Sunday, September 23, 2012


I’ve always loved the movies or the “pictures” as they were called when I was a child. I never loved the “fillums”…but I did adore the films! It was with enthusiastic expectations, every Saturday afternoon off to the picture theatre I raced.

On offer in those days were two "pictures" per matinee session. These consisted of the main feature and a movie of lesser notoriety. The lesser known "picture" was the first cab off the rank, shown prior to the interval or “half time”. But our afternoon’s entertainment didn’t stop there! Along with the two movies were cartoons, a newsreel and “shorts”, or trailers, as we called them, of “pictures” to come. But the fun didn’t stop there – to the mix was added a serial that invariably co-starred J. Carroll Naish as the villain. Funny how I can remember who played the villain, but I can’t remember who played the heroes in those on-going thrilling, nail-biting-on-the-edge-of-the-seat serials. Naish extended his wicked roles to feature-length movies, too; wherein he exhibited his versatility by playing Italians, Native Americans, and, Chinese, even. The man was of Irish descent, but never played an Irishman!

The entrance fee to partake in all of the above cost less than a bob – less than one shilling! And, we always had six pence to spend on a cold drink and some lollies!

Of course, I must not forget one of the most important parts of all…the fun of rolling chocolate Jaffas down the aisles! Fantails played their role, too. Who could resist reading the information about your favourite stars on the lolly wrappers? Not me!

I never missed a Saturday matinee at the Olympia Theatre, Mellor
Street, Gympie. The only ones I did miss were the times we, as a family, spent holidaying with our near relatives who lived at Slade Point, via Mackay; which is not "near" distance-wise. For a few years, my older brother and I (along with our Nana) jumped on a train at the Gympie railway station after New Year to spend the tail end of our school holidays in the north terrorising our cousins! However, the "pictures" weren’t ignored. They weren't put on the back-burner. We’d go into Mackay to the new Civic Theatre and get our fill there.

Stored carefully in boxes in my bedroom for frequent perusing was my collection of “Movietone News” and “Photoplay” magazines; magazines purchased with some of the coins I'd received from the drink bottles and newspapers returned to the locals stores. Together with the glossy magazines, I had hundreds of cuttings taken from newspapers; the “Women’s Weekly”; “New Idea” and other similar periodicals. Like a ravenous hound, I devoured information about my favourite glamorous stars.

The impossibly handsome, charismatic Tony Curtis, like the real-life character he played in “Houdini”, created magic on the silver screen. Curtis committed burglary of my heart. His photographs adorned my bedroom walls. War hero Audie Murphy’s baby-faced youthfulness was never a deterrent to his Saturday six-gun shoot-outs.

Chivalrous heart-breaker Gregory Peck often starred as a protagonist in my romantic daydreams. Together, the cavalier Mr Peck and I shed tears over an orphaned yearling; stood in awe beneath snowy Kilimanjaro; carefree, we explored the piazzas of Rome on a Vespa; side by side we obsessed over a great white whale; and later, we became inspired by Atticus Finch.

Unfortunately, real life isn’t a rhapsodically romantic chronicle playing out a splendid script written and revised to suit; guiding us along the Yellow Brick Road to everlasting joy! Where happy endings are a given. How great it would be if Life was that simple; that pure!

I’ve mentioned similar previously - if unsatisfied with the modus operandi, the penultimate or final chapter, all or each could conveniently be erased and rewritten to satisfy one’s personal desires. It would be so exciting, if, upon a whimsical whim, we could compose our own narrative; introduce the obligatory tall, dark, handsome, daring, intelligent, sensitive, masculine, hot-blooded hero (feel free to add more descriptive adjectives) to the scenario. And it would be even more exciting if we were capable of creating and participating in thrilling, heart-stopping adventures; to have the ability to expunge all malevolence; quell uncertainties and fears; avert destructive actions before they raise their nasty heads; banish sorrow; make happiness mandatory.

As you can see, I daydream still - and get a kick out of composing my own scripts to suit; if only in my head and in my dreams!

Cinderella lived happily ever after! Enter my fictional realm and you can, too! Now - where did I hide my handsome, sensitive protagonist?

Jaffa Cheesecake: Line cake tin; press biscuit base into tin. Cream 1/2c icing sugar, 3/4c Nutella and 250g marscapone or cream cheese; add 1/3c melted dark chocolate and 4tbls Grand Marnier. Mix 1/4c hot water with 2tsp gelatine; cool. Fold into mix along with 600ml whipped cream. Pour over base; refrigerate 5 hours. Choc-citrus sauce: Melt some dark chocolate; while melting, stir in a few tablespoons of cream; stir through some Grand Marnier. When cheesecake has set, drip sauce over top. Garnish with smashed Jaffas.

Jaffa Mousse Cake: Preheat oven 160C. Zest and pulverize 2 oranges with 100g caster sugar; add 250g S.R. flour; add 200g melted butter and 3 large beaten eggs; mix well. Bake in lined 20cm spring-form tin, 90mins. Syrup and mousse: Syrup; mix together juice of 3 oranges and 100g caster sugar; add ¼ cup of Cointreau or Grand Marnier. Mousse: Beat 450ml cream until soft peaks form and then for a further 30 seconds; fold in 250g melted chocolate. Remove cooked cake from pan; cut in half horizontally while still hot. Wash and line cake tin with Glad-Wrap. Place bottom half of cake back into the lined tin; pour on half the syrup: add mousse; top with the other cake half. Pour rest of syrup over cake. Refrigerate 2hrs; remove from tin; place on serving plate. Icing: Add 150ml cream to 150g melted chocolate; ice cake; refrigerate before serving.

Blueberry Dream Fritters: Heat some oil in large pan. Combine 1c SR flour, 1/3c cornmeal, 1tsp baking powder and 1/3c caster sugar in bowl; combine 1/2c cream, 1 egg and 1tsp vanilla; mix into flour until just combined; fold in 1-1/2c blueberries; drop spoonfuls into hot oil; fry until golden; sprinkle with icing sugar.

Monday, September 10, 2012


In our household when my late brother and I were children it didn’t take long to count out the family’s money supply. There was never much money in our family’s bank account; sometimes none at all. The times the household coffers were depleted, bare-faced raids were conducted upon the contents of our Commonwealth Bank tin money boxes. Those days, every kid had one beside their bed.

We never minded, nor did we expect our money boxes to be refilled. Without complaint, we eagerly attended to that pressing matter of refilling the money boxes ourselves by concentrated scavenging efforts in search of empty soft drink bottles and newspapers to lug to the local stores in exchange for coins.

Our family may not have had much money, but we were fortunate in that we had a Nana who had a wealth of stories worth much more than their weight in gold or in a bagful of rare 1930 copper pennies. Time after time, we pestered our Nana to relate her bank of stories; stories of the “olden days”, of which she never tired of telling.

There are some folks who, unfortunately, are very poor. I don’t mean in the money sense, but in their characters. Some are interested only in what material things are left when a parent and/or grandparent departs this world. Their greedy, selfish actions bring to mind the wailing women clad in black depicted in “Zorba, the Greek”; the hags who rifled through the belongings of the newly-deceased “Madame Hortense”; Alexis Zorba’s "Bouboulina”; the ex-courtesan whose still warm body lay prone upon her bed.

In the meantime, lacking compassion, like of a committee of ravenous vultures, the old hags descended upon the dead woman’s possessions, ripping her bedroom and home apart in search of material items.

People who act that way are deficient in what is most valuable in their lives…their family history. Their avid, shallow interest in the material things too often means they miss out on the myriad stories that should not be let go; stories that should never go untold. Of course, not every story is a happy one; not every story has a happy ending. That’s life, though, isn’t it? Regardless, whether happy or sad, every story handed down through a family is woven into who we are; and who our children are; and so on through future generations.

Sometimes we are guilty of feeling shame when no shame should be felt at all. Much of what has gone on before is out of our hands and control; and, in particular, that applies to what went on a century or more ago! It’s all grist for the mill of one’s life. For those with children who choose not to pass on stories from their family history to their offspring are being very unfair to the younger generations. It’s so very selfish and unthinking not to do so. Those not interested in learning the stories and passing them on are self-centred and thoughtless.

Life isn’t easy; it never has been; and I doubt that it ever will be.
The greed displayed by many; their preference for material possessions over the possession of family tales is a blight that affects far too many people. Hovering and picking over a deceased relative’s belongings; and expecting a handout is shameful.

I feel lucky. I’m rich even though I inherited nothing from my grandmother or my mother in the material sense, but I did inherit a multitude of stories.

It’ll be slim pickings when I flip over the edge. There will be no fighting over my leftovers. I have no wealth to leave; but I do possess a wealth of stories, if anyone is interested!

Leftover Roast Beef Soup: Heat a little olive oil and butter in large saucepan. Sauté 2 large onions, sliced in rings, until soft and golden, but not brown; add 4 cups of beef stock. Add 300g diced, leftover roast beef…more or less as desired, and 2 cups of diced leftover vegetables…whatever you have, and, again, as much as desired. Bring to the boil and simmer 10-15 minutes. Divide into oven-proof bowls; float thick slices of stale sourdough, hearty wheat, rye or multi-grain bread on top of soup. Cover with each with a slice of provolone or Swiss cheese. Place under grill or in oven until cheese bubbles and browns.

Leftover Lamb Curry: Cut trimmed, leftover roast lamb into strips about ¼-inch thick. Sauté 1 cup chopped onion and 2 minced garlic cloves in a little oil; stir until onion begins to brown lightly, about 6-7 minutes. Being lazy…add 2 tablespoons quality curry powder and ½ teaspoon ground cumin; stir until spices are fragrant; about 30 seconds. Stir in lamb; add 1 heaped tablespoon of fruit chutney and one chopped, very ripe banana. Add 1-1/2 cups of chicken stock; bring to boil over high heat; season with salt and cayenne pepper, to taste. Mix 2 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch) and ¼ cup stock. Stir into pan; stir until boiling resumes. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes. Serve curry with hot rice and suitable curry accompaniments such as; chutney; sliced banana; yoghurt, sliced cucumber etc. Leftover cooked roast chicken is a good substitute for the lamb.

Leftover Chicken Quiche: Preheat oven to 220C (428F). Using a 23cm pre-made pie shell (put pie shell into quiche dish) – arrange chopped, cooked chicken evenly over base; cover with 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese. In a small bowl beat 4 eggs with a fork; stir in 1 cup milk, 1 cup cream, 1x35g packet of French Onion soup mix and 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Pour into pie shell; sprinkle lightly with paprika. Bake in oven for 15 minutes; and then lower heat to 180C (355F); bake for 30 minutes more; allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, September 02, 2012


Clockwise from top left: Ivy Flora Hose (Hay)- my grandmother. Elma Flora Hay and Ivy Hay and Jack (John) Hay on their wedding day.

I’m not going to get very far today…this I know already!

Last night I wrote a list of chores I wanted (read “needed”) to do today. I have a feeling that not everything on my adventurous list will get done; no doubt, I’ll get waylaid along the way! Already a couple of disturbances and hurdles have raised their furry heads! My two four-legged, rascally friends figure there is just too much enjoyment to be had in what I’m doing; and they decided to join in the activity! Why should they miss out in all the fun, they ask – I can see it written clearly on their faces – I’m no fool! I’ve given them a choice; it’s either the bathroom with the door locked; or the bedroom with the door padlocked. Knowing what side their bread is buttered on; and what side of the bed is the most comfortable and cosy, they’ve chosen the bedroom – of course! I can’t even say that they look smarter than they are; because they both are as smart as they look; and there is no denying it! They know it, too! I don’t stand a chance!

During my diggings I came across a very old article called “The Beadle.” - which was hidden away amongst my many bits, pieces, papers and other mysterious objects The “news bulletin” is dated February, 1918. It was published by the Gympie Presbyterian Church. From what I can gather it was a monthly newsletter.

What makes it interesting and personal to me is a notice therein of the untimely death of my great-grandfather, Robert Hose.

Quote: “We regret to record the death of Mr. Robert Hose, who was killed in the Scottish Gympie Mine by the fall of a rock. He was buried on the 24th, the Rev. W.J. Taylor officiating. R.Hose was just over 50 years of age, and within a few days would have left mining to take up land at Goomboorian.”

Robert Hose left behind a widow and six children; the eldest was 20 years old when Robert died; and the youngest, nine years of age.

I have written about this previously, I know; but I’ve felt urged to write more.

Robert Hose was my grandmother’s father – on my mother’s side of the Family Tree. A couple of brave off-shoots from those limbs of the “Tree” branched out from Scotland and Ireland to seek a better life in Australia in the mid to late 1800s. My great-grandmother, a wee Scottish lass named Flora Stuart MacDonald” (of both Scottish and Irish heritage) married Robert Hose, a tall, handsome Highlander. Robert sported a ginger moustache. One of Robert Hose’s daughters was my grandmother, Ivy Flora Hose.

Down the track a bit, Ivy married John Hay. John, more commonly known as “Jack” was also of Scottish heritage.

My grandmother was 16 years old at the time of her father’s fatal accident. Nana was born on 13th November, 1901. Australia’s Federation was January 1st, 1901.

Nana’s older brothers used to spin a tale or two when they were young (as all older brothers seem to have the habit of doing). They tried to convince her that the MacDonnell Ranges in the Northern Territory were discovered by a wandering relative. Of course, the name “MacDonnell” was not the spelling of their mother’s maiden name…”MacDonald”! And, our grandmother, always an avid reader, was wise to their trickery!

Upon starting school, my mother, Elma Flora Hay was asked by one of her teachers from where she got her rich, auburn tresses! Haughtily, my mother replied: “From my grandfather’s moustache!” Where else, indeed!

My mother had beautiful auburn hair and sparkling blue eyes…a true Irish colleen! Her mother, Ivy Flora Hay (nee “Hose”) had deep chestnut-coloured hair and blue eyes.

When my late brother and I were children we’d harass our Nana night after night around our bedtimes (and at other times) to tell us stories of the “olden days”; she willingly obliged. Nana told wonderful stories; and I know they were without embellishment and were all true as they happened. How I wish that somewhere along the line and over the years before her passing in 1976 that I’d recorded her many interesting reminiscences onto a more permanent file other than my own memory!

Take heed; let it be a lesson to each and everyone of us for the sake of our future generations. The stories our elders have stored away in their minds are worthy of recording, no matter how simple they may appear to be to our untrained ears. Myriad stories need to be told and recorded for posterity. The tales they have to tell are all part of our history; they may seem minor and insignificant, but they probably are much more than they may appear to be. It’s sad that there are so many stories that shall remain untold.

We find it so easy to pick up autobiographies by strangers; biographies of people we will never meet or get to know. Hungrily we pounce upon books of fiction, and yet many amongst us are not interested in what went before in the lives of our parents and theirs before them and so on. There is still so much to learn about our forefathers…from our parents; their parents and their parents. We shouldn’t bypass these gems of information. They are there (and ours) for the taking!

My brother and I would sit in silence, open-eyed as Nana told us stories of emus poking their heads through the kitchen window with the hope of stealing the silverware. The cutlery was always hidden away out of reach of the prying eyes and beaks of the cheeky, curious emus.

An Aboriginal woman, called “Emma” used to hover around my grandmother’s childhood home at Goomboorian. Emma played with my grandmother and her siblings when they were children. Nana and her brothers and sisters adored her, and in turn she loved them. The kids teased her good-naturedly and relentlessly as children do. And from what my brother and I were told, Emma gave as good as she got! Nana and her siblings would call out to her - “Emma-Emma-Black Bum! Emma-Emma-Black Gin”; and then they’d run in all directions, giggling, enjoying the challenge they’d set – day after day. Emma would chase them around the yard, laughing all the way. There was nothing nasty or vindictive in the children’s chants; and Emma took no offence at their teasing name-calling. With her long, brown skinny legs, Emma was faster than they were; a fact that they loved, and one of which they were aware. The children and Emma enjoyed the chase and the catch! Of course, those were the days long before political-correctness was the catch-phrase of the decade!

The distance between Goomboorian and Tin Can Bay is 32kms – a 29 minute car drive away, nowadays – or quicker, depending on how fast one drives! When my Nana was a young girl the trip was an overnighter by horse and buggy. The family set up camp on the banks of Coondoo Creek for an overnight stay before continuing on to Tin Can Bay; similar occurred on their return trip home.

There is more to this story...than that that meets the eye today!