Flourishing Life – Story Launch

Today (April 11, 2017) I was invited to attend the launch of the latest ‘Life Story’ at the St John Centre in Unley (Adelaide).  More than thirty people packed into the board room to hear some of the highlights of The Adventures of Wojciech Czuchra.  Wojeciech (and with true Aussie acceptance, he is known to many as Chook) was born in Krosno, Poland in 1948.  His father, Jan, was a Catholic resistance fighter in the Polish underground during WW II.  His mother was Jewish and survived the Holocaust.  Their marriage did not have any of the political or religious conflict that was still rife for many years after the end of the war.

Chook

The cover of Wojciech’s story showing him enjoying his great love of sailing.

The beauty and power of research came to light during the many hours of discussion with ‘Chook’ that led to the publication of his 35 page story.  A 1932 black and white movie of the Krosno Town Square had been put online by the grandson of the photographer.  The grandson lives in the US.  Such is the richness and historic value of this vision that you will be moved in realising that most of the people shown as happy smiling, men women and children were, seven years later, dead.  Murdered by the Nazis – either herded in to the nearby forest and shot, or transported to the death camps.  This discovery led to another contact with Alexander Bialywlos-White, a 93 year-old Jewish gentleman who was also born in Krosno and was a survivor of the Nazi atrocities through the now well documented Schindler’s List.

With another twist to Wojciech’s story he met a woman, Helen, at a dinner party in Adelaide, in the early 1990s.  As they chatted about their past, they discovered that Jan, Wojciech’s father, was instrumental in the rescue of Helen’s parents.   Jan hid them and Helen, who was a baby at the time, in the forest away from the German and Communist armies.  Since that chance meeting, Helen and Wojciech have remained close friends and share many interests.

I have not attempted to condense ‘Chook’s’ story here, but offered a tantilising glimpse in to the life that is rich in adventure, love, danger, triumph and tragedy.  Flourishing Life is a program offered through St John Community Care.  It captures the stories of older people to help them record and transform their memories, stories and experiences in to an anthology of oral histories, recorded, shared and held for the future.  The various stories collected are not in a digitally accessible form as yet, but this is an evolving project with UniSA.  If you wish to know more of the St John Community Care program visit the website at: Community Care co-ordinators, to email the project officer.  The researcher for this story is volunteer Marion Burns and I acknowledge her dedicated and detailed research on which my Blog is based.

A New Appointment

There is no such thing as a free lunch – well that is a common ‘tongue in cheek’ statement from those who have the opportunity to eat on someone’s expense account.  For me it was not so much as a free lunch but a very successful presentation at the recent conference I attended at the University of Vienna.

Entrance to the historic University of Vienna, with Vienna university colleagues Lisa, Christine and David.

The historic University of Vienna, I’m with Vienna university colleagues Lisa, Christine.

The subsequent request came as a surprise, but not for a free lunch.  I was approached to join the editing team, led by Associate Professor Ian Conrich, and have now been appointed as one of two assistant editors for the Journal of New Zealand and Pacific Studies.  My colleague, Jenny Wagner, a former PhD candidate at UniSA who has returned to the US to complete her thesis, is the other assistant editor.  I will be Jenny’s support until I learn the ropes and take on a little more responsibility to ease her workload.

Jenny Wagner: Vienna Natural History Museum, July 2015.

Jenny Wagner: Vienna Natural History Museum, July 2015.

The journal is published by Intellect Journals (ISSN 2050 4039) and is a newer academic publication in its third year.  This is a trans-displinary peer reviewed journal.  Disciplines covered include the humanities and the social sciences and subjects such as cultural studies, history, literature, film, anthropology, politics, and sociology.

Where are they now?

I posted an extract of this on the Adelaide Remember When FB page earlier today. Fifty years ago this month (April 1965) 92 teenage boys were presented the Queen’s Scout award by the then Governor Sir Edric Bastyan.  On April 3 (1965) the Queen’s Scout dinner was held at the Top of the Town Restaurant, in Cox Foys, Rundle Street, Adelaide. Back in the ’60s Adelaide did not have many restaurants, especially ones that could cater for a hundred or more guests.  Also the liquor licensing laws were significantly different to those of today (2015), and the legal drinking age was still 21 years of age – so that excluded a hotel venue. In fifty years my detailed memory of the evening has dimmed somewhat.  However, I recall being a little over-whelmed by the occasion – I was 17.  My father had driven me into the city as the event was seen as a significant ocassion by my family.  I caught the bus home afterwards.  The Chief Commissioner (for Scouts) was Henry Rymill, CBE. The 1965 Queen's Scout presentation dinner menu The program for the evening’s events included the Loyal Toast List to Her Majesty The Queen, and a toast to the 1965 Queen’s Scouts.  The response to the Queen’s Scouts Toast was given by Peter Balan, who has since become a successful academic at UniSA.  I remember the film called: ‘The Senior Way’ being screened, but I have no recollection of what it contained other than it showed many images of Scouts doing scouting ‘stuff’. The Queen’s Scout Award is an achievement from my teenage years of which I am still proud and pleased to to include in my resume.  However, what has happened to the other 90 eager young boys – the stories of their lives, their children and grand children?

Presentation of Queen's Scout Award to David Sweet, Government House, Adelaide by the then Governor, Sir Edric Bastyan. (April 1965)

Presentation of Queen’s Scout Award to David Sweet, Government House, Adelaide by the then Governor, Sir Edric Bastyan. (April 1965)

Howard Hamon is the brother-in-law of my mate’s sister (a small world) David Jansen and I went to Glen Osmond Primary School together, but I lost touch with him many years ago, David Rattray (if he is the same person) and I were at Unley High and a number of other names from the ‘Menu’ may have been police officers. Is your name or the name of someone you know on the back of the menu (above)?  Maybe through my blog and Adelaide Remember When. the question can be answered.?

Look in the mirror

Service MedalsI normally refrain from commenting on newspaper reports or ill informed rants on social media.  So often the Australian media is opinion and not reporting, and social media, well that seems to cater for 150 characters of typing and not much else.

Reported in mainstream media last night and today has been the claim that Woolworths either mistakenly or deliberately tried to make some commercial mileage out of the approaching centenary celebrations around our ANZAC tradition.  This has led to a flurry of social media comments.  What has annoyed me more than Woolies making a singularly bad corporate decision has been to number of people who have dismissed this incident as something nothing.  That disappoints me, so I have this to say.

To those who are claiming that this is a non-story, or not important please stand in front of the mirror and open your eyes.  You (and we in Australia) are enjoying your/our freedom and quality of living today, because of the sacrifices these men and women (and their families) have made over decades.  It is not glorifying war or conflict, it is about the safety and protection of a way of life we have come to expect.  No, I have not served in a theatre of war, but I certainly respect and honour those who have.   ANZAC is a time of reflection that must not be sullied by crass commercialism by Woolworths, any other business, or an individual.

Lest we forget.

Oral History Australia – national secretary

It is always interesting where your life choices take you.  When I commenced my ‘academic career’ I was dedicated to teaching communications, public relations and media.  While I still have an avid interest in this area of business and my teaching remains in communications, my research interests are now focused on social history, cultural studies, ethnography and oral history.

From today I taken on the role of the (Hon) secretary of the national body, Oral History Australia.  Anne Johnson, the retiring secretary has not only done a fantastic job over the past couple of years, she has been exceedingly well organised in providing the perfect hand-over.  I have big shoes to fill.

If you have an interest in oral history, or want to learn more about this fascinating means of capturing people’s past, check out the orgainsation’s web site here.  There are also links to the various State bodies and local contact details.

The smells of summer

Brighton UK the English heatwave was only 28C

Brighton UK the English heatwave was only 28C

Yes it has been hot today – about 38C (100F for the peeps who are not metric). This morning it was nice and relaxing, sitting at the Uni cafe, marking and reading assignments. Then I wandered inside to our regular three weekly PhD reading group. That was enjoyable as always. A coffee afterwards and a non-academic chat went well also. This was followed by a 30 minute chat with a good student over her assignments and career directions.
Then I went outside and was hit with the very dry heat of an Adelaidian afternoon in summer. Walking through the stands of big river red gums and other native bush to get to my air conditioned car I was surrounded by the heady aromas of eucalypt and flowering bottle brush, some wattle and melaleuca flowers as well. Makes one happy to be is such beautiful surroundings.

Have a fun weekend – I intend to.

Oxford update

I’m starting this post with an apology. Between infrequent internet access and spending all my time exploring and experiencing the wonders of travel, my writing has not eventuated as planned. London was hectic, busy and no time to rest. However, more on this later. The train trip to Oxford was quick and without any trauma. Checked into the hotel and discovered it was 200  meters from the Wolfson College Oxford University from where I am now writing. It is a beautiful day, but the various papers are holding my interest and keeping me inside. I present tomorrow (Sunday) morning. I am prepared but have to check that it all works.  One more practice.  A formal dinner tonight after a day of presentations.  However, I will not be drinking too much – tempted though as my favorite Scotch is available.  Hopefully an update shortly and a catchup with the travels from Brighton to London and around Oxford.

A busy couple of weeks

The past three weeks have been some what busy.  University teaching becomes a little tense with students worrying about final assessments – was I ever that concerned in my undergraduate days?  I probably was, I just don’t remember the stress.  Coupled with teaching is keeping on top of the never ending assignments to mark.  Six tutorial groups of at least twenty-five students in each, three assessments each – you can do the sums.  It adds up to many hours of reading and commenting.

There has been a slight change to my presentation at the British Sociological Association Auto/Biography Summer Residential Conference at the Wolfson College, Oxford University in July.  I’m now presenting for forty minutes followed by twenty minutes of questions.  A little more daunting.  It is only fourteen days to departure as well.

Last weekend (May 31) I attended the State Media Awards at the National Wine Centre, here in Adelaide.  Together with one of our leading photojournalists, Bryan Charlton, and a guest judge we have been reviewing photojournalists pictorial work.  You may wish to view further information about the Awards following this link.

Besides the enjoyable ‘work’ I have managed to get up to the Barossa Valley and have an enjoyable evening listening to the Tanunda Town Band with renowned Jazz player, James Morrison.  I love my Jazz and this night was special.  Even in a big agricultural barn, Morrison made it intimate and special.