Today marks the third week
of National Family History Month... each week the Blogging Challenge has a suggested theme, based on a book by an Australian author.
Week 3 - All The Rivers Run.. Nancy Cato
Summary from Wikipedia...
All The Rivers Run follows the life of English girl, Philadelphia Gordon, from the time when she is shipwrecked and orphaned off the coast of Victoria in 1890. She spends most of her life around Echuca, on the Murray River, and invests some of her inheritance in the paddle steamer called PS Philadelphia. Her life is changed forever when she meets paddle steamer captain Brenton Edwards. She is torn between the harsh beauty of life on the river with its adventures, and the society life in Melbourne with her blossoming career as a painter. It is an adventure and a love story: between her, the men in her life, and the river.
TROVE tells us that there are 34 editions of this book and where to find them.. including audio, in a number of languages..
Lots more detail re the story and Nancy Cato here
As always, the title and a family story set me off on another tangent... I thought about the rivers that had featured in my extended family history... from so many countries including Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland, Greece, Canada, America, India.. to name a few.
However that seemed too literal.. then I thought about where rivers run to .. and I had my story. All rivers run to the ocean... the ocean being the whole family, a repository of all who have gone before... the rivers.
As the events report, by no means complete, from my family history program, runs to over 216 pages, I'll spare you all that.
I wasn't aware that my family was a little different till I started school. After all, everyone I knew had Aunts and Uncles and most had grandparents. Maybe not as many in the family as we had, but there were sure some even larger families around.
We visited many friends of my grandparents and there were always many others coming to visit them. It was all just normal to me. I didn't bat an eye when some spoke another language, as my grandparents sometimes did. I thought everyone spoke differently to their grandparents, though I had trouble at times understanding my grandmother. I asked Dad so many times to teach me Greek as I didn't want to be left out, but he assured me that I wouldn't need it as I was Australian. So, other than a few words here and there, I learnt little, some from my Aunt Mary, a little from my grandfather, but he died juast a few months after I started school, after that I was so upset that I didn't want to know anything for awhile.
He'd told me about coming from Greece, a beautiful island called Kythera/Kythira and said he'd hope I'd visit one day. There were so many questions I still had to ask, but he was gone.
I think I got about halfway though Grade One when for some reason, some of the children started calling me 'wog girl'. I had no idea what they were talking about, but I could tell it wasn't being nice by the looks on their faces. At first, it was just one or two, then there seemed to be a lot saying the same thing. Then it was pulling my plaits while calling me names. It was only then that I told Mum. She was furious...and went straight up to the school that afternoon. The headmaster lived in a house in the school grounds, pity for him, as that meant he was easy to find... I can still hear my Mum asking what he was going to do about it.
I had no idea what a 'wog' was... and was very indignant when Mum explained it to me. All I was thinking was that my beloved grandfather was no 'wog'.. he was a very proud, hardworking new Australian... having been in Australia for many years... Later I found that he'd been here since 1904.. it was then 1953, so he'd been here longer than some of the families, whose kids were tormenting me, had been alive.
Thanks to Google Maps.
He asked me to think about what made my family different, and special. I didn't know what to say. He asked me about food, was there anything that my grandmother made... I answered pickles... I loved her pickles. Of course, it was at a time when 'everyone' made pickles... then, what was my favourite food that my grandmother made... 'baklava'. He was the only one that had heard of it... so that caused a lot of laughter and various comments. He asked me if I could make it... I couldn't then, not by myself, but I said I would ask my grandmother or my Aunt Mary to make some and I would bring some to school.
Of course, then others in the class decided that their grandmothers were good cooks too, so they wanted to bring along some of their cooking. I can imagine the looks on some of the families when their children went home and said that the next week they wouldn't have to make lunch, just send along some of the good things that their grandmothers, or other family, made. It was to be one week later, on a Friday.
I was so excited, but Mum wasn't so sure my grandmother would be. My Aunt Mary stepped in and I went to her place one afternoon and 'helped' her make baklava. Luckily she made a big batch, as I knew I wouldn't get any at school, it was always so good. I don't recall all that was brought, but I did see a lot of jams and pickles... I wonder who took them home. All I remember was that the 'yuk' stuff the boys had teased me about, disappeared very quickly.
Other than scones, the only other offering I remember was a little unusual.. a bowl of jelly. Of course, it had all melted by the time it got to school, except for a thick layer in the bottom of the bowl. My Mum would have been horrified, as we always had the job of stirring jelly so there would be no thick bit.
A few years went by till my Greek heritage came to the fore. My brother was at school then and he was being teased a bit, as I was, for taking different lunches.. I loved cold pita (spanakopita ) and was happy to have that, but my friend, the headmaster's daughter, had peanut butter... I'd never tried anything like it, so of course, we swapped. Then she became interested in other Greek things.. so we decided to show them some Greek dances... I'm not sure who came up with the idea, but we planned to put on a concert, with my brother and I doing Greek dancing. To be honest, we knew nothing about it, but we had seen some relatives dancing. It was all going very well and we were going to make our fortune at 3d a time... till my friend asked her Mum for 3d (about 2c) for the concert. We'd already collected some money, we had to hand all that back and apologise...so much for our dreams of fortune.
I still haven't made it to Kythera, or Co Clare where my other grandmother came from. I never knew her, as she died when my Mum was just 11, but the pull of my Irish heritage is as strong as that of my Greek. Add those to my husband's heritage, of Irish, Indian, English... and it's no wonder my small son stood up in class on a United Nations Day and said he was Irish Stew... oops, little boys remember more than you realise.
All rivers run... we are of one world.
Image by Pixabay
* More family stories..
and sprinkled throughout That Moment In Time, as well as this blog.
This post first appeared at https://headlinesofold.blogspot.com/2017/08/trove-tuesday-august-15th-2017-all.html