Canadian Football

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The half-time entertainment

I went to a Canadian football match and watched an AFL game.  Well it was at half-time, a demo match and rather low skills, but the locals got the idea and were appreciative.  The people around me were somewhat surprised that none of the players wore any padding, helmets, or other protective gear.  However, it was fun to watch.

The main match, the Canadian game, was between Montréal and Winnipeg.  The two cities in Canada where I have spent most of my time.  Winnipeg is the stronger team. Montréal has only won four of nine matches this season and only at home.  Apart from the game, which I must admit, I struggled to follow at times–it was nonstop noise, advertising, commercial breaks for Tv and ‘cheer-girls’.  I’d argue that the girls worked harder than most of the players. 

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The girls workd harder than some of the players

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Key Players were introduced before the start of the game

Advertising, did I mention advertising?  It is a stop-start game, not at all free-flowing and depending on the state of the game, the complete team changes.  Interesting the loudest noise was made when the opposing team has the ball down and about to make a play.  The idea is that if it is noisy enough they cannot hear the play being called.  

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Montréal trailed 10-0 for most of the first half, but it was even at half-time.

I’m not going to try to explain its rules and strategies here, it is beyond my comprehension.  The game is played in four, fifteen-minute quarters, but with stoppages, changing teams, and all the other activities it lasted almost three hours.  Montréal trailed most of the match and with about four minutes left it was down by seven points.  The exodus was like a Port Power game at Adelaide Oval when it is being thrashed in the final quarter.  Yet, the impossible happened.  With a Try and a Conversion (field goal–I think) Montréal tied the score.  Apparently draws are rather rare in Canadian Football.  So rare that the rules to break the tie were put up on the Tv screen.

Scores

The score at the end of the match, a tie-break was then played out (ALS is Montréal)

That final kick, with six-seconds to go, was a place kick.  It tied the scores and was taken from about forty (yards) from the goal and directly in front.  Not a big kick by Aussie Rules standards.  However, it was seen as desperate and with not much chance of success.  It cleared the cross-bar, but not by much–enough though to tie the game.  During time-on the lead see-sawed, but Winnipeg came out the eventual winners.

For me it was special exposure to part of Canadian Culture that many visitors may not experience.  I was the guest of Professor Steven High (Concordia University) and his teenage son, Sebastian.  It’d was a beautiful night.  We ate hotdogs, popcorn and drank Pepsi…beer if you wanted it.  Thank-you Steven and Sebastian, this evening capstoned a wonderful visit to your beautiful, friendly and fascinating city.  Go Montréal–I will check the scores online with interest.

This piece was written as I sat in the Bella Vita Cafe (Pizzeria) on the corner of Rue Jacques Cartier and Rue Saint-Paul E. in Old Montréal.  While typing I enjoyed a long black coffee, garlic bread and Ministroné Soup, with cheese.  However, the cheese came on the garlic bread, not with he soup as in Australia.  I wonder if there is any real traditional cuisine anymore?  Food is influenced so much by the local culture.  Maybe there is a journal article here?

Meeting interesting people

Yesterday (Sunday) I flew in a cigar tube from Denver to Winnipeg.  A fifty seat plane for an international flight.  Not something we Australians experience often.  It was a baby plane and I had to duck when standing, or bump my head on the cabin roof.  Thankfully I paid and extra US$19.95 to get a seat with more leg room, it was the second row from the back.  With two seats on each side of the plane, it was cosy and led to speaking with your traveling neighbour.

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My Cigar shaped baby plane

Stephen is 65, retired and lives about three hours south of Denver.  He has been an avid fisherman since a child and was heading to Lake of the Woods, about a ninety minute drive south-east of Winnipeg.  Three generations of his family have owned a small island in the lake complex and they fish there (for Bass) for up to six weeks a year.  He was astounded that I had never fished.  I’ve tried it but got sea-sick when in a boat and from the river bank I find having a beer, or wine and reading a book more enjoyable.

The previous day his son and wife had been walking one of the trails in the adjacent park to the lake, when they came across a bear and her two cubs.   “The bears and Stephen’s son and his wife froze,” according to Stephen.  Thankfully a larger group of people walked around the slight bend in the path at the appropriate time and the bears sauntered off.  The encounter made the local newspaper.

His first career was as a teacher.  Stephen said that it was the most satisfying and rewarding job he had, working with primary (grade) school kids.  However, he only lasted six years:  “the pay was terrible, I don’t know how the others survived and paid car payments, or a mortgage?”  He made the decision to leave teaching and worked in sales for ‘clip-on-tools’ for forty years.

He was fascinated with Australia and wanted to know about our wild life, the country and our outback.  The two-and-a-half hours went too fast.

 

The PhD journey – life over 3,399 days

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.