FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS, IT HAS BEEN THE WORLD’S GREATEST EASTER PLAY

THE END: THE CROWD GATHER TO WATCH THE THREE MEN DIE. Below: JESUS, BEARING HIS CROSS, FALLS. Below: HIS DISCIPLES LOWER JESUS DOWN FROM THE CROSS.

Oberammergau Passion Play is the world’s greatest play. It has brought visitors from all over the world and fame to a small mountain village.

Adapted by FRANK MORRIS

When the big day came in 1970, townspeople thought there were to be fewer people than when it was performed in 1960. The town’s coffers had been swelled by something between 40 and 50 million marks to prove the ancient tradition that things were just the same.

What is this ancient tradition?

The Passion Play is actually a performance of the events that led up to the death of Jesus Christ. Parts of the play have been performed by members of one family for centuries. And all this is done in fulfilment of a strange vow.

In 1633 when the Thirty Years’ War was devastating Europe and a plague was spreading death over the countryside … Oberammeragau alone was free of the pestilence.

In case he took the terrible black plague back with him, Casper Schisler, who was working as a farm labourer near Eschenlohe, was forbidden to enter his home town; but he wished to see his wife and children after which his left again.

Schisler and 84 of the people of the village died in three weeks. Those people who remained alive prayed to be saved from the plague, promising God that if He would save them … they would celebrate the suffering and death of Jesus … and hold the Passion Play every ten years. The plaque disappeared.

STUNNING WORK

In time the Passion Play became a great success and a profitable investment … its fame spread throughout the world at the time when travel was becoming easier.

Some famous people have visited Oberammergau to take in the Passion Play, among them Henry Ford, Adolf Hitler, General Eisenhower, the famous poet Rabindranath Tagore and a score of other top names down through the years.

The grand presentation of the spectacle they witness in modern times has 60 star performers, 700 extras, an orchestra and a choir. The audience come away overwhelmed and amazed that the whole of the production is the work of simple villagers.

In 1860, Daisenberger wrote the present script; the music composed by a village schoolteacher named Dedler in 1815. One critic, a Munich priest, said watching the play has the same “brutalising effect” as watching a horror film.

But the Oberammergau people are steeped in tradition and believe in what they are doing.

The next Passion Play at Oberammergau in Easter is being staged in 2020. So make sure you book soon.

<< Adapted from Frank Morris’ Living World magazine, 1970.


VALE: THE MIGHTY CHANGA, GRAEME LANGLANDS, THE ILLUSTRIOUS LEAGUE FULLBACK

He could do marvellous things (like) turn the tide with a run or a tackle. He’s the best I’ve seen, said one league writer. Born on September 1, 1941 in Wollongong, “Changa” Graeme Langlands died last weekend January 20, 2018. REMEMBER LANGLANDS … TWO PART SERIES NEXT WEEK.


THE BEGINNING OF … SURFBOARDS -- The start of surfboard riding!

MISS FIRST:  ISABEL LETHAM BECOMES THE FIRST AUSTRALIAN WOMAN TO RIDE A SURFBOARD. Below: THE FATHER OF SURFBOARD RIDING, DUKE KAHANAMOKU, REMAINED A FRIEND OF ISABEL’S, RIGHT UP TO THE TIME HE DIED.

FRANK MORRIS, LANA WELLS

The world’s first and probably greatest surfers were Polynesian natives. The tribes hailed from some of the Pacific Islands. Many authorities believe the Hawaiian Islands were the birthplace of surfboard riding.                                                                                                                                                      

Captain Cook and later William Bligh, described surfboard riding they saw in Hawaii. In a book published in New York in 1819, the book showed pictures of natives riding plank-like boards in the wild-looking surf.

In 1912, C.D. Paterson brought to Australia a Hawaiian redwood board, but it was too heavy to be handled in rough waves. In 1915, Duke Kahanamoku, when he visited Sydney, bought some pine and carved a surfboard which he rode at Freshwater Beach, Sydney.

I WAS TERRIFIED

Kahanamoku decided he needed a “pretty young partner” to ride the rough sea. Lana Wells, in her book Sunny Memories, says: “Isabel Letham, a fifteen year old and strong swimmer, was obviously intrigued with the board. ‘Come on!” he said’, coaxing the teenager onto the front of it.

Isabel Letham recalled: “I was terrified. We caught a wave but I too scared to stand to stand up. So Duke grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and the back of my costume … and yanked me to my feet”. As it turned out for Letham, that was it. She had to have her own surfboard.

Although her father, a builder hesitated he relented, so he ended up doing the deed. Isabel Letham is probably the first woman in Australia “to stand upright” on a surfboard.

From then on, surfboard riding became an Australian sport. The first Australian board championships were held soon after World War 1; and the first Australian champion was Claude West. However, it was not until after World War 2 that surfboard riding gained its present popularity.

<< Frank Morris from Living World, 1970; Sunny Memories by Lana Wells, Greenhouse Publication Pty Ltd. Richmond, Victoria; 1982.

COMING: Caught Inside – Jack Eden, one of Australia’s leading surfing photographers, from the surfing sixties.


Natural Born Columnist: Writing can be a daunting task!

FRANK MORRIS

The great Brian Penton, editor of the Daily Telegraph saw potential in David McNichol’s writing. So he said to him, “I’ll help you hone your column into punchy short sentences, active voice.”

Penton could sit back and think that his mentoring had paid off. The configuration of the sentences, and the man behind it, McNichol, had made himself the talk of the town.

During the scourge of the “dull and politically correct,” David McNicol, poet, journalist and writer, penned the famous Talk of the Town column from 1945 to 1951.

Modelled on the style of column pioneered in the US by Walter Winchell and Drew Pearson, it appeared on the front-page of the Daily Telegraph.

When Penton died, McNicol went on to become editor-in-chief of the Daily and Sunday Telegraph. He remained in this role for almost 20 years.

McNicol resumed his old career as a columnist, on The Bulletin, when Packer sold the paper to Murdoch in 1972.

<< Adapted from the Australian Book Collector, 2001.

Illustration. Honed his work: David McNichol achieved the top with some assistance from the editor, Brian Penton.


Two Years of Restoring Sight: Fred Hollows – an extraordinary life!

MANY STRANDS: FRED HOLLOWS AND GABI, HIS WIFE, SET OUT TO END AVOIDABLE BLINDNESS IN BURGEONING COUNTRIES. Below: FRED AND GABI AND THEIR GROWING FAMILY.

“Every eye is an eye,” Hollows told his people.

Adapted By FRANK MORRIS

“Fred was many things to many people – a husband, a father, a friend, a skilled ophthalmologist and, for a few politicians and bureaucrats, an irritating thorn in the side,” said Gabi.

“But above all else he was a humanitarian, which made him a terrific doctor. He truly believed it was the role of the doctor to help those in need.”

A New Zealander by birth, Hollows felt a good deal of chance accounted for the fact that he ended up a doctor and not a tradesman. He also dabbled with the idea of a career in the church before choosing medicine, a practical job that allowed him to help people.

After studying stints in Wales and England, Hollows made Australia his home.

EVERY EYE IS AN EYE

Professor Hollows first came into the public eye when he led a medical team through rural and remote Australia in the late 1970s. The endemic eye disease he found in Aboriginal communities had appalled him.

Conditions like eye trachoma, which had been eliminated in Australian town and cities, were common. It was similar to what was seen in developing countries.

Never one to bite his tongue, Hollows had manufactured a reputation for being outspoken and getting things done. He would annoy the media to alert Australia to the hidden health emergency in the country’s interior.
His direct approach won him friends and enemies.

Trips to Nepal, Vietnam and Eritrea convinced Hollows that with support people in burgeoning countries could enjoy the same quality eye-care as Australians.

AUSTRALIA AT THE FOREFRONT

In war-torn Eritrea medicines were being produced behind battle lines, in improvised sterile laboratories inside bunkers.

Hollows decided to give aid to the Eritreans to produce their own intraocular lenses, essential for effective treatment of cataract blindness. He believed that the poorest people deserved exactly the same quality eye-care as a king or prime minister.

In 1994, one year after he lost his battle with cancer, Hollows dream came true. The Fred Hollows Foundation opened up two modern intraocular lens laboratories in Eritrea and Nepal.

And within three years, the Foundation kept Hollows promise alive by training 330 eye doctors in Vietnam.

Hollows believed that Australia would play a leading role in efforts to overcome avoidable blindness around the world.

He was diagnosed with cancer in 1988. He was born in 1929 and died in 1993.

<< The Fred Hollows Foundation is 1800 352 352. Your contributions will assist the Fred Hollow’s team.

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 25 January 18

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