in Sydney in 1957,  a Sydney which was yet to get its landmark Opera House ?  To begin with there is the Sydney Harbour Bridge.   Here is our tan Chevrolet – Chevie – Chev at the base of the Bridge, the same bridge where Paul Hogan used to work as a painter before other interests took over.

The tan coloured chevie at the base of the Syndey Harbour Bridge

The tan coloured chevie at the base of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

  • At that time it was illegal to climb the Bridge but there was a cattery of beautiful white cats to be patted at the top of the bridge pylon. as in the slide show below.
  • From the top of the pylon you could watch the liner Oronsay passing underneath.
  • And there was time to sit on part of the prow of the original HMAS Sydney, built into a wall under the Bridge.  It was launched in 1911 and de-commissioned in 1928.  It saw service in World War I.
  • There were friends to enjoy time with on Bondi Beach
  • And a surf carnival to visit at North Steyne
  • Finally a peep in the gates of Kirribilli House, the residence of the Prime Minister when visiting Sydney

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So, would you like to do some listening ?  Here is Peter Dawson  (1882 – 1961), Australia’s own bass baritone  singing  Along the Road to Gundagai in 1931.

Or if you prefer a more  country music rendition  then  listen to Slim Dusty  singing the chorus from   The Road to Gundagai.

T

You might even be brave and listen to both.

Words and Lyrics by Jack O’Hagan, 1922 – Along the Road to Gundagai

There’s a scene that lingers in my memory –
Of an old bush home and friends I long to see –
That’s why I am yearning
Just to be returning
Along the road to Gundagai –

There’s a track winding back
To an old-fashioned shack
Along the road to Gundagai –
Where the blue gums are growing
And the Murrumbidgee’s flowing
Beneath that sunny sky –
Where my daddy and mother
Are waiting for me
And the pals of my childhood
Once more I will see.
Then no more will I roam,
When I’m heading right for home
Along the road to Gundagai.

When I get back there I’ll be a kid again –
Oh! I’ll never have a thought of grief or pain –
Once more I’ll be playing
Where the gums are swaying
Along the road to Gundagai –

This post has been a contribution to Sepia Saturday for it’s theme of Monuments..  There are many other monuments to visit from other contributors by following the links on Sepia Saturday.

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My Mother’s Back Yard

Our theme this week for Sepia Saturday is back yards and hence this small and indistinct photo of my mother (1899-1990) in the back yard of her home at 96 Ryrie St, Geelong  A little girl of three or four posed with a man’s bike in a backyard which matches our theme photo with its outside wash-house and rope clothes lines.

From this back yard we can radiate outwards to some of  the distinctive sights seen by this girl from 1899 to 1908

Vera back yard ryrie stThere wasn’t much room to play in the back yard so their mother would sometimes sit  Vera Tansey and her younger sister on the front step   The other side of the street was much more impressive. to look at.

ryrie st geelong 1900As seen in 1900 opposite them in Ryrie St,  to the right was the Post Office with its prominent clock tower. To the left of the Post Office was the Telegraph Station - see the Time Ball resting on the roof.  Just before 1pm each day the ball was raised  to  alert citizens and ships on the bay that 1 pm was imminent.  On an electric signal from Melbourne  the ball was dropped to indicate 1 pm.  I don’t know when it last operated but i wasn’t operating in  1900.

The vehicle is possibly a Walker’s Omnibus which serviced the suburbs of Geelong.

Then came the solidly built  Mechanics’ Institute where the family used to attend concerts.  Originally it was this  single storey structure  but by 1900 was two storeys high. You can just get a glimpse of the :Presbyterian Steeple Church beside it.

MECHANICS INSTITUTE GEELONG RYRIE STIn 1913 the steeple was transferred to another church,

steeple church geelong ryrie st Both the Mechanics’ Institute and the Steeple  Church were later incorporated into our Geelong Performing Arts Centre where a couple of weeks ago I saw a brilliant local performance of My Fair Lady.  The body of the Steeple Church is still there  housing a Dance Studio with  a stage, sprung floor and mirrors,.Theoretically the facade of the Mechanics’ Insiitute was preserved but apart from the name for me it bears little resemblance to the beautifully ornate original. But upstairs the facade now hides a  dance studio

As the girls grew so their freedom increased..  They attended the nearly Flinders State School

Flinders state school 1906And in their spare time were able to visit the zoo at Kardinia Park, now home of the Mightly Cats. (That’s a football team !)

As Vera said      “When I was big enough to be trusted to look after Hilda, Mum would let me go to Kardinia Park to feed the numerous animals. She kept two brown paper bags on the copper wall and bread scraps went into them for us to take on a Saturday for the monkeys etc. We would call at Podbury’s coming home for a loaf of bread and Mrs Podbury would give us a bun each. One Saturday we called in and she gave me one look and said “Go home and tell your mother you have measles”. The warm sun had brought spots out all over me.”
The Zoo, Kardinia Park, Geelong, 1910This is the Kardinia Park Zoo in 1910, a modest zoo with monkeys, ducks, swans, guinea fowls, an emu, kangaroos, wallabies and deer.  Bur everyone was upset when the emu died in 1907 and even the newspapers in New Zealand reported the fact.   The Zoo gradually suffered from lack of proper upkeep and was closed.

Emu 1907 Kardinia Park zooWelcome to Old Geelong.

In 1908 the family left Geelong and shifted to Murtoa,

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Climbing the Mystery Rocks

Did you ever see the movie Picnic at Hanging Rock  where a group of schoolgirls mysteriously disappear ? They were  on a St Valentine’s Day picnic in 1900 and disappeared while climbing the rocky outcrop of Hanging Rock  near Woodend in Central Victoria. It was based on a book written by Joan Lindsay in 1967

We visited the Rock in 1950 and climbed the 105 metres from the surrounding plain to the top of this rock formation but the magical powers of the Rock  played no tricks on us.

Hanging Rock 1 Once the haunt of bushrangers Hanging Rock is now a Public Recreation Reserve. Annual horse races are held at the foot of the geological formation and it is a favorite picnc spot.  But these days there is always the air of mystery in its nooks and crannies  as to how did those fictional girls disappear, never to be seen again.

The Turner family and friends  knew nothing of this when  they visited.in 1950.

Hanging Rock 2Less than an hour’s drive to the north of Melbourne it is close to Woodend  and  near Mount Macedon, a former volcano. Here is Hanging Rock rising from a sea of fog, its rocks mostly hidden by its trees.

hanging rock 3 aJust wondering, but if the Hanging Rock Reservation is so benign, why do they only open it to the public in the daytime ?

2014.02W.36This week’s theme is a collection of rocks which is part of a mountain in Norway being visited by three famous composers.   In my rocky photos I can find three pianists, a saxophonist and a drummer, all of a less famous variety.   You may find more rocks, musicians and perhaps even a telescope in the links on this week’s Sepia Saturday.