52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History 6 – Radio & Television

Week 6: Radio and Television. What was your favorite radio or television show from your childhood? What was the program about and who was in it?

52 weeks of personal genealogy and historyI grew up in Dubbo, which was a country town of about 16,000 people in the central west of New South Wales. We had two TV channels – the ABC and CBN-8 CWN-6, which was broadcast from Orange and seemed to have a selection of programs from the three big networks in Sydney (7, 9 and 10), so we didn’t see a lot of the shows that Sydney took for granted. For example, we saw The Addams Family but not The Musters.

We had one local radio station, 2DU, and we could also get 2GZ in Orange. 2GZ was just that bit more cool. At night we would lie in bed and try to pick up more far-off stations. I could get 2SM in Sydney some nights. 2DU was a bit daggy for our tastes, and would play ads between every song. For a while there I used to ring up and answer their quiz questions, and they’d send me their crappy old singles that were off the playlist as prizes. Mum would turn the radio on as soon as she got up, and if we had been asleep before we wouldn’t be once the radio went on. It was LOUD. There was a radio serial in the morning before the 8 o’clock news. Chicken Man is the only one I remember.

We spent regular holidays in Sydney so we knew what we were missing. We could listen to 2SM all day, and revel in the choice of four TV stations. Four!

Shows that I can remember watching after school were The Addams Family (click click!), The Brady Bunch, and Gilligan’s Island. I can probably still sing all the words to the theme songs. My younger brothers watched Sesame Street in the morning before school, and I can still sing a lot of those songs as well.

I look up and see the sky
I look down and see the ground
I look at you and sing a song about Up and Down

Sung by Bert and Ernie

At night we watched other shows. I still love Star Trek, particularly Jean-Luc Picard, although I couldn’t get into some of the later franchises. The latest movie Star Trek, where we went back to the beginning of James T. Kirk and the rest of them, was excellent!

Countdown was the only show that showed music in those days and everyone watched it. It showed film clips and live bands miming their way through their latest hits in an ABC studio full of excitable teenagers. The Top Ten countdown at the end was quite often a disappointment when we saw what was number one and going to be played in full.

Animal Kingdom is possibly partly responsible for my love of wildlife, resulting in two trips to Africa and one to Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands so far. Disneyland was on Sunday nights and the whole family watched it. Sometimes it showed cartoons and sometimes stories about wild animals with a hokey narrator.

Tom Baker - the Fourth DoctorMy favourite show, though, was probably Doctor Who. Doctor Who was on four nights a week at 6:30pm before the news on the ABC. Each week was a story with a cliffhanger at the end of the episode, and the story would have a happy ending on Thursday night. Mum would be out in the kitchen mashing the potatoes in the saucepan, a very noisy process,  just as we were getting to the exciting bit at the end of the episode.

Tom Baker with his long scarf was the Doctor in those days, although I remember Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee before him. We didn’t have a television set in the days of William Hartnell, the first Doctor. I left home during Tom Baker’s reign and I didn’t get a TV until Mum gave me the old black-and-white one when she got a colour one from Uncle Bill. Doctor Who was in colour!

I still watched Doctor Who when I could, and I vaguely remember some of the Doctors after Tom Baker. I liked Peter Davison but I remember being less than impressed by Colin Baker, although by that time I was working and not watching so much afternoon TV. I don’t remember the other two, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann, at all. By the time Sylvester McCoy came along I was married and not watching TV at all before the 7 o’clock news.

I’ve really enjoyed the recent re-incarnation of the Doctor Who series, and I’m happy to watch repeats on cable TV. But those nights in Dubbo with my sister and brothers in the lounge room watching Tom Baker while Mum was in the kitchen mashing potatoes are what make Doctor Who special for me.

Doctor Who dates:

1963-1966  William Hartnell

1966-1969  Patrick Troughton

1970-1974  Jon Pertwee

1974-1981  Tom Baker

1981-1984  Peter Davison

1984- 1986  Colin Baker

1987-1996  Sylvester McCoy

1996              Paul McGann

Waitangi Day – My first New Zealand ancestor

The Waitangi Day Blog Challenge is to write about our earliest New Zealand ancestor.

I’ve written before about my great-great-grandmother Margaret Craig, who arrived in the new settlement of Auckland in 1842 aboard the Jane Gifford with her family when she was 4 years old. Today I’ll talk about her father.

Joseph Craig

Joseph Craig (c1804-1883)

Joseph Craig married Agnes Allan in the parish of Paisley Abbey, near Glasgow, on 16 February 1827. They had at least eight children between 1827 and 1842, with the youngest, Louisa, born in 1841. Agnes must have died some time between and because Joseph married Elizabeth Lachlan a week before the Jane Gifford sailed for Auckland on 18 June 1842.

Joseph was a respectable member of society He acted as a constable on the voyage aboard the Jane Gifford and was recommended for gratuity by ship’s surgeon. When they arrived in Auckland Joseph settled in Mechanics’ Bay, where the workers lived. I wonder if there was a house waiting for them when they arrived. I suspect not. Perhaps the family lived in a tent until Joseph built a hut for them to live in.

Later he lived in a house in Nelson Street and worked as a brickmaker. I imagine bricks were in great demand. One of his sons, Joseph, started a merchant and carrying business that became J.J. Craig, made famous by his eldest son Joseph James Craig.

Joseph died at the ripe old age of 83. He was living in Arthur Street, Ponsonby, and I believe my great-great-grandmother, Margaret Lowe, nee Craig, was living with him. Her husband John Hindley Austin Lowe had died ten years before, and Margaret took her remaining children and went to live with her father and stepmother.

Elizabeth died eight months after her husband. She is a bit of a mystery to me. She was the only mother Margaret knew. What made her agree to marry Joseph and go to the other side of the world with him to a brand new colony and look after all those children? I can’t imagine. Things must have been bad in Scotland for such a prospect to be so tempting.

The only picture I have of Joseph is this one sent to my cousin and I from a distant relative in Canada. Joseph had an older brother Robert and sister Janet who migrated to Ontario. We know that they were related because Janet, who died a spinster, left Joseph some shares in her will. Lucky for us!

Joseph Craig's grave in Old Symonds Street Cemetery Auckland

Joseph Craig's grave in Old Symonds Street Cemetery Auckland


Scotland OPRs

Jane Gifford passenger list

Auckland Police Census 1841-1846, compiled by Auckland City Library, 2007.

1852 Electoral Roll

New Zealand Births Deaths and Marriages

Auckland Rate Books

(Sorry for the abbreviated sources, I’m distracted by the Cyclone Yasi news from Queensland)

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History – Home

Week 4: Home. Describe the house in which you grew up. Was it big or small? What made it unique? Is it still there today?

I wonder how many of us lived in the same house all through childhood? I didn’t. I lived in four different houses from when I was born until I finished school and left home. I don’t remember one of them; I was too young and we weren’t there long.

My first houseThe first house that I remember was in Carss Park, in southern Sydney. It was underneath the flight path and I remember planes flying over and scaring my younger sister. It was close enough to the local school that we could walk, and we had to climb up a lane through to the street behind to get there.

I don’t remember much about inside the house, except for the front hall, where I lost the key to my teddy bear in between the floor boards and the front step. I was devastated! I also remember the lounge room with a green sofa. I vaguely remember the doors to the bedrooms but not the rooms themselves. I shared a room with my sister and remember her waking up in the night. The front of the house was a verandah that had been closed in, according to my Dad. I don’t remember it being anything other than the room where my Nanna lived, although she didn’t always live there.

It had a great backyard for young kids to play in, and a patio with crazy paving that we used to roll marbles on. There are lots of photos of us in the backyard, and I’ve just realised that this one, of my Nanna and three of us kids, is back to front. I scanned it from a negative and I couldn’t tell which way it went, but I’m pretty sure there should be a shed in the back corner.

Looking at the house now on Google Maps I can see it has a swimming pool and most of the yard is gone. It seems to be a much bigger house than it was, taking up the full width of the block, although I can see the flat roof of the garage so that must still be there in some form.

My house on Google Maps My husband and I drove by there a few years ago and the strange rounded front of the house had been built over. Now I can see it on Street View and it looks a bit run down, as do the others in the street. The house next door that the strange old lady lived in has been replaced by a castle that looks totally out of place. The house is only a couple of blocks from the beach on Kogarah Bay so I’m a bit surprised that the areas looks as depressed as it is. Perhaps the houses are too small. Ours must have had only two bedrooms until Dad closed in the front verandah, and who wants a two-bedroom house?

I prefer to remember the house as it was.

When I was six we moved to Dubbo, to the house I showed in the previous post. This is the house I think of as The House I Grew Up In. I still dream about it.

Our house

Dubbo is hot in summer and that house was sometimes unbearably hot. The room I shared with my sister was built on after the rest of the house and had a tin roof that made it hotter than the rest of the house. I can remember lying in bed at night with the curtains pushed aside waiting for the slightest breeze to come in the window.

In winter it was cold, and we had a fire, and later a oil heater. It had three bedrooms and one bathroom, smaller than the house I live in now, although the rooms were bigger. My brothers shared one room and my mother had the master bedroom. My brothers’ room had two entrances so you could walk through from the dining room to the bathroom and Mum’s room. Houses are designed differently now and it is rare to walk through a bedroom to get to other parts of the house, but I remember other houses with similar layouts.

It had a large front verandah and a huge back yard that my brothers played cricket in. We had chooks and a succession of dogs, and a cat who lived inside with us. She used to lurk under the armchairs and pounce on my sister and me as we went past in the morning.

The house is still there, also looking a bit run down on Google’s Street View.

The last house I lived in was outside Dubbo. I don’t seem to have any pictures of it that don’t show people who may not want to be displayed here. My Mum bought a farm with her brother. He bred race horses on it, and we lived in the house. I lived there for a grand total of three months. The family moved house in November while I was doing my Higher School Certificate exams, so I stayed at a friend’s place until they were over. I was accepted into the University of Sydney and started in early March, so from then on I had my own place in Sydney and just visited Dubbo on holidays. It was a big farm house with high ceilings, bits built on to the main house, a verandah around one side, and metal kitchen cupboards.

Mum moved back into town a few years later. She bought my friend’s house that I had stayed in while I was doing exams. What are the odds?