“The Things We Cannot Say”

I’ve been very lax with my blogging lately but I’ve just read this great novel by Kelly Rimmer, an Australian author & I want to spread the word about what a great read it was. The story begins with childhood sweethearts, Alina & Tomasz, in rural Poland just before WWII. We then meet Alice, in America in 2019. Alice & her husband have two children, Pascale, a brilliant 10 year old, & Eddie who is on the Autism Spectrum.. Alice loves her grandmother, Hanna, a great deal but Hannah is not expected to live long.

This is a mystery, a love story, a family history story……. it was just a great read. I didn’t want to put it down and I won’t tell you anymore as I don’t want to spoil it for you.

Another book I’ve really enjoyed lately was “Foreign Correspondence” by Geraldine Brooks, another Australian author. This is a memoir and begins with Geraldine sharing the joy she received from having international pen friends when she was young. I know just what she means as I corresponded with teenagers in England, Brazil, South Africa and Vietnam & I loved receiving those letters. Geraldine then went on to become a foreign correspondent and the memoir lets us see what life was like. It was a very enjoyable read.

I’ve been busy for some time now researching my Couch ancestors from Port Isaac in Cornwall so I can write their stories. My GG Grandparents, Elizabeth Couch & her husband, Isaac Hawker migrated to Melbourne Australia in 1862. It’s an interesting journey I’m on. I think I’m related to nearly every one of the original families from Port Isaac, at least by marriage. I’ve read a couple of books as part of my research & they include photos of and stories about my relatives. Both of these books are by Geoff Provis (I’m even related to Geoff by marriage). The books are “The Fishermen of Port Isaac” and “The Seafarers of Port Isaac”.

It’s a very strange world at the moment. I’m very lucky that I can fill my days with reading wonderful stories, researching the story of my family and playing bridge online. It was very difficult when we couldn’t see the grandkids but the easing of restrictions has made life more pleasant.

What’s happening here?

You’ll be pleased to know that our NBN has been working well thankfully especially in this time when we are self-isolating at home. We are never bored. I’m busy with my research and we both love playing Funbridge on our iPads. We had a mad dash to our lovely local council library before we were shut in but once we’ve finished all the books we have, I guess we’ll be using Borrowbox to access eBooks from our library. The cupboards have all been cleaned out and we have decluttered. (Don’t mention the filing cabinet though!)

Our only remaining problem with our NBN is that they could not get our landline to work so we have just given up on that. We just have our mobiles but that works well anyway.

Picture us now! We are listening to the soundtrack of Chicago on ITunes through our Apple TV while our favourite photos are moving across the screen. David has been reading but now, both he and Snoopy, our very cute new dog are having a nap.

Snoopy

We are counting our blessings at this stressful time. There’s a lot to worry about but then you just have to look around and you realise that we have a lot to be thankful for.

My grandfather and his brother

It has been a long time since I’ve published a post but I’ve been working very hard researching and writing the story of my grandfather, Seymour John Harrison, and his big brother, Edward. At times I’ve stalled and had to take a break but being isolated at home has meant I’ve had no excuse so here is their story. I really wrote it for me as I needed to understand more about my family but I hope you enjoy reading it too. If you do, that will be a bonus for me.

Enjoy!

Telstra: Three months on: still no home phone

Our NBN internet is working beautifully but we have no home phone. We are, at the moment, still with Telstra but I have spent countless hours on the phone speaking with numerous people at their call centres in India over the last couple of months and I am sick of it. They ask us to do the same tests over and over again and then explain that it is a problem in our local area. Then I receive another call, do the tests again & again am told that it’s a problem in the area. Every day, I receive at least one call, if not two .

Today I missed a call from them but they left a message to say if I didn’t call back in 24 hours, they would close the issue. I called and was speaking to a woman when we were cut off. I rang the number provided again and my call went to billing and this woman told me that the call centre was having problems and calls were being directed to the wrong area. They can’t even get their own phones to work properly. Why do I think they can fix ours?

Come on Telstra! Surely you can do better!

Telstra and the NBN

If you’re in Australia, you will probably understand my frustration at the moment. The government decided to install a wonderful new National Broadband Network which would give us the most wonderful fast internet across the country.

It has cost the country a fortune and has been nothing but a headache to anyone who has been forced to instal it.

Our telecommunications provider is Telstra. The NBN technician came on time on the 9th October as organised previously and he was very helpful. He stayed while we set up the new modem which Telstra had previously sent us and then we tried to connect. Surprise! Surprise! Nothing happened. We have no internet.

I rang the Telstra support number as I have done at least 7 times since, each time reaching a call centre in India. Each time I have been told that it would be fixed within 24 to 48 hours and that they would add data to my mobile phone so that I could access the internet that way. It certainly hasn’t been fixed (today is 18th October) and I haven’t had extra data put on my phone as they said. They have updated my monthly allowance considerably, at least. So we have been hotspotting our iPads and the laptop but I can’t seem to work out how to use my printer and the AppleTV.

I have been asking to speak to the supervisor but they are always busy. Today I was told that they would call me back in an hour but that hasn’t happened. I am told that we have a case manager and I have asked to speak to them but I’m told that they won’t talk to me. I’ve asked for an update and am told that the advice that it would be fixed in 24 or 48 hours is the update. When I ask why it takes so long I am told something has gone missing. What has gone missing? Can they replace the missing thing? Do we need a new modem? What is going on?

It is so annoying. We are long time customers of Telstra. We even have shares in Telstra!

Come on Telstra. Lift your game. This is not good enough. At least talk to us and tell us what the issues are.

Wow! My feelings are written on these pages

I have, over the last 24 hours read a book which has touched me and brought a few tears to my eyes. Dani Shapiro is the author of Inheritance – A memoir of genealogy, paternity, and love. It is one of several books she has written. Growing up in an orthodox Jewish family, she was often told she did not look Jewish and she never saw herself in the faces around her. When she was 52, she did an Ancestry DNA test which showed she was no relation to Susie, with whom she supposedly shared a father.

She wrote this book as she tried to come to terms with this traumatic shock and as she and her husband tried to solve the mysteries of the identity of her birth father, a sperm donor, and how it all came about.

Similarly, at 54, after the death of my parents, I discovered that they were not my parents at all but had adopted me.

My feelings, as I solved my mysteries and discovered who I really am, were very similar to Dani’s. My DNA test came as the last part of the solution to my puzzle, rather than the beginning, as it proved that the man I had come to believe was my birth father, really was.

I really enjoyed reading this book and will ponder upon it a fair bit over the next few days, I reckon.

This book also resonated with me because of the window into the Jewish religion and its customs as my husband’s heritage is Jewish although he was not brought up in the faith.

The book was easy to read and I recommend it.

The whales didn’t like the weather either!

We are enjoying a three day break on Fraser Island, staying at Kingfisher Bay Resort. Fraser is the largest sand island in the world and is world heritage listed. It is 300 km north of Brisbane. The resort is an ecotourism resort with minimum interference with the environment. As I write I’m relaxing beside the pool.

It’s quite breezy so not many people are brave enough to be swimming.

The island is 120km long by 20km wide. The original people here were the ‘Butchella’ people and their name for the island was gari which means paradise. One of the fresh water creeks, Eli Creek, flows over 80 million litres of fresh water into the Pacific Ocean every day.

Yesterday we went on a whale watching cruise from the island. It was very windy which meant it was quite rough. The catamaran took us up to the northern end of the island where there is a sheltered bay on the mainland side. It’s called Platypus Bay and the humpback whales like to stop there for a week or so to rest and to teach their calves some life skills. The lungs of a humpback are the size of a small vehicle and a calf can drink up to 500 litres of milk per day. They can hold their breath for up to 45 minutes and the tail of each is unique like our finger prints.

We saw several pods of whales and some were quite close to us but they weren’t doing any of their party tricks. No clapping or breaching so this was very disappointing.

The wind was very strong and the waves were quite big so our little cat was bouncing a lot. My arm and leg muscles all felt very tight last night as they’d worked very hard just hanging on. It was quite exhausting. Quite a few people were ill but not us, fortunately.

It wasn’t safe to unload us at the island because of the wind so we were taken to Urangan on the mainland and then bussed to the ferry and brought back to Kingfisher by ferry. We have a voucher to do the cruise again because of the weather so hopefully we will get that chance on a better day when the whales want to play.

But we have seen whales. I can’t say we enjoyed the day but we endured the day and we did see whales.

What a find!

It’s not often you find a new relative and there’s a treasure trove of information just waiting to be discovered.

I’m currently researching the lives of my grandfather, Seymour John HARRISON and his brother, Edward Toyler HARRISON. They served together in WWI and Edward died of gunshot wounds. In an endeavour to make my story as complete as possible, I have ordered a history of the 24th Battalion in which they served from an interstate library.

Whilst I wait, I am going back over information I found years ago and kept even though I wasn’t sure if it was about my lot or not. One of these led me to this discovery.

Edward and Seymour’s parents were John William Harrison and Harriet NORLEY. Harriet’s father and grandfather were both Thomas NORLEY. They all lived in the Beechworth/Bright goldfields area of Victoria Australia. My old finding was for the burial information of Alice Jane NORLEY, nee NEEDHAM. She died on 1 Mar 1944 and was buried in the Bright cemetery on 2 Mar 1944. She was married to a Thomas NORLEY. Now, this Thomas was Harriet’s brother so he is my GG uncle. And he was killed in the Great Boulder Mine disaster on 25 May 1904 at Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.

Four men, including Thomas, were killed in the bottom of the mine and the one man who was brought to the surface died in hospital. Here is a photo of the five. Thomas NORLEY is top right. The other men were Thomas Bates, John Robert Riseberry, Samuel Jones and James Caudwell Harper.

After such a disaster, there is of course an inquest and it found that it was accidental death but that the company had been careless in trying out a new method of lowering the gear without a test run when there were no men underneath it. It was found that the miner working at the top, Mr Reidle, was not to blame in any way.

The funeral was huge. The following is an extract from this article taken from Trove:

11/09/2019 31 May 1904 – THE FUNERALS. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/rendition/nla.news-article33126704.txt?print=true 1/2 Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896 – 1916), Tuesday 31 May 1904, page 14

Shortly before 2 o’clock the funeral cortege was ready to start. The Masonic brethren, in regalia, to the number of about 160, were first to step slowly forward on the road that was to end in the departed men’s last long home. The I.O.O.F. and the M .U.I.O.O.F. in regalia, followed.

The mournful procession was headed by the combined Boulder and A.W.A. Bands, assisted by representatives from the Kalgoorlie Town Band, at a slow march, and as soon as the long array of vehicles behind had got in motion they struck up the grand though solemn strains of the “Dead March.”

The A.M.A. and the A.W.A. amalgamated for the day in the presence of Death in such a distressing form, and they, to the number of 300 or 400, marched behind the bands. The deceaseds’ late fellow-workers, and the various sporting clubs with which Bates had been associated came next, and then followed the Salvation Army Band, the members of which took their turn in playing on the route to the cemetery.

The crowd which lined the streets in thousands fell back sick and sad at heart as the five hearses came slowly through the human lane opened before them. By each hearse marched six pallbearers, chosen, from the different organisations to which the unfortunate deceased had belonged. The five mourning coaches, containing relatives, followed, and then came the vehicles belonging to the different mines and business people of Boulder and Kalgoorlie. There were in all over 90 conveyances, and the cortege, which took half an hour to pass any given point, was over a mile in length.

Apparently nearly every citizen of note was present, either as a member of some society or driving in the line of vehicles behind the hearses. The Mayor and Mrs. Rabbish represented the citizens of Boulder. and the Mayor of Kalgoorlie (Mr. Keenan) was in the next vehicle. Mr. R. Hamilton, the manager, and the Boulder mine officials, together with officials from the other mines on the belt,” were also present, so that the funeral was as representative of the community as it was possible to make it.

Thousands of people, after joining in or seeing the funeral to the Boulder town boundaries, went by tram to Kalgoorlie, and awaited the cortege at the cemetery. The Tram Co. had five single and six bogie cars on the Boulder loop, and as fast as one filled it was sent in to Kalgoorlie, and a fresh car took its place till the crush was relieved. The deep impression the awful nature of the catastrophe had made up on the imagination of the public was thoroughly evidenced by the large number of spectators who had gathered in the central portion of Kalgoorlie hours before the arrival of the procession of mourners, friends, and acquaintances from Boulder. Maritana Street was lined with men, women, and children for the whole of its great length. The bulk of the crush was at the intersection of that street with Hannan Street. As the procession passed along the numbers of those who followed were swelled by Kalgoorlie representatives of public bodies, friendly societies, and trades unions. All heads were either bowed or uncovered as the combined bands advanced, playing the mournful music of “The Dead March” in “Saul,” and as the hearses and mourning coaches came into view and passed on.

Long before the cortege reached the Kalgoorlie Cemetery the trams had been very busy landing passengers from town at a convenient point. They found their way to the place, and helped to swell the number of residents of the northern part of the town, who had patiently waited at the gravesides in the Anglican, Presbyterian, and Methodist portions of the cemetery.

The combined bands ceased their rendering of “The Dead March” at the gates and the hearses, mourning coaches, Masonic brethren, and friendly societies’ members entered the sacred enclosure. The Freemasons and the Oddfellows ranged themselves round the open graves in the Anglican portion of the burying ground. The Rev. R. H. Moore, Rector of St. Matthew’s, Boulder, and the Rev. Cuthbert Hudleston, Rector of St. John’s, Kalgoorlie, who were attired in their priestly vestments: stood in readiness to take up their duties. The relatives of the deceased men, Thomas Bates, Thomas Norley, and John Risebery, took up positions at the foot of each grave. The graves were side by side. The vicinity was densely crowded. The beautiful service of the Church of England for the burial of the dead was begun by the Rev. R. H. Moore as the bearers brought the coffins and placed them on the trestles. The prayers were said by the Rev. Cuthbert Hudleston, and subsequently the Rev. Mr. Moore delivered an address to the assembled crowd from the lessons to be derived from the liturgy. He made reference to the touching incidents of the past two days, and remarked that whilst probably not one among them desired to die a lingering death, with all its painful episodes, yet he thought they would all agree in thinking it very hard to be hurried out of the world without preparation or without farewell to those who were left behind to mourn for departed ones. The present catastrophe had been terrible in its nature, but at the same time they ought to remember that the hand of God was in it.

The funeral procession

Thomas who was born 19 September 1863 and Alice had two small children, Violet Alice who would have turned 7 on the day after her father’s funeral and Geoffrey Maynell who was 3.

How sad would it all have been?

It looks as though Alice returned to the Bright area and her family as she was buried there on 2 Mar 1944.

So, as you can see, I’ve had a very interesting couple of days finding out about this branch of my family. A very distressing story though!