I may be back in Minnesota but my sharing of images and commentary on my recent Australian sojourn continues with a very special installment. . . .
back in April my Dad turned 80. Celebrations at the time were low key as something special was being planned for when I was back in Australia – a gathering of my two brothers and I with our parents in Coogee, a beachside suburb of Sydney.
We actually had two celebrations of Dad's 80th.
On the evening of Saturday, August 5, we gathered at the Coogee Bay Hotel for dinner and a birthday cake. That's where the photo above and at right were taken.
Above: Dad as a young boy in the 1940s.
Above and left: With Mum and Dad in Coogee – Saturday, August 5, 2017.
Given my Dad's history with the penny-farthing bicycle (below), I couldn't resist taking the above photo of Dad in Coogee on Saturday, August 5, 2017.
Above and right: Two more images of our (belated) celebration of Dad's 80th birthday at the Coogee Bay Hotel on Saturday, August 5, 2017.
This was the first of two celebrations for Dad that weekend.
. . . The second celebration took place the next day, Sunday, August 6, at the Coogee Pavilion, formerly the Coogee Palace Aquarium/Beach Palace Hotel (above).
For Sunday's birthday lunch I arranged for two of Dad's cousins – Clare and Joycie – to be present. It would have been ten years or more since Dad had seen these two cousins.
Above: Dad, Clare, Mum, Joycie, and Joycie's husband John – Sunday, August 6, 2017.
Right: Cousins Clare and Joycie as children in the 1940s.
Okay, here are a few more photos from the family archives . . .
Above: My great grandmother Emily Simmons, photographed sometime in the 1950s.
Known in the family as Gran, Emily was the maternal grandmother to my father and the paternal grandmother to my father's cousins Clare and Joycie.
Gran had four children, Isabel (my grandmother), Phyllis, Billy, and Tommy. Emily raised her four children as a single mother on the family farm, “Flodden,” in the Purlewaugh district of northwestern New South Wales. Her husband, Jim, died when he was quite young, and Emily remained a widow for the rest of her life. She died in 1982.
Left: My brothers and I with Gran, our great-grandmother, in 1976.
Above: Dad as a little boy with his parents Aubrey (Aub) and Isabel (Belle). This picture was taken in the early 1940s at “Flodden.”
Above: Gran's daughter Phyllis, pictured with Dad in Sydney in the late 1950s. "Aunty Phyllis" was my great-aunt and, I must admit, a favorite aunt! For more about Phyllis, click here and here.
Above: Gran's son William (Billy) and his wife Stella on their wedding day. Billy was my father's uncle and my great-uncle. He and Stella raised their two children, Clare and Trevor, in Tamber Springs.
Left: Billy and Stella's daughter Clare, pictured in the early 1960s.
Above: Mum and Dad with Clare – Sunday, August 6, 2017.
Above: Gran's son Tommy and his wife Donnie on their wedding day. (Donnie and Billy's wife Stella, pictured previously, were sisters). Tommy and Donnie also made their home in Tambar Springs.
Right: Tommy and Donnie's daughter Joyce, pictured in the 1960s.
Above: Mum and Joyce (Tommy and Donnie's daughter) at Dad's 80th birthday celebration in Coogee on August 6, 2017. They're looking through an album of old family photos that Mum had put together for the occasion.
Above: Joycie's parents, Tommy and Donnie, pictured at my parents' wedding in 1959. Tommy passed away in 1982, the day before his mother. His brother Billy had died one month earlier. Gran knew of Billy's death, though was too ill to attend the funeral. She was not told of Tommy's death. The two had a joint funeral. Like her sister Stella, Donnie lived into the early 2000s.
As well as arranging for Dad's two cousins to be present at his birthday celebration in Coogee, I also invited long-time family friends Jeanette and Cheryl .
In the photo above I'm standing at left with (from left) Jeanette, my brother Chris, Mum, my brother Tim, Dad, and Cheryl.
Jeanette and Cheryl's parents, Colin and Hazel, were good friends with my grandmother, Belle, and her second husband, Bill Smith.
Belle and Bill were known as Nanna and Poppy Smith to my brothers and I. To Colin and Hazel's children, they were known as Aunty Belle and Uncle Bill, even though they weren't actually related. That's how close the two families were.
Above: Belle (back row left) with Hazel and Hazel's three eldest children – Jeanette, Sue, and James. Cheryl had not yet been born when this photo was taken. I'm not sure when exactly this photo was taken but judging from the fashions, I'd say sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s.
Right: As a young woman in 1967, Sue was my younger brother Tim's godmother.
Above: Jeanette and Cheryl's mother Hazel (left) with my paternal grandmother, Belle (right), and Belle's sister Phyllis (center). This photo was taken during one of my great-aunt Phyllis' visits to Gunnedah from Sydney in the late 1950s/early '60s. (For more photos of Aunty Phyllis (1913-1996) and her life in Sydney, click here.)
Above: My grandmother (right) and Aunty Phyllis with Cheryl and her husband Chris on their wedding day.
Above: Mum and Cheryl with Jane Worthington (center), another family friend.
For 40+ years it was a tradition for our family to visit the Worthington family on Christmas Day morning.
above was taken in Gunnedah in 1985 and shows my parents with members of the Worthington family. From left: Louise, Peter, Andrew, Delores, Dad, Mark, Alison, Mum, and Jane. Absent from this photo are my two brothers and I and Sally Worthington.
Left: Dad and Jane – Coogee, August 6, 2017.
Above and below: A few more photos of Dad's (belated) 80th birthday celebration at the Coogee Pavilion on Sunday, August 6.
Above: My older brother Chris and Cheryl.
Above: Mum, Dad, John, and Joycie.
Above: You don't say!? . . . Joycie, Mum, and Cheryl, catching up on all the latest.
Above: The Bayly family – Sunday, August 6, 2017.
Above and below: Views of Coogee Beach – Sunday, August 6, 2017.
The name Coogee is said to be taken from a local Aboriginal word koojah, which means "smelly place." Another version is koo-chai or koo-jah, both of which mean "the smell of the seaweed drying" in the Bidigal language, or "stinking seaweed", a reference to the smell of decaying kelp washed up on the beach. Non-Indigenous visitors to the area, from the 1820s onwards, were never able to confirm exactly what "Coogee" meant, or if it in fact related to Coogee Beach. Some evidence suggests that the word "Coogee" may in fact be the original Aboriginal place name for the next bay to the north, now known as Gordons Bay. Another name, "Bobroi", was also recalled as the indigenous name for the locality.
Above: A lovely photo of Mum and Dad taken back in Port Macquarie, August 10, 2017.
NEXT: Return to Sydney
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
• Happy Birthday, Dad! (2017)
• Happy Birthday, Dad (2015)
• Happy Birthday, Dad (2014)
• Happy Birthday, Dad (2013)
• Happy Birthday, Dad (2011)
• Happy Birthday, Dad (2010)
• Happy Birthday, Dad (2009)
• Congratulations, Mum and Dad
• Catholic Rainbow (Australian) Parents
• Remembering Nanna Smith
• Commemorating My Grandfather, Aub Bayly, and the Loss of the AHS Centaur
• A Visit to Gunnedah
• Port Macquarie Days
• Europe 2005