1. What early memories do you have of your grandparents. How were they – were they stern, or loving? Did they give hugs or reprimands? Did you share secrets? Did you see them often, or just on special occasions? Are there scents or sounds that you associate with them?
2. Every family has its clowns, their saints, their rebels, their black sheep. Did you have any in your family? Describe them.
3. Do you have any oral traditions in your family – stories carried over from generation to generation? Stories about your ancestors? Any family secrets?
That’s my Nana Bell in the middle. I was the oldest of the Cousins. I thought I was her favourite but have since met other cousins who thought they were the favourites. That’s how it ought to be with Nanas, methinks. She was the respectable side of the family but its her side that was have since discovered, had a whole batch of convicts, including Hannah Hitchings, described as “ a woman of loose morals even on a convict ship.”
Up the back, on our left, is her husband my beloved Poppa Bell. He died aged 60. From smoking, so they say. I thought he was the gentlest kindest of men but my sister thought he was terrifying. He worked on Sydney Trams and carried a Gladstone Bag. My dad said that Poppa got two pay packets. One that he showed Nana and one that had his drinking money in it and of which she knew nothing. We thought his side of the family would be the dodgy side but it turns out they were HIghland Scots – mostly- just the one convict from Glasgow. The rest of them were driven from the crofts in the mid 1830s but I knew nothing of any of this till recently. I did know the stories of his Mum. Granny Bell , “ a legend in her own lifetime”.
They lived at Rosebery and on Sunday afternoons we went to see them and visit with some of our cousins. I had twin cousins 6 months younger than me. The children of my mother’s sister. That’s them on either side of me in the photograph.
We’re a dour lot. Presbyterian Scots- apparently. Some Irish Catholics in there as well. We don’t seem to share a lot of secrets either. My father’s father died before I was one year old. John George was his name. I have the letters my father wrote home to him throughout WWII.
I thought I had a relative who thought he was a dog but that now appears to have been an acquaintance and not related by blood. I didn’t find that out till recently but it’s a relief nevertheless.
My Nana and Poppa lived next door to Jarvie’s Tennis Court and they had a galah. A galah is a type of parrot. It was called Cocky. It learned to call out tennis scores and was quite a curiosity in the neighbourhood.