ADHS Newsletter No. 179 MARCH, 2000

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Items of interest -


Parade of Fashions Through The Ages - Some clothes are special, evoking precious memories of happy events of other days, and we are loathe to part with them, even though they may be a wee bit tight today!! And so they remain hidden away in our wardrobes. Well, many of those frocks were given a welcome airing on Saturday, 18th March, when the Society presented a Parade of Fashions Through The Ages at the Avoca RSL Hall. These frocks spoke of the elegance of yester-year and the importance we placed on our appearance, especially dressing up on Saturday nights!

The oldest gown in the parade was a wedding dress worn in 1879, whilst other bridal frocks included those worn by Jill Hunter and Marj. Partridge on their wedding days. There were pretty bridesmaids’ gowns, mother-of-the bride ensembles, debutante frocks, some really beautiful evening gowns, with stoles or fur capes or jackets to cover them, a lovely gold lace 1928-style frock worn on a first date, a fine, black shawl, 100 years old, day wear, a bed-time segment, and some very old-style underwear, also at least a century old, which created quite some interest! Children also paraded in today’s styles for the young. The little girls among the modelling team had a wonderful time acting as train-bearers for the brides.

Graeme Mills attended dressed in his top hat and tail-coat and escorted several models along the cat walk, whilst young Ben and Aaron Cracknell also acquitted themselves well in a similar capacity throughout the evening.

This was truly a ‘family night’, not only for groups in the audience, but also for the participants. Jenny Elliott and her five lovely daughters, Donna, Nicole, Sharon, Amanda and Karen, were among the models, along with their cousin, Emily Elliott. Then there was Lily Mills’ niece, Gail Price, and her son, Daniel. Also taking part in the modelling were April Hardy, Jade and Maryann, and Kirsten Peters (Wendy Taylor’s daughter), and young John Robinson, grandson of Dorothy and Herb. Robinson. Ben and Aaron Cracknell are great-nephews of Lily Mills.

Maree Henderson provided the musical background to the parade and also played the piano accompaniment for June Hamer as she entertained us with two brackets of songs, "We’ll Gather Lilacs" and "Emily", then "Alice Blue Gown" and "The Isle of Capri". A humorous item was presented by Lily Mills and Dorothy Robinson as they sang, "Are You Lonesome Tonight?", firstly with the correct words, followed by a parody, telling what the years had done to them and their beauty! It was very hard to recognise them in their disguise!

A lovely finale was the appearance of Lily and Graeme Mills, dressed in the wedding finery they wore for their marriage in March, 1998.

This parade was the brain-child of Lily Mills, and we offer our congratulations and sincere thanks to her for the enormous effort she contributed in putting the parade together, especially as she has not been well for some time. Lily even made replica bouquets for the brides to carry as well as presentation posies for the pianist and singer, and the flowers for the stage decorations. Our thanks also go to her committee for their contribution to the evening, to all the models and the team of assistants behind the scenes. They had a very busy time indeed, on a hot night, helping the models in and out of the eighty outfits which were paraded and getting them ready for their next appearance on stage. Our thanks, too, to those who contributed to the supper and carried out the kitchen duties, also to those ‘on the door’. Last, and probably the most important thank you must go to those folk who loaned their treasured garments so that this fascinating parade could be put together.

Whilst enjoying a welcome cold drink during the interval, those attending the evening had time to inspect the several displays round the hall showing everything from a baby’s layette to toddler’s wear, to adult winter coats and crimplene coats, etc. Your Editor even saw an Enid Gilchrist pattern for a school tunic! Now, that did bring back memories, having made one or two from that pattern as well as many other Enid Gilchrist garments for our two girls. The intricacies of a crinoline hoop were also illustrated and a selection of laundry aids of yesterday, with scrubbing board, wash-tub and heavy iron reminded us of the heavy, hard work washing day once was. Another display was of beautiful baby-wear - silk and ribbon bonnets, bibs and bootees, all about 100 years old and a christening gown was modelled in the parade on a big celluloid doll.

Then we had a splash of colour in the display of entries in the colouring competition, done by the children of the Natte Yallock and Avoca Primary Schools. Jake Mortlock was the winner at the Natte Yallock School, whilst Nicholas Johnston took first prize at Avoca.

Several lucky door prizes were awarded during the evening, with our members Margaret and Glenys Hunter being among them. Our raffle was also drawn that night, with Charles Peters winning the Heritage Cook Book, and Maree Henderson won an acid-free photo album.

A good night was had by all, with a net profit of about $400 to boost the Society’s funds.

We were delighted to have Helen Harris and Gary Presland, and Murray and Rose Little, all from Melbourne, with us for the evening.

Grant for extensions to the Court House - Member for Ripon, Mr. Joe Helper, MLA, recently announced that the Pyrenees Shire has been successful in obtaining a grant of $18,650 from the Rural Community Development Scheme for work at the Avoca Court House. This project will provide a new work-room and kitchen and toilet facilities, with disabled access to the building. Additional funding to cover the cost of this project will come from the Pyrenees Shire and our Society. This is great news for the Society and plans are now in hand to get the project under way.

Garage Sale - The latest figure for the Garage Sale held in February shows a result of $904.80 to be added to our funds - a very pleasing result indeed.

Urgently needed - A Secretary for the Society - At the moment, the secretarial duties are being shared by our President, Jill Hunter, and Assistant Secretary, Wendy Taylor. However, it would make running the Society much easier, and ease the load on these two members, if someone would offer their services for this vacancy. We would be delighted to hear from someone in the wider Avoca area who would like to join our team in the capacity of Secretary. Please contact Jill Hunter if you can help.

The next meeting will be held at the Court House at 1.30 pm on Sunday, 16th April when a plaque to the memory of Nana Holland will be unveiled at 3 pm. The plaque is to be placed on a rock beside the historic lamp post which now stands in the Court House grounds. Members of the Holland family will be in attendance and will join us for afternoon tea afterwards.

Looking Ahead - The A.G.M. and luncheon will be held on Sunday, 21st May, at Wesley Hall when Darryl McLeish will be the speaker, his topic being the history of Carisbrook.

On Saturday, 17th June, there will be a display at the Court House of many of the garments shown at our recent Parade of Fashions Through the Ages. This will be a last opportunity to see these lovely outfits before the collection is broken up and the garments returned to their owners - to be tucked away in the cupboard again with their memories! A charge of $3 will include admission and a ticket in a raffle. Normal monthly meeting on Sunday, 18th June.

Condolences - The Society extends deepest sympathy to our founding member, Helen Harris, husband Gary Presland, and her daughters, Sara and Penny, on the death of her mother, Dulcie Doxford, on 25th March.

Our sincere sympathy also goes to Marj. Partridge, whose brother passed away at Maryborough during the month.

New Member - A warm welcome is extended to Mr. Neville ROWLAND, of Croydon, Vic., who is researching the ROWLAND family of Avoca and Homebush; the BALDWIN family of Mountain Hut and Amphitheatre; and the IMPEY family of Amphitheatre.

New Acquisition - The Society has recently acquired, courtesy of Mr. Wes. Dawson, a large collection of papers, known as ‘Schedule C : Form of Instruction for Graves’, from the days of Mr. Classen’s undertaking business. Schedule C gives the following information: Denomination; whether selection of grave was made by the trustee or applicant; name of deceased; late residence; name of minister; date and time of funeral; number of the grave on the plan; if it was a common grave; if first or second interment in grave, age of deceased and cause of death.

Dorothy Robinson has undertaken the enormous task of cleaning down these dusty documents and placing them in folders, with a typed index to each folder. At the moment, she has completed three folders, which cover the early 1900s and are mainly for the Avoca Cemetery. We thank Wes Dawson for this thoughtful gesture.

Lexton Primary School 125th Anniversary Reunion, Saturday, 6th May, 2000 - Past pupils, staff, families and friends are invited to participate in a celebration of 125 years of education at the Lexton Primary School. The event will be held at the Lexton Primary School, with an alternative venue at the Lexton Public Hall should the weather be inclement.

Registration is at 11 am, with Roll Call and the Official Welcome at 12 noon, followed by a BYO picnic lunch. From 1.30 pm, there will be Activities and Games, Colonial School Demonstrations and Displays of memorabilia. At 5.30 pm, an evening meal can be enjoyed before a Bush Dance (at the Lexton Public Hall), with supper provided.

Those attending are asked to wear colonial costume, if possible, and the organisers are seeking old photos and school memorabilia for display on the day. Enquiries can be made by ringing Ingrid Johnson on (03) 5466 7228. To assist catering, the organisers would like to hear from you if you plan to attend.

PRO Travelling Exhibition - "Fun and Games : The First Australian Olympics" is the title of this exhibition which is travelling throughout Victoria. It can be viewed at the Ballarat Library from Tuesday, 9th May, to Monday, 5th June, 2000.

Can You Help? The March Newsletter from the RHSV includes this interesting query. In late 1867, nine hundred and seventy four members of the Old Colonists of Victoria signed an illuminated address of welcome to Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh. The Royal Duke prefaced his reply on 3rd January, 1868, with the title, ‘Gentlemen’. It had obviously not been brought to his attention that, amongst those masculine signatures, there were concealed the signatures of two women: Jane Cosens and Isabella Maine.

Who were these intrepid women who had had the temerity to approach the clerk and insist on having their names accepted? All that is known is that Jane Cosens arrived in Melbourne in June, 1837, and Isabella Maine arrived in Sydney with her husband (or brother), James McNab Maine, in June, 1833, before moving to Melbourne in January, 1840.

If you could help identify these two women, please contact the RHSV on (03) 9326 9288, or fax no. 9326 9477. Mr. Harcourt Long is the project officer researching and indexing the signatures.

New Book - "Maitland in the Media: 1841-1845" by Barbara Brown contains snippets from the Hunter River Gazette and the Maitland Mercury and gives a journalist’s eye view of life in Maitland in the early 1840s. This book will be released in May, 2000, at a cost of $17 plus $3 p&p. There is a special offer for orders paid by April 26, 2000, with no p&p required. Orders and enquiries should be made to E.B. Brown, 26 Burnett Street, Cessnock, NSW, 2325.

Homebush - In 1962, The Avoca Mail was published once a week and cost 4d. per copy. On Wednesday, 28th March of that year, the following article appeared about the Lower Homebush School:

"Homebush once had 300 pupils. When the Lower Homebush State School, No. 2258, opened about 78 years ago it had 300 pupils. It closed at the end of 1961 and only three pupils were available from the school for transfer to Avoca.

Closure of the school, a substantial brick building on lines similar to the Avoca State School, though smaller, is hoped by local residents to be only temporary.

The school committee has agreed to allow the piano to be brought into Avoca school for safe keeping.

Mrs. H. W. Smith, of Lower Homebush, has supplied some interesting information about the school. This includes a list of teachers, as follows - Mr. Hessell, Mr. Cullen, Mr. Edward Smith, Mr. John Mackereth (music teacher), Mr. Carter-Miss Williams (Mrs. Smith thinks the latter two opened the school), Mr. Adam Long, Mr. Fricker, Miss Swain, Mr. Twist, Miss Perrett, Miss S. Bradley. Misses L. E. Squires, C. Morrish and E. Kemmis (sewing). Mr. P. J. Smith (attendance 106 pupils), Mr. Haynes, Mr. T. Byrne; Mr. G. E. Wilkins and junior teacher Colin Douglas (attendance about 58). Miss A. Sweeney, Miss E. Rickard, Miss A. Brown, Miss M. Baird, Miss Joan Davey, Miss Gillies, Miss B. Stewart, Miss L. Annear, Miss H. Floyd, Mrs. J. Jess, Mr. W. Bruggy, Mr. B.

Baud, Mr. F. Livingstone, Mr. J. Sumpter, Mr. M. Church, Mr. Odlum.

Reunions - Reunions of Old Homebush Boys and Girls were held in the school in May, 1937, and November, 1938. A bus brought visitors from Melbourne and Mr. C. H. Squires took a bus load from Avoca. Both reunions were well attended, about 166 attending one and 300 the other.

Mrs. H. W. Smith boarded the lady teachers for about 29 years.

Services - Methodist Church services are still held once a month in the school. These services were started in 1943 by the Rev. P. H. James, of the Avoca circuit. Seats were donated by the Methodist Church at Rathscar.

In 1925, the Church of England also held services at the school.

The piano from the public hall was transferred into the school when the hall was shifted in 1926. Crockery and other items were also found useful.

The interior of the school was repainted about 10 or 11 years ago and still looks very nice."

Reminiscences of School Days at Lower Homebush - During 1936, the Melbourne Age newspaper ran an interesting series on old Victorian schooldays and many were the letters published from past pupils from many areas. The Society has been fortunate to receive a copy of some of those published letters. J. BULLOCK seems to have got the ball rolling with regard to Lower Homebush, and many letters followed. Here are responses from E. SCOTT and MINNIE JONES:

"Sir - As a past scholar of Lower Homebush State school, I would like to write a few lines about my school and all friends I left behind. The teachers I remember are Harry Carter, Adam Long, P. J. Smith, J. E. Flynn, Mr. G. Wilkins, Miss Perret, Miss Swain. I was thrilled when I read Mr. J. Bullock’s letter. I know all the folks he spoke about. I wonder if he remembers the race-horses Lower Homebush possessed - Clarcus, Pompey, Jimmy, Catchpole, also Garry Brown. They were not exactly champions but always finished well. Nob Douglas, the fighter, the Homebush Artillery Band was not so bad. I am not likely to forget the grand parties they used to give old Mr. Plowright, who used to drive us to the railway station. He always made Mary McDonald sing Ben Bolt for him. I would love to have a reunion of all Upper and Lower Homebush people. I hope some more folks from Lower Homebush will write a few lines thanking "The Age" for the good work it is doing re the schools. Yours, etc., E. SCOTT, Richmond."

"Lower Homebush - To the Editor of The Age - Sir, Like E. Scott, I have been very interested in the Old Victorian Schooldays columns in your paper. I was among the first scholars when Mr. Carter and Miss Williams opened the school. Other teachers were Helsby, Twist, Ted Smith, Mr. Hessell, Mr. Cullen and Mr. Fricker.

The scholars I remember are the Bassetts, Hartys, Gruntys, Lockwoods, Pipers, Delworths, Larsens, Graves, Maggie O’Riely (sic), Teenie Brown, Bertie Duke, Ethel Kost, Katie Levi, Jack Skewes, Will Retallick, Sutherlands, Dalys, Trounsons, Billy Scott and his brother, Waughs, Bloxhams, Randles, Gilletts, Campbells, Nicholls, Pitchers, Blanches, Hornes, Chesterfield, Jones, McCarthys, Tulloch, Catchpole, Bradley, Grose, Smith (three families), Hutchinson, Littles, Hartleys, Tresize (two families), Templeton, Hartigans, Barry, Harris, Waters, Cummings (two families), Hayes, Cross, Richardsons, Douglas, Nicholson, Rowlands (two families), Dalleys, McEwans, Mary Ann Browning, Calcott, Boughton, McDonalds, Kennedy, Ida and Will Bullock, Squires.

There may have been others I have forgotten. Who remembers Antonio, Billie the Drummer, Cranky Frank, Bob Sturgeon and Bill Smith? Wherever the old boys and girls are scattered, they will never forget those boys. Thanking you again for the pleasure your paper has given to so many. Yours, etc., MINNIE JONES, Glenhuntly."