Jj – is for Jolly Jokes and Jokesters

Do it again!!!… Do it again!!!…” the four year old me would shriek as Uncle Ray took off his finger, then plonked it back on again. This week’s Gould’s “Family History Through the Alphabet” challenge I dedicate to all our Ancestral “Jolly Jokesters” who filled the lives of family and friends with fun and laughter as they shared their Jokes, Japes and Jolliness.


1951-1953 FX Holden Ute

Uncle Ray wasn’t “really” my Uncle but the husband of mum’s much loved cousin Patricia (Pat) Behenna. How I loved those Sunday “arvo” visits and waited with joyful anticipation, at the front fence, for Uncle Ray’s “ute” to pull up and the man himself to climb out. That was another exciting thing about Uncle Ray – his “ute”. No-one else had such a fun car which I so loved to go driving in.

To me Uncle Ray was truly a “giant of a man”… full of fun, laughter and jokes and never too busy “chinwagging”, with the “grown ups”, to get down on his knees and delight all the “tin-ribs” with his new Jokes and the patient re-telling of the old. Forever a curious child, I can still see and feel Uncle Ray’s rough, workman’s finger which he happily proffered for close in-spection. I finally came to the conclusion that the secret to his “magic finger” lay in the mole above the knuckle of his right fore-finger. Of course that was how he could take his finger off and put it back on again!!!

Then there’s Auntie Maggie and Auntie Hilda (my mum’s Aunts), who would often join us on our regular “Sunday drives” in the Adelaide Hills. They delighted in pointing out the cows who were born with legs shorter on one side so they could stand and graze of the hillsides, and the round concrete platforms where “the King and Queen danced” when they came to Australia. The gullble child in me believed all their “stories”. How well I remember mum chastising Auntie Maggie who loved to say “yum, yum, lamb chops!!!” when we’d see new born lambs frolicking in the paddocks so, behind mum’s back, she’d simply roll her eyes and lick her lips. We children would screech with laughter and Auntie Maggie would “act the innocent” which made us laugh all the more. I still wonder at the meaning of “A Wig Wam for a Gooses Bridle/Bridal” which was the Aunts’ reply when choosing not to answer a question.

Who could ever forget my beloved Grandpa’s “party trick”? He would cut up those thin “cigarette papers” fringe the edge, lick the “sticky side”, glue them to is eyelids and just sit quietly waiting for someone to comment. Everyone would ignore him and me, the ever observant/ “sticky beak” of a child  would wait and watch to see which adult would finally give in and say, “Fred, take those off!!!”. Of course, he would “act the innocent”. Mmmh… whatever happened to all those coins we KNOW were in the “Chrissie Pud”? You can read about that here.

Last, but not least, is my mum‘s delight in “April Fool’s Day” jokes. She’d be the first up every morning, all “bright eyed and bushy tailed” and I,  the proverbial “night owl” and a hopeless “sleepy head”, was “just ripe for the picking.” Every year mum would catch me out but one year, in particular, remains stuck in my “memory box”. Stumbling out to breakfast I took the plate off my cereal bowl, vaguely wondering why mum had put a plate there and in the bottom of the bowl sat the note “APRIL FOOL”. For years I kept reliving my teenage outrage and complaining, but that’s not FAIR mum… it’s not even a JOKE!!!”  My gorgeous mum would just smile, say not a word and continue on with whatever she was doing. Ahhh… luvya and still miss ya mum xxx.

I wonder who were the Jolly Jokesters in your Family line and what the Jokes are that remain part of your own family folk-lore?… Perhaps it’s you who is today’s family Jokester with Jolly Jokes, of your own, which will pass down through time?  🙂


SOURCES: Thankyou to Richard Lewis for the picture of the 1951-53 Holden FX Ute.

Copyright © 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel. “Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family  

The ANZACS and the Vietnam War

In the early 1960’s the South Vietnamese government was beset with problems.  It was under threat from a growing communist insurgency and sought assistance from the United States and her regional ally, Australia.  This support for Vietnam was in keeping with the policies of many other nations, to stem the spread of communism in Europe and Asia, with the fear that if one country “fell” to communism then others would swifty follow – referred to as “the Domino effect”.

Australia initially responded with 30 military advisers.  They arrived in South Vietnam during July and August 1962 and a proclamation, issued by the Governor-General on 11 Jan 1973, formally declared an end to Australia’s participation in the War.  Australia’s military involvement in the Vietnam War was the longest in duration of any war in Australia’s history.  From the time of the arrival of the first members of the Advisory Team almost 60,000 Australians, incuding ground troops and air force and navy personnel, served in Vietnam; 521 died as a result of the war and over 3,000 were wounded.

The war was the cause of the greatest social and political dissent in Australia since the conscription referendums of the First World War. In 1964, two years after entering Vietnam, compulsory National Service was introduced.  The scheme was based on a birthday ballot for 20-year-old- men who were to perform two years’ continuous full time service in the Regular Army Supplement, followed by three years’ part-time service in the Regular Army Reserve.  The full-time service requirement was reduced to eighteen months in 1971. 

 Protesters and those refusing to register, or refusing to serve if called up were jailed.  Public outrage intensified when, in May 1965, one year after the commencement of National Service the Australian Defence Act was amended to provide that National Servicemen could be obliged to serve overseas, a provision that had been applied only once before – during World War II.   Lobby groups were set up to fight for its repeal as well as the removal of Australian troops from Vietnam. Organisations, such as “Save Our Sons”, held protests across the country and handed out anti- conscription leaflets.  A major rally involving “Save Our Sons”, and other anti-war groups, was held when US President Lyndon B. Johnston visited Australia in 1966 with crowds of protestors chanting,

“LBJ, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”

During that rally a now famous line was uttered when the driver of the car carrying Johnston and New South Wales Premier Askin asked what he should do as the crowd was blocking the road.

“Run over the bastards” was Askin’s response.

Australian Defence Medal

Conscription ended as one of the first acts of the newly elected Whitlam Labor Government in late 1972. About 63,735 National Servicemen served in the military from 1964-1972.  Of that number, 19,450 served in Vietnam, all with the Army.



Anniversary of National Service Medal

In 2002 National Servicemen, or “NASHOS” as they came to be known, were eventually recognised for their service with the “Australian Defence Medal”and the “Anniversary of National Service 1951-1972 Medal”. 




I was a teenager throughout this turbulent period in Australia’s history. Furthermore, it was my brothers, their friends, their friends’ brothers, my schoolfriends, cousins, etc., who were threatened by the infamous “lottery” – of having their names “drawn” and being sent off to the horror that was the Vietnam War when little more than children. Some managed to dodge it, some were unlucky, some didn’t come back and some came back maimed in body, mind and spirit.  

SOURCES:  http://www.vietnam-war.commemoration.gov.au

Copyright (c) 2012 Catherine Crout-Habel. Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family                      

Tribute to our ANZAC Diggers

The First ANZAC Day – 15 Apr 1915

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall to weary them, nor the years condemn:
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,


“Ode of Remembrance” –  “From the Fallen” (1914) by Laurence Binyon

For further information on the ANZAC Tradition see: “The one day of the year” 

Copyright © 2012 Catherine Crout-Habel.
Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family

Two little girls…

Two little girls…

Two lonely graves…

                                                                                        Two grieving families…


Barbara Pauline THIELE
Born:  24 Sep 1893 – Mannum
Died:    3 Jan 1900 – Loxton

Youngest daughter of:
Johann (Friedrich) Wilhelm Thiele &
Auguste (Pauline) Bottroff




Elisabeth Clara HABEL
Born:  17 Dec 1895
Died:  25 Jan 1898

Fourth child of:
Wilhelm Emil Habel &
Maria Mathilda Grosser





South Australia, Australia

(c) Copyright 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel. Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family

Grandpa & the Teapot

Frederick Alexander ALLAN - 1949

Ahhh, Grandpa …

Growing up with Frederick Alexander Allan provides an endless flow of memories to share… Here’s just one little snippet.

After the death of his beloved Elizabeth Mary (nee Murray) Evans, 7 Jan 1953, Grandpa came to live with us and spent the last 13 years of his life surrounded by four active, noisy, growing children and a multitude of their friends. I realise now that it couldn’t have been easy for him but remember mum saying that his grandchildren kept him alive.

Ahhh, Grandpa … 

Every morning, as I tip my spoon into the condensed milk for that early morning “cuppa”, memories of Grandpa’s tea making and drinking rituals flood my mind.  I can see those arthritic, careworn, knobbly old hands clasped around the pot of freshly made tea, his feigned expression of surprise, the flapping hands, the sucking in of breath and the almost inaudible, “Well I’ll be blowed…”

Sometimes the unkind thought … “well of course it’s hot, you silly old fool” would flash across my young brain. Watching the blood pulsating in dad’s forehead, as he battled to control his anger, and Grandpa’s self satisfied smile was confusing to a small child.  Mum’s refusal to acknowledge her father’s behaviour and husband’s growing anger was even more confusing.  Why didn’t she do something about it?  The adult me understands.

The next step in Grandpa’s ritual was to lift the pot, by it’s black bakelite handle, and see-saw it backwards and forwards until satisfied the brew was to his liking.  Finally he’d pour the steaming hot liquid, from a great height, into his huge white cup embossed with “Father” in gold copperplate lettering.  

In my mind’s eye I can see mum’s aluminium teapot sparkling with loving attention and the use of Steelo, steel wool pads.  How many cups of tea were poured from it’s spout?  How many tears were assuaged with a cup of the rich brown beverage? How many times did Grandpa perform his pantomime? Whatever happened to mum’s beloved old teapot?   

As a youngster Grandpa’s behaviour often annoyed and irritated me, the aggravation increased with the teenage years… now the remembering brings a “smile to m’ dial”.

Ahhh, Grandpa …


(c) Copyright 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel. Seeking Susan~Meeting Marie~ Finding Family



For some time it’s been of concern that I’ve fallen into the trap of being so busy researching and recording the lives of Ancestors that I’m leaving my own story to be written by others.

To see my mother’s handwriting on birthday cards and to read the loving letters/ notes we’ve exchanged is a joy.  Dad’s writings about his early life in Australia, as a 16 year old, are irreplaceable treasures. My own son has a journal, “Leatherbound”, which he began before the birth of his first child almost 15 years ago.

The answer to my dilemma came today from Lorine McGinnis on her Blog http://olivetreegeanology.blogspot.com.au   Sharing Memories – A Genealogy Journal.  Brilliant!!!  Thanks Lorine.

Pondering over “Sharing Memories” it occurs to me that not only are there stories to share but also “snippets” … just little moments in time which stay entrenched in the memory box to be unexpectedly triggered by seemingly insignificant daily events.

Finding it hard to clear these “snippits”, which tend to block my thinking, I’ll create and area to acknowledge, honour and deposit them … for it’s the small moments in time that create a day, a week, a month, year and lifetime.