Telegraph Avenue

While I am not a big one on street markets, they can be interesting. My experiences have been that they start early to catch the breakfast crowd and wrap up mid afternoon. Here they were setting up around 11.30am and not trading until around lunchtime.

2017-08-05 13.24.41

Both sides of the avenue had tables set up; mainly selling jewelry, pipes, mystical charms and other dust collectors. 

Bert was an interesting character. I’ll call him Bert as he was somewhat secretive about his details, but I still managed to glean a modicum of his story. He sells marijuana–well he makes the pipes to smoke the weed, but he has been a partaker of the product for some time. There were a couple of street stands where homemade pipes were being sold. Smoking of marijuana in California is legal, if done for recreational purposes, at home. Although by the aroma that rule didn’t seem to bother Bert all that much.

This bushy bearded character is of indeterminable age. However, after seeing my Nikon camera Bert stated: ‘I had one of the early F 1 models, got it when I was in my 20s, brand new it was. Wish I still had it, but can’t get film now-a-days.’ Given the F1s came out in the late 50s or early 60s that would make Bert somewhere north of 70.

He has been a street vendor for 47 years and came to San Francisco in ’74. ‘I was down south of here before then.’ He claimed he ‘got out’ before drifting to California. He didn’t elaborate on that, so whether he had military service, wanted to escape his past, or was serving time, is pure speculation.

Like many in the art of street selling, Bert loved to chat and went to great pains to tell me about his knowledge of Australia and New Zealand. He claimed to get the Paua seashells sent to him from a contact in Auckland and he makes the bowl of the ‘pipe’ by setting the Paua shell in a wooden stem. One special creation was a contraption with a brass framed magnifying glass built-in to it and using the sun Bert lit up a: ‘bit of special baccy just to demonstrate that it works,’ said with a wry smile as he sniffed the offending smoke.

2017-08-05 13.28.55

Line for popular restaurants is common

Being in walking distance from the university campus there is a profusion of eating places.  I’ll be wandering out shortly (again) to try a different cuisine tonight–possibly Korean.  Some of the eateries are so popular that people, (mainly students) queue for ages.  The staff hand out menus to those inline so that their selections are made by the time they hit the counter.

 

Settling in: Berkeley

Friday August 4

It is a pleasant change to enjoy some warm weather, here in Berkeley, California, after some rather cold weeks in Adelaide. The flights to Sydney and then across the Pacific were comfortable, but jet lag is a challenge. The Qantas flight was an hour late in departing Sydney, but we landed in SFO only fifteen minutes later than the scheduled time. Passport control, or Customs clearance was inordinately slow, certainly when compared to Singapore, Dubai, or even India, which is a bureaucratic nightmare. Over an hour to get through that process, including some probing questions as to why I was visiting the US.

I had pre-arranged my transfer from SFO to the hotel, the Rose Garden Inn. It has been over two decades since I visited San Francisco last, so my recall is limited. The first visit I flew in and the second visit I drove from LA. The Rose Garden Inn is different and quaint accommodation. It is made up of a main building with about a dozen separate two-story ‘houses’ with forty or so rooms. It is only fifteen to twenty minutes walk from the Berkeley campus where I will be spending the next week. With a bit of negotiation I was able to gain access to a room before the normal check-in time of 3pm thankfully, as I was bushed and needed a sleep.

fullsizeoutput_10c0

The Rose Garden Inn, quaint with rustic charm

Late afternoon, showered and refreshed, I did my normal orientation walk around the area. My practice when travelling is to get a lay of the locality, discover the food outlets, and transport options, where I can and shouldn’t walk alone and generally get a feel of the place.

By 6pm I was peckish and found an Italian restaurant that seemed reasonable. The entree size pasta dish was bigger than a normal meal back in Adelaide. Tipping: the bane of my life. I don’t like it. Okay, I understand why it is done, you tip after good service. To me the key factor is after. However, now the practice seems to be you tip when you pay, not after the meal or service and it is expected.

Saturday August 5

A wonderful night’s sleep. Breakfast at the Inn was plentiful and filling, but certainly salty and sweet.

I spent the morning wandering around the University of California Berkeley campus. It is huge and a beautiful setting. I located where I have to go on Monday, so I shouldn’t get lost. There were loads of people about, family groups and people on guided tours. Then I realised that this is the Australian equivalent of the summer break and the start of the new teaching year. Families tour the facilities with their son or daughter who will be commencing their undergraduate degree in a few weeks. The system is quite different as the majority of students come from far and wide to study at a university and live away from home for their three or four years of study. I spoke with one family and their son, not quite 18, is moving here from Cleveland on a botany scholarship.

My iPhone has been in the wars. I have dropped it so many times the screen is a little challenging to read at times. It works well, but in some lighting conditions the distortion is frustrating. In Australia the cost to repair it is over A$300 and could take up to a week to fix. Here US$101 and done in two hours. I dropped it in at a corner store at 11am and I’ll pick it up (hopefully) in 15 minutes. The gentleman I left it with is a former physics professor. His library in the workshop/office is impressive. He let me browse, but I didn’t understand the titles let alone the contents. One book on trivia caught my eye. I opened it and yes it was trivia, but the trivia of physics. However, I did know that Albert Einstein was considered retarded by his school teacher and was told not to return to the classroom and was then home schooled by his mother. iPhone update. All fixed for $100 US–no receipt, not tax, no worries.

Study Tour

It has been a while since I last posted to this Blog.  However, over the coming month my updates will be more regular.  On Friday I head off to Sydney and then onto San Francisco for nine days–given that crossing the international dateline gives me an extra day on the flight out.  Four of these days I will be immersing myself in the history and culture of this vibrant city.  My previous visits here were a couple of decades ago, so I expect much has changed.

For the other five days of my stay I will be at the Berkeley Campus of the University of California as part of an advanced Oral History Summer Institute.  This intensive course will take the participants through twenty-six session of lectures, workshops, presentations plus networking and special events during the week.

My next stop-over will in Winnipeg, in Canada.  Here my time will be at the University, of Winnipeg the Canadian Oral History Association and with the German-Canadian Studies, also at the University of Winnipeg.  By then my brain will be swamped with information, ideas and even more plans.  So for a few days of relaxation I will enjoy a train-ride from Winnepeg to Toronto and on to Montréal.

My week in this French-Candian city will be spent with the Concordia University and immersing myself in the local culture and history.  A significant part of this tour will be meeting with the enthusiastic and keen historians at The Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling.

Hopefully my posts will be regular (wifi connections) and of interest, even if you are not an oral hiistorian.  Maybe after some thoughs and ideas you may look to your own interests and record an interesting history.

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.

The PhD journey – life over 3,399 days

Image

On March 29th, 2017 I was awarded my Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of South

fullsizeoutput_9b4f

Dr David Sweet with my ‘mate’ and special associate supervisor, Dr Nigel Starck.

Australia at the Graduating Ceremony.  The official conferral was in October 2016.  This higher degree research journey had numerous twists and turns, became frustrating, a joy (often in a few hours of each other), was challenging and above all I learnt so much.  I completed the PhD part-time, which prolonged the agony and the pleasure.  Probably the biggest learning curve has been accepting how little I know.  However, that understanding only opens up the options for further challenges in the realm of research.  Following are some of the (edited) highlights and challenges of my epic journey.

The journey

  • 3,399 days from start to completion
  • Started as a two volume Professional Doctorate
  • 83+ versions written
  • Wrote 230,000 words
  • Final version as a PhD is 109,728 words (inc footnotes and Reference List)
  • 52 people interviewed
  • 57 photographs used
  • 798 references
  • 230 other books devoured
  • Thesis examined by one Australian and one Canadian academic

Allied activities

  • 47 sessions with a PhD reading group
  • 6 papers accepted and published
  • 28 presentations delivered
  • 5 international conferences attended and papers presented
  • 182 books added to my own library
  • 2 bureaucratic challenges with the University
  • only spat the dummy a few times

Teaching

  • 11 undergraduate Courses/Subjects taught
  • 5 Post Grad subjects taught
  • 1 honours supervised student to completion
  • 1 honours student advised to reconsider
  • 7 years teaching off-shore
  • 11 teaching trips to Hong Kong and Singapore
  • Mentored 7 students (2 international)

The Family

  • 2 more grandchildren – 5 in total
  • 4 weddings (3 as the photographer)
  • 2 – 90th birthdays celebrated
  • 1 Golden wedding anniversary celebrated (not mine)
  • 4 deaths, my 2 sisters, 1 brother-in-law, 1 19 year-old nephew
  • 5 hospital admissions for me
  • 10 days in ICU at Modbury hospital
  • 2010 – 7.5 hours of micro-surgery for cancer on my face
  • many other highs and lows of life as well
  • Produced 5 photo-books
  • Completed 10.5 hours of oral history interviews in addition to my PhD interviews

There is life after a PhD

  • Traded a caravan, purchased a Motor Home
  • Reduced teaching to 2-3 subjects
  • Working on 5 research projects
  • Research-Study tour to Berkeley (California), Concordia and Western Universities (Canada) is set for August 2017.

115 years have passed

Today, November 1, 2016, is the first Tuesday in November and the nation (Australia) stops for a horse race – The Melbourne Cup.  I have absolutely no interest in horse racing, yet it has been with me all my life.  My attitude to this ‘sport’ is a fool and his/her money are soon parted.  More on that later.

harold-sweet-before-1939-as-a-greengrocer

Harold Revenue Sweet, greengrocer. Taken before 1939, probably in the inner south-east suburbs of Adelaide

My father was born on November 5, 1901, in Broken Hill, NSW, Guy Fawkes Day and the first Tuesday in November.  It was Melbourne Cup Day.  His name; Harold Revenue Sweet.  The horse that won The Cup in 1901 was called, wait for it, Revenue.  Yes, my father was named after a horse.  So the first week in November was a celebration in our home.  Thankfully I was born in August and this family tradition didn’t continue, otherwise I would have some wierd and unpronounceable middle name.

Growing up as a kid in suburban Adelaide and having a father whose birthday was on Guy Fawkes, or cracker night was a treat.  There were family and friends visiting, tables of food and good times.  The couple of weeks before ‘the night’ the kids in the neighbourhood would collect old lumber, tyres, anything that would burn to build a bonfire.  Between us we would scavenge around to get old clothes, stuff them with straw, paper and grass to build a ‘guy’ to place on top of the pile of rubbish waiting to be burnt.  There was not one environmental thought amongst us.

I still have a nostalgic feeling this time of the year.  Fireworks can be dangerous – no they are dangerous – and how we were allowed to do what we did I am still surprised.  None of our mob ever got injured by the crackers, but may children did.  Then there were the fires.  Cracker night was the busiest night of the year for the (then) SA Fire Brigade.  Decades later, as a fire fighter, I came to appreciate the problems unsupervised fireworks can cause.  Yet we kids set-off ‘penny bangers’ and ‘thrippeny bombs’ under tin cans, in letter boxes and storm water drains – anywhere it would look and sound spectacular.  It was fun.

It was Dad’s birthday and Melbourne Cup Day in 1957 and I remember asking my father why we didn’t put money on the horses and win more back, like one of our neighbours did regularly for the Friday night ‘trots’ and Saturday ‘gallopers’.  Often one of my boyhood friends would be excited over a win of a couple of pounds from a bet, more so if his father gave him a few bob from the winnings to spend on lollies.  At that young age I hadn’t compared homes and lifestyles in the neighbourhood.  My father, who had come home from work early, took me for a walk.  He pointed out the horse gambling neighbour’s home and then we walked in to Fisher Street, Myrtle Bank and he showed me a home there.  I knew it quite well.  I would walk past it twice day going to and from the Glen Osmond Primary School.  The home was two-story, huge grounds, lawn tennis court, a swimming pool (unherad of in the ’50s) and they had numerous cars.  One was a Studibaker.  Dad asked me which I preferred, the horse betting neighbour’s poorly kept bungalow, or the mansion owned by the ‘bookie’.  I can still remember his words, ‘they only tell you about their wins, never how much they lose.’ Lesson learnt – I have never bet on a horse race.

I struggle to visualise my father’s life as a teenager 100 years ago.  At fifteen he was working full-time having only gone to Unley High School for one or two years.  The photograph above is the only one I have of Harold Revenue Sweet working, then as a home delivery greengrocer.  Recently I ‘discovered’ more than four-hundred family photographs that I knew existed, but thought had been lost.  What stories they generate – now to capture the narratives before they are lost forever.

Pearl Denton’s 21st

I visited my mother’s 21st birthday celebrations last night, or in the vernacular of the 1920s, ‘her coming of age party’. While researching something quite different I stumbled across two newspaper reports of Miss Pearl Denton’s – my mother’s maiden name – celebrations.

Such were the cultural formalities in Adelaide in 1925 that the celebration could not be held before her actual birthday and since her birthday (September 20th) fell on a Sunday that year, it was improper to celebrate on the day of worship. So the party was held on Monday September 21st at the Parkside Masonic Hall.

Over the years and some four decades later my mother would occasionally talk of her twenty-first birthday party. According to the short newspaper reports, in the Adelaide Register and the Mail, games were played amongst the guests. This confirms my mother’s stories of playing: pass the balloon, musical chairs, mystery package, and surprisingly (for me) indoor bowls, played on coconut matting. While the newspaper reports mentioned dancing, apparently this scandalous activity was condoned however there were strict guidelines on what was permitted between any non-married couples.

The Mail (newspaper) listed the names of sixty-one guests, the hosts, Mr and Mrs R. L. Pearce (my mother’s older sister and her husband) and my future father, H. R. Sweet was one of those present. Reading through the list of attendees, I can recognise a few names of aunties and uncles, and quite a number of family friends, or those whose names were part of the dinner-table conversations over the years.

The supper tables were laden with food and decorated with Iceland Poppies, according to the newspaper reports. Fifty-years after this event my mother was still growing poppies. I remember, as a child, our home being decorated with these flowers each spring. My mother would lightly burn the base of the stems and blanched them with boiling water so that the displays lasted longer.

28840003

Undated, possibly 1926 and may have been at the Oakbank Easter Races.  My mother is at the front looking back at the camera.  Her elder sister, Myrtle and her husband, Bob Pearce, are seated at the rear left of the photograph.  Their daughter is on the right of her father.  It is also possible my father, Harold Sweet took the photograph.

Whether my parents were betrothed (engaged) for my mother’s 21st, I have no record of that. They were married eighteen months later in April 1927. Similarly, I have little in the way of stories from either of my parents about how they met, what they did for entertainment, or their ‘courting’ days. Both my elder sisters are also dead so I cannot chat with them as to what they may have been told either.  If there are any photographs of the 21st celebrations, or of my mother from that era,  I have yet to discover them.  The photograph (above) is one of the few showing my mother with her elder sister and brother-in-law, who were the hosts of her ‘coming of age party’.

This is a continuing regret, for me, and a gap in my history of the family.  Each of us should look too these narratives and photographs as an important legacy for future generations.  I found it serendipitous that this inadvertent discovery of two small newspaper articles published ninty-one years ago caused me to reflect and remember a little more of my mother.  Our way of life, our means of enjoying, our family celebrations and our entertainment are different now.  I have not written this to compare and claim one period of time is better than another.  They are unique.  Yet each should be celebrated, remembered and passed on as an important legacy of our family history.

If you haven’t used Trove, I highly recommend it, but be careful, it is addictive.

More Government mismanagement

Our State Government is morally and financially bankrupt.  There is a lack of planning and budgets are cut to meet the whims of the day’s thoughts.  One of the recent decisions by the Minister for the Arts, Jack Snelling, to cut more than $1 million (annually over the next three years) from the State Library is just one example to this poor management.  In South Australia our State library is a critical cultural centre for our history and for future generations.

I accept that management has the right to improve efficiencies, modify procedures and introduce change.  That is how we develop and improve.  However, this must be done in a planned and strategic manner, not with the slash of a political pen to cut financial support, in one area, to prop up poor decisions elsewhere in Government.

Yesterday (Wednesday September 8) I was in a doctor’s waiting room and picked up the August 2016 publication of Reader’s Digest.  I haven’t read one of these magazines in years.  On page 66 was an article: Inside the world’s most beautiful libraries.  Under the current circumstances it grabbed my interest.

img_2504

Article in the August 2016 publication of The Reader’s Digest.

It listed nine impressive libraries around the world.  None are in Australia, and according to Cornelia Kumfert, the author of this article, the closest one to Australia is in South Korea.  I am not suggesting that our State Library, or even the Bar Smith Library, is of similar standards to those nine listed by Kumfert, but it does say something about how poorly our politicians treat our history, heritage and its value in to the future.

Yes ther are many worthwhile issues to support, health, public transport, the environment are just three.  Yet without a history, the legacies from our past where is our culture, the values we hold dear and the legacy we bequith to our children and their children?

p1280250

Respected historian, Brian Samuels, speaking at a recent rally (Sept 2016) to Save our State Library. (used with permission)

This is not a call to open your wallets, but to let your politicians know that our libraries are a vital part of our being and must be maintained.  Change procedures, restructure, or what ever management sees as necessary, but don’t decimate 180 years of our histoy and tens of thousands of years of recorded Aboriginal heritage through poor polictical decisions.

Save our State Library #saveourstatelibrary

Use the Twitter hastag to keep the momentum going.

 

Research is interesting

For the past eighteen months I have been slowly plodding through the background to the death and final resting place of firefighter Albert GREENMAN.  Albert, as I have mentioned in two precious blogs, (The nostalgia of cemeteries and The nostalgia of cemeteries Part 2) was killed in the explosion that ripped through the ship, City of Singapore, in April 1924, at Port Adelaide.  The other two firefighters killed in that explosion have a memorial to their sacrifice at the Cheltenham cemetery.  There is no recognition, for Albert, on the plot at the West Terrace Cemetery (WTC).

Records at the WTC show that there is a third body buried in Albert’s grave and it is likely to have been his mother in law.  Caroline Barbara Lena MARHORANA who, prior to her death resided in Royal Park SA and died on July 2, 1956 (aged 85 years).  Caroline is probably the mother of Laura GREENMAN, Albert’s wife, so it is probable  that Laura’s maiden name was MARHORANA.  However, there are no persons listed with that surname in the White Pages, in South Australia or nationally.

Other spellings of MARHORANA indicate that this is a name with an Indian ancestry however, there is also a strong Italian connection as well.  Indian/Italian heritage could indicate some of the disquiet in the GREENMAN family almost 100 years ago.

So far I have not been able to track down when Laura GREENMAN died, where she was buried, or if there were any surviving children.  There may have been a daughter, an infant at the time of Albert’s death in 1924, but I have not found any details of that as yet.

Copyright cleared with Shayne Greenman 2016

Firefighter, Albert Greenman, C 1920s. Photo supplied by Shayne Greenman, Queensland, and used with permission.

Now the hiccup – nothing can be done with the site of Albert’s (et al) grave regarding its upkeep, or adding a memorial headstone without the written permission of the site licence owner.  All avenues need to be exhausted in attempting to ascertain who is the current holder of the ‘licence’ and either have their permission, or have the licence transferred into someone else’s name before any memorial can be considered.

Blackwell Funerals, according to the WTC records apparently handled the funerals of Albert (snr), Albert (infant) and Caroline MARHORANA.  As luck would have it, I am attending an information session regarding death, as part of my University Students’ course work next Tuesday at Blackwell Funerals.  So I will see what else I can discover whilst I am there.

Also I have discovered another publication on the history of Port Adelaide and it apparently has a significant section on the City of Singapore Fire in 1924 – Triumph, Tragedies and Port Adelaide (2005) by Ron Ritter.  I have that book on order through an Inter-library loan so I will see if it sheds any further information of value for this project.

The research is becoming more interesting.  What started out as a desire to have a memorial on the grave of a firefighter killed in his duty, is now interwoven with World War I history, family genealogy, family history, and the history of South Australia.

The Nostalgia of Cemeteries – part 2

In May 2015 I wrote about a visit to the West Terrace Cemetery.  As a part of that story I also commented on the unmarked grave of a firefighter, killed in the City of Singapore Ship fire at Port Adelaide.  Since then the challenges of research revealed that Albert Greenman was also a WW I – Western Front – returned soldier.  His unmarked grave gives no recognition to his service to Australia both in war and peace.

The Metropolitan Fire Service is supportive of providing some form of recognition on his grave.  However, all efforts to find any surviving family has, until today, drawn a blank.  As testament to the value and power of research and the internet, a nephew of Albert found my 2015 blog and has contacted me.

While it is still too early to predict what may eventuate from this online meeting, I am hopeful of a headstone being placed on Albert’s grave.  I’ll keep you posted on any progress via my blog.