Monthly Archives: April 2014

Enjoying Music in the Fifties

My musical memories of the fifties are much more sedate than jukebox music  .  In fact I can’t even remember jukeboxes being around , that is how much effect they had on me.

But there was always music that made  your feet tap and functions to attend where there was ballroom dancing.  But to go dancing of course you needed a pretty dress and where better place to go in Melbourne than to Renee Rose in Swanston St, on the corner of Little Collins St at the base of the Century Building.

Renee Rose FrocksSo in 1952  I went to Renee Rose and  bought a very demure dress with a blue lace bodice, It had a Peter Pan collar and extended shoulder line and the full blue tulle skirt fell to mid calf, which  was called a ballerina dress.  The cost was a mere £11-19-6  .

Renee rose receipt  13-8-1951 bI’ve often wondered about the street address of the place where I was living  that year and lo and behold the receipt gives it to me. And most importantly it told me that the dress was an SSW. I can barely remember fitting into a dress that size.

And another correct address comes to me through another receipt with musical connections. In Pianists from the Past I mentioned how we came to buy a piano.  After it was transported from the country it needed some attention and this was done in 1955

Laurie fuller Piano Tuner  1955 Fitzroy bThe Closing Ceremony at the Olympics in Melbourne in 1956 was memorable and moving when a choir sang the anthem to the tune of Waltzing Matilda with especially written words, and then wove in that old phrase “Will ye nae come back to me”  to its own special tune.

Olympic anthem

Olympics ticket 27-11-1956 MCGI had been to the Olympics three times, twice with properly purchased tickets and once in a group of four with one ticket between us.  I presume there’s a statute of limitations on that little bit of activity.   But the Olympics were a really really big deal and we couldn’t get enough of them

All this time there were plenty of stage musicals to enjoy, finishing the decade in 1959 with My Fair Lady in Melbourne for the first time.  Along the way there was also a visit from The Band of the Irish Guards to enjoy  The concert was held at the New Olympic Swimming Pool which had been built for the Olympics, with a floor placed over the pool.

Irish Guards ticket  18-9-1957 b

Irish Guards program 1957 bThese are just highlights but music was there every day through radio, TV, a growing collection of vinyls and occasionally our own efforts such as playing the organ for an initial service of a church whose building had only reached the concrete slab state,

a - Playing the organ 3More music from the fifties over at Sepia Saturday

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Why we need a Garden

Different people find different  reasons and uses for a garden. There might have been a few green thumbs in our family but not much interesting evidence shows up as an accessory in family photos.  In this photo it would appear there are some roses in the front garden of Park Farm at Carisbrook in Central Victoria, a spiky sort of bush and a gumtree in the background

Park Farm gardenBut of more interest is what went on in that small patch of lawn between the roses and the house.

Park Farm

Park Farm, Carisbrook

Behind the roses was a patch of lawn where croquet could be played.  You can see the hoops and the mallets.   Seated at the centre of the group is Freidrich Eberhard Fricke (1838 – 1899), surrounded by three daughters and three grandchildren,   From the year of his death and the age of the children the photo would seem to have been taken in 1898 or 1899

Freidrich is the grandson of  Johann Fricke who was written about in Blessing the New House in Vallstedt in 1811

  • Freidrich  came to Australia  with an older brother in 1854
  • Oral history says that when the two of them were making their way north from Melbourne with a horse and dray they passed the troopers returning from the Eureka incident at Ballarat,
  • He and his wife had 9 children, only one of whom died young.
  • He was a farmer at Park Farm, Carisbrook.
  • Oral history says he and his brother had a milk run and wore calfskin waistcoats
  • He was the uncle of poor Henry Fricke who was killed in a train accident in a previous post.
  • Had a term as Shire President
  • Grew an apple tree from  seed which produced apples over 11 cm in diameter. A few trees which are descendants of this tree still exist.
  •  He won prizes at agricultural shows for walnuts, a cow and calf, a two year old heifer, a Roller, 20  bushels of seed wheat,  and  cooking apples,  And that was just  at Carisbrook in 1869.

And he took some relaxation sitting on the lawn in the middle of his garden with its roses and spiky tress.

If we move on to the next generation the garden  was also a good place to record the arrival of visitors.  Freidrich’s eldest son Alfred had taken over the farm.  Here he is on the right of the photo.

PICT0071On the left is the third son, Fred, who we met before when he had a dunking in the flooded Yarra River.  Doing well in his Government job, Fred was on a visit to his brother on  the farm where he grew up.  Once again we can see some of the lawn and those spiky palm (?) trees which were plentiful in the garden,  They look as though they would be sharp.  I’m guessing that someone will tell me what they are  !

It looks as though Alfred hadn’t  got dressed up for his visitors.  I wonder if he knew they were coming.  Remember last year we  had the use of braces as one of our themes.  In Defending Australia with Braces I wrote about how the braces were also used to thread through loops on underpants  I think  we can see an example of this with the top of Alfred’s white undergarment  rolled up at the top of his trousers.  He looks so happy.  I only remember him with his failed memory thinking that I was his sister-in-law, my grandmother.

PICT0069And another photo on the same day, with more of the garden showing,. At the moment I am sure enough to name the ladies. I need to do some consulting.

Some beautiful gardens can be seen through the links on Sepia Saturday

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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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