Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Michael’s gone to London...

Writing runs in our family. When I went to England in the 60s, my mother (Pat) sent me this poem, one of several she wrote over the years. 
Fred was my first and much beloved cat, discovered at the back door one morning when I was still a child. Once she got her residential approval (took about two minutes) she made herself at home. She died before I returned to New Zealand in 1974. 
Stanley St was my home address in New Zealand.

Michael’s gone to London
And things are rather flat
At number 7 Stanley St,
With only Fred and Pat.

Fred was looking rather glum
On Friday, when Pat came home:
“What have you done with Mike?” she said.
“Mike’s on his way to Rome.”

“To Rome,” said Fred in great surprise,
“Is it just a port of call?
Or is he wishing with coins in a fountain,
Or perhaps tete-a-tete-ing with Paul.”*

“No, Michael’s going to London, Fred,
Not to see the Queen
But to do the things he’s longed to do
Since he was about sixteen.”

“Michael’s going to London!” said Fred,
“Well, what do you know about that.
He might have taken me with him,
Like Whittington took his cat.”

“You’d leave your home in Stanley St?
Oh, Fred, you wouldn’t, I bet.
You wouldn’t be game to go with Mike,
To London, and on a jet.”

“Oh, well, if you put it like that,” said Fred,
“Maybe I wouldn’t be game.
But I miss him so, and I’d like him to know
That I love him just the same.”

“Well, I can tell him, Fred,” said Pat,
“Next time I write a letter.”
“Oh, good,” said Fred, “that’s an idea.
Already I’m feeling much better.”

So here’s a note from Fred and Pat
To Mike, with all our love.
We wish his days to be filled with joy
And will ask the Lord above

To bless, protect and guard him
Every day of every year,
And to give him great contentment
While he is over there. 

*Probably Pope Paul. 

Sunday, April 12, 2020

A slice of family tree

It's been a couple of years since I last posted anything here, so when I came across an old letter my mother-in-law, Edna Goodson (nee Dearden), had written in relation to the family tree on her side of the family, I thought it might be worth adding it. It was written some years ago, and I think there may be some confusions as to who some of the people were. However, it gives some background to Celia's family - the little anecdotal bits are probably the most interesting...There are some oddities in the original handwritten document; hopefully I've managed to sort them out...and I've added in a few notes (and I may have made some errors in my conclusions as well!). Most these names were added to the Hannagan Family Tree at some point. 

Mary Jane Kendal - married John William Dearden
Perdertha Kendal -  married Herbert Fowler [Known as Dertha?] married a sailor; they had ten children. Dertha died giving birth to twins.  [Edna's added the name Phillipe, but I don't know what that means.]
Martha Kendal   - married Patrick Fitzpatrick
Ruth Kendal       - married someone Turgoose
Joseph Kendal    - remained a bachelor
William Kendal -  married Cora ?

Mary, my mother, lived in Yorkshire
Dad (William) lived in Conisborough, Yorkshire. 
(Their) children:
Eldest: adopted boy Joseph Baxter  (note 2 Josephs and 2 Elsie Gwendolines)
Mary Selina (Lena) - nine years younger
Elsie Gwendoline died 18 months buried Wishaw, Scotland
Joseph 3 years younger than Lena
Edna nine and a half years younger than Lena
Another Elsie Gwendoline - died age three and a half
Mother (Mary Jane) died three months after this little girl: she just didn't want to live. 

When we were tinies, Joe (elder - Baxter) married Beatrice: one child: named Elsie Gwendoline, who died.  That's how mother named her two children after Joe's baby.  An accepted thing years ago. 

Lena married Horace Walter Howe, then lived in Sheffield, Yorkshire.  We were in Tinsley Park, Walter in Darnall about three miles away. A mining area; no one allowed in the houses, only miners. Lena was a teacher at the time and married teachers were not kept on, so it was by accident about a year later [that] Dad found out. Did he hit the roof. That's how Lena and Walter came to Norfolk. Dad said he was not slogging at the mines to keep an idle so and so. Wouldn't let him move in our home. So they came with a family who were moving to Norfolk. The fact was there [was] just no work for men to get. For years Walter worked in hotels in [the] Cromer area, just summer time: one pound and his keep. Lena had persuaded Dad to buy house and lovely gardens when she had her second baby. 

Lena's children: 
Leslie - bachelor
Eileen Mary married John Clowes; children Ian, Helen, Neil. (Live in Durham. John a geologist for mines. Eileen met John at Keel University where they graduated.)
Joe married Dorothy in Norwich:  Joe's children: Joe, Derek, John.  
Joe married Shelia: children: Paul, Jean, Joanna. 
John married Ann - no children, divorced - don't know if he married again. 
Derek married Pat.

Scraps of family news [history]
Dad's father [George William Goodson] drowned one dark night while crossing over the canal, on footbridge, which was only about 12 inches wide.  After lots of deaths a proper bridge was built. 
The boy's mother (adopted) [she means the boy who was adopted, that is, Joseph Baxter] belonged to Dad's young sister, Lena.  [This Lena would have been Lena Dearden, originally, and presumably was married to someone Baxter.] Some boys took a rat in to show her. Years ago boys bought rats like the kids buy hamsters. One in fun put it down her back and she died of shock, so my mother had the new baby. We lost touch with him later in life as Dad was so strict- no gambling, no drinking.  Joe went into the army at 16 years old, married from there. Years later when we came to Norfolk someone sent Dad and Lena a local paper telling how he had been burnt to death in the house. Beatrice never got in touch, but Lena went over.  This was obviously some time after; the paper was not sent straight away.  
We never knew much about Dad's family as you couldn't afford to travel years ago.  He had a step family called Megget, but I don't know where they fit in.  Just remember a cousin, Dick, I met; got his eye cut out in the mines. 

George William Goodson married Ethel May Howlett
Geoffrey George Goodson - married - Edna Dearden
Muriel Joan Goodson         - married - George Edward Windsor Clements
Eric Oliver Goodson          - married - Eileen McNally (Irish)
Stanley Goodson                - married - Joyce Cooper
Maurice Wilfred Goodson - married - Lydia Querca (Italian)
Charles Goodson                - married - Lottie Swanson
Barbara Goodson               - married - Duggie Brooks 

Muriel and George Clements' children
Yvonne - was much younger as George was a prisoner in Germany, taken on D Day.  After he came back Muriel couldn't settle. She'd had too good a time in the forces ATS. Left Overstrand the day her dad was buried and we've never heard of her since. 
George [Muriel's son?] was a boy of 15 when he went into the army to train as PT Instructor. Married Janice Lee: three children (I think) if not two.  Debbie [Edna's granddaughter, I think this is] met up with a student Gary who had been looking at names.  He said, I'm your cousin, Gary - or half-cousin. 

I don't know if there was another page, but she mentions Ruth and Patrick Kirkpatrick, but I don't know where they fit in or who they are.  Then the next bit seems to have the beginning of the sentence missing: 
...had wrotten [sic] luck when their first baby was born, Uncle Pat [who is he?] took it outside to show it off - hence one dead baby. The second boy Patrick slipt [sic] off the end of a couch or chair, and broke his back when he was ten years old. He lived until he was about 32 and couldn't do anything, not even feed himself.  He died when he was in his 30-40.  [Think she was getting a bit tired at this point!]

Then there was some up to date family news - don't know what year this was, unfortunately. 

Kelvin has just got the Queen's Scout Award.  Betty sent me the paper.  He is in college in London studying photography.  David is at Norwich College studying cookery, second year now.  Deborah is there in her first year taking cookery. [These are grandchildren she's talking about. Betty is her daughter-in-law.]

And on another page.
Well, I think this is all I can think of at present.  Hope you're keeping well and having good weather. Steve [grandson] has gone back to school this week after half term break.  He seems to really hate school now. There are over 1000 pupils and so much bullying going on.  Janet is still busy and so is Babs.  I never heard from Richard since last summer.  I reckon he will write one day. [These are three of her children. Richard went to Canada.]

Then Janet [my sister-in-law] added: 
Eileen and Eric Oliver (Podger): children: Maureen Jean (not sure if that's one or two); twins, Cathleen and Michael. Eldest child Patrick died at six months old.  [But unlikely, I think, to be the baby who was taken out in the cold and died.]
Stanley and Joyce: children: Janet, Tony, Jean and Pat. 
Maurice (uncle Tinny) and Lydia: Paula, Paul and Lesley. 
Charles and Lottie: twins died at birth.  Two step-children: Jane and Pat Swanson.  
Barbara and Dougie, child, Karen. 
Had a letter from cousin Eileen - Uncle Walter fell down stairs and never recovered.  He had kidney failure.  

Friday, May 25, 2018

23.9.67 - haircut and last letter from Sydney

23.9.67 Sydney

Re above date: just got a very overdue letter (dated 13/9/67) which had come via Manhattan. [The hotel, not the island.] And me mother was very sarcastic about putting on the dates!

Well, this will be the last letter you get before I arrive home; you’ll already know about my coming because I’ve just sent you a telegram. Am going to stay with Marge – have a feeling Glenda’s rather booked up – there’s 3 of them staying there just now. So I’ll be spending another night in danger of being eaten alive (with love) by Judy. [Marge’s dog.]

Spent most of yesterday in town. Incidentally heard from Pikler who was very sorry to say he couldn’t be of any help – I think he was a wee bit nonplussed when I didn’t sound put-down. I’m rather relieved in a way. Things could have got very complicated if I’d stayed on here. I’ down to my last $10!

ANZAC War Memorial
Went to the Museum yesterday, but since it’s mainly a natural history one I wasn’t madly enthused – I’d much rather see animals alive than stuffed. Then went into Hyde Park which is just across the road and watched some elderly men playing chess and draughts on little tables with the squares already marked out. The great big War Memorial is there too.

Then went and had a haircut. Well -----!!! When I came out I must have smelt as though I’d been dunked in a perfume-cum-hair-oil barrel. [These were the days when NZ men were men – as far as haircuts went. You went to the barber for your short back and sides and no frills, thank you.]

First he thoroughly wet my hair, then he razor-cut a lot of it (and scissored) then he cottonwoolled on some lather round the edges and razored that very precisely, then he stuck some rather stinging stuff on, then he dried it all again. Then he talcum-powdered (!) round the edge, then he oiled it a bit --- YUKK! And when he’d finished (80c later) it looked much the same as ever! Still, I at least felt that I’d got my 80c worth! [2018: The prices in these letters seem extraordinarily low…now.]

After this I decided to get something for Anne and the kids and during the course of this I so lost you wouldn’t believe it. Not that it was as bad as in the cemetery, but I’d go into an arcade and come out at a different angel, then have to go to a corner to find which street I was in, then have try and figure out whether I was above or below such and such another street, then I’d got into another arcade and come out in a tiny little street that led back to where I started!  AAAGH!!!

In the end I got Anne some flowers; they’ll arrive on Monday; what a job to think of something she’d like. Still, they’re always acceptable, I think. [2018: I don’t think I paid her anything for staying with her for a week or so…such is the ignorance of youth. This youth, anyway.] I got Chris a couple of packets of stamps – one mixed and the other a set of cats from Poland. They’re delightful. And I got Jenny a pretty pink vase – she’s quite keen on china and whatnots.

Then home exhausted.

Watched 2 films (in a row) last nite: one called Dragonwyck, about Gene Tierney who goes to act as governess for Vincent Price in a huge mansion, then later marries him when his first wife dies. Supposed to be very horrific, but only that in about 2 places when a supposed ghost sings and plays on a harpsichord – but only a certain number of people hear her. Well done, though.

The other was Life Begins at 8.30, about an elderly actor who has taken to drink (Monty Woolley) and whose daughter (Ida Lupino) is torn between him and Cornel Wilde (a composer, again!). It was very funny, in spots, very warm, very human (!) But quite well done. [Not sure what the point of the italics are in that last sentence…] Originally based on an Emlyn Williams play, but I don’t think there was much left of it. I also had the uncanny feeling of having seen it before – but the name doesn’t mean anything. Certain scenes and shots looked surprisingly familiar.

So, lots of love until I see yuh,
Mike (xxx to Fred). 

This is the last letter in the series. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

21.9.67 - An evening with the Purdys

Sydney 21.9.67
Dear Mother,
How’s things with you? Got a letter from you yesterday, which was very nice indeed. By the way, I did get the things Jack sent me – sorry that I’ve not confirmed it before this, but (A) I assumed that you would guess I had since I didn’t panic about them, and (B) I just kept forgetting to tell you. [2018: this is curious. Back on the 11th, I'd told her that whatever this Jack sent – whoever he was – had arrived with unexpected colouring on it.]

Still no news from my source so I’ll very likely be coming home soon, I should think.

Went to Cecil’s last night for dinner – walked all the way (about half an hour from here) mainly because I missed the bus. I intended to get there for the first part of the trip. Anne [Cecil’s wife] is very nice – reminds me of Wendy Hiller (as she is now) for some reason – and we had a lovely dinner. Their lounge is one of the most comfortable-looking rooms I’ve ever seen. You go into it and look and immediately relax. Of course it’s full of books (including the compete set of Punch from the month it began till well into this century), lots of records, trophies, pictures etc; and it almost seems crowded out with furniture. You have to keep going round things to get anywhere. The house is a bit of a maze; I couldn’t see much of the rest because it was fairly dark inside, but rooms and passages seem to go off in all directions. Didn’t have tea till about 7.15 or so and the rest of the evening passed very quickly listening to Anna Russell (doing take-offs of G&S operas and the Ring Cycle by Wagner) and part of a record by Flanders and Swann. So, a very quiet and pleasant evening was had by all. They gave me a lift home afterwards which was also very nice!

I’ve finally finished David Copperfield – this morning – reading the last 90 pages or so in one go. Gee, it’s a fabulous book – terribly sad, of course. It’s always horrible the way characters that you’ve grown to like a lot are killed off in Dickens books. But it’s the way of the world, I suppose. And you seem to feel it a bit of a loss knowing that these people are going to stop cropping up in your life. You get very attached to them.

Well, this isn’t much of a letter, I’m afraid. I’m not doing anything at the moment, just sitting around waiting – I’d really like either to feel that on Saturday or some such I was either starting something here, or definitely going home. But nothing I do seems to hurry these people up at all. So ------ never mind,

See ya soon, I think, Love, Mike.

Telegram dated 23.9.67 from 8 Lane Cove, NSW:
Home Tuesday, Mike.  [2018: This address seems to be relatively close to where I was staying with the Newburys.]

Monday, May 21, 2018

21.9.67 - Lost in the cemetery

Sydney 21.9
Oh, dear
MICHAEL FRUSTRATED CROWL will be my name from now on.

At long last I got something positive from the Ballet – and even then it was at second hand (via Anne). No go – well, I’m afraid that I feel rather relieved about that – Ballet’s not really my line and since even the Ballet dancers would have known the music better than me, I think it might have been a little risky. [This is bit of nonsense, of course; no ballet dancers, any more than opera singers, know all the music of all the repertoire.] So, I’m not over-worried about that. More relieved than anything to have something positive at long last. That’s not where the frustration bit comes in!

Rookwood Mortuary Station - not when I was there!
Decided to go out to Rookwood Cemetery this afternoon. So via Cecil and the Caretaker (on the This is my father’s burial number.] Well, clever Michael decides to go and find it, disregarding the fact the everyone sez Rockwood’s a big place. I should have asked the Caretaker exactly where section 17 was, but I assumed that at least they’d be in some sort of order. [2018: Shades of the Aussie library systems. LOL.]
phone) I got hold of the number of the grave: Sect 17, No 3486, believe it or not. [

Well, I got a through train from Wollstonecraft (at Northwood end) to Lidcombe, which took me nearly an hour, so that it was about 4.15 by the time I got there. [I remember this trip: mile after mile of suburbia passing by, a sight I wasn’t to see again until I reached London.] I had planned to get back to Northwood for tea! Well, I went into the cemetery, (which is just down the road from Lidcombe Station) and found section 13 sitting right there. But apart from a section 5, everything else was labelled A, or G, or EE! I discovered later that this was the old part of the cemetery. Well, I trekked around for a while and finally asked a lady in a house that was sitting right in the middle of this bit if she knew where sect. 17 was? She didn’t! So after losing myself thoroughly in this place I finally came upon a sign saying ‘Catholic’ – this was the new part, I presume, though some of the stones had been there for years. To my joy (it was now about 5.15!) I saw some small name-plates that looked like the thing I wanted. But these only went up to 1050 or so. I then went right round that area and found every section (18, 16, 20, 14, 15, 10 *!!!) but the one I wanted. And there was absolutely no reason to it all. So if ever I get the chance again I’ll try again. 

But I wasn’t finished yet. I took the road that I thought I’d come up, but all it would do was insist on taking me in a completely unfamiliar direction. As far as the eye could see there were graves, or bits of unrecognisable countryside. You’ve no idea what an odd feeling it is to be completely and utterly lost (I couldn’t find one of the churches I’d seen on the way in) in a cemetery just before sunset.
Fortunately, a car came tootling around the road I was on, and I waved them down and asked how to get to the station, explaining that I’d got lost on the way through. They very kindly pointed out the direction and were about to drive off when they realised I didn’t have a car. So they gave me a lift to the station which had somehow transplanted itself a good two miles away from where it had been before.

AAAAGH!! Why don’t they put up some sort of signs of where sections are, etc? Of course, by the time I got to the Catholic Office in the grounds everyone had gone home.

So when I got to the station, I rang up Anne and said I couldn’t make it home for tea and get to Rigoletto, (it was now 10 to 6) so I decided to have tea in town (which didn’t bother her a bit) and meet her at the theatre.

Went to the Poet and Peasant for tea, again, and then onto the Tivoli. [2018: in the previous notes I added that this was ‘the theatre’. Curiously enough, according to Wikipedia, the Tivoli stopped presenting shows in 1966, and was demolished in 1969. But this page says the production was definitely presented there. In fact, it looks as though all the operas I mention were performed there that year.] Went to my usual seat beside the tympani player only to find that the harpist (who wasn’t playing) and his girlfriend had already arranged to be there. So in the end, I wandered upstairs and sat in a chair in one of the boxes that no one seemed to want! [2018: Quite extraordinary to think that I could go into the theatre unchallenged like this each time.]

Quite a good show, though only the baritone (as Rigoletto) was really good. Somehow feel that the NZ Opera version was rather better all round. (Bias!!) [The NZ Opera version, presented in the heyday of their existence, was firstly designed by Raymond Boyce. This meant that in the middle of the duet between Rigoletto and Gilda, in the second act, the wall hiding the garden from view suddenly shifted forward as the two singers went through the gate, turning the whole scene into the garden.* Boyce used the same effect in Porgy and Bess, going from the outside to the inside of the house in the middle of the storm scene. Hardly a new idea, but very effective in its timing in both instances. As well, I managed to see both performances of the opera in Dunedin, by being an usher, and, because it was really my first experience of the opera, I was overwhelmed by it. I don’t remember who played the role of Rigoletto in the first performance, but it was sung by Lucas Bunt on the second night, a gentleman I was to have more than a little to do with while touring with him around NZ as part of the Opera Quartet. I may be wrong, but I think three other members of the first Quartet I toured with, Ray Opie, the tenor, Corinne Bridge, the mezzo, and Kathleen Johnson, the soprano, were also in at least one of the casts. I don’t remember a thing about this Australian Rigoletto, but in at least one of the performances I saw in London- it may have been that memorable first night that I arrived there – the baritone pitched a note he sings on his own a semitone flat, and when the orchestra came in, something Verdi never wrote persisted for quite a number of bars.]

Got another letter from you, Hurray!!!
So, see yuh, Love Mike

* You can see a sketch of one of the sets built for Rigoletto here. The picture is copyright, so I can't reproduce it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

20.9.67 - The waiting game

Sydney 20.9.67
Hullo, me old friend,
Well, things go along very slowly here – everyone seems to think I’m here to stay and can afford to sit round and wait for them all. Haven’t heard anymore from Krug and Co yet – they’re the slowest of the lot.

Went to see Robert Pikler yesterday; was supposed to have lunch with him, but he was even too busy to do that; he was very kind and helpful – the way everyone is, here (for a start, anyway), and he promised to ring one person at the University who is a conductor there, and also to see the chief coach at the Con and also the Opera School Head, there. Since he’s on the inside, he may be able to do something for me. He sez there are two people there who do nothing but coaching of singers and he reckons they’re both flat out. (They might like to stay that way – since neither is on a salary, but a commission basis.) Anyway, I’ve got to ring him back, or he’ll ring me; something or other, before the week’s out. This means I’ll have to stay till the end of this week at least; awkward, isn’t it. I wouldn’t mind if I was assured of work, but this sitting around waiting all the time rather gets me down. But there’s little I can do, I think. [2018: There’s a considerable lack of gratitude here, considering how generous all these people were. Perhaps Krug and even Pikler thought I wasn’t interested enough in work and didn’t pursue things further.]

I’ve spent most of this morning ironing shirts and hankies. Did a big wash yesterday, now that I was able to get some soap powder. Used to wash me sox in the hotel and leave them in the bathroom to dry – it was always so hot in there, they’d generally dry overnight. Discovered yesterday that I still had one of the keys to my hotel room! Dropped it into them while I was in seeing Pikler.

Watched an odd movie on TV last nite – All the Brothers were Valiant (felt as though I’d seen it before, too) – it had Robert Taylor, Ann Blyth, Stewart Granger and Betta St John in it. (The latter is the wife of the guy who came out to do Fledermaus last year.) [Peter Grant, who also appeared in a few movies.] It was a pretty weird story, but it did have one very good sequence where they were catching a whale – though the whole thing was done in the studio, it was extremely well done – certainly the best thing in it.

It’s a gorgeous day today – lovely warm sun – it’s in the 60s, I think.

I’m still ploughing slowly through my German, but I think I’m progressing. Anne, who spent a year in Vienna, asked me something in it last night – and I didn’t understand a word – so I’m still very much a beginner.

That seems to be all just now, so see ya, Love, Mike

Sunday, May 13, 2018

16.9.67 - I move to Northwood

Northwood, Sydney 16.9.67
Dear Mother,
Shifted out of the Grand Hotel today – thank goodness – any longer there would have ruined me. Got out to Anne’s and since she was going out to do the shopping, stayed in and talked to Christopher.
Though it wasn’t much of a day, Chris and I went to Luna Park, (Jenny was already going out for the afternoon) which was not nearly as big a place as I expected. However, we enjoyed it, and Chris is fortunately not the sort of kid who likes going on the really hectic things – Ferris Wheels, Big Dippers, etc. Though we did go on three things in a row which resulted in my feeling knock-kneed and dizzy, and several other things besides, but I survived the walk home from the station – which is about a mile and a half from here, and a lot of it uphill.

Sat up and watched The Window on TV – it finished about 10.15 – in fact I was going to watch another movie but decided not to; it’s about a little boy (Bobby Driscoll, who was the voice of Peter Pan, a bit later) who sees a murder, but no one believes him because he’s a tall story teller at the best of times. Arthur Kennedy and Ruth Roman were his disbelieving daddy and mommy. Very good. They have an incredible number of movies on TV here. (Of course, there’s four channels.) But I reckon, I could stay home and see a movie every night with ease, and probably two. What a life! [In those days, new movies were worth seeing, and Mum and I had gone regularly, week after week, to a five o’clock Friday session to see a new film, from the time I was quite young. When I was able to pay my way, I’d often go to more than one in a day, or a weekend, and if there was a Film Festival on, I could wind up seeing more.]

LATER Mary Williams, (the cellist) has been out for the afternoon and we three went wandering all round the suburb, in the sun; Anne pointing out various interesting things.

Watched Hole in the Head on TV, a Frank Capra, of the 50s, with Frank Sinatra, Edward G Robinson, Eleanor Parker, Thelma Ritter, etc. Marvellous.

Anne’s house is very nice – she’s apparently re-done it, in a lot of ways – modernised it slightly etc. She’s got quite a bit of furniture that she brought from England, some of it very old (it belonged to her mother before her). And she has a couple of Renoir prints and an old original (not by anyone famous) dated 1611 (!) in her lounge.

[In the original letter there is a drawn plan of the house.] As usual everything here is a little out of proportion, but I dare say you get the picture. It’s not really as big a house as it looks either, I suppose it would be about the same size as our place, perhaps a trifle smaller. [Which must means that the rooms are very small, since there are four bedrooms in the plan.]

This doesn’t seem much of a letter for 2 days, but I don’t seem to have done much. Got to ring Aussie Trust again today – so, we’ll see what happens. Supposed to see Pikler for lunch tomorrow – don’t know that he’ll be of much use, now, since I’ve already been to the Con where he works. We’ll see. How’s Fred? [the cat] Love, Anyway, Mike.