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Number of blogs returned: 61 to 70 records of 183

FLASHBACK: I see Ryan hang, wrote Ron Saw – his reporting zooms straight into the history of Australian journalism!

PENTRIDGE UNDER SIEGE: PRISON GUARDS TRIED TO STOP THE PRISONERS RONALD RYAN AND PETER WALKER FROM ESCAPING. ONE PERSON WAS KILLED. AFTER THE EXECUTION OF RYAN, THIS LED TO THE ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY.

It is 50 years since Ronald Ryan was executed.

FRANK MORRIS

In 1960, columnist Ron Saw had a readership bigger than the paper’s circulation. He was “the star” of the country’s “literature in a hurry” brigade.

Writing a daily column for a newspaper is a daunting task. Not all who get the call to perform this task will succeed. Over the years, I’ve read the best and the worst columns; and I still get a kick out of it. 

There’re only a handful of columnists I’d take home for a drink. Australian journalism has produced an array of columnists, many are still fondly remembered. Ron Saw was a class act.

CONTENTIOUS HANGING

Two years after winning the converted Walkley Award for his whale shark story (it still has the power to bring a lump to the throat) Saw was witness to the contentious hanging of Ronald Ryan.

His front story, I SEE RYAN HANG, sold a staggering 60,000 extra copies – a record which stood until the demise of the Daily Mirror in 1990.

In his book, Amazing Scenes, Evan Whitton, who was also one of 15 reporters invited to view the hanging, writes: “Ron Saw would walk out of the prison at 8.15am, take up a telephone, and, dictate without pause, one of the great pieces of reporting in the history of Australian journalism.”

IN THE FUTURE: When I find the special edition of Saw’s I SEE RYAN HANG, I will publish it in Grand Years.

Picture: Saw’s greatest piece: “I see Ryan hang” went straight into history!


MEMORIES: THE LAST MAN HANGED IN AUSTRALIA.

FLASHBACK: RONALD RYAN – WAS HE THE LAST MAN HANGED

One media journalist asked Premier Bolte what he was doing at the time Ryan was hanged. It was reported that Bolte replied: “Oh, I don’t remember. I suppose I was having one of the three S’s – either a shave, a s—t or a shower.”

HARRY REKAS

Born in 1925, Ronald Ryan grew up in boys’ homes after being neglected by alcoholic parents and caught for minor theft. He slipped into petty crime; and 1964 was sentenced to 13 years jail at Melbourne’s Pentridge Prison for a series of robberies.

In Pentridge, he befriended inmate Peter Walker. Together, they trained for an escape the following year. On December 19, 1965, during the prison warders’ Christmas party, they scaled the prison’s inner wall and reached the guard’s walk, surprising Warder Helmut Lange.

Ryan saw a rife on the wall of the post and grabbed it. They had not intended to use firearms but Ryan realised that if he didn’t use it, Lange would.

TRIAL FOR MURDER

Another warder, George Hodson, came out from the party and went after the escapees, without sounding the alarm. When Ryan heard Walker call for help because Hodson had caught up to him, Ryan turned and a shot rang out. Hodson died almost instantly.

The two men completed their escape and were on the run for 19 days, during which time they also robbed a bank. But after a nation-wide manhunt, Ryan and Walker were re-captured in Sydney. They were then extradited to Melbourne and tried for murder.

During the trial it was revealed that another prison guard had fired at the escapees, and all parties agreed only one shot was heard. Ryan himself maintained that he had not fired the gun. But, despite ambiguous evidence and the fact that Ryan’s rife was never examined to determine if it had been discharged, the jury found Ryan guilty of murder.

He was given the death sentence which was not commuted to life; although, this had been the practice for the past 35 death penalty cases since 1951.

The campaign to commute Ryan’s sentence to life imprisonment was almost universal.

RYAN TO BE EXECUTED

On February 2, l966, the Sydney Morning Herald, said “ … when it (hanging) is violently opposed by at least half the community, when it more and more seems to be the decision of one man – and that man a politician, not a judge – then it is intolerable.

“We believe that the sentence on Ryan should be commuted and that no man should ever again be hanged in Australia.”

However, the Victorian premier, Henry Bolte, was determined that Ryan be executed, and would not be deterred by strong opposition from the general public, the media, and prominent politicians and clergy.

Pictures: The two of them. Ronald Ryan and wife, Dorothy, before his arrest and execution. How Ryan died. Evan Whitton -- one of 15 reporters present at Ryan hanging.


CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: RONALD RYAN IS HUDDLED TOGETHER WITH SENIOR DETECTIVES ON HIS WAY TO COURT.

THE HANGING OF RONALD RYAN – WAS HE INNOCENT, WAS HE GUILTY!

HARRY REKAS

The night before the hanging, more than 3000 people gathered outside Pentridge Prison in protest against the hanging. There were 200 police to manage the crowds. The protesters, many with placards, mainly remained peaceful, with the occasional loud calls to “Hang Bolte.”

Churches, universities, unions, and large numbers of the public and legal professions, opposed the death sentence. Most of the public were against the hanging due to no scientific evidence to prove guilt.

Ryan refused to take a sedative drug prior to being hanged, but had a nip of whiskey. For unknown reasons, Ryan was not permitted or given a chance to make a last verbal statement to the people who had gathered to witness his execution.

Ryan walked from the condemned call next to the gallows. The heavily disguised hangman wasted no time pulling the trapdoor lever. With a loud crash Ryan fell through the trapdoor to his death. Father Brosnan gave Ryan the Last Rites in accordance with the Catholic religion.

UNMARKED GRAVE

According to prison physician Dr Allen Bartholomew, Ryan’s heart continued to beat for some time, which left a troubling thought for Bartholomew: “He’s not dead – what do I do now? – he should be dead but his heart is still beating – what went wrong and how do I fix it? – he should be dead.”

A nation-wide three minute silence was observed at the exact time Ryan was hanging. There was quietness around Australia as if the world had stood still for three minutes. His body was later buried and covered with quicklime in an unmarked grave within the prison grounds.

It was prison ritual to pour bags of quicklime over an executed person as a final token of insult, abuse and humiliation to the criminal.

FACT: Before 1900, up to 80 people were hanged in Australia every year. But between 1910 and Ryan’s hanging in 1967, only 114 people were legally executed in Australia.

>> The Dura newspaper, issue 9, August, 2016. Author is Harry Rekas.

Pictures: The fugitive. Ronald Ryan – eyes vacant, lips clenched. 


ALL HAPPENING: THE CAT, I ASSUMED, IS VERY BEMUSED. THIS IS PART OF A COVER DESIGNED BY OSLO DAVIS.

BOOKTIQUE: LYNDA LA PLANTE’S TENNISON … STILL AT HOME WITH HER PARENTS!

FRANK MORRIS

Devotees of the Prime Suspect television series starring Helen Mirren be prepared! This book takes you back to DCI Jane Tennison when she was living at home with her parents.

In 1973, aged 22, Jane leaves the Metropolitan Police Training Academy to be placed on probationary exercise in Hackney where criminality thrives.

STEELY AMBITION

She had a struggle to cope in a male-dominated, chauvinistic environment cluster like the police force; but knew she would receive little help or sympathy from her superiors.

Jane does not have to wait long for first the murder to arrive. Her involvement demonstrated her trade-mark of steely ambition and formidable intelligence.

Her know-how quickly became apparent.

BOOKTIQUE: NORMAN OHLER’S BLITZED … STAND-UP THE REAL HITLER

Adapted by Frank Morris

Through research and probes into Hitler’s life, it becomes quite obvious he wasn’t the same one we buried. Through lethal cocktails of drugs and other of stimulants, Hitler changed. At least, that’s what an SBS documentary report said.

Against moral degeneracy, the Nazi were warriors. But in fact, the Third Reich was permeated with drugs: cocaine, heroin and morphine; but most of all, methamphetamines or crystal meth.

LETHAL COCKTAIL

These were used by everyone from factory workers to soldiers to housewives. In Blitzed, German journalist Norman Ohler argues that promiscuous use of drugs were at the very highest levels.

Ohler said it impaired and confused the Nazis’ decision-making by Hitler and his entourage. He argues that they had taken refuge in potentially lethal cocktail of stimulants, administered by the physician Dr Morall, as the war turned again Germany.

MARCH: BOOKTIQUE Newspaperman Bruce Postle viewed Australia as one man -- himself; The Story of the Australian People: Volume 2 by Geoffrey Blainey.


ALL TOGETHER: MAORIS IN NZ DON’T USUALLY LIVE TOGETHER. NOW, MOST MAORIS LIVE IN THE PAKEHA WAY, IN SEPARATE HOUSES THE GOVERNMENT BUILT FOR OUR FAMILIES.

HEY BOY! I THINK ‘PAKEHA’ MEANS EUROPEAN

There’s a lot of people in our street and a lot of things are happening all the time. Here’s one thing that will really surprise you: Maoris in NZ don’t usually all live together!

JANE HILL, BERNIE HILL      Adapted by Frank Morris

(Long) before the pakeha came here, and for a long while after that, Maori used to live together in tribes, in big pas. “Pa” is the Maori word for village. I know a few Maoris words, but only the old people in our street can speak Maori properly.

And I think ‘pakeha’ means European.

Anyway, in the old days, families and friends always stuck together; and the strong tribes used to spend a lot of their time fighting the other tribes. Now, most Maoris live in the pakeha way, in separate houses, and sometimes a long way from their relatives.

That’s why we’re so lucky in our street because we all live together.

CHURCH ON SUNDAY

The reason why we’re lucky: we all used to live in an old pa down by the sea. It wasn’t like a real Maori pa, because the houses were mostly wooden shacks with corrugated-iron roofs.

All the buildings in the pa were pretty old, and there weren’t any proper washhouses and bathroom in most of them. The church and the meeting-house were the two most important buildings; and we all went to church on Sundays; we had the meeting-house on other evenings.

I don’t remember the pa myself, because I was only one year old when the Government decided to build us a whole new street of houses on the hill above the pa. We all moved up there a few years ago, and the Government pulled down the whole pa, except for the church and cemetery.

They tidied up the land and sowed grass, and this is the park where we play. Everybody liked their new houses and felt proud of them. But they didn’t build fences and grow hedges around them like the pakehas do.

The only thing wrong with the street is that it’s a long way to the church; and we haven’t got a meeting-house any more.

>> Hey Boy by Jane and Bernie Hill; Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Picture: The two youngest: Ben and Andre are the babies of the family. They often try to help but that usually means that I have clean up the mess they make.


CHATTER: SPIDERS – PAINFUL BITE, VENOMOUS TO BOOT

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 09 February 17

The Wild Frontier! Buffalo Bill headed the greatest Wild West Show in the world

ACCORDING TO BUFFALO BILL: HE LEFT BEHIND A FESTERING WILD WEST FOR THE IMAGINARY WILD WEST PLAYED IN A GIANT THEATRE FILLED WITH SHARP-SHOOTING COWBOYS AND INDIANS. BUFFALO BILL WAS SUCCESSFUL UNTIL THE SHOW WENT BELLY UP.

Buffalo Bill paraded cowboys, Indians, rough-riders and sharp-shooters in the greatest show on earth!

EILEEN HELLICAR and FRANK MORRIS

Western writer Zane Grey actually stood face-to-face with gunslingers, gamblers and lawmen, passed on to him by men in the know. Grey hunted mountain lions with the Indians and outlaws with the Texas Rangers. He knew the good guys and the bad guys of the west.

He knew both sides and lived to tell about it.

Grey sought out men, real men, and what they could tell him about Wyatt Earp, Jesse James, Captain McNelly of the Texas Rangers, and General George Custer, left nothing to the imagination.

He would play poker with the worst Arizona Card sharks in the business. He would talk and walk with the dance-hall girls until their pretty lips would say, “I’ve told you everything”; and cowboys, who had looked into the cold, icy eyes of William Bonney – Billy the Kid – and prayed to God that their time had come; but William/Billy laughed and walked away.

He got the fair-dinkum facts about the most gruelling episodes in the history of the West, firsthand.

SHOWMAN, HUNTER

In among this lot of sharp-shooters was probably the greatest of them all, Buffalo Bill himself.

The nickname of ‘Buffalo Bill” was given to the American William Frederick Cody. Cody provided buffalo meat for the railway labourers of the Kansas Pacific Railway in 1876 to 78, and in the eighteen months he killed 4280 buffalos.

Cody, an army scout, showman and buffalo hunter, was born in Scott County, Iowa, in 1846. He had only about one year of schooling and when he was 11 he took his first job as a wagon messenger with a freight company.

After that he served on a wagon train and later took part in his first trapping expedition. When he was still only fourteen, he became a pony express rider and completed one of the longest rides in history, covering more than 320 miles at an average speed of 15 miles an hour.

During the American Civil War he scouted for the 9th Kansas Cavalry against the Indians; and later on, while serving in the 5th Cavalry, he killed Yellowhand, the Cheyenne Chief, single handed. He then began hunting buffalo to feed the railway builders.

WILD WEST SHOW WENT BROKE

For a while he went on the stage and starred in a revue called The Scouts of the Prairie, written by a friend, Ned Buntline.

In 1883, he gave up the stage to organise his own production, the Wild West Show, which become rapidly known as ‘Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show’. The show, which contained Indians, cowboys, rough-riders and sharp-shooters, was immensely successful; it toured extensively in American and Europe.

Eventually, the extravagant show got into financial difficulties and Cody combined it with ‘Pawnee Bill’s Great Far East Show’. In 1913 Cody lost his shares in the show and took to performing in other people’s productions, and writing Wild West novels.

He retained his zest for life and his riding skill until the end of his days. He died at Denver, Colorado, in 1917.

<< Adapted from Eileen Hellicar’s The Real McCoy, Cranbrook Press, Brisbane. Frank Morris article, Zane Grey Knew Them All, published in Grand Years in July, 2016.

COMING IN APRIL: Annie Oakley, the fastest woman rifle shot in the world, joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and became internationally famous.

Picture: Buffalo Bill the brave. Standing steadfast – he killed Yellowhand, the Cheyenne chief, single handed.


RALLY ROUND BIG TED: KEPT TIDY IN A PLASTIC PACK, BIG TED WILL STICK AROUND FOR YEARS TO COME.

BIG TED: A LOT HAPPENED ON A SATURDAY!

FRANK MORRIS

Graham Byrne, who donated Big Ted to ABC’s Play School 50 years ago, seems to have been winning at all corners recently. Everybody knows of Big Ted.

Those adults who watched the show with their children know who Big Ted is and the antics he got up too. Here’s an event which happened a few weeks ago. I’ll let Graham tell it:

“My local chemist, which is also part of the post office, has wonderful and energetic staff behind the counter. They presented me with a Big Ted Envelope as a gift.

IT MADE MY DAY

“They were thrilled with the news of the photo shoot with Big Ted at the ABC Play School Studio; and the shop was able to get a ‘limited’ number of the minted envelopes.”

‘They sold very quickly’, said the staff.’

“This made my day.”


GOSFORD GOS-TALGIA: THE NEW GOSFORD HOTEL IN MANN STREET IN 1928. PAMELA WILLIAMS AND JOHN LEWIS PUT IN OVER 16 YEARS OF WORK AND EFFORT BEHIND THE THREE-VOLUME REFERENCE BOOK, MANN STREET GOSFORD IN THE AGE OF STEAM – 1881-1960, WHICH DOCUMENTS THE FRAGMENTED PAST OF THE CITY’S MAIN THOROUGHFARE.

BOOKTIQUE: THE BOOKS ON GOSFORD, NSW, ARE NOT CONVENTIONAL HISTORY!

JOHN LEWIS, PAMELA WILLIAMS   Adapted by Frank Morris

This volume of three books, Mann Street Gosford in the Age of Steam, are not on conventional history. They have been researched and written with the aim of providing valuable information to investigate as well as finding some interesting history for all readers.

Specifically, the books are a history of Mann Street from 1881 to 1960. Pre-1881 material has been included; also a small amount of post-1960 that would be useful.

Starting with the original land grants, we moved forward through the necessary stages – such as conveyances, transfers, leases, subdivisions, subdivisions of subdivisions, Primary Applications, Deposit Plans, and so on) all the time adding the details of when and what was built.

A COUNTRY WALK

Up went a myriad of establishments: public buildings, public houses, public schools, hospitals, banks, shops of all types, professional offices and houses and public parks.

Every slice of this history was created by people. Thus, we have tried to identify as many as we could. The books aim to take the reader on a south to north walk down Mann Street and into some of the cross streets.

In July, the first three book were launched. They cover he area from the waterfront to Georgiana Terrace, both east and west sides, from Erina Street and Faunce Street east and the western side.

<< A set of all 3 of the volume reference book, Mann Street Gosford in the Age of Steam 1881-1960, will cost $55. All stock had been sold (November, 2017). They can be viewed or borrowed from the Gosford Library or branches.


BIG DAY: AFTER JOSEPH LYONS DEATH, ROBERT MENZIES BECAME PRIME MINISTER IN 1939. ONE OF HIS MAJOR TASKS WAS TO READ A MESSAGE TO ALL AUSTRALIANS IN A NATIONAL BROADCAST: “IT IS MY MELANCHOLY DUTY TO INFORM YOU OFFICIALLY THAT … AUSTRALIA IS ALSO AT WAR.”

THE PRIME MINISTERS: PART 1. ROBERT MENZIES – MONOLITH SERVES AS THE LONGEST PM

His father and two uncles, both conservative politicians, were both state and federal members.

Adapted by Frank Morris

Mr Robert Menzies declared that Australia was also at war. The Australian Prime Minister, in a live broadcast over the British Broadcasting Corporation at 10am (8pm Australia time), announced:

“At 9am today the British Ambassador to Berlin … informed the German Government that unless, not later that 11am summer time … satisfactory assurances reached London that the German Government has suspended all aggressive action against Poland and was prepared promptly to withdraw its forces from Polish territory, then a state of war would exist between Britain and Germany from that hour.”

War was declared by both Britain and France, with the co-operation of the Dominions, on the September 3, 1939.

“By 1941, conflict within his party and a loss of confidence in his ability as leader forced, Menzies to resign,” said the essay, The History of Australian Prime Ministers, in the The Australian.

Monolith Robert Gordon Menzies, lawyer and politician, was born in Jeparit, Victoria, on December 20, 1894. Menzies was the son of a Presbyterian storekeeper. His father and two uncles were conservative politicians in state and federal parliaments.

An outstanding student, he attended state schools in Jeparit and Ballarat. He won scholarships to Greville College, Ballarat, Wesley College, Melbourne, and Melbourne University; where he won numerous prizes and took a first-class law degree in 1916.

LYONS’ DEFECTION

Admitted to the Victorian Bar in 1918, Menzies became a prominent constitutional lawyer and became a KC at the relatively young age of 34. Entering the Victorian parliament as a Nationalist in 1928, he served as attorney-general, solicitor-general, minister for railways and deputy premier from 1932 to 1934.

He rapidly assumed a powerful position in conservative politics. With prominent stockbroker Staniforth Ricketson – they had neighbouring holiday houses at Mount Macedon, Victoria – he helped to mastermind Joseph Lyons’ defection from the Labor Party.

He summarily installed him as leader of the newly formed United Australia Party in 1931. With Lyons’ blessing Menzies moved to federal politics, winning the safe seat of Kooyong for the UAP at the 1934 election. He became attorney-general and minister for industry.

And, after Lyons’ death in April 1939, prime minister.

Despite attaining the highest political office in Australia, relations with party colleagues were often strained; and he was described as aloof and tactless. Party support for Menzies ceased to exist, and he resigned as prime minister in August 1941; and as UAP leader in October 1941.

Menzies, discredited and humiliated, later recalled that “it was the stroke of doom; everything was at an end.” He, however, defied all predictions and made a remarkable political comeback.

He softened his image and redefined his philosophy, notably by placing less emphasis on big business and labour and more vigour on home values; he pledged to represent the ‘forgotten people’, the tax-paying middle-class of families.

TICKETS ON HIMSELF

“When I was a boy,” says Prime Minister Robert Menzies, “there was a distinctly colonial flavour To Australia. Now we are developing an outlook peculiar to Australia. We are becoming more significant.”

In 1944 he co-founded a new conservative party, the Liberal Party, which he then led to a landslide victory in 1949. In coalition with the Country Party, he presided over a period of social change and economic stability.
It was a period of low inflation and high employment, and this was enjoyed throughout the developed world.
“Nobody wants tickets on himself,” says the Prime Minister.

<< The Prime Minister: Robert Menzies, the monolith; Monash Biographical Dictionary; Frank Morris.

NEXT MONTH: FINAL! Menzies rode on the sheep’s back. But the country was heading into darker times with the advancement of technology.

Pictures: We’re at war. Britain Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain: “I cannot believe that anything more, anything different, could be done.” Legal foresight. Robert Menzies.   


CHATTER! SPIDERS – THERE’RE DEADLY AND DANGEROUS

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 02 February 17

Computer Milestones! Part 1. The digital age and the development of the computer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INFALLIBLE: THIS IS WHY CHARLES BABBAGE IS RECOGNISED AS THE FATHER OF THE MODERN COMPUTER. THE CALCULATING MACHINE WAS DESIGNED BY CHARLES BABBAGE BUT BUILT BY HIS SON AND A FIRM OF ENGINEERS. IT IS CAPABLE OF PERFORMING THE FOUR ARITHMETICAL OPERATIONS.

From 1801, through the intervening years, we cover the amazing birth of the computer.

FRANK MORRIS*

In 1801, the Frenchman Joseph Marie Charles, a weaver and merchant, may have been the person to come up with world’s first programmable device used in the compilation of the computer. Often referred to as “Jacquard” loom, his sequence of the punched cards defined the pattern to be finally woven by the machine.

Between 1822 and 1870, eccentric Englishman Charles Babbage came to the scene. Babbage, father of the modern computer, loved to play with mathematics; and his articles on abstruse mathematical subjects made him a man of mark in the higher circles of learning.

A calculating machine was designed by Babbage but built by his son and a firm of engineers. This machine was capable of performing the four arithmetical operations. But Babbage’s real triumph did not come until 1943.

“Seventy-two years after his death, when Harvard University switched on the Mark 1 digital computer, ancestor of the thousands of electronic computers whose transistors and punched cards are revolutionising the world,” a newspaper writer said.

Countess of Lovelace, Ada Byron, in 1843, translated an Italian paper on Babbage’s Engines. Writing with such clarity and insight that her work became the premier text.

It explains how the process, now known as computer programming, works. Babbage called her his Enchantress of Numbers.

HAD NO MEMORY

In 1890, punched card equipment was developed for the US census by Herman Holerith. This led to the formation of IBM and a UK spin-off which eventually led to ICL.

1913, New Zealander George Julius, two years before the start of the war, invented the Automatic Totalisator. This is a complex electro-mechanical calculator which was the earliest on-line, real-time, data processing and computation system.

In 1929, he was knighted. Fourteen years on, in the midst of the Second War World, the UK contender for the first computer makes its presence felt. But an important aspect was missing: it had no memory.

It was Bletchley Park’s “Colossus” machine designed to break the WW2 German Lorenz cipher code and it was programed with switches, cables and other what nots. But it was missing the important adjunct for a computer: memory. 

The “Colossus” was designed by Alan Turing.

A “COMPUTER BUG”

In 1945, American Vannevar Bush, recognised by many in the industry as the ‘father of hypertext’, wrote a ground-breaking article in which he described a device called a memex. He said it “was something” sought to extend human memory by organising information by association.

Although never built, the concepts underlying it inspired many later visionaries.

The same year, Grace Hopper coined the term “computer bug”. Hopper later explain that a moth became stuck in a relay of the Harvard Mk11 computer in the United States.

Mathematician John von Neumann in 1945 theorised the architecture of a practical computer. Von Neumann set about identifying the key components of arithmetic logic, memory, control unit, and interface with the human operator.

His architecture provided the foundation for future computing development.

Another contender for the first computer was the US Army’s ENIAC in 1946. ENIAC was a huge high-speed calculator programmed with cables and switches which was modified in 1948 to add memory and therefore giving it full computer status.

In 1948, the first ‘modern’ computer was the Small Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM -- also known as Baby) valve computer, built by Freddie Williams and Tom Kilburn at the University of Manchester, UK.

<< The Australian, 2001. A feature by ACS.

*Frank Morris has change the rotation of the events into straight editorial. Also, he has added words to each event.

FEBRUARY Part 2 – The development of the computer in the years 1950 to 1964

Pictures: Loom boon. Did Joseph Charles make the first compilation of a computer? New Life. Charles Babbage, the father of the modern computer.


THE START OF JANUARY-FEBRUARY! Computer Milestones continues through the years until Australia’s first mini-computer was delivered to the University of NSW IN 1964 … The Prime Ministers: Robert Menzies, his life and career … The Wild Frontiers brings together some of the wild west’s zaniest characters … I SEE RYAN HANG – Ron Saw left prison and entered into the history of Australia journalism … Lord Howe Island – The palms are a real boon … On This Day – Nellie Bly, journalism and her rapid trip around the world … Hey Boy! We’re coming too … The Great War – Man of the donkey plus other yarns. APRIL – Sherlock Holmes: the man who never was! Special 5-part series. Frank Morris.

Picture: The Wild Bunch. These are some of the West’s wildest and most dangerous charterers -- Billy the Kid (picture), Jesse James and Geronimo.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A MUG FULL OF CATS: FOR THE LIFE OF ME I COULD NOT NAME THE CAT BUT I REMEMBER HIM. HE WAS ON THE TIP OF MY TONGUE.

GUESS WHAT HAPPENED WHEN MY WIFE CAME HOME FROM SHOPPING?

FRANK MORRIS

“I have something for you,” said my wife. For a while, though, it looked like a treasure-trove of rare coins. We laughed.  I looked at the tightly wrapped paper for sometime. “What is it,” I lamely asked. “Open it,” she replied. I did, I couldn’t wait.

The parcel was in newspaper wrapping (newspaper wrapping!) so I looked at her. She laughed. I got down to the last sheet and there it was – a gleaming and colourful big mug full of cats.

I inspected all the felines. They were doing their darndest things to be clever. Well, they were drawn to be clever, smart and tactile. I was a cat lover. Cats and dogs, they were my favourites. I turned to the last cat and it reminded me … of … of … GARFIELD.

‘GET RICH’

I turned and said “thank you, thank you” until echoes of my voice trailed outside to the kitchen and faded away. Garfield, the fun-loving super cat.

The idea just hit me. I’m going to do a ‘get rich’ story about Garfield and how he spent his 10th birthday in the land of cartoonville.

The year was 1988. Below, I wrote this to commemorate his 10th year.

Picture: Out of the blue. Garfield, the super-rich cat from cartoonville.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OH, YES IT IS! GARFIELD LIVES ON.

CHATTER! 1988 – A BIG YEAR FOR GARFIELD, THE PASTA-LOVING PUSSY CAT!

FRANK MORRIS

Mega rich cartoonist Jim Davis, the creator of the pasta-loving pussy cat called Garfield, will spend a few days in Australia to celebrate his meal ticket’s 10th birthday.

There is, however, some conjecture over the portly puddy’s actual age. Is he ten or really 12?

Although Garfield made his debut in 41 newspapers in June, 1978 – so mathematically speaking, that makes him ten – Davis actually created the famous feline in 1975 but kept him on ice for twelve months. Then, when he decided to unleash his creation, Davis received more rejection slips over the next twelve months than cats have breakfasts.

FLASH IN THE PAN

Today it is hard to believe the cat that everybody loves to ‘love’, almost became a flash in the pan!

Since he has become a razzamatazz car-windscreen decoration in Australia, hardly anyone is unacquainted with the overweight, cynical, orange-coloured Garfield.

Apart from the fact that $80 million of these Garfield soft toys with suction feet have been sold world-wide, Davis’ charge has more than 4500 licenced products sold with his name up big -- everything from beach thongs, wall posters, coffee mugs, toys and underwear – and appears in comic-strip form in 1700 newspapers in some 20 languages.

<< This Garfield story was syndicated.

Picture: Ruling the rich. From 1975 onwards, Garfield -- overweight, cynical and orange-coloured -- is the ‘richest’ cat in all history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRONZE AUSSIE: AUSTRALIAN AUTHOR MILES FRANKLIN’S STATUE IN HURSTVILLE, NSW, ONLY A STONES THROW FROM WHERE SHE SPENT THE END OF HER LIFE. THE SCULPTOR, JACEK LUSZCZYK, WHO CREATED A STATUE OF THE FAMOUS WRITER, IS ASKING THAT IT BE RECAST IN BRONZE TO PRESERVE IT FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS. LUSZCZYK, A POLE, MADE THE STATUE AFTER HE VIEWED THE FILM MY BRILLIANT CAREER, BASED ON HER BOOK. BELOW, FRANK MORRIS HAS A BRIEF GLIMPSE OF MILES AND THE HOUSE AT CARLTON.

AUTHORS: MILES FRANKLIN SAYS HER MODEST HOME IS “MY SHABBY OLD HUMPY”

“I arose from bed with a fixed determination to write a book. Nothing less than a book,” said Miles Franklin. The book was My Brilliant Career.

FRANK MORRIS

About three, maybe four times a years I visit the small cottage in Carlton, NSW, where Miles Franklin, a literary icon, lived out her days.

Wambool, as the cottage was called, was a modest dwelling built of weatherboard, which she sometimes referred to as “my shabby old humpy.” It is still there!

A FIXED DETERMINATION

In 1931, when her father died, Franklin decided to live with her mother. She had spent many years abroad living an independent life and writing, she thought the change would do them both the world of good.

At 16, she published My Brilliant Career, hailed as “the first Australian novel”.

Miles Franklin, feminist, author and social reformer, died in a nursing home in 1954. She was 74.

COMING: The Power of the Book -- Miles Franklin, Henry Lawson and other people who jockeyed around My Brilliant Career.

Picture: Living the good life. Good they were, but she never forgot the excitement of writing My Brilliant Career.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEMORIES: DAVE SANDS SHAPES UP. THIS PICTURE WAS TAKEN THE SAME YEAR AS HIS FATAL TRUCK ACCIDENT IN 1952.

CLASSIC REPEATS: FLASHBACK! DAVE SANDS – HE WAS ROBBED OF THE TITLE

“There was something almost spiritual in the desire to return,” said Tony Stephens.

TONY STEPHENS

Alice would clasp us to her bosom at Newcastle station (NSW) and take us on the ferry across the grey mouth of the Hunter to Stockton, a little adventure in itself. We would leap giddily from the ferry into Mitchell Street, past the old Royal Hotel and the Seagull milk bar to Wilson’s Store.

Dave Sands, the great boxer, owned the store. Sands might be there. How good was Dave Sands?

Sands lived just up Dunbar Street with his wife, Bessie, in a white weatherboard house with a gymnasium shed at the back. We would watch Dave and his boxing

brothers train on the beach. A promoter invented a story that their father was Puerto Rican to make the family sound more interesting.

But the Sands were Aboriginal Australians. The lie was a sign of the times in White Australia.

HE WAS ROBBED

Dave, a quite soul, sewed dresses for his daughter and shorts for his son. After a victory at Sydney Stadium, party guests drank beer and what they called champagne; but it was probably Sparkling Rhinegold.


Someone found the hero at Central Station, sitting on his suitcase, eating a meat pie, and waiting for a mail train to take him home in the early hours. His manager had given him ten pounds.

The British Empire middleweight champion, Sands was ranked No. 2 for “Raging Bull” Jake LaMotta’s world title, behind Sugar Ray Robinson. He beat Carl “Bobo” Olson twice. Robinson won the title. When Olson took it after Robinson’s retirement, he said: “This title should have belonged to Dave Sands.”

We had wept when Sands died in a road crash in 1952.

When a school teacher pointed out that we shed no tears over the death of King George VI, I mumbled something about Dave (Sands) being one of us.

[Adapted from the Sydney Morning Herald, January 6, 2012. Tony Stephens worked on the Daily Mirror then for Fairfax.]

<< Adapted by Frank Morris from the Sydney Morning Herald, January 6, 2012. Tony worked on the Daily Mirror and Fairfax newspapers.

Picture: Short life. Dave Sands died on his wedding anniversary when the truck he was driving overturned. The accident was in 1952. He was 26 years old.


IT’S CABBIE! HAVE A LAUGH ON US!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR! IF YOU DON’T THROW A COIN IN THE FOUNTAIN YOU’LL MISS OUT ON SOMETHING!

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 27 January 17

Classic Repeats! Les Dixon said laughter is what makes the world go round

STANDING TALL: THE THREE MEN WHO NEED NO INTRODUCTION TO THE COMIC-READING PUBLIC – LES DIXON (BLUEY & CURLEY), ERIC JOLLIFFE AND JIM RUSSELL, THE POTTS, WHICH RAN FOR 62 YEARS AND IS CONSIDERED THE WORLD’S LONGEST RUNNING CARTOON.

He drew the Bluey and Curley strip longer that anyone!

FRANK MORRIS

He got the 1994 Stanley Award for hard work. “It’s the only bloody thing on the mantel piece,” Les Dixon said. Dixon laughs. “I thought it would go to somebody younger.” Dixon went on:

“Times change, there are a lot of younger cartoonists coming on and the awards are made mainly by your peers,” said Les. “But it gave the old frame a kick.”

Les Dixon won his award at the same time the Australian Back and White Artists were celebrating the club’s 70th anniversary.

Seventeen contenders were vying for the award and Les’s win gained a standing ovation. The loudest applause of the night rang out. “I leave you with this thought. Everyone of you could win this award. All you have to do is work hard enough … and long enough.”

Les says “I couldn’t see a thing under the strong spotlight. How do I get my ideas?”

SMITH’S WEEKLY COMES TO THE FORE

At this juncture, I am told a very funny and delightful ‘self parody’ involving Dixon and Smith’s Weekly toilets, and to top it all, being observed by a plumber in the ceiling.

“So, you see, you don’t have to leave the building … the jokes comes to you!”

Les told how he sold his first drawing to The Bulletin in 1939. And afterwards he did freelance work for a number of established journals. “I eventually got a position as cartoonist with Smith’s Weekly and remained until it folded in 1950.”

In working from Sydney for the Brisbane Courier, he came into contact with Bluey and Curley. Continued Les: “In late 1955, the strips creator Alex Gurney died and the drawing was taken on by colleague Norm Rice. I took over the strip in 1957 and drew Bluey and Curley for twenty years, until 1975.

“It was a longer period than anyone.”

SUPPLIED SYNDICATED STRIPS

Recalled Les: “At first, I couldn’t get into my stride. Yet I had to maintain the character. I gradually came around but Norm should have taken half the time.”

When Les had retired at 65 he supplied some syndicated strip “for the seniors” – Retirement Village and Sandy Lakes, which appeared in the Wyong Shire Advocate for 13 years, until 1989.

I want to get us seniors to laugh at ourselves. I’m very conscious of the fact that the work you do has to be appreciated by others.

“As long as people can get a smile out of what you do, as long as your health and sense of fun stays with you, you can carry on.”

As a parting phrase, Dixon said: “Laughter is the best medicine of the lot – I think that’s true.”

Les Dixon was not looking ninety-two when he passed away in 2002.

Picture: The three of them. Les Dixon (far right) drew Bluey & Curley for 20 years. Return. Dixon brought out Bluey & Curley some years later to partner Sandy Lakes in a humorous strip.


GRANVILLE RAILWAY TRAGEDY STOP A CITY

CRASH THROUGH: THIS WEEK, THE 40TH ANNIVERARY OF THE GRANVILLE RAILWAY DISASTER HIT HOME. AT 6.09 AM ON JANUARY 18, 1977, A TRAIN HEADED FROM THE BLUE MOUNTAINS, TRAVELLING TO SYDNEY WITH COMMUTERS ABOARD, STRUCK THE OVERHEAD ROAD BRIDGE WHICH CAME CRASHING DOWN ON THE TRAIN. IT WAS THE WORST RAIL ACCIDENT IN AUSTRALIAN HISTORY. THE MOST ADVANCED  EMERGERCY TEAMS WERE ON THE JOB. “THE LIVING WERE GREETED WITH HOPE, THE DEAD WERE PASSED QUIETLY, COVERED IN BLANKETS,” REPORTED A MORNING NEWSPAPER.


AGAINST THE WIND: SUPERMAN AND LOIS LANE (MARGOT KIDDER) GO FOR A SPINE-TINGLING RIDE INTO THE HEAVENS.

CLASSIC REPEATS! CHRISTOPHER REEVE – HE WAS THE STAR IN THE $30 MILLION SUPERMAN MOVIE!

Totally inept, Clark Kent was totally blind when it comes to the moment of danger.

FRANK MORRIS

“Do it big, but do it right”…that was the only way to create the greatest “super movie” of all time, according to father and son film team, Alexander and Ilya Salkind.

Their brain-child, the star-studded “Superman the Movie,” which was to eventually cost a staggering $30 million to complete, was conceived at a sidewalk café in Paris with a close family friend, Pierre Spengler.

The Salkinds’ and Spengler agreed that unless their project had a remarkable starring cast, spectacular and special effects and a challenge worthy of Superman, it was not worth attempting.

So the theme of the project became “do it big, but do it right.” The fact that it would need money – and heaps of it – didn’t phase the producers. A potential audience of several billion Superman enthusiasts bolstered their sense of financial security.

When Sulkinds’ had decided it was full steam ahead, no matter what the costs, they were now faced with a deeper, subtler challenge: Who was going to play the part of Superman?

“As most of the civilised world knows, Superman was born on the planet Krypton and dispatched to earth through a time warp before the planet exploded,” explains Ilya Sulkind.

“Disguised as Clark Kent…he is meek, mild-mannered and totally inept in moments of danger.

“This as we realise, is totally opposite of Superman, who can fly, vault skyscrapers, out-muscle locomotives…and shrug off grenades, all of which he does in a never-ending battle against crime.

REDFORD BOWS OUT

“We had to avoid the trap which so many movies, inspired by comic strips, have fallen into – parody and outright ‘camp’,” the film’s director, Richard Donner, said.

“The movie is a comedy, a love story, an adventure and its own thing. But it is not a send up.”

The credibility, the creators agreed, had to begin with the actor who would play the Superman/Clark Kent role.

“The first temptation,” admits Ilya Sulkinds, “was to go with the biggest star name we could find. We approached or were approached by just about every leading actor in Hollywood. At one point, we almost cast Robert Redford.

“He’s a superb actor, but I’m grateful now that he turned us down. As he soared over the city of Metropolis, you would never have been able to forget his star personality. It would always have been Redford up there, not superman.

After two years of speculation and rumour, a 24-year old “unknown” actor, auditioning for a television commercial in New York, was telephoned by Ilya Salkind to fly to England and test for Superman. His name is Christopher Reeve.

During the drive back from Heathrow airport, the studio chauffeur casually told Reeve: “In case you don’t know it yet…you’re Superman.”

A COVETED ROLE

How the driver knew remains a mystery – but two weeks later the news was confirmed. Reeve was screen-tested at Shepperton Studios on the outskirts of London, one of the two major studios where “Superman the Movie” was to be filmed.

At one point, they (Ilya Sulkind and Richard Donner) gave me a pair of glasses and asked me to try them on. They exchanged glances, and I knew I’d passed some sort of preliminary hurdle,” Reeve said.

“I look at (screen) tests as a work session rather than an audition. I go in thoroughly prepared because that’s a big step toward having confidence.”

Two weeks after he arrived in London, Reeve had “officially” scored one of the film industry’s most coveted roles.

When the studio announced that Reeve was to play superman, the press labelled him with words like “newcomer” and “unknown.”

But neither was accurate. At 24, Reeve was already a seasoned actor with more than 10 years experience behind him.

He had played the leading role in the popular day-time television series “Love of Life” for several seasons (“A young man you love to hate”) and co-starred on Broadway opposite Katherine Hepburn in the play “A Matter of Gravity.”

FRANK MORRIS COMMENTS: ‘SUPERMAN’ WAS THROWN FROM HIS HORSE

Since 1978 Reeve starred in four Superman movies, all of which are on video. In 1995, he became a quadriplegic after being thrown from his horse in Culpeper, Virginia. He required a wheelchair and breathing apparatus for the rest of his life. He lobbied on behalf of people with spinal cord injuries. Reeve founded the Christopher Reeve Foundation, and co-found the Reeve-Irvine Research Centre. Reeve died from cardiac arrest in October, 2004, at 52.

Pictures: In disguise: Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent. In toe is Margot Kidder as Lois Lane. Double. Christopher Reeve -- He was tall and built like a Superman.                                                                 


CABBIE – BY JOHN O’NEAL: HAVE A LAUGH ON US!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! THROW A COIN IN THE NEAREST FOUNTAIN AND WAIT FOR THE SURPRISE!

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 20 January 17

Classic Repeats! Short Story: Bruno and Alice – One Woman’s Poison!

IN EACH OTHERS COMPANY: WHEN HE SAID “MY NAME IS BRUNO” I FELL IN LOVE WITH HIM.

This man was no stranger. We often shared a bench to together.

Adapted by Frank Morris

As a rule of thumb, if you’re attracted to a man and want him to take an interest in you, then I suggest you should try not to poison his descendants.

I learned that lesson last summer. A gentleman who lived in the neighbourhood strolled by my apartment building with his two great grandchildren in tow. This man was no stranger. We had often shared a bench down at the statue-garden, but had never spoken.

In fact, the last time I had seen him I asked after his health and was brushed off like I had asked for spare change.

But here he was in front of my ground-floor apartment with two beautiful little grandkids, and I thought I’d take another shot at showing him that I was interested. I waved hello and asked him if the toddlers might like a cool drink.

SIMILAR TALENTS

He accepted and ambled across, introducing himself at last. “My name is Bruno.”

I sat the little ones at the kitchen table with some juice. And, as they were drinking, Bruno wandered into the living room. He was impressed by my wall of bookcases -- nobody reads anymore – and, before long, we were pulling out one volume after another.

We spoke about various things like literature, art and music. We had many similar interests.

Suddenly, Bruno was struck by the silence in the kitchen. He got up from his lounge chair and ducked out around the corner to make sure the kiddies were okay.

IT WAS AWFUL

I pursued him. The youngest child was standing before the open cupboard under the sink with a bottle of squirt liquid close to her lips.

It was awful. The child was unharmed, but could easily have been in real danger. I felt terrible, and sputtered something about being older and having to keep all the cleaning supplies within easy reach.

It had never occurred to me, at 70 years of age, to childproof my own home!

Nothing terrible had happened, but the incident was awkward and embarrassing. When he left with the children, I was sure I would never see him again …

<< Canadian Health Service.

Picture: Together. They enjoy the company of each other.

February: Short Story! Bruno and Alice -- Dating takes a lot of courage as Bruno was soon to find out!


THE REAL McCOY: THE KID WAS A COLOURFUL BOXER AND SUCCESSFUL TOO. BUT THIS FORAY INTO THE INSANE, SOON LEAD THE KID INTO DEEP WATER.

CLASSIC REPEATS! “KID” McCOY, IRISH BOXER – HIS LIFE WAS A VERY COLOURFUL ONE

But, what is his real name.

Adapted by Frank Morris

You’ve heard of the Real McCoy. He was behind the familiar names – the person who made the name famous. The real McCoy, who gave his name to the expression, was Norman Selby. Selby, a boxer, was born in Rush County, Indiana, October 13, 1873. His boxing career began in 1891 as well as a name-change to Charles “Kid” McCoy.

In his belief, to be a success as a boxer, it was better to be Irish; and Irish boxers were very popular at that time in the US.

In March 1896, McCoy won the world welterweight championship when he beat Irishman, Tommy Ryan. He continued as a successful boxer. He then competed for the middleweight title, then light-heavyweight then, finally, as a heavyweight.

At the height of his success, a middleweight named Al McCoy appeared on the scene. From then on, Kid McCoy was billed as the Real McCoy to distinguish him from the lesser fighters.

The expression ‘real McCoy’ had been used before Kid McCoy came across it. It originated as Real ‘Mc Kay’, in Scotland, where it was applied to first class whisky. In was launched in America where the name became the Real McCoy.

HE WAS SENTENCED

Kid McCoy’s life was a very colourful one. He travelled widely and introduced boxing into Africa and many parts of Europe. Apart from being a boxer he was also a film star. He had eight wives; one of the eight he divorced and remarried.

Some years before his ninth trot to the altar, he proposed to his mistress. And when she declined his offer, he shot her dead. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for manslaughter, having eluded a murder charge by pleading insanity due to boxing injuries.

He was released in 1932. Soon after being set free he married his final wife. On the April 18, 1940, he committed suicide.

[Adapted from The Real McCoy: People behind the name you thought were fiction; Elieen Hellicar.]

<< The Real McCoy: People behind the names you thought were fiction; by Elieen Hellicar; 1983.

Picture: Headliner. Over the years McCoy had married eight women. He proposed to his mistress, she refused. He shot her dead.


CABBIE – BY JOHN O’NEAL. HAVE A LAUGH ON US!

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYBODY! MAY EVERYONE ENJOY EACH OTHERS COMPANY!

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 13 January 17

Classic Repeats! Roy Rene, Roy “Mo” Rene, Roy McCackie …

THE THREE FUNNYMEN: LEADING TRIO OF SHOW BUSINESS – ROY RENE, JACK DAVEY, BROADCASTER, AND HAL LASHWOOD.

Mo’s family always came first. He was happy when he was with family and on stage.

FRANK MORRIS

“Roy had a love-hate relationship with the audience,” Sam Van-der Sluice, son of the ever-great Roy Rene McCackie. He could love them and yet hate them. I remember he used to say when he got his first “belly” laugh, ‘I’ve got ‘em, I’ve got ‘em pal!’

“And he would get them too!,” said Sam. “Dad got most of the laughs.” The humour of Mo could be deadly and dangerous. Take “You dirty mug!” for instance. You didn’t know when he was having you on or being deadly serious.

Strike me lucky, you dirty mug! – it was the familiar sound-piece that Mo used mostly in the show.

Here’s a clip:

COLONEL:
Men, when the sun is on high at midday, 30,000 Swahili warriors will come swarming over the fortress wall armed with spears and clubs. But we fight them to the last man, we will fight them to the last drop of blood! Any questions?

Private MO:
Yes … Can I have the afternoon off?

LASHWOOD:
McCackie … why are you late?

MO:
I ran over a silent cop on the corner of Market and Pitt Street.

LASHWOOD:
There is no silent cop on the corner a Market and Pitt Street.

MO:
There is now!

PHILLIP:
I saw you outside the Hotel Australia.

AUBREY (MO):
That where I’m staying.

PHILLIP:
At the Australia.

AUBREY (MO):
No … outside.
PHILLIP:
You don’t tell me.

AUBREY (MO):
I just told you.

SPENCER THE GARBAGE MAN:
Do you like the perfume of my new after shave?

MO:
It’s lovely Spencer … but you’re still coming through!

AMY ROCHELLE:
Oh, Moey. We could go to the ball as “Beauty and the Beast”.

MO:
Oh, lovely. But you don’t look anything like a beast!

Pictures: Painted icon. The Nimrod Theatre poster … drawn by Martin Sharpe in 1978.


THE EMBRACE: CLEOPATRA, ELIZABETH TAYLOR, AND CO-STAR, RICHARD BURTON, STARTED THEIR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP THAT ENDED UP IN SO MUCH BALLYHOO AND CURIOSITY.

CLASSIC REPEATS! ELIZABETH TAYLOR COULD SWOON THE LEGS OFF AN ARM CHAIR  

Her personal life was tumultuous almost from the start.

Adapted by Frank Morris

Elizabeth Taylor, perhaps as well known for her off-screen romances, marriages and divorces as she is for her acting talent and beauty, has died.She was 79. Miss Taylor died on at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre, Los Angeles 2011.

She was born in 1932 in London of American parents who returned to the United States in 1939 and settled in Los Angeles.

Enchantingly beautiful at age 10, Taylor made her screen debut in 1942 in There’s One Born Every Minute.

Here Miss Taylor signed on with MGM, she had a successful period when she made a number of films as a child star and then continued on through the 60s in numerous dramatic roles.

Her personal life was tumultuous almost from the start. She married hotel heir Nick Hilton at the age of 17 and divorced him a few months later.

In 1952, actor Michael Wilding became her second husband. They parted in 1957, and she then married film producer Michael Todd.

TWO OSCARS

Taylor’s relationship with Todd was probably the most significant in her life. Todd, however, died in the crash of his private plane in 1958.

A year later, Taylor married singer Eddie Fisher, only to divorce him in 1964, when she fell in love with Richard Burton during the filming of Cleopatra.

Her relationship with Burton was the subject of considerable publicity throughout the 60s and 70s.

Taylor won two Oscars: for Butterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? made in 1960and 1966.

“Good Lord, the reputations we had, I mean I was a bestial wife stealer and Elizabeth was a scheming home breaker,” said Richard Burton.

“You’d think we were out to destroy Western civilisation or something about his celebrated love affair with Elizabeth Taylor during the shooting of Cleopatra.”

KEPT AUDIENCES INTERESTED

Public interest in the private life of Burton and Taylor made them into the highest paid couple in the movies, averaging a million dollars per picture.

The publicity which accompanied their cycle of marriage, divorce, remarriage, and redivorce, kept audiences interested in seeing them together on the screen in the eleven, somewhat variable, films they made together.
Burton earned his money by walking through his roles with a hangdog expression on his handsome, rather debauched features, while his wife looked glamorous.

People felt they were getting an insight into their actual relationship while watching the pair duel raucously as a disenchanted married couple in Virginia Woolf?

After a divorce, remarriage and a divorce from Burton she married US Senator John Warner. This seventh marriage failed in 1981, when the couple separated.

Among her other notable films a National Velvet (1944), A Place in the Sun (1951), Giant (1956) and Taming of the Shrew (1967).

<< Words by Jay A. Brown, Ronald Bergan and Frank Morris.

Pictures: The manipulator. As a young actress, Elizabeth Taylor certainly learned all the ropes.


CABBIE – BY JOHN O’NEAL: HAVE A LAUGH ON US!                               

(John’s real name is Neal – John Neal. Many years ago, he used the devil’s “6” to form the “O”. He used “the devil’s influence” right through the Cabbie series, but nothing much seemed to happen.)

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYBODY! MAY YOUR NEW YEAR BE PACKED WITH GOODNESS.

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 06 January 17

Classic Repeats! Too big, too strong – Johnson wins world ‘title’ fight in the 14th round!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE BOUT: ON DECEMBER 30, 1908 -- THIS IS THE FIGHT WHICH ATTRACTED WORLD ATTENTION. THE OPPONENTS WERE CHALLENGER JACK JOHNSON AND TOMMY BURNS, GAVE PATRONS THEIR FIRST AND ONLY LIVE VIEW OF TWO MORTALS FIGHTING FOR A WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP.

Described by The Star newspaper as “the greatest struggle for racial supremacy!”

FRANK MORRIS

On Boxing Day, 1908, it was a big day!

More than sixty thousand spectators converged on Rushcutters Bay Stadium, Sydney, for a brawl between two of the smartest in the business – Jack Johnson, “America’s premier coloured boxer and Champion Tommy Burns.

At stake, was the heavyweight championship of the world? Reporting on the famous event was the celebrated American author, Jack London.

ROUND 1 – JOHNSON REACED BURNS’ HEAD WITH A FLURRY OF PUNCHES

When the gong had sounded the men were at it in a second. Johnson coming up to his man, saying, “All right Tommy.” Johnson suddenly lunged forward and reached his opponent’s body, but the blow was only light … Both men brought their hands to the body; and Johnson reaching Burns for a sharp uppercut; Burns toppled over. The champion was down for eight seconds … he signalled that everything was all right … Though there was a flurry of punches from both fighters … The men were locked together … Burns was finding the body with the left hook, while Johnson brought his right hand down to Burns’ kidneys … Johnson brought a beautifully timed right to the head, staggering Burns temporarily. Up to this time, Johnson was getting decidedly the better of the fight … Johnson worked his man over to the side of the ring and charged with a right lead to the head; but Burns had no difficulty in getting under … Burns was boxing superbly … just as the gong sounded, Johnson reached Burns’ head with a stinging rush (of punches).

ROUND 5 – BURNS WEST DOWN … BUT WAS UP AGAIN!

At the end of round four, Johnson let a straight left go which Burns dodged. Johnson walked up quietly and he said: “Come right for a couple of seconds” then let loose with his right, reaching Burns under the chin. The champion’s ankle gave away and Burns went down; but he was immediately up again. Johnson placed right and left punches repeatedly to Burns’ head … and his left eye started to swell. Johnson was having the best of the round. Burns was receiving heavy punishment by Johnson but Burns was dancing around. Johnson, however, was surveying him coolly … After several seconds Burns remarked to Johnson: “Are you going to fight, you cur?” Johnson suddenly moved forward and swung a terrific left jab, which found its way to Burns’ stomach … The champion still kept to his work but he was doing very little scoring. His mouth was bleeding … Johnson brought his right jab up, catching Burns under the chin. The gong sounded.

ROUND 7 – JOHNSON SWUNG HIS RIGHT ACROSS BURNS’ HEAD; THE EYE DREW BLOOD

At the end of round six, Johnson bustled Burns into his corner … a terrific left jab just missed
the champion’s chin. The gong sounded. After a few seconds the fighters circled each other; Burns commenced the attack … but Johnson cut around and got both hands severely on his ribs and body … and let in some unmerciful blows … slinging his right across Burns’ head. Burns’ right eye drew blood … Johnson was scoring freely with both hands. It seems at this point Burns was tiring. Then, Johnson turned to the crowd and said: “I thought Tommy was an in-fighter.” … But only a few seconds remained … Johnson took matters very quietly when the opportunity presented itself. The coloured man swung his left on to Burns’ ribs, dropping him. Burns remained down for a few seconds … when the gong sounded.

ROUND 14 – BURNS BUCKLED AND FELL TO THE CANVAS

At the end of round 13, Burns was attacking his opponent’s head. Johnson used both left and right on the face and drew blood from Burns’ eye. In the opening of the 14th round, the last of the fight, the left side of Burns’ face was badly swollen. They sparred and clinched for a few seconds. In the breakaway Johnson sent his right viciously to the jaw. Burns saw it coming, and was quickly out of reach … They stood out again and Johnson looped his left to Burns’ body … and a good right to the ribs. Johnson, who had a big advantage in reach, swung his right and got Burns square on the jaw. The champion buckled and fell to the canvas, where he remained for eight seconds. When he rose … Johnson swung his left which caught Burns on the forehead. Mr McIntosh, the referee, declared Johnson the winner.

Here’s what was said after the fight:

Jack Johnson, at ringside, said “I never had any doubt; I knew I was too good for him. Why, I have forgotten more than he ever learned.”

Tommy Burns, before leaving the ring, said “I did my best; I fought hard but Johnson was too big. His reach was too much for me … that’s all I have to say.”

Mrs Jack London, wife of the celebrated Jack London, was the only woman to witness the fight. “It seems a pity … that it should end as it did. I think Burns is the grittiest fighter it is possible to be … it was too bad for Burns to be cut up as he was.”

Mr McIntosh, the referee, said “I think the best man won.”

<< Adapted from The Star newspaper’s fight review.

Picture: Black a winner: Johnson was a clear winner. Johnson was the world’s first black champion.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AHEAD: SIR HENRY PARKES AT HIS DESK AS COLONIAL SECRETARY. PARKES WAS ALWAYS CONSIDERED STREETS AHEAD OF OTHER DISTINGUISHED PUBLIC RIVALS.

CHATTER! SIR HENRY PARKES WAS THE FOUNDING FATHER OF FEDERATION

ADAPTED BY FRANK MORRIS

April 28, 1896 – Former long-standing Premier of NSW Sir Henry Parkes dies yesterday morning with his wife at his bedside. Flags on government buildings and shipping were lowered to half-mast throughout the day as a mark of respect to the memory of the distinguished public figure.

Parkes, 80, is widely regarded all over Australia as the founding “Father of Federation.” Sir Henry’s death was described by the Sydney Morning Herald as a “sharp blow to thousands.”

The Herald reported: “Everywhere among the public, in tramcars, in the streets, at shops and business places, were to be gathered the signs of genuine regret that the long and distinguished life had closed.”

Parkes, born in Warwickshire, England, began life as a tenant farmer.  He set sail for Australia in 1839 and found work in Sydney as a customs house officer.  After several business ventures, including his own newspaper titled the Empire, he entered politics in 1854.

Married three times to Clarinda Varney, Eleanor Dixon and Julia Lynch, Parkes was father to 11 children.

Picture: Federation: Sir Henry Parkes at 80. He was known as the Father of Federation.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AND THE WINNER IS …! BULLER’S DONKEY COULD’VE WON IF IT WERE NOT FOR HENRY PARKES!

CLASSIC REPEATS! IN THE GOOD OLD ELECTION DAYS …

Electors! Electors! Vote for Buller’s donkey! A far more eligible candidate than Dr Hamilton!

JOHN F. FAIRFAX

In 1864, Sir Henry Parkes, was a candidate for a South Coast electorate.  His rival in the contest was an unfortunate man called Dr. Hamilton, who was not only beaten at the poll, but was obliged to stand up against a positive barrage of abuse, with which Parkes’ supporters assailed him.

The above advertisement is a fair sample of the pungent ridicule which the doctor was called upon to bear.
Parkes was not half as fierce as his mildest supporter, and his speeches during the campaign were restrained and quite impersonal.

But his friends volleyed and thundered. “We cannot see without concern the attempt now being made to foist into the Assembly, a candidate who would disgrace the electorate,” they volleyed.

“We think therefore that Dr. Hamilton will still be better employed in curing the various ills which flesh is heir to – always provided that his charges are not ruinous to his patients,” they thundered.

The Kiama Independent was vigorous in its support of Parkes, and condemned Hamilton with all the violence customary in newspaper columns of those days. The Independent with a joyous disregard of libel, accused him of bribery, and even went so far, in fierce little asides, as to draw attention to lack of applause when his name was mentioned.

ON A BITTER NOTE

“He (Hamilton’s sponsor) had great pleasure in proposing that G.H. Hamilton was a fit and proper person to represent this electorate in the Legislative Assembly (No cheers).”

Even at the declaration of the poll, the bitter feeling was maintained, and the unhappy doctor, stung by a remark made by one of his enemies, replied that he considered it no honour to shake Mr. Black’s hand, and that he would not condescend to let Mr. Black black his shoes.

Apparently two blacks could not make a white, and the campaign ended on a bitter note.

The majority for Parkes was 166, and he was hoisted into a buggy and drawn by his cheering supporters to the Steam Packet Hotel, where bumpers were drunk in celebration.

On conclusion of this happy ceremony, Parkes had again stepped into the buggy when little Paddy Andrews, who had been his coachman, leapt in beside him with a loaf of bread thrust in the end of a pole, shouting at the top of his small lungs that now people would know them both as Free Traders.

Next morning the townspeople gave the successful Parkes a hearty send-off as the steamer left the wharf. Looking back at the town, he was no doubt further moved by the “parting salute of small ordnance” – and perchance, a farewell bray from Buller’s donkey.

<< Taken from Fairfax’s country books.

Picture: I can win this! Electors were saying, “Vote for Buller’s donkey!

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 30 December 16

Classic Repeats: The tree, one of the most expressive Yuletide symbols!

 

EXOTIC: A CHRISTMAS TREE, MADE UP WITH THE KNOWN SYMBOLS OF  CHRISTMAS, IS PART OF THE WRAPPING PAPER USED FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS.

All over the world the Christmas Tree represents the richness of festivities.

FRANK MORRIS

“The triangle of a tree is a symbol of birth, life and death,” said Edna Metcalfe. “The tree is mankind’s best friend, feeding, clothing and sheltering him. In thanks, we bring the tree inside at Christmastime and cover its branches with jewels.

The celebration of the nativity is at the heart of all Christmas festivities and decorations. And the Christmas tree is one of the world’s most expressive Yuletide symbols, says author, Edna Metcalfe, who had observed the celebration of Christmas in many different countries.

Says Metcalfe: “In it is … sacred and secular, the rich varieties of national and regional traditions and festivals, fact and folklore.”

As a young girl of thirteen, Queen Victoria was impressed with her first Christmas tree, which was arranged by the German side of the family. The traditional tree became popular in England during her reign thirty years on.

THE BIRTH OF CHRIST

In Holland, every family has a tree. It is often laden with fruits and fragrant herbs, brightened with pinwheels and silver pine cones.

Meanwhile, in France, it is the Paradise tree which is decorated with apples and small white wafers representing the Holy Eucharist.
In Italy, it is the Ceppo tree; in the Ukraine, the tree is decorated with cotton wool and a gossamer netting of cobwebs, which, based on legend, it is hoped that the first light of the sun will turn them silver.

The Christmas tree came to the US from the Yuletide tradition of German immigrants, as it did in England, with the ornaments adapted from the simple resources of pioneer America – gingerbread men, cornhusk dolls and popcorn string.

In Sweden, as in most northern European countries, the focus is on birds and animals, as these were the creatures who were present at the birth of Christ.

<< This was a syndicated article.

Picture: Italian Ceppo Tree. In Italy Christmas lasts for three weeks, beginning eight days before the birth of the Jesus. Italy has not adopted the Christmas tree.
 


FIRST POKER MACHINE: CHARLES FEY’S LIBERTY BELL STARTED AN ENTIRE GAMING INDUSTRY. LITTLE WAS KNOWN AT THE TIME, BUT THE MACHINE DID FOSTER ‘BIG GAMBLERS’. IT WOULD BECOME THE LYNCHPIN OF THE SPECIES.

1975 TRIVIA – THERE’S A POKER MACHINE CRAZE GOING ON!

Mr Brian Frost, of Nutt and Muddle the distributor, said that thousands of Sydney housewives are buying poker machines. Frost said cheats soon found a machine that paid out an excessive number of jackpots due to worn parts and they were of little commercial value once the club discarded them. “New machines cost from $2000,” said Frost, “but you can get one second-hand from $25.


JUST FOR YOU: I DON’T CARE WHAT HE’S CALLED AS LONG AS LEAVES ME SOME GIFTS!

CLASSIC REPEATS! SANTA CLAUS OR ST NICHOLAS – HIS FAME QUICKLY SPREAD

St Nicholas, who is popularly known as Santa Claus, is a corruption of the Dutch name Santa Nikolaus.

ADAPTED BY FRANK MORRIS

Santa Claus, or to give his real name, St Nicholas, was the Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor in the fourth century. Like St George he was venerated in both eastern and western Christianity.

St Nicholas is said to have been made a saint on the strength of one miracle: the rescue of three generations from being unjustly executed by the Emperor Constantine.

Another miracle attributed to him was the resurrection of three little boys who had been murdered, cut up and put into a pickling tub to be served as bacon. He is also said to have tossed gold into the homes of penniless girls so that they did not have to earn their dowries in a disreputable way.

St Nicholas’s fame spread quickly throughout the Byzantine and Roman empires.

But his immense popularity stems from 1087 when merchants from Bari, in southern Italy, rescued his relics from the Turkish Seljuks. The merchants, on this occasion, were heading towards Bari, where the relics now lie in the Church of St Nicholas.

THREE GOLD BALLS

St Nicholas is the patron saint of Russia and Aberdeen. He is also the patron saint of pawnbrokers, clerks, scholars, children and sailors.

The pawnbroker’s three gold balls are said to represent the three bags of gold he, St Nicholas, tossed into the homes of the poor girls.

His popular name of Santa Claus is a corruption of a Dutch word denoting Santa Nikolaus and his feast day is December 6. In the some countries, Christmas presents are distributed on the night of December 5.

The custom used to be for someone to dress as a bishop and give small gifts to children who had been good. The present custom of putting toys and other small presents into a stocking on Christmas Eve was introduced into Britain from Germany in 1840.

<< Adapted from The Real McCoy by Eileen Helicar; published by Reader’s Digest. 1984.

Picture: St Nicholas. This portrait of Santa Claus by Thomas Nast was published in Harper’s Weekly in 188l.

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 23 December 16

Merry Christmas! Graham and Big Ted – from Kutie Toys to ABC Play School

 

Creator and Big Ted are together again!

FIONA BYRNE and FRANK MORRIS

Graham Byrne was born in 1938 at a place called Watford, England. All through his childhood the Second World War ground on.

As a little boy Graham had suffered the same plight as most kids – he did not have many toys.

During the war, most of the toy factories were converted to the manufacture of military equipment; particularly guns or spare parts for planes.

Toys that were made in war time were mainly constructed of paper or card due to rubber, plastics, wood and metal being needed for basic war equipment.

By 1952, Graham’s father, Arthur Byrne, decided to migrate to Australia where he hoped to offer a better life to his family. Graham was only 14 years old at the time. The Byrne family became part of the ‘Ten Pound Pom’ scheme, the colloquial term to describe British subjects who had to pay ten pounds for their fare, while the their children travelled free.

FROM SPECIAL FABRIC

In the 1960s, Graham’s father established a plush push-along toy business. Graham was also interested in the toy industry. He was specifically concerned with designing and making teddy bears. So, in 1965, Graham decided to join his father and share of the factory.

Graham called the business Kutie Toys, so named because of his yearning to create a cute looking range of bears.

To make the business stand out, he intentionally changed the spelling.

He chose a durable, washable fabric that was safe for children, which he sourced from Germany. Kutie Toys distributed bears in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong and mainly sold through toy shops and pharmacies.

In 1966, the ABC was in need of a large teddy bear for a new children’s program. Time plays horrible tricks, but Graham is not sure whether his father was approached by the ABC; or if ABC ran an advertisement.

His father, Arthur, thought that it would be good for Graham’s business to donate a bear to the national broadcasting service for the television show. Graham agreed with the idea -- it was great. A special type of fabric was used, woollen claws were sewn onto the pads and the finished bear was donated to the ABC broadcaster.

Fast forward to 2016 …

Graham happened to be watching the 50th Celebration of Play School when, suddenly, he reeled back in shock. He saw Magda Szubanski hugging a teddy bear just like Big Ted. He studied the bear and thought, “That's my bear!”

WISH TO COME TRUE

He called for his wife, Barbara, to come have a look. They both peered intently at the TV screen and it didn’t take them too long to realise: yes, that was the bear Graham made and donated to the show all that time ago.

The two parents reflected on how as busy young people they never sat down to watch an episode of Play School. The irony is that their children – Vanessa, Fiona and Nadine – were avid watchers of the show; yet the girls grew up with no knowledge that Big Ted was made by their father.

When the place was buzzing with grandchildren, who came along in the early part of the 21st century, they also watched Play School; one of the comments was that Big Ted looked like one of their grandad’s bears!

Graham mentioned to his children that his wished he could give the bear a big hug after all the medical treatment that he had been having all year. His dream came true.

On October 14, the ABC Play School team met Graham and two of his daughters at the ABC Studios and they were shown around the Play School set. With Graham overjoyed when reunited with Big Ted it was something to behold.

Yes, it was an emotion charged day!

Picture: United. Graham has always been interested in the toy industry. He is, once again, together with Big Ted after 50 years.


HISTORY IS MADE: CARCOAR, NSW, IS THE SECOND TOWN IN THE CENTRAL WEST. WHEN IT WAS ESTABLISHED IT BYPASSED THE GOLD STRIKE.

MERRY CHRISTMAS! GOLD RUSH DAYS – FINAL. SECOND RURAL TOWN IN THE CENTRAL WEST

FRANK MORRIS

Carcoar, 50km south-west of Bathurst, has one of the most valid, intact collections of 19th century architecture in NSW, according to the bible, Architecture Australia magazine.

The town, which stands at the gateway to the NSW western plains, was surveyed in 1838 and destined, it was believed, for a prosperous future. Carcoar was the first rural town beyond Bathurst, and by the late 1870s, it was ‘the centre of a rich agriculture district,”

In response to its growth and the expectation of a population boom the Government, from 1861 to 1888, built a hospital, post office, court house, public school, police station and railway station. But it was, as it turned out, all to no avail.

The planners had made a serious blunder.

Not only was the town bypassed by the gold rush and the rail line, but its population, which soared to 600, began “a continuing decline.” Today, Carcoar is an historic village seemingly untouched by time.

ROLLICKING SONGS

“Carcoar has many notable buildings,” said Tony Macdoughall in his book, Colonial Buildings of Australia. The school, which still stands, with its simple lines and familiar bell-towner is, said Macdoughall, “typical of many schools erected throughout Australia over this period.”

The banks and properties in and around Carcoar were often the targets of bushrangers, like Jack Donohoe, the original Wild Colonial Boy and a member of the Underwood Gang, Ben Hall and Frank Gardiner.

Both Hall and Gardiner, before they converted to a life of crime, are believed to have worked for a short time in the town’s butcher shop. Although Donohoe was regarded as an innocuous bushranger, he made an impression with his rollicking songs.

According to bushranger buff and author, Roy Mendham, the “Wild Colonial Boy was Donohoe’s favourite song in which he replaced the fictional ‘Jack Doolan’ with his own name.”

Picture: Wild boy! Carcoar was a haven of bushrangers who meant business, especially Jack Donohoe, who was consider as innocuous type.

<< Adapted from Expression, magazine of State Rail, 1988.


SAD TIMES: GOODIES OF ALL DESCRIPTIONS WILL NO LONGER BE AVAILABLE  AT THE ENTERPRISE STORES EMPORIUM. THE STORE CLOSED AFTER 165 YEARS.

GOLD RUSH DAYS! CARCOAR EMPORIUM SHUTS ITS DOORS AFTER 165 YEARS

FRANK MORRIS

The letter was beautifully crafted and affixed to the window of the Emporium as the “first sign of the passing of a slice of history.” It was signed: “God bless, Charlie and Colleen.” The Emporium, part of the district’s history, has shut its doors.

Charlie and Colleen decided that on next Sunday, the Enterprise Stores Emporium would close its doors for the final time after nearly half a century of shopkeeping in the small county town of Carcoar. The store, locals say, opened in 1851.

BACKWARD PROGRESS

Colleen admits she is “very sad” but said the time has come to retire. She said: “It’s not just a bread and milk and paper shop, it’s much more than that.”

Because the population of the district has fallen to about 150, the town’s fortunes have been whittled away. “We’ve lost a lot of our facilities here … but it’s still a great little town to live in.” She says, with a smile, “We call some of it ‘backward progress’ … with what we’ve lost over the years.”

She ended by saying, “We’re just taking time out for a while; I don’t know what the future will hold for us.”

<< Adapted from the Sydney Morning Herald, October 24, 2016. Quote came from story.

Picture: Shut its door: With so few still trading in Carcoar, the Emporium store closed after 165 years.


HAIL AND HEARTY: FRANK IFIELD WITH HIS MUM AND DAD

MERRY CHRISTMAS! CHATTER: “HEY MUM, I CAN YODEL!”

In 1948, mum was taken by surprise when her young son, Frank Ifield, yelled: “Hey mum, I can yodel.” His grandmother was so impressed she bought him a ukulele and told him to develop his art.

Born in Coventry, England in 1937 of Australian parents, Ifield took an interest in country music as a youngster. He always listened to country programs on the radio, but there was little in his background to indicate that one day be would become an international singing star.

As a teenager, he hardly ever missed the Tim McNamara shows in the early fifties when they hit the suburbs.

And it didn’t take long for the aspiring young singer to get into the act. According to country music expert Eric Watson, Ifield caught wind that one of McNamara’s regular artists had come down with the flu and couldn’t do the show.

With nothing to lose, he went backstage and asked McNamara if he could take the entertainer’s place.

ONLY NEEDED TWO YEARS

When television was officially launched in Sydney in 1956, Ifield was the first country singer to appear on the small screen on the second night of transmission. Within twelve months of the historic telecast, he had his own weekly TV show, Campfire Favourites, which ran for nearly two years.

By the end of the decade, Ifield had conquered most of the heights in Australia. In 1969, two years before he turned 21, Ifield left for England.

Writes Watson: “Frank gave himself two years to make good; and in typical fashion, he only needed two.”

<< Frank Morris’s Showline column in 1986.

Picture: Early TV: This gave Ifield his own show and a chance to yodel his heart out!

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 15 December 16

Merry Christmas! Classic Repeats: Daphne du Maurier: ‘’The place has taken hold of time”

NOT FAR: DAPHNE DU MAURIER, ENJOYING A BREAK FROM WRITING, IS NEAR HER HOME IN CORNWALL.

The fire-wracked mansion in the unforgettable film, Rebecca, was more than a figment of the author’s imagination. No, it was a dream that became an obsession.

ADAPTED BY FRANK MORRIS

Daphne du Maurier discovered the haunted mansion which became the scene of her most acclaimed novel, Rebecca, while rambling about her beloved country retreat with sister, Angela. The author little dreamed that the house she longed to fill with life would one day become her own.

Du Maurier was a lively mix of tomboy and dreamer. She was only 13 years of age. She was often given to scribbling romantic poetry in her diary among the descriptions of a wildly imaginative play, a critic wrote.

The book, Myself When Young, written by du Maurier in 1977, sums up the obsession the “young” teenager thought about. Little did she realise that the house called Menabilly would one day be hers.

In her book, she writes: “And looking north, inland from the Gribbin, I could make out the grey roof of a house there, set in its own grounds among trees. Yes, Angela and I were told that would be Menabilly. It belongs to Dr Rashleigh, but he seldom lives there.

“Our friends, the Quiller-Couches, gave further information. They used to visit it for garden parties in its heyday.

And I gleaned snatches of family history. And there were the original 16-century builders; the Stuart royalists who suffered for their King; the Tory landowners with their white wigs and their broods of children; and the Victorian landowners.

MENABILLY WAS MINE!

“I saw them all, in my mind’s eye, down to the present owner, who would love his home; and when I thought of him it was not of an elderly man, a respectable justice of the peace, but of a small boy, orphaned at two years old, coming for his holidays in a Eton collar and tight black suit.”

Du Maurier wrote in her diary: “Menabilly, haunting, mysterious … The place has taken hold of me. I must go back there next time I come down.”

She “trespassed” once again in the grounds of Menabilly. “The place called to me, I felt I just had to peep at the house, if only for a moment,” she wrote in her book.

In 1943, du Maurier’s dream came true. Menabilly was hers.

As an author, Daphne du Maurier has been described as a “poetic writer” but some critics have failed to see this. Other critics and historians have her “fantastically moody and resonant” and her sweeping novels and plays are a “bit like a myth or fairy tales.”

Daphne du Maurier’s death was a blow to all who loved her. Du Maurier died in Cornwall, England in 1989. She was 72.

<< “A Place has taken hold of me” appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, December 1977. Frank Morris used passages from Myself When Young by Daphne de Maurier.

Picture: Extension of me. Having written Myself When Young, du Maurier filled in what the “young” Daphne was thinking. The mansion. Menabilly was haunting and mysterious … “the place has taken hold of me.”


NEXT WEEK: We missed last week’s deadline on the Graham and Big Ted surprise story! It’s on next week. Here is a clue: Graham was interested in the toy industry specifically because he wanted to design and make teddy bears. Plus … there is another surprise.


I WANT TO GET WITH IT: JUST BEFORE THEY TOOK OFF, THESE KAMIKAZE PILOTS HAVE THEIR LAST PHOTO TAKEN.

CLASSIC REPEATS: TO YOUNG KAMIKAZE PILOTS, SURRENDER WAS ‘UNTHINKABLE’

In 1941, 75 Years ago, Pearl Harbour was bombed by Japan. Then, in August 1945, the American B29s droned over Japan on their way to drop the Atomic Bomb.

ADAPTED BY FRANK MORRIS

Japan’s lightning successes in 1941-42 destroyed the myth – current in the West – of white supremacy.

Already eroded by the decisive defeat of the Russians in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, the idea was shattered at Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

Part of the Japanese disbelief in ‘white supremacy’ stemmed from the existence of a group of people inhabiting the northern most part of the country – the Ainu.

Remnants of a mysterious people who once occupied all Japan, the Ainu, an under-developed, backward people, were white skinned. To many Japanese this proved the white man’s inferiority.

At the head of the powerful, but reactionary, military junta, stood Emperor Hirohito, a direct descendent of Amaterasu, the sun-goddess, or so it was claimed.

Not until almost the end of the war did his subjects dare gaze at the face of their god-emperor. It was widely believed that those who looked on him would be struck blind.

BLACK MARKET

War brought increasing prosperity to the Japanese people – at least during the first year and a half. Then the economy deteriorated.

Between December 1943 and July 1945 the black market price of firewood rose by over 5,000%; beer by 750%; soap, sugar and shoes by 1,000%; and matches by 8,000%. With wages only doubling, to be further whittled down by taxation and enforced saving, hardship was widespread.

Many small businessmen were ruined. Even the rich had to trim their standard of living. Restaurants and theatres closed their doors; geisha girls became redundant.

Much industry, including aircraft production, was decentralized into small workshops – the traditional model. Workers, toiling sometimes for 15 hours a day, produced over 62,000 aircraft between 1941 and 1945.

With the tide turning against Japan and the American submarine menace, Japanese merchant shipping lost heavily – 90 per cent by the war’s end. As shipping losses increased, imports dwindled – particularly food.

THE FAILED HEROS

Rations provided little more than subsistence level. Health declined generally. Chronic diarrhoea became a common complaint due to the inadequate and unbalanced diet. Average calorie intake – 2,265 in 1940 – was a mere 1,680 in 1945.

Unlike other countries, however, where war acted as a catalyst for social change, Japanese women remained as subservient as before.

Although nearly three million women took up war work, the great majority did not. When labour became scarce, students were conscripted, not women.

Never far from the surface was the cult of the failed hero – the man who makes a final stand against hopeless odds to finish as an exile, a fugitive or with a suicide.

Vice-Admiral Onishi addressing 24 Kamikaze pilots on October 25, 1944, gave voice to the cult when he said: ‘Japan is in great danger. The salvation of our country can come only from spirited young men such as you … You are already gods’.
Six months later, 930 Kamikazes blew themselves to pieces in the attempt to stop the American invasion of Okinawa.

The American decision to use the atomic bomb against Japan was prompted in part by the battle for Okinawa. American military leaders came to believe that a final assault on Japan might cost a million lives. With the capture of Okinawa, the bombing of Japan became more intense.

Ironically, the American bombing raids did much to reinforce the traditional view that the white man was little more than barbarian.

JAPAN FACED STARVATION

Japan’s closely-packed wood and paper houses offered no protection against the rain of fire bombs that descended on Tokyo, March 9, 1945. Few public air shelters existed. Families were expected to dig their own shelter in front of the house, and fight fire with water and sand.

78,650 people were killed (official figure) in the raid on Tokyo – more than either of the atomic bombs that fell later. Some estimates put the dead and missing in the Tokyo raid as high as 200,000.

While Tokyo was burning, Emperor Hirohito sat in his underground command post below the Imperial Library of the city. This Japanese equivalent of the Fuehrerbunker, a complex of chambers connected by tunnels, had been constructed two years earlier.

American air crews had, however, been ordered to spare the Imperial Palace because ‘the Emperor of Japan General MacArthur and the Emperor at Allied GHQ in Tokyo. September 17, 1945is not at present a liability and may later become an asset’, as events post-war were to show.

With her army stranded overseas, unable to return home to defend the country against the expected invasion, Japan faced starvation in August 1945. Her oil supply – so necessary for the maintenance of life in an industrial society – was exhausted.

Even so, surrender was unthinkable.

The American B29s droned over on their way to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Today, with memories of the war faded, the Emperor has settled comfortably into the role of a mild mannered, constitutional monarch.

<< The Daily Mirror (UK), Friday, April 13 and Thursday, April 19, 1945.


THE KAMIKAZE! THE ZERO COMES IN FOR THE KILL.

CLASSIC REPEATS: 1966, THE DAY I VISITED A KAMIKAZE SHRINE

I was gobsmacked. John didn’t say a word.

FRANK MORRIS

Funny things happened in Japan. It was in 1966 – my first visit to this amazing country. I had been employed by this newspaper for three months.

Next, I was in Japan, at the Tokyo Prince Hotel -- a rich person’s palace. It was 4.30am on Saturday. I was in the room about thirty seconds when there was a knock on my door.

A short Asian raised his hand and said “My name is (I can’t pronounce his name) -- you can call me John.” We shook hands; he seemed a good bloke.

“I’ll take you on a nice surprise”, said John. “A Kamikaze Shrine.” I responded: “You’ve been doing a spot of checking have you.” “Yes”, he said.

Next we were train-bound for Kyoto, which, in olden times, was the former capital city of Japan.

After several hours on the move we arrived at the Japanese cemetery.

ONE WAY MISSION

John knew this place like the back of his hand. “This way” he said. I just followed him to the point when I could go no further. We were at the Kamikaze Shrine, which spread over several thousand acres.

I estimate that it would take you two days or more to inspect the monolith and take in all of the surrounds of the wonderful sight.

It was 6.30 pm and I was gobsmacked. John didn’t say a word – only what he thought was necessary. The Kamikaze were driven people and they were on a one-way mission to kill themselves and cripple any enemy shipping that stood in their way. Many others landed in the drink.

It was their final stand.

After visiting the shrine, there are two reasons why I mention this fact: I considered the story of the young Kamikaze pilots, a good and powerful read; it literally transports you to the pilot’s treacherous and lonely final dive.

And John. Well, John was Japanese and he believed in what they did. But he took me so I would understand why they did it.

“We better get back,” he said.


I CAN DO ANYTHING: SUMMER IS OVER, THE WAYWARD WIND, I REMENBER YOU, 20 GOLDEN GREATS --  ARE ALL PART OF FRANK IFIELD’S HIT RECORD COLLECTION.

CHRISTMAS CHATTER: ‘HEY MUM, I CAN YODEL!’

FRANK MORRIS

Frank Ifield’s mum was taken by surprise the day her son burst into the kitchen at their Dural home in 1948 and yelled: “Hey mum, I can yodel!” The youngster then gave a full throated demonstration of his new found ability.

Frank’s grandmother, who was also impressed, dashed into town a few days later, bought him a ukulele and encouraged him to develop the art.

Next week: The fact that he could yodel, gave Frank a standing start in country music.

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 09 December 16

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