#52 Ancestors: Road Trip

It was not until the early 60s that my family owned a car, and the meaning of the word road trip came into existence for us. By that time there were only two little fledglings left in the nest, my 6-year-old brother, Tony, and myself a somewhat temperamental 13-year-old.  These road trips almost seemed like a rite of passage as I changed from a child to an adult wanting the security and support of my family but fighting for the need to be independent.

49 Holidays mum tony carol

Our Vanguard and Mum with a couple of swim stars

Our two-tone Vanguard built like a tank and appropriately named after a British battleship, had a spacious interior, a heater (no air conditioning in those days) and no radio (although as anyone in my family will tell you I was not averse to singing whether appreciated by the rest of the family or not). The car would be loaded the day before all ready for an early start on the big day so that we could “beat the traffic”.

nrma

An NRMA strip road map. MAAS collection 2011/73/1

My father was not a confident driver, and he took his job preparing for the trip and keeping his family safe extremely seriously. Apart from servicing and fastidiously cleaning the car including making sure the rubber strip was hanging from the bumper bar to prevent car sickness (did that really work?) he also made a trip to the NRMA to order strip maps for our specific journey. Not only did they tell you what route to take and distances between towns but also exciting places to visit. On every trip, I hoped that I would be allowed to hold the maps which were like the holy grail to me. How proud I was to be trusted with them making sure we would not get lost and telling Dad about every approaching curve in the road.

While it is almost traditional for siblings to fight when on a road trip, whether it was the roominess of the rear seat or the large difference in our ages it seemed that I grew closer to my little brother during these trips sharing the scenery as it zoomed past without having to fight for a window seat. Maybe it was because he put up with my singing and didn’t try to take possession of my road maps?

My mother’s role in all of this was to see bags were packed with appropriate clothing and most important of all the provision of refreshments for our journey. The cake tin, chock-a-block with homemade cake and biscuits, a thermos of tea, homemade sandwiches or a loaf of bread and “the makings” and cold drinks packed into the boot with instructions to make sure “it’s easy to get to”.

30 Caravan Tony

Mum and Dad with Tony at Coffs Harbour Caravan Park

Arriving at our destination was only half the fun. My Dad was a cautious driver making for a slow trip with pulling over for tea and a snack and stops at places of interest. My Dad was certainly an early adopter of what we today call “slow travel” where it is not just about the destination but the journey as well. As part of that philosophy, we would naturally turn off the road to a motel or a caravan park after four or five hours driving (including stops) with the standard comment from Dad “that’s enough driving for one day”.  Instead of flying past the small towns that dotted the coast it always allowed time for us to see the “sights”, try our luck at a bit of fishing off the pier or have a dip at the local beach.

These trips created the most beautiful memories for me and are also part of our family’s story. When I think of my parents the memories of these road trips seem to bring them to life. Did they know they were creating cherished memories, that would last not only long after the end of the journey but all through my life?

 

Family Photos

The prompt for Week 8 of 52 Ancestors is 52 weeks is Family Photo. So many photos in this category, which one did I treasure the most. My eyes turned initially to the oldest and then I thought it is easy to overlook the treasures that are being created in your own lifetime so I have chosen a family photo taken in 1957.

1957 Biggs children

The Children of Charles and Hazel Biggs. Margaret Rose, Colin John (holding Anthony Roy) and Carolyn Mary. The photo was taken in the lounge room of the family home at 34 Highgate Street, Bexley in 1957.

 

It was a big event to have our photo professionally taken and we were dressed in our best clothes. Colin in his school uniform and Margaret and I in our dresses beautifully and lovingly made by our mother. Don’t be fooled by that perfect looking young man in the middle, he was always full of mischief and on the go. It is a wonder that they managed to get him to sit still for the duration of the shoot or at the very least taken the photographer’s camera apart to see how it worked.

I can remember looking at the portfolio of photographs and all us kids deciding that it had to be the one with our little brother Anthony crying. As far as we were concerned that was pretty well all that he did at that stage of his life.  He did prove to be worthwhile a little later in life as the perfect baby doll for Maggie and me to dress up and play with. I am sure that is how he developed his good humour and his patience and tolerance.

So good to grow up in a loving family and still all be “together” and enjoying our own families nearly 70 years later.

 

Challenge

Week 2 and the word is “challenge”.

Researching any ancestor is challenging, and in nearly every one of their stories, there is that message of overcoming life’s challenges to succeed. I have to admit my own personal challenge when it comes to family history is much simpler, a cupboard full of photos and ephemera that need to be sorted, recorded and appropriately stored.

Instead of just thinking of them as just another job that needs to be done I need to remember how lucky I am to have these pictures and other pieces of family history that have been handed down over the years. The oldest pieces I have are a pair of Lithgow Pottery serving plates from the mid-1800s that belonged to my great grandmother. Now I think about it I can’t believe that not only have I not made a record of their history but I haven’t even photographed them!

My father and mother had many old family photos some that are deteriorating because of the glue and other storage methods that were used.  I don’t even want to mention my own family photos that have just been bundled into shoe boxes without any thought. They all represent over a century of family memories, and they need to be treated with respect.

At least I can say I have started by looking up sites on how to store photos. The ones I found most useful are:
https://www.archives.gov/preservation/family-archives/storing
http://www.naa.gov.au/information-management/managing-information-and-records/preserving/photographs.aspx

Time to face up to the challenge and get all the photos and memories safely stored and into a format that is easy to share and celebrate!