Over the past few months I've been ‘time travelling’ with my sister, Janette. Janette, with a view to later downsizing, is collating records collected while researching our maternal grandmother's family history thirty years ago and records secreted away by our mother and grandmother in old suitcases and drawers. Large envelopes labelled for particular ‘great grand’ relatives have been brought into action. My grandmother’s siblings, Beatrice, Ada, Minnie, Edie, Alf, Charlie, Ruby, Violet and of course my grandmother Lily, each have an envelope.
With Janette’s new drive to bring order out of chaos, I've been visiting her farm at Molyullah ‘conference’ over photos of uncertain origin to firm up identities and meanings. We’ve been conferring over old scrapbooks and albums containing photographs, many of which I’ve not seen before. I’ve taken photographs of a multitude of photographs, documents such as my grandfather’s passport; ephemera such as a leather collar box containing my ballerina grandmother's grease paint to add to my family history collection.
I’d met Auntie Min when visiting Sydney as a child and remember her as a rather serious woman of considerable wealth who lived in a house looking over Sydney Harbour which had a path down to a private boat ramp. I remember her son, John Rose, as being quite eccentric. John was always described by my mother as a change of life baby, born when Auntie Min was 46 and after Min’s husband, Ernest Rose, had had a stroke.
Family research revealed that Min, who had married ‘Uncle Ern’ at 20, had a little boy who only lived for a few months during her twenties, followed by decades working in the theatre, before having John, at aged 46. John was born with a disability which affected his development. Min’s beloved husband died at 59 when John was 8 years old leaving Min to care for John. Janette’s envelope for Auntie Min contains portraits of Uncle Ern pasted on a textured card and a portrait of John in early adulthood.
I’m enjoying my current bout of time travelling and have so many more photos to ‘ground’ my research. I sense that I’ll continue to enjoy ‘This ‘time travelling’ Life’, immersing myself in family photographs, documents and other ephemera, well into the future!