Saturday, August 30, 2014

Memories of the Vagabond

The Vagabond as I remember her growing up
The wedding boat in 1997

 When the Beach or holidays are mentioned, I think of the Vagabond.

The smell of diesel always reminds me of the Vagabond.

The Vagabond was a big part of my childhood; most weekend and every school holidays.  She was built in 1958 by my grandfather and uncle and passed to my father, when Granddad died.

The Vagabond had a distinctive chug chug chug sound, which could be heard for miles.  I remember my Nanna listening out for it and then I would follow Nanna into the back yard, where she would look out to check if it was returning.  She would then start cooking for the men returning from fishing. I was only 6 when she died, so it is an early memory.

My Grandfather and Uncle took 2 years to build the Vagabond, which was launched
 4th October 1958.
You can read more here.
As a child, I loved it when dad would get up close to the Entrance of the 90 Mile Beach.  I really liked it when the boat would rock furiously in the waves.  I remember mum yelling at me to get inside the boat as I would be on the side and hold on to the railing with no life jacket on (maybe this was the first indication that I would like theme park rides?).

My grandfather, Gordon Walker aboard the Vagabond

I have many vivid memories of the Vagabond;
  • When we drove into the Beach, the Vagabond was always moored in a prime position, across the channel from the jetty.
  • The first time I saw a dolphin was when I was aboard the Vagabond.  I thought it was a shark!
  • Dad holding me and letting me steer the boat but I couldn't see where we were going
  • Pretending to steer the Vagabond from the rudder at the back of the boat
  • Getting my fingers pinched in the cables that controlled the steering that ran along the side the boat
  • Jumping up on the seat when a Flathead was flapping around as I didn't want to get spiked.
  • Leaning over the side and washing bait from my hands by using the the water coming out the side of the Vagabond from the bilge pump.
  • My mother's panic when my little sister (who was only a toddler) had fallen off the jetty and was in the water between the jetty and the Vagabond.  
The life jackets were similar to these
Image Source:
  • The old dirty life jackets that were stored in the Bow, which smelt like diesel. We only wore them when we were playing in the water.  We would try (always unsuccessfully) to sink or go under the water wearing them.  Even multiple kids sitting on them would not sink them!  A lot of fun trying to sink them!
  • There was no toilet aboard the Vagabond and we would need to to into the cabin, shut the door and use a bucket for a toilet, which would then be emptied overboard.
  • Sitting in the sun on the engine box reading a book when the Vagabond was running.  It was very warm, noisy and rattled/vibrated.
  • I liked to sit on the "Flying Bridge" when the Vagabond was motoring (but Mum didn't like it). I don't think anyone could ever tell me why it was called a "Flying Bridge" as it just didn't make sense to me.
  • Rowing from the jetty to the Vagabond and then swimming and diving from the boat.
  • Holding my breath and swimming under the Vagabond.  Initially the width and then the length as we became more confident. Don't think Mum and Dad knew about this.

The Vagabond's maiden voyage
4th October 1958
Gordon Walker and his sons on the Bow
  • The Vagabond being up on the Slips, having barnacles removed and being painted.  It seemed so much bigger out of the water.
  • Asking Dad to change the colour and being told that "Marine Orange and White are safest and easily spotted from the air in an emergency"
  • Being told to stop winding and casting, winding and casting and to wait patiently for a fish to bite
  • Trying to get out of the dinghy into the Vagabond  with one leg on each boat, the tide separated the boats and I did the splits, falling into the water, fully clothed.  I seem to remember this happening to a cousin too?
  • Feeling guilty that my daughter got sun-burnt the first time we took her on the Vagabond (she was only a baby)
  • My sister getting married aboard the Vagabond with my son and daughter in the wedding party.  We watched on from the jetty
I am sure that I will add further memories and find photos in future.

The Vagabond in 2013
New Owner, New Mooring, New Colour
Just not the same!

This prompt was inspired by Sepia Saturday.  Please click to read more posts.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sepia Saturday 242 - National Costumes and a San Fran Fan

Gran in Singapore
My Grandmother loved to travel.  As a child, I looked forward to receiving postcards from exotic unknown places, and promised myself that one day I would visit all the places in those post cards. The postcards inspired a passion to travel, which continues today.

In a letter (dated 7th April 1991)  Gran wrote me about her favourite travels "The most beautiful city I've ever seen happens to be in Germany - Rothenberg.  There's St Peters, the leaning tower, Colosseum and of course Venice, but I got meat hungry in Italy.  I am not a big meat eater but pasta and those things are like porridge; filling but don't last.  All the meat we got was some chicken.  
Holland was nice.  France - no! We made ourselves understood in most places, but they gave us the impression - if you can't speak French, you are a  half wit.  And we thought they were too.  It's a dirty place, and dogs in the cafes - yuk!  The poppies are the only attraction.  

Postcard from Gran 27-6-1977
I liked the Tudor houses in Chester, England, also palaces and castles.  There was a garbage strike in London; and papers and rubbish, even on the road to the palace.  There's a little place called Clovelly near the sea, which is pretty but one has to walk down or ride a donkey.  Stone Henge is interesting. Stratford on the Avon is also very pretty.
There's a Portland in Scotland.  I like their stone fences, castles and lochs.  We saw very little heather - wrong time, July.  Didn't see a Scotch thistle there, but did in England.  
Gretna Green, the Isle of Skye and Llangollen Valley (in Wales) are all nice.
I missed Switzerland, I'm sorry to say; and I would have liked to visit China and the Holy Land, but I got old too quick or started too late."

"London 27-6-1977..........."We have been to Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Holland, Belgium and England.  Tomorrow we leave for Scotland and then Wales"

Post card from Honolulu

Postcard from Gran 30 - 5 - 1978

This is only a small selection of the wonderful collection of postcards that my Grandmother sent me.  There is a photo of my grandmother and some friends dressed in the Kimono style bathrobes in Kyoto but Gran looks really sheepish, hiding in the back, so I don't think that she would like that photo on here!

Gran also sent me souvenirs, including this San Francisco Fan

This post was inspired by Sepia Saturday - click for more posts

Genealogy World Photo Day 2014

I have been procrastinating since I saw the Family Curator Blog had issued a Genealogy World Photo Day 2014 challenge.   It was World Photo Day on the 19th of August and Denise has challenged us to combine the past and present in a photo.

Having previously completed a past and present blog, I was looking for inspiration for something different.

My Grandmother, Eva Scott (nee Pilgrim) was born on the 18th of August 1910 (arrived a day late?) and took most of the photographs featured in this blog on a Kodak Box Brownie.

Gran ceased schooling at age 14 to help her mother keep house and look after her younger siblings.
"I worked at home for my keep including outings, films and developing etc. plus 20 shillings a week pocket money".

The first of Gran's "snaps" was taken in November 1927 (when she was 17 years old).

Kodak Advertisement (altered)
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic 1848-1957)
Tuesday 20th December 1927 - p 17
Did you notice that I have replaced
 the camera's?

Bringing Past and Present together.
My Grandmother's 2A Brownie camera
 is pictured at the top while
 my Grandfather's camera is below.
The original Advertisment can be viewed
here at

The Advertisement to the left was prevalent in Newspapers in 1927, when Gran received her first camera.   Gran told me that she saved her pocket money to purchase her first camera, a Kodak 2A Box Brownie.

Gran's 2A Kodak Box Brownie

When I showed an interest in photography and family history, Gran gave me her Kodak 2A Box Brownie and my Grandfather's No 2 Box Brownie, which are pictured.

A pencil rubbing from the Back of Gran's Box Brownie

Gran also gave me the instruction booklet for her Kodak Box Brownie
It is interesting to see the prices in the 1920s (in US Dollars)
Second Row: Eric and Jean Byron, Eva Pilgrim (and her Box Brownie) and Stella Biggin
Stawell Races 9th April 1928

1st Prize for the "Most Original Snap" - Nhill Show 18th October 1928
Coming Home from Diapur taken by Eva Pilgrim 4/2/1928

Gran won prizes at the local show and had many photos published in the Weekly times and also their local paper.  The photo below has been shown on my blog before and would be one of my favourites. 

"Joker takes a Bath"
1932 - Ted Geyer and Lloyd Pilgrim at Almondale Winiam
Taken by Eva Pilgrim on her Kodak Box Brownie
Won First Prize for "Most Interesting Farm Scene" at Nhill Show October 1932

1934 Pilgrim Family Gathering
Eva Pilgrim is central, holding her Box Brownie

Gran in a familiar pose
9th April 1990

By coincidence, my first camera was a Kodak Instamatic and my first digital camera was a Kodak Easyshare.

I have always enjoyed taking photos....or maybe  it was recording places, people and events for the future?

I was snapped taking a photo of the view
from the California Adventure
Tower of Terror ride in 2013

This post was inspired by The Family Curator

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Letter Home from the Front

Source:  Trove
(Vic. : 1914 - 1918) - 24 Nov 1916: Page 3
Writing to his father, Mr R. Jones, of Spring Creek Road, Daylesford, from France, Private R. Jones (a native of Creswick) states that he was away from the continual roar of the guns doing a seven days course at a Lewis Gun School. At the end of that period he would return to the trenches. Any one who had come out of the previous month's heavy fighting could shake hands with himself.
He had never expected to emerge alive. After he had gone back to the trenches, after being wounded, they had a very warm time. 

One night at about seven o'clock, just as it had become dark, the Germans started a heavy bombardment and for an hour and a half he was lying in a shell hole under the heaviest fire he had ever heard or seen. A small piece of shell slightly wounded him on one of his fingers. Then the British guns started. The noise of a battery was only as a tin dish to it. 

Archie Anderson was wounded the same morning and he went and brought up a stretcher for him. There was only one of his crowd from Daylesford left and that was Karl Rocky. He saw Stan Coutts the night they were relieved by the latter's battalion, but did not stop to speak to him, as the writer did a fast sprint down the trench. Young Coutts looked alright. He had been speaking to Tom McGuiness and Jim Campbell and a few other Daylesford boys. Young [Neye] was better from his wounds and was back with his battalion. 

Robert Jones enlisted 17th July 1915
The writer was now able to say that he had been in a bayonet charge and in the German 
trenches and that he had had a good go at Fritz. The night they charged there was one deep dug out from which they hunted the Germans. The latter had evidently thought that they were going to hold that part of the world for good, as they had dugouts 40 feet deep and beds in them. "But we soon settled this.'' the writer continues. "We threw some poisonous gas bombs' down and when the Germans came up we got them. One chap was running up rubbing his eyes and crying 'Mercy comrade Australia. Bon-Bon-Bon." The latter is French for good. But we gave him mercy with the bayonet and bombs.

I have heard chaps who were at Gallipoli talking and they reckoned that it was a home to this. I got wounded but those wounds have healed now and I have had a go since then and have to have another yet, but I don't mind as something tells me that I am going to come right through. Whenever I go into the trenches I am never downhearted, I always go in with the intention of coming out again. My word our boys are brave lads, frightened of nothing. I have seen nearly every different type of soldier in the world but give me the old Australians and I am satisfied.'' The writer stated that he had received 31 letters in one batch and concluded by saying that it might not be long before he was with his father again - never [to] leave in a hurry. There was no place like home and he knew it."


According to the Defense records, Bob Jones was injured in France and admitted to hospital on 5th August 1916.  Was it the Battle of the Pozieres (Somme Offensive) that Bob referred to in his letter home?  It seems very likely. 

Archie Anderson (2112), a chemist assistant, mentioned in Bob's letter, unfortunately didn't recover from his wounds and later died on 25th August 1916 from "Gunshot Wound to the head and right arm" and is buried in Puchevillers British Cemetery (Somme, France).

Karl "Rocky" Rochstein (2038), a baker, who had lived on the same road as Bob,  made it through until 6th July 1918, when he died due to shrapnel wounds to the abdomen.  He is buried at St Pierre cemetery, Amiens (Somme, France).  His brother Fritz Rochstein made it home.

Stan Coutts (5358), an 18 year old brickmaker, was also "Killed in Action" and is buried at Villers-Bretonneux (Somme, France).

Tom McGuiness (1758), a miner, was "Killed in Action" on 22 July 1918 and is also buried at Villers-Bretonneux.  

Jim Campbell (1074), a grocer, was listed as missing on the 5th August 1916 (the same day that Bob was admitted to hospital).  He was later confirmed "Killed in Action" and is also buried at Villers-Bretonneux.

Source:  Trove
(Vic. : 1914 - 1918) - 24 Nov 1916: Page 3

What looks like "Young Neye", I now believe relates to Henry Noye (1591), who enlisted at Daylesford, Victoria, according to war records was injured but rejoined his Battalion in March 1916.  Henry made it back to Australia alive but I am unsure why he is not listed on the Daylesford Honour Avenue  like Robert (Bob) Jones and his comrades mentioned above.  Maybe because he was not born in the Daylesford area?

I now have a future project in mind.  One day, I will research all those on the Daylesford Avenue of Honour to determine their fate.

"Young Rocky"- Karl Rochstein
Died 6 July 1918
Tom McGuinness
Died 22 July 1918

One of my favourite blog posts is about Robert Jones and can be read here.

This post was inspired by Sepia Saturday.  Please click to view more posts

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Cleaning up

"Joker takes a Bath"
1932 - Ted Geyer and Lloyd Pilgrim at Almondale Winiam
Taken by Eva Pilgrim on her Kodak Box Brownie
Won First Prize for "Most Interesting Farm Scene" at Nhill Show October 1932

Regular visitors to my blog may notice some small changes?

Jill at Geniaus recently wrote about "Tarting up the Template", which inspired Alex at Family Tree Frog to challenge us to clean up our blogs.

My daughter works in design and is always critical and loses patience when I wont accept her modern ideas! It is not that I am not willing to change (I am) but a genealogy/family history blog is different to a corporate company or artistic design!

My Grandfather, Allan Scott (lying down) with the Scott family boarder (teacher at Manya North School)
I have taken on the suggestions of fellow bloggers and increased my font size (yep as I get older I prefer a larger font too).  I played with the colour of my text too.  White was too stark and harder to read than pale gray so the primary text colour remains unchanged.  However, I have changed (and unified) some of the headings.

In time, I may add some additional tabs to records specific information, to make it easier to locate specific information.

One thing that hasn't changed is the inclusion of themed family photos in my blogs!

Please feel free to provide me with constructive suggestions and visit other participating blogs to give both a positive and a suggested improvement.

Edith Geyer