Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Creative play

The Yulunga float
It must be about 1959 or 1960. The place is my parent's farm near Heywood in Victoria's western district.

I was very very lucky to have two neighbouring families who had girls my own age and parents who let us wander freely. It was a different time and we never did anything naughty or got into trouble. We appeared home for meals after spending countless days bike riding, walking in the bush, playing at 'secret clubs' (members were girls only but that rule was not really challenged because the only boy our age around was my younger brother), rabbit trapping with ferrets ... and dress ups.

On this occasion we must have decided to create a float for a street parade, but it was all pretend because we never actually paraded. We commandeered my dad's trailer and raided mum's garden for flowers. The green tunics are school sport uniforms. That's me at front right, with Betty Field at left. Behind her is Wendy Bannam and her sister, Gloria Bannam, is queen of the float. My young sister Anne is in the yellow dress and my other sister, Kaye, is in the green dress at right. I wonder why we called the float 'Yulunga'. I have a faint memory of it being one of our school's sporting house names.

So many great memories.

This blog is in response to the Sepia Saturday theme photo of a 1930 photograph of the Swan Maiden's Carriage at the Grace Brothers Ball in Sydney, Australia. You can float over to Sepia Saturday's webpage to see more bizarre photos from earlier times.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Farm labourers

Farms are very attractive, in theory. My mum and dad, Mavis and Angus, uncle and aunt to the kids in this story, had a dairy farm in Western Victoria and my mum's nieces and nephews lived in the city. We farm kids thought a rare visit to the city was very exciting and our cousins thought a visit to the farm was exciting.

Mum and dad loved to entertain the visitors. Dad especially would create fun activities for all to enjoy and mum would create big meals for everyone. My cousins have happy memories of those days long ago, in the last century, in the 60s and 70s. The Smith family drove from Adelaide, about eight hours, so it was quite an adventure. Our other cousin, Rex, only had to come from the nearby town of Portland but then moved to Melbourne about five hours away so he too had a bit of a trip.

In the 1970s my husband and I bought a small farm nearby and ran a few sheep. On this particular day in about 1976 the lambs needed to be drenched for worms. As our sheep yards at that time were still in a state of disrepair and lacked a narrow race it was a bit of a task to catch the lambs in the rather large enclosures, so my dad thought it would be helpful if he brought his visitors over to help out. Dad, Uncle Arthur, the three young Smith cousins (Julie, Robert and James) and their friends (Michael and his two girls) arrived and were put to work.

It was pretty funny. The kids, especially the girls, were reluctant to get dirty. Very reluctant. And the lambs were lively and hard to catch and hard to hold if they were caught. There was a lot of squealing and the kids got very dirty. But we got the job done.

My cousins still talk about that day.

This blog is in response to Sepia Saturday's theme photo that shows a lady being carried across a stream. I didn't have any photos of a gentleman helping a lady but I did have these photos, scanned off slides, showing people helping out on a farm. They aren't sepia but they are nearly 40 years old. Yet it seems like just yesterday! This is for you, Julie.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Euphemia

You know the saying. 'Behind every successful man there is a good woman.' Well there was a 'good woman' in our family. Her name was Euphemia and she was my husband's great-grandmother.

Euphemia Sims (nee Yeaman) 1866-1941
Euphemia was a daughter and a wife, a mother and a grandmother. She lived in Victoria, Australia for 75 years and was never an 'independent' woman or a 'career' woman. She was the daughter of a farmer and the wife of a farmer/butter manufacturer/storekeeper.

Charles Yeaman was born in Scotland and his mother's name was Euphemia Craig so naturally he would want to name his daughter after her. His English-born wife probably yielded willingly because almost all of Euphemia's siblings were given family names.

Euphemia in Greek means 'speak well' (euphemism comes from the same roots) and has never been especially popular as a name for girls, but it was used fairly frequently in Scotland up to the 1800s. Nicknames were common too so some of the Euphemias were called Effie of Phemie or even Mia, and our Euphemia was called Pheme. And she wasn't the only descendant of Euphemia Craig to carry her name. She named her daughter Euphemia Evelyn Sims (known as Elvie) and a grandaughter was called Euphemia Joy Phelan (known as Joy), and there was also a Euphemia Paynter (known as Fame), Louise Euphemia Yeaman and Euphemia Elizabeth Rigby (known as Effy).

Until she was about nine years old Grandma Euphemia lived on a farm at Cobaw east of Kyneton and then her parents selected land at Tennyson about half way between Echuca and Bendigo. They were very good farmers, innovative and industrious. And so was the man she married about twenty years later, Charles Sims. He lived nearby, at Pine Grove, and as well as farming he established a store and a butter factory on his farm. (Descendants still own the farm.)

Riverine Herald (Echuca), 23 June 1892
Charles and Euphemia Sims
Charles and Euphemia Sims with their family in 1916.
Charles and Pheme had six children while they lived at Pine Grove and then they left the oldest son on the farm and moved to Mitiamo, a nearby town that had grown up around the railway station. Charles was a very busy man because he ran a successful country store and had numerous other interests and investments as well as maintaining an interest in farming. Church was a very important part of their lives too. He and Euphemia were leaders in their community and for Euphemia life was busy too - as well as the normal cooking and cleaning and preparing for family and community events there was the unexpected.  During the Great War women knitted and baked and sewed for their soldiers, frequent letter writing was crucial. The family had a holiday house at Hepburn Springs too so like all holiday houses that too had to be cleaned, especially after it had been rented to other people.

Later in Euphemia's life another war took family members overseas to serve and once again the women in the community rallied.

Pheme was much loved by her family. I asked my father-in-law what his grandmother was like as a person and he said one word. Kind. She was a kind lady. And then he added that she was also an excellent cook. I could have guessed the latter because her daughters were great cooks. When I first met her daughter Annie (my husband's grandmother) she made an apple pie for dinner. From scratch. She made the puff pastry by breaking butter pieces over the rolled out pastry before folding and rolling and buttering again repeatedly. It was an amazing thing to see and I was properly impressed. I didn't guess that Euphemia was kind because in photos she looks quite stern, but there are hints. See in the photo below how her daughter is snuggling close and has one leg behind her mum? And notice in the family photo, above, that four of her children are touching their mother.

Euphemia with her daughter Euphemia Evelyn (Elv) and grandchild.
In 1936 Euphemia turned 70 and the family got together at Annie's house in Mitiamo to celebrate. You can imagine the preparation that was involved and the cooking that was done. It was a sit-down meal and the photo show a table laden with cakes and slices on stands, flowers, nibbles and who knows what else. The birthday cake has two layers and 70 candles.

Family at Euphemia Sims' 70th birthday party, Mitiamo, 1936.
When Euphemia died five years later each of the children and her husband inserted a moving notice in the paper with phrases like "God's richest gift, our mother." and "A life made beautiful by kindly deeds."

The Argus, 3 September 1941
This blog is in response to the theme photo for this week's Sepia Saturday. I suggest you make a glutton of yourself and wander over there to feast on other blogs.


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