MUSICAL MONDAY: Teenage memories and rebellion…

One of the greatest, and most unexpected, joys of blogging has to be the friends you meet along the way whom tell the most amazing of stories which often trigger your own memories. The fun in the sharing is incomparable.

One such person is J.G. Burdette and her blog “Map of Time” which is such a joy, bringing to me so much new information and especially friendship, compassion and understanding… along with a goodly measure of laughter and good “old fashioned” fun.

MAP OF TIME. cropped-0banner-03

J.G’s most recent post is re: the Sinking of the Bismarck, which I recommend you read and can be accessed HERE.

Whilst reading J.G’s account of the sinking of the Bismarck significant moments, during my teenage years, came flooding back.  The song of the sinking, by Johnny Horton, kept ringing in my ears and I could see our old/ family home at 34 New Street, Queenstown, South Australia. There, in the lounge room, were my three brothers and I parading around, maybe pretending to be the “drummers” or marching or punching the air… or whatever.  What we were doing was having a jolly good time as we shouted out the words:

“…and we’ve gotta sink the Bismarck ‘cos the world depends on US!!!”

J.G’s fun reply to my comment, on her Blog, took me back to YouTube and to the most memorable song of all during those heady, fun and joyous years of my youth… The Battle of New Orleans“, also sung by Johnny Horton, of the USofA.

Happens that this tune has the same rousing “drum beat”, which we loved, but an additional attraction was that  it raised the ire of my dad who would often declare…

“I’m BRITISH… and PROUD OF IT!!!”…

So, being typical teenagers… my brothers and I enjoyed playing “The Battle of New Orleans” as loud as loud could be and especially raucously singing  words such as:

“… and we beat the BLOODY BRITISH, in a town in New Orleans!!!”

Oh, deary me… my poor dad. Teenage rebellion, of that type, must have been very difficult to swallow. Anyway, I’m laughing cos I’ve been “paid back” in spades by the small rebellious behaviours of my own three children.

Happens that Johnny Horton also released a British Version which didn’t appeal to my three brothers, and I, at all.

Thanks for bringing back the memories J.G… and especially  enabling me to share this particular part of our “Family Story” with the descendants.

Of course… as I’ve matured my heart is sad and so sorry for all those courageous men, of the German Navy, who battled on so fiercely, bravely and with great loyalty to their country. May they all forever R.I.P. and may the killing stop and the whole world find a way to live together peacefully.


Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel

Mothers, daughters and loss…

Today is the 60th Anniversary of the death of my maternal Grandmother, Elizabeth Mary (Murray, Evan) Allan, but it’s more than that. It’s about the love of a daughter for her mother and a deep sense of loss and grief, when her mum died, which never passed.

My mum... and her mum 2 years before Nana died (c) 2013. C.Crout-Habel

My mum… and her mum 2 years before Nana died (c) 2013. C.Crout-Habel

Growing up, my mum’s “Birthday Book” held great fascination. How I loved thumbing through, reading the poems about “Friendship” and asking about people whose names appeared but were a complete mystery. This is how I came to learn that mum had a brother, named Norman… although he was actually a half brother, and opened up a whole part of my Nana’s life which was previously unknown to me.

Copyright (c) 2013. Catherine Crout-Habel

Copyright (c) 2013. Catherine Crout-Habel

The “flyleaf”  was particularly fascinating for in the hand of her Grandmother, Eliza Jane (Rowen) Murray, is the dedication which reads:

“to Kath

under that, in my mum’s teenage hand, is written:

“14 years” and as a mature woman she added the word “old”

(c) Copyright. 2013. C.Crout-Habel

(c) Copyright. 2013. C.Crout-Habel

It was, and still is,  wonderful to see my great granmother’s writing but the stories which were prompted by this entry are the real treasures.

Often when thumbing through mum’s Birthday Book I would pause to read her writing, on the back pages, which all related to the death of her mum. I have vague memories of my Nana in a BIG bed just off from our kitchen, which is where she died. She had been very ill for many years so she, and Grandpa, came to live with us. Mum nursed, and cared for, her beloved mum until her dying day.

Interesting that this room later became named “the living room”,  was where in later years  the “tellie” was located and mum, dad, grandpa, my three brothers and I  “lived” out our family indoor leisure time… mmmhhh… but I digress.

All I can remember of that day was being sent down the street to spend the day with Mrs Edith Love whom we named “Lovebird”. She was a dear friend of both my Nana and mum and I spent lots of happy times in her kitchen, chatting, cooking and eating. The next I remember is dad coming over to “fetch us” and my youngest bro, and I, were last in the line as we trooped back home. I kept saying “Nana’s dead, I know it!!!” Malcolm kept crying and saying, “No, she isn’t!!!”.  This remembrance saddens me but, there you have it…

A few minutes later we were home, traipsed through the kitchen where  the “rellies” were sitting around drinking tea and eating ??? … and on into the “living room” where we were taken to this huge “box” on stilts which I later learnt is called “a coffin“. We were then told to say “goodbye” to our Nana. My last memory of Nana is that she looked very young and the six year old me decided that, like magic, death suddenly makes you young again. Now I realise that all that time we were away, the Undertaker must have been busy at work for mum writes that her beloved Mum died at 9.30p.m… which must have been the previous night.

It wasn’t until after sitting with my daughter by my own mum’s death bed, and trying to  comfort her during her dying hours, that the significance of those writings in her Birthday Book really hit home. Whilst my three brothers and sister-in-law were off making funeral arrangements, and “forgetting” to include me, I read and re-read and cried and cried again at mum’s anguish over the death of her own dear mother.  She wrote, just 4 days after Nana’s death:

Copyright (c) 2013. C. Crout-Habel

Copyright (c) 2013. C. Crout-Habel

“Mum died 7th Jan. 1953. She passed away approx 9.30pm. Just passed away quietly in her sleep. I cannot believe she is gone forever. I miss her so – every where I look or turn I am reminded of her in so many ways. I try not to cry now, but my sorrow is so deep. I am crying inside, I do not want her back to suffer as she did in her last days but then I think of how lonely I am and then with all my heart & soul I cry out for just one more word to hear mum say my name or just to hold her hand or Kiss her dear face. Will this sorrow lesssen as time goes by or will I always feel so heavy hearted – Jan 11th 1953”

So Nana and Mum… the story is told. Trusting that you are both happy with my telling of it and are off having a “rollicking” good time with Jarren Vaughan, and “Silver”…


My mum was only 28 years old when her mum died and I was 61. Mum had four young children at the time, the youngest being only four, whilst my three were all grown up and with children of their own yet still I cry out, at night, just to feel her arms around me and to “chew the fat” one more time.

Luvya mum and still miss you more than I can even begin to say but happy that you are now re-united with your own dear mum.

4 Generations - Front: me & my great granmother. Back: mum and her mum (c) C.Crout-Habel

4 Generations – Front: me & my great granmother. Back: mum and her mum (c) C.Crout-Habel


Copyright © Catherine Ann Crout-Habel


It was a typical hot summer January day as my brothers, and I, splashed around and cooled off in the Swimming Pool adjacent to the Kiosk at the “Gorge Caravan Park”.  We’d been exploring the bush for days, having fun on the “swinging bridge”, paddling in the creek and then back to the caravan for a good old “nosh up”. It was an idyllic holiday and there was no sign of the approaching danger, and terror, which would remain indelibly imprinted on my 8 year old brain forever.

Gorge Caravan Park and Kiosk. Google Earth.

Gorge Caravan Park and Kiosk. Google Earth.

The first sign that anything was amiss was when mum and dad came over to check on us and to enquire, at the Kiosk, as to why so many people were packing up and leaving. Never will I forget the look of horror on my mum’s face when they found the Kiosk locked and abandoned. Hurrying back to the caravan and turning on the portable radio the terrible reality dawned. Unbeknowns to my parents a bushfire warning had gone out, our camping ground was now surrounded by raging fires, and it was too dangerous to try and flee the flames.

Although they must have been terrified my parents calmly sat the four of us down, explained the situation and advised that we needed to “stay put” until the fire had been extinguished and it was safe to go home… however, we were told to keep close together and if dad gave the signal we were to run down to the adjacent creek and immerse ourselves in the water until he said it was safe to come out. Although nearly “scared out of my wits” my dad made me feel as safe as anyone could be, under the circumstances.


It was so hot, and stuffy, in the caravan that night as we tried to sleep with the smell of smoke in our nostrils and the glow of the surrounding fire lighting up the night sky. Eventually I dozed off and was awakened by a weird noise and felt a HUGE bump and the caravan began shaking until I was sure it would fall over. Dad leapt out of bed and out of the door “as quick as Jack Flash”. It turned out to be just a poor old terrified cow who’d stumbled against the van and was causing a lot of “ruckus”.

The next I remember is that it’s morning and mum and dad saying the fires were out and it was safe to go home. I later learnt that the bushfire had been contained only because of a fortunate change of weather and the work of some 2.500 volunteers who’d responded to the desperate call for help. As we drove that 30kms back to the safety of the Adelaide CBD, I will never forget the blackened bushland and the devastated countryside we passed through. Sight, and smells, I never want to experience again.


On the South Australian Professional Historians website, Alison Painter has written:

“The 2 January 1955 is known in South Australia as ‘Black Sunday’. Terrible bushfires swept through the Adelaide Hills, blackening 600 square miles of coluntry from One Tree Hill in the north to Strathalbyn in the south. Forty homes were lost as well as many other buildings including the Upper Sturt railway station and Marble Hill, the Governor’s summer residence on Norton Summit.

On that hot weekend the Governor, Sir Robert George, and his family went to stay at Marble Hill. By Sunday afternoon the smoke and heat showed that the fire was very near and in spite of the efforts of the staff with garden hoses the building suddenly caught alight. The family and staff narrowly escaped by throwing wet blankets over themselves. They huddled near a bank as the elegant old home burnt fiercely and the tower collapsed at the height of the blaze. Since then the impressive ruins have been partly restored by the National Trust but the Governors have never returned.

There was great loss of property and stock in the fires in the hills and in the south east, but only one man died, at Inglewood. Until the Ash Wednesday fires of 1983 this was the worst bushfire in the State’s history.

Advertiser, 3, 4, 5 January 1955. “

Black Sunday.1955.Marble_Hill_Ruin.Wikipedia

The South Australian CFS (Country Fire Service) reports that:

“Two fire fighters lost their lives and damage, spread over a total area of at least 40,000 hectares, was estimated at $4,000,000.”

The Australian Bureau of Metereology explains:

“The nature of the Australian environment – long periods of dry, hot weather and volatile natural vegetation – makes many parts of the country particularly vulnerable to fire. Southeastern Australia has the reputation of being one of the three most fire-prone areas in the world, along with southern California and southern France. The Black Friday fires in 1939 in Victoria, Ash Wednesday (1983) in Victoria and South Australia and the 1967 fires in Tasmania, have each killed in excess of 60 Australians. They loom as dark shadows in the consciousness of residents of these states on summer days when strong northerlies, extreme heat and low humidity follow a long dry period. Throughout the 20th Century, many other fires have claimed lives, destroyed people’s homes and livelihoods, and reduced thousands of hectares of forest to charcoal and ash.”

bushfire seasons

Once again the “bushfire season” is upon us as the temperatures soar into the 40’s and are set to remain there for some time. May all who live in bushfire prone areas and  those fire fighters, and volunteers, who risk their lives for others keep themselves safe and well.

To those who’ve lost loved ones, property and livelihoods in previous bushfires… may you be blessed and comforted as the memories return along with the scorching heat. My childhood terrors, of 58 years ago,  are nothing in comparison.


RESOURCES (including photos) and FURTHER READING:  


Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel.