Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Bus Trip from Central Park

Tuesday 23 September 2008
Yesterday I made a bus trip - my second with Central Park - and I must admit, approaching it with a mild degree of excitement......  Would many take  part?  Realising that relatively little time is  actually available - a mere 120 can they possibly decide on destination decisions?  Do folk tend  to "dress-up" a little?  Maybe wear something a little different from the usual choice of basic jeans dress, skirt, jumper etc?
I guess whatever the good Lord above turns on is a great determiner on that particular decision because we do tend to be greatly guided how even the day`s appearance is so important.......After writing these few lines I subconsciously glanced up to view a rapidly-darkening sky studded here and there with flashes of sable-furred silver  lightning.  It was accenting those tremendously gentle swaying and crackling creaking sturdy ti-tree limbs  lovingly-planted some 80 -100 years ago to soften the awkward asphalt on which young kids will no doubt trip or fall.   How old would some of them be now I longer be taking steps on this 2008`s soil .... this soil which is already terror-stricken in today's tempestuous world.
Just then I grabbed a glimpse of the lurid lightning, and as I looked up into the sky I saw one of the other bus passengers, a young Muslim teenager adjusting the neckline of her headscarf.  She flashed me a magnificent fervent smile and when I queried the rapid change of her expression she said everytime she looked at me I was displaying a most happy look........
It then hit me like a flash - the power we can all pass on - so simply - so easily to so many with such a minimum of effort......and how such a tiny showing of individually - enviromentally goodness could actually alter natural!
Harry Greenberg
Phone: (03) 9525 0496
Blog site:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


My Birthday Twin died during the last couple of weeks.   Over a period of years we became quite close to his family at various times and when I became aware of greater details of his life from his son's writings, it made a great impression on me and Iwanted to share it with other similar-thinking folk ....

> My Dad died on Friday evening, aged 91.  I just say here a little about
> him.  I loved him.  He was warm, sincere and optimistic.  There was joy in his
> greeting and generosity in his manner.  People said with feeling that, in
> his zestful presence, their world seemed better. Women, in particular, loved him. 
  He was courteous, dapper and unassuming.
> He appreciated beauty and could find it in an ageing face.  His eyes
> twinkled with a benign naughtiness that could source a laugh from everyday
> things.  And he always remembered important occasions and made an effort
> to celebrate them.  When aged 78, he married my stepmother on Waikiki Beach, Hawaii,
> just before sunset.  He promised her ten years.  They had thirteen years
> and were very good for (and to) one another.  I am grateful for our
> blended family.  He was a dreamer.  I'm sure he dreamed of being skilled at sport, dancing,
> food preparation - and he did courses in these things - but he lacked
> quite the deftness to excel at sport or the practical use of his hands (or
> feet).  His skills lay with ideas, his use of words and his desire and
> striving to include others in his world.  He was ever interested in current affairs and the activities of those he loved. 
  He wrote good letters and could speak well.  His strong sense of duty led to his working hard and ever striving to do
> the right thing.  He was decisive and kept things orderly (Oh where did
> THAT gene go!?).  Just occasionally, too much focus on detail affected his
> overall performance.  He had a low tolerance of frustration but, after one or two thunderclaps,
> the storm would quickly pass.  He was deeply Australian.  Through humour, a sense of fairness, and desire
> to work for communal good he would echo Henry Lawson's words: "... and I
> love the great land where the waratah grows, and the wattle-bough blooms
> on the hill".   He entered hospital on 1 August, breathless and weak with heart and
> kidneys failing.  Through his fitful speech, he talked of ordinary
> things - and the future.  He remained forward-looking and eager for a
> laugh and to know what was happening in the lives of those close to him.
> Determined to be independent, he would struggle to the toilet and shower
> himself despite desperate gasps.  I left him about 7 pm on Friday when he wanted to watch the television
> news.  He said he'd like to doze before viewing the
> Olympic opening ceremony.  He never awoke.  Dad always said he had a lucky life.  Perhaps then it was fitting that he
> died on 8/8/2008

Harry Greenberg
Phone: (03) 9525 0496
Blog site:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cousin Bert The Spirited Self-Sufficient Survivor

One of my wife`s favourite cousins was Bert  Rostkier - a bright handsome guy with a direct dazzling smile and pleasing personality - a little older than her.....he had immigrated from Poland, arriving here about 1936. H e was special to her because the 2 families shared the same house in two separate apartments. and they grew up like sister and brother until Marge`s family arrived her in 1934. In Australia he lived with Marge`s family in Brighton while becoming acclimatised and learning the language etc. before going to the country working with Uncle Sam, Marge`s family who had a clothing and drapery store at Nhill at that time.
A part of his work then consisted of hawking - initially walking ther country roads, getting lifts from farmers where possible to whom he would sell direct and take orders, carrying his tightly-packed suitcases full of sheets, pillow-cases, mens` and womens`clothing and then in time, travelling and delivering stock by car.
World War 2 broke out and Bert was accepted as a volunteer for the Australian Army after successfully cheating them about his age, but  on the way to Europe where he thought he was going the ship was diverted to Singapore where he soon became a prisoner of the Japanese in early 1942 - just a few weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbour..then spending three and a half years in the hell-hole known as Changi Gaol and partly on the incredibly infamous Burma Railway including months digging the horrible Hell-Fire Pass.
During these harrowing shocking times, not only did he work on the railway but he also attended the numerous needs of  mates worse off than him as they became  extremely under-nourished and ill with malaria, typhoid fever, and terrible tropical diseases - volunteering every spare moment to nurse them thus placing his own health at risk......
Talking of tropical diseases, I`ll never ever forget when, on the first night of his return to Melbourne, sitting around our family dinner table, I asked Bert what illnesses he had suffered and he replied "Ulcers, malaria etc and VD. When he said "VD" the rest of us all looked at him first - then at each other, and those on either side of him moving slightly away........and he continued
" Everyone in the gaol had it!.........." When I enquired "How did you get VD in gaol - there were no women prisoners were there ?" He flashed a big grin saying "Vitamin Deficiency!" Like most returned soldiers he had a real reluctance to share his horror stories - in those days soldiers were not fortunate to receive debriefing and counselling assistance as thry do today...
If fact his extremely distressing experiences had a strong significant impact on his later life - both the years in Malaya and the malicious murder of his mother, sister and other families by the Nazis made him a very strict uncompromising person, but underneath the tough severe exterior there hid the manifestation of a marshmallow - much appreciated by his children and grand children,( his great gandchildren were too young).
When I think of Bert, I`m reminded of Seneca ( 4BC - AD 65) and his statement - "The most inspiring state in the world is to see a man struggling against advertisity"          Cousin Bert certainly did......
                        `till next time, in about 7 - 10 days

Friday, August 1, 2008


I was quite surprised recently when telling someone I`d been receiving  treatment for bladder cancer for sometime and their reaction to the word "Cancer!....UGH!", and, as it appeared to be spreading, the need for immediate radio therapy which was planned to end on Tuesday 22 July - after which it could take anything from 2 -3 days to a period of 6 weeks to be directly re assessed..............
Having a few medicos in my family, with my son, older daughter and younger daughter having graduated also 2 of whom having married medicos - when my granddaughter medico presented me with my great grandchild Number 10 about 6 months ago I thought it might be a little unusual if the baby didn`t become a doctor as the baby's grandparents are well-respected eminent doctors.     
When my son Peter`s first grandchild was born I became aware of my age as I wished  him "Happy 65th!" I also thought it a most opportune time to ask him if he had his time over again would he have become a doctor? He never hesitated for a second saying "Yes Dad"....when we were living in Horsham we had a little Australian Terrier called Cobber and our beloved Boba once asked Peter to cut some brains for his dinner...he took one long hard look and replied "I can`t" whereupon Marge asked  "How do you thingkyou will be a doctor?" Peter promptly replied " I suppose by then when I
have to I`ll be able.
A little while later on Tuesday the 21 July while waiting at the William Buckland Centre at the Alfred Hospital being questioned by a happy-looking smiling pretty little nurse called Emma with a Scottish accent so b r o a d she was extremely difficult to understand for some reason or other I thought of a very well known Scottish comedian by the name of Harry Lauder) (later knighted by King George).
When I was a tiny toddler my father was a keen amateur stage performer who used to quote Sir Harry Lauder, in a pitiful voice singing "Oh, I am so downhearted - paid a penny and only farted !" (This was of course in the days one had to pay for the privilege of using public sanitary conveniences.  I thought it amazing that a lovely young lass in her early twenties had heard of Sir Harry who was a world-famous stage star over 80 years earlier...... .
Well, today is Saturday 18th July - cold, windy & showery outside - close personal members of my personal family have now left me in hospital leaving me with another story just dredged up from my random family member who will not be named because of a fierce insistence on privacy which I never have or will ever understand was at a recent friend`s funeral and this family member was made aware of the fact that the words of that well-known Jewish song & dance
"Hava -nagillah"had been introduced to him  (a staunch Catholic ) by that family member when he was a little child and he knew at last from whence it came and for some reason or other why it had stayed with him and benefited him in some way ...I really regret my not being allowed to divulge any more information.
One of the doctors manning the 24/7 palliative care hospital popped in for a little chat about my plans on completion of my  radio therapy in a few days - suggestion it could take anything from 2 -3 days until possibly 6 weeks for the success of the treatment to be determined, even suggesting I might like to do newspaper crosswords!
I then realised how much I`d been blessed in my long-lasting life never having been bored.....I take a great delight in my random reflections by which I can keep closely in touch with grandchildren and great-grandchildren all over the world. Firstly, since early marriage at 22 and the needs of a small rapidly-growing family leaving little "spare" time and being fortunate to have the pleasure and ability to gather the satisfactory words together with which to express my thoughts - these random reflections.......
Harry Greenberg
Phone: (03) 9525 0496
Blog site:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How I threw away about 1 million dollars

About 50 years ago my family moved from Horsham, in NW Victoria to Croydon in the foothills of the Dandenongs after 10 happy satisfying and productive years. In Horsham my wife Marge had opened & operated a very successful ladieswear boutique from about 1947 which greatly benefitid from wartime shortages of fashionable stock., using one communal change room set up behind the clothing racks...she had lived in Horsham immediately she had immigrated from Poland and had many school-friends she knew when she opened which formed the nucleous of a thriving business very quickly after her few years in Melbourne as a teen-ager. She had "a thing" about small shops and she loved the buzz and excitement amongst the ladies when new stock arrived and after rapidly removing invoices etc. allowed them to remove them from the boxes and put them on the hangers amid choruses of admiration - "ooh`s and ah`s" etc. as some of them looked for their special orders etc. .. After we`d settled in Croydon she wanted to continue in the same way and in 1957 we opened Jolee Sports, named after our 2 daughters Jo & Lee, in a spacious shop - too large in fact, so we separated it by a unique ti-tree dividing wall and a covering of tan-bark covering the floor. Our elated enthusiasm overlooked the fact that, after a few weeks the tanbark had disastrously disentegrated into dust which was definitely not an advantage to resplendent racks of delicate, demure dresses and the tanbark  was duly dispatched to the garden.
We had no allocation for advertising in our strictly limited budget, so Marge quietly opened and patiently waited for customers and it wasn`t too long before  she happily advised of her first sale - a cardigan! She soon built it up into a thriving business and in the other half I operated a successful real-estate agency I sold after a while when it became evident there was scope for an art gallery we called Croydon Galleries - living near many artists then operating in and around the was Melbourne`s first art gallery outside the city`s CBD....after some solid searching in artists` studios I was most fortunate in persuading Arnold Shore, well-known painter and the Age art critic to do the honours  and he agreed, after which I successfully approached Melbourne`s the city`s then 3 TV channels 2, 7 and 9 to film the opening.
One of the first painters I asked to exhibit was a certain John Brack - I think he was an art teacher at Melbourne Grammar then . He had not been painting long and at that time I was beginning to form an opinion in my own mind if the style of paintings I preferred and I loved the clean-cut in which he presented his human figures..........if only I`d that I`d been blessed with foresight and held on to a few of his paintings then! I reckon I lost about a million dollars because one of his paintings recently sold for 3.2 million dollars .....
After Croydon Galleries had served us well we closed it and opened the Jolee Coffee Shop with an entrance through to Jolee Sports on one side and Jolee Junior on the other - manned by myself. Prior to the opening of the coffee shop I had visited Pellegrinis at the top of Bourke St - not then long in business which was using Melbourne`s first expresso machines. I`d previously ensured I was armed with a pencil & tape measure so I could get approximate measurements of the bar - by standing up against it noting it was just a little below nipple height - we also used a black & white checked soon became well-known because of Marge`s cooking until it justified a paid fulltime staff member.
We also had prime publicity for Jolee Junior with it`s own play area with tiny fences, toy phones etc. (another "first" for Melbourne) so while the Mums shopped and/or enjoyed coffee, the kids were happy - not touching the clothing etc.....
Talking of children, Kingsley Amis (1922 - 1955) said "It`s no wonder people were so horrible when they started life as children.......
`till next time - about 7-10 days

Friday, July 4, 2008

August Arrival of Toby Bo - Great -Grandchild No 10

OK - I know he was born on the 9th January...........this date has been something very special for me for 66 years.....It was the doleful date on which I suddenly lost my beloved father Bert at the age of 46.........I used the word "august" in meaning of special.....
On the Saturday after he was born I was able to have my first cuddle at the luxurious Park Hyatt Hotel where Mother Sally & son were being extremely well-cared for through St.Vincents Private Hospital due to Sally`s rapid the morning I had attended Temple Beth Israel and was superbly surprised to read on the weekly news sheet that the "Parsha" - that is the portion of the Torah read on that day had a special name Parsha Bo!
I was duly honoured by my attendance on the bima,( the dais from where the services are conducted) in front of hundreds of weekly worshippers by the Rabbi celebrating the safe arrival of my 9th great-grandchild.  Mention was also made of the fact that it was also the anniversary of my father`s decease. After the service concluded, I asked the Rabbi what was the significance of the word "Bo" behind "Parsha" and was told it was something very special and when I told him his birthday was exactly the day of Dad`s decease.........he said just a few of the 52 "Parshas" had special names and the word "Bo" was the proununciation of the first word meaning "Come!" In his opinion, he said that child will be a much-blessed person.....
Toby`s parents will never be accused like my wife Marge and I were - of sliding a tape recorder under our children` pillows blatantly bleating "You`re going to be a doctor - You`re going to be a doctor....." resulting in our 3 children graduating in medicine.......
Toby`s father Gabe is a doctor also his mother as well as his grandfather Ray, grandfather Peter and grandmother Vonne  - all well-respected members of the medical profession...............................I wonder how Toby Bo will fill in his 8 hours plus?
On the 7th January Sally had visited me at Ardoch and we enjoyed a precious couple of hours together and my thoughts drifted back to when, visiting, at Hawthorn, I was at an auction of Whitehall just around the corner from Peter & Vonne, opposite the park when Sally arrived and stood on her toes and   wonderfully whispered in my ear - "Go on Zayda, buy it!'  Because I did - that was the beginning of many happy strolls down Bridge Rd. together.......
Anyway, within a few hours of leaving me at Ardoch Sally began to experience a few unfamiliar feelings and after a few more hours Toby Bo met his Mum and Dad. His arrival was apparently very easy after a short labour and soon after I had a lovely surprise call from Sally herself giving me more details.......
To make sure Toby`s unique status would not not forgotten I inserted the Temple weekly news sheet in the seachest I painted for him - it may come in handy at his barmitzvah...........Toby was about 4 months in the other photo..
                          `till next time - in about 7 - 10 days

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Joy of Work

We human beings are privileged to have many joys available to us in our spans of life.....I feel that one of the most lasting, satisfying and genuine joys is that of work. However one of the most important conditions  of this statement is that it must be work you like , it must be creative, and it must embrace one`s full activities...
We`re all born with certain talents and happiness in work will follow the using of them fully. Watch little children and realise their great glee glows because they`re doing a maximum of things they can do......eyes, ears, toes, legs and tongues are boisterously busy every waking moment.....
Diseases that usually arrive later in life like alcholism, laziness, obesity, sensuality etc. only serve to make folk happy while they`re indulging.....the rest of the time they`re bothered with bouts of depression, restlessness, self-disgust, restlessness, doubts, despair and blatant boredom...
Those happy most of the time are so because they have their necessary work and where someone is fortunate to find his right work it then becomes the same to him as play is to a child. Life`s extremely pleasant when it`s functioning normally.....every faculty we have begs to be used.......the brain needs to think, to plan, to organise, to project, to imagine, to reason, to compare, to reflect, to decide.....
When the brain has no real business  with which to be concerned we tend to load it with artificial activities such as nauseating novels, dreary DVD`s, vile or violent videos. The it`s probable that the people who are amusing their brains are nowhere as happy as those using them.
Our marvellous muscles demand energetic exercise - when we forget that, they regularly remind us with  rheumatism, arthritis,biliousness and gout. Every organ - the stomach, intestines, liver, heart, lungs - all insist on regular employment. If any are not employed to their full capacity, like the unions of old, they`ll go on strike when refused employment. The eye, the ear, every nerve and tendon must have work, The soul needs work - we must have someone to love, something to suffer,  something we we have to challenge and overcome.
A perfect hell would be.......... somewhere where every sense would subside, every appetite be is a function of ardent activity - unfortunately denied to many miserable millions who, through no fault of their own, suffer every day the monotony and misery of unsatisfying work.....
I can`t remember from where I first got the gist of this but reckon it`s almost spot on......
Many and dramatically diverse are the opinons of others concerning may find some of the following quotations quite questionable......
"Every man`s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself (Samuel Butler ) 1835 - 1902 
"Work is the grand cure of all the maladies that ever beset mankind" (Author unknown 1886)
"The working class  can kiss my arse " (Australian Labor Movement (traditional folk saying)    
                               `till next time - 10-14 days                        '

Friday, June 13, 2008

Nifty Noosa Nostalgia

I`ll never forget the thrill I got when Boba (my wife Marge) agreed to a suggestion of mine about a holiday in Queensland...Marge was a very contented lady - quite happy to stay home, she had just retired after we sold her Croydon boutique Jolee. For quite some time  as either she or I had never been further north than Brisbane,  I`d been saying we should have a look around the Sunshine Coast.
After a most pleasant uneventful couple of days we arrived in Nifty Noosa and were both extremely enchanted - soon finding a delightful apartment at Sunshine Beach just 5 minutes drive from the heart of the town, coincidentally right opposite the home of Bob Ansett who I hadn`t seen for about 50 years when I was Assistant Accountant for his father,   Reg Ansett (later Sir Reg)
After a few days, we happened to hear that an apartment was for sale on the next floor up which we immediately  inspected - a really roomy high-ceilinged 21sq penthouse with timber-panelled walls, originally built by a master-builder for his own use ,about the same size as our Ardoch apartment. It was now owned by a Brisbane corporation who used it for executive staff holidays and we quickly decided it was for us, being on the second floor of an 8 unit complex called Wainui with magnificent views right opposite the Pacific Ocean, just a few minutes` stroll to the beach.
This was the start of many valued visits over a  3 - 4 year period....when we were in Melbourne it was rented to casual, carefully-chosen tenants. Marge used to invest many happy hours on the sprawling sundeck embroidering rugs for all her grandchildren while I read to her, continuing a practice carried out all our lives together and I`d draw large landscapes for future joint -   embroidering & painting,or I enjoyed fishing from 4 am till 8am, occasionally bringing home a big fat bream after checking out the beaches in  - our little yellow Mini Moke "Boba 11" or my motor-boat "Boba 111" where you`ll see me proudly standing next to her just after I`d bought her and passed my licence test...... we were called the oldest teenagers in Noosa....
However I`m now paying for my happy hours standing in the ocean surf fishing by my necessary constant visits to skin specialists. One morning I forgot to lock the front door at 4am and when I returned we discovered we`d had an unwelcome univited visitor who took about $850 in cash and uninsured jewellrey...we were most grateful she didn`t awaken....
Nifty Noosa was extremely popular with 2 or 3 grandchildren who flew upon their own for school holidays - we`d meet them at Maroochydore Airport, about a half-hour`s drive away...we made some wonderful friends there many of whom we`re still in touch....
About 18 months ago my niece Geri Lazarus and husband Greg had just bought an apartment in lovely Little Cove and they kindly invited me up for a few days while they were considering plans for refurbishement and Geri & I soon flew up -  with Greg following a little later. The siting of this sprawling apartment is truly superb - very high up, naturally nestled among tall trees full of twittering beautiful birds, who, in fact we had to "Shoo" away from the sundeck where I`m initially penning these few lines on the sunny Sunday morning of our return to Melbourne.
We`d only arrived on Wednesday night but by the time we left, after 3 full days I`d been fortunate to catch up with 10-11 friends, rapidly exchanging highlights of the 12 years we`d been away. One lady, now 73 originally from Horsham in NW Victoria... ( we`d known her for 58 years )was a junior salesgirl Marge had employed  in her first boutique...another lady from Croydon now living in Noosa told us every time she visited us Marge was busy knitting or embroidering........
Another friend told me his 15 year old granddaughter wanted to know if I still did "Magic" - a game I started with my own children 60 odd years ago - hiding a little treasure, then pretending to blow away a burnt match which "disappeared" as I guided the child by saying "warmer" or "colder etc. till the hidden treasure was found. And then I had the most pleasant surprise of being reminded by quite a few fiends of their appreciation of my paintings of old sailing ships on tiny seachests I`d given them but completely forgotten........`
                                  `till next time

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Meeting GreatGrandchild No.9

I arrived at Flinders St Station 20 minutes after my tram ride from home in time to catch a train earlier than had been arranged with Grandson John meaning I`d be at Rosanna about 40 minutes earlier as this train travelled express to Clifton Hill. I was pleased that on reaching Rosanna I remembered the way to walk as I`d only travelled by train once before - a few years ago..
Just before turning into his street, quite a long one, with Yuki & John`s home right at the end,I realised with a clammy clutch of fear - that if they came to meet me as a surprise, I might miss them as car access to the station the way I was walking was not possible!  If this occurred they could be waiting for me for nearly an hour while I was waiting at their front door, so I instinctively increased my  pleasurable pace and walked about 100m more and then suddenly saw John walk towards his car....he turned and saw me waving furiously and shouting and immediately waved back and walked up to meet me with his usual infectious happy smile rapily allaying all my fears.
We soon went inside and I got my first glimpse of Leo Naori (Japanese for rain - there was light rain when he arrived in the garden...), then after hugs with Yuki and 22 month-old Clancy, I had my first long cuddle.........meeting a new member of the family is always very special, as I`ve found with all children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren...... From the first time I cuddled my 65 year old son Peter I felt that "this what immortality is all about' and I`ve been fortunate to have experienced that 26 times.........
Then John rang Virgil in the city and on his way home, just 5 minutes away he collected me for a quick cuddle with Julie and Alkira, greatgrandchild No.8, who intially said "No, no!" when I opened my arms to her - it was virtually our first meeting since I`d flown to celebrate her safe arrival her in Oslo when she was born, I was now, after all a virtual stranger however she was smart enough to change her mind when I introduced her to a little teddy bear in a tiny dress I`d brought with me...........
Virgil and Julie were most fortunate to have their compact roomy little home awaiting them after it was found by the family prior to their departure from Norway. After a most enjoyablei little afternoon tea, as the time was now 4.15 Virgil took me to the Station for my return trip home making use of the time to get busy with my pen and pad I carry everywhere so as not to waste a second of my limited time on earth......
                             `till next time - in about 7 - 10 days.....


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Yalcowinna Richmond, the Mansion home of bachelor William Highett.

In 1906 the Bethesda Hospital was opened with 50 beds as an intermediate hospital.  I first saw the light of day there, in 1919 ,when a donation of Six Thousand Pounds by Sir Aaron Danks allowed the Methodist Church to buy Yalcowinna, a mansion property on one and a half acres of gardens on Richmond Hill. Epworth Hospital was opened there on 27th February 1920 with 25 beds and a staff of 5.
Recently I found myself back in Erin St receiving positive proficient physiotherapy at the magnificent mansion "Elim" (originally called ) where I was warmly welcomed by receptionists Ann and Loretta and soon introduced to the first of about a doze machines, instruments etc. by Sean....that first visit caused me to write the CEO asking her to express my personal appreciation to Sean for his sensitive conscientious caring..........that letter was followed by another later in the week expressing my similar reactions  to Chris & Libby`s valued assistance in the workouts and later supplying me with information needed when I told them I was extremely impressed by the admirable architecture and wanted to write a blog about it and Epworth Rehabilitation Centre.
The mansion was built in 1867 by William Highett who was born in Weymouth in the county of Dorset England in 1807, the son pf Joseph Highett and his wife Elizabeth (nee Harding). He travelled to Victoria with his brother John, arriving in Hobart Town in February 1830. With a combined capital of 507 pounds and highly respected testimonials they were granted 500 acres of land at Georgetown, later buying extensive land holdings at Launceston and Campbell Town which were managed by brother John.
Two years after his arrival in Van Diemen`s Land William was appointed accountant of the Launceston branch of the Van Diemen`s Land Bank. In  January 1835 he joined the Tarmar Bank Co. as cashier remaining there until he accepted the position of manager of the Union Bank of Australia in Melbourne in 1838 which had taken over the Tarmar Bank Co. in Launceston that same year.
The Union Bank in Melbourne operated from a single storey  brick building on the corner of Queen St and Flinders Lane but with the growth of business a second storey  was added the next year. With continuing success the bank bought land at 30 pounds a foot on the south-east corner of Collins & Queen Sts. There in 1842 Donovan & Crosbie erected an impressive new bank building constructrd entirely of stone designed by George MacLagan.
Later that year Highett travelled to England and while there resigned from the bank and later rejoined the Union Bank as a local director remaining in the position for a number of years, becoming deeply involved with the growth of business and commercial development in Melbourne and was one of the founders and directors of the Bank of Victoria in Collins St.
A bachelor all his life, he decided to build a Mansion home at 29 Erin St Richmond on gardens of 1 1/2 acres naming it "Yalcowinna" - later changed to "Elim". It was described in a newspaper advertisement as a palatial palace built with artistic skill where no expense was spared with its appointments". The ground floor contained a dining room 28 X 16 ft,a ballroom 45 X 23 ft, lavatory 14 x 8 ft, breakfast room 16 x 14 ft, one bedroom16 x 14 ft. and 2 servants` rooms.
The first floor had a drawing room 24 x 16ft and 5 bedrooms of varying sizes. The outbuildings  comprised a four-stall stable, three loose boxes, two coachhouses, a man`s room a hayloft and wood and coalsheds. All these buildings were
'very tastefully laid out" including a lawn tennis court and an asphalt tennis court - 100 x 20ft in size.
A special feature was a huge magnificent coloured leadlight window forming a beautiful background to the upper and lower section of the home above a unique  wide sweeping staircase. The ceilings were 15 and 20ft high daintily decorated with carved & moulded rosettes.........
                              `till next time - in about 7 - 10 days


Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Marge & Harry Greenberg Story - First Meeting

Seeing today is the 15th May, I guess it`s time to reveal the really remarkable story - the genuinely greatest story of my life - that is the background of my momentous meeting with my marvellous Marge (Rostker). Although most of my fabulous family know parts of it I thought it time to put it on revered record for my 13 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.........
also any more gorgeous great grandchildren who may come along...............
Mid-way through my teens, about 16 I think, I started to look for a wife - that is, being perfectly confident I could satisfactorily handle a professional or commercial career ( I was then studying accountancy and working with a Chartered Accountant) I decided I`d look for some girl with whom I could successfully share the rest of my life..........I didn`t want to waste time and from then,after every date (I had many) I would carefully analyse how I felt about the girl and very rarely took the same girl out more than once or twice, naturally not telling anyone else.
I vividly remember thinking I needed to marry a Jewish girl. Sometime in June 1939 I was glancing through some newspapers and suddenly saw a head and shoulders photo of a girl with dark sparkling eyes and cute upturned nose I found extremely attractive.....this was on the Saturday of the King or Queens Birthday weekend. When my younger brother Joe, then 15, walked into the room I said "See that girl? I`m going  to marry her..." (I was then 20) Jo replied "she`s pretty - you`re mad! who is she?" I said I don`t know, then read the column and told him she was Margery Rostker, 18, Queen of Music, one of a group of girls raising money for a charity.
I was then at home with the flu - the only time in my life I`d suffered from it ...there was only one Rostker in the phone book  and I immediately rang her explaining I`d had quite a bit of experience raising money  on committees in similar appeals (as a member of the YMCA). A long talk  revealed I knew at least 3 of her friends - one a boy I was  with at Elwood Central School, and another boy whose uncle had married my aunt and this boy`s cousin, so I suggested she check-up on me and I`d ring her later. When I rang a couple of days later on the holiday Monday she confirmed what I`d told her and I immediately asked her to come to the Victory Film Cinema (now the National Theatre) in Melbourne.
I   borrowed Dad`s car, a 1937 Chevrolet on that wet night and proceeded to her home at 4 Elwood St Brighton and as I was waiting for the front door open I suddenly whipped off my specs and put them in my pocket - thinking I look better without glasses which, at that time were not the fashion accessory they often are now. The door was opened by a little girl about 10-12, Marge`s sister Paula who ushered me into the lounge she introduced herself and asked " Did you know Marge had 4 false teeth?" 
After I answered in the negative I met Marge and her mother and after a few formal preliminaries we left.
It was still raining fairly heavily and, as my vision was definitely improved with glasses, after opening the car door for her I walked round the back and popped them on and got in......she then said, "Excuse me, are you the same chap I met a minute ago?" We both had a good laugh........ I can`t remember what films we saw but afterwards we went upsairs on the corner of Acland and Barkly Strets now occupied by Coles ..Marge noticed a few of her boyfriends came in soon keeping an eye on us...
Walking back to the car I asked her whether she`d like to talk for a while? She agreed saying "Not for too long though" We then drove to a parking area opposite the then Elwood Life Saving Club ( now, I understand a well-known restaurant) known for obvious reasons as "Tail Light Alley", and it`s still called that for I read a reference to it in a local paper recently - anyway that was where we had our first kisses & cuddles........
I don`t know what time we arrived home but before this I was absolutelly positive she was the right girl for me after my 4-year search and she accepted my proposal....she hadn`t been out with many boys on their own,  - groups of boys and girls used to visit her home where she had 3 sisters. We immediately became secretly engaged and I bought her a gold chain bracelet on the catch of which was engraved a heart displaying 'M" & "H" which around to the bottom her wrist when necessary............
After about 6 months we told her parents, waited another six months to become formally engaged, that`s when she had the portrait taken wearing a backless dress to
which my Russian objected - on to which straps were eventually painted! We then married 12 months later on 15th May 1941. For a while we lived with Marge`s mother Sara and her three sisters - her father had country shops and came home intermittent her younger sister Mary was a shy, pretty girl and sometimes before coming to bed I`d gently knock on her door and whisper "Are you awake - move should have heard the scream!
Robert Burton (1577 - 1640) an English clergyman and writer said "No chord, nor cable can so forcibly bind or hold so fast, as love can do, with a twined thread"
                                 `till next time - in about 7 - 10 days

Monday, May 5, 2008

Simple Ordinary Things

When I was in hospital recently, celebrating my 89th birthday, I realised that for nearly 30 years I`d been privileged to be able to appreciate the simple ordinary things .....Before my retiremt at 59, from working for the always necessary dollar, like everyone else, my thoughts were focussed on my wife Marge, on our work and caring for our family. But then I began to think about the simple ordinary things of life.
 Things like food, drink, warmth, family love, family celebrations, sunshine, rain. Things like the first hot steaming cup of coffee in the morning, relaxing in the sunshine when it arrives to duly disperse the chilly, foggy mornings of winter; before that, the avidly absorbing, gentle changes of colur of the leaves at a ofutumn; Like sitting down to a delectable dinner in front  of an open fire and afterwards precisely penning together selections of wonderful (occasionally wise ) words.....
Simple things like the dramatic diversity of the sometimes sparkling shapes and captivating colours of fragrant flowers and the tempting taste of the first nectarines of the season; like enjoying a drink with a favoured old friend; like conversation around the dinner table, sometimes funny, sometimes deep and touching; sometimes stimulatinmg and infinitely inspiring. I think these thoughts come to one more easily with the onset of ageing.... I am aware I seem to be taking more time, doing things more slowly, counting my blessings more, often really listening to what people are saying and discussing their problems with those obviously seeking some help.
I discussed these ideas with an old friend not long ago and strangely enough he had found himself thinking along the same lines. In his own words, "I feel like someone who`s been told I`ve got 6 months to live - like a blind person who can suddenly see!" I suppose it`s something about hope, the eternal spirit you discover in all good people and in all simple and good happenings....
Have you ever experienced the exquisite satisfaction you get when you suddenly get an infuriating itch high up on  your back and the only way you can remove it it is with the help of a long-handled wire hair-brush -  and the rapturous relief felt when you`re in a strange locality and the need for a toilet becomes an urgency.............and you suddenly find one!
And at the end of the day, the welcoming warmth of the electric blanket if you sleep alone and if you don`t sleep alone - after pumping up the pillow and pulling up the covers, you put your arm around your loved one and then s -l -o-w -l -y slip into a sound sleep.........these are a few simple ordinary things!
                               `till next time, in about 7 - 10 days...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Wartime Memories

Marge and Harry and a little friend, 1942
I`m definitely becoming aware that my memory is shortening with the lengthening of my years....the Second World War years, 1939 - 1945 sure are a long way back and to me certainly seem so.......After conscription for 21 year-olds soon after the start I was drafted to Mt. Martha for a 3 month camp and duly medically examined and I can vividly remember a story going around  the tents at the time about a group of blokes who were a little illiterate and had two doctors examining them at once -  peering one in each earhole, and if they saw each other, they were drafted into the Military Police - having "nothing between the ears..."
Those three months were quite an emotive experience for me a true young "city-slicker" sleeping on a prim straw palliasse - close contact with 5 strangers in a tiny tent, being woken by a raucous blaring bugle before dawn, lining-up with a tin plate for meals, picking out khaki pants & tops and unmderwear from huge piles of dumped clothes, long monotonous marches, dreary drill etc,
We were issued with one leave-pass a fortnight (if my memory serves me correct) when I was able to catch up with my fiance Marge and my family. I really enjoyed my time in the Army and not very long afterwards, having given the idea much thought and family discussion I volunteered to go overseas with the AIF. However after another medical test my 90% blindness in my left eye soon stopped that idea.
I was working then as an audit clerk with Myer....price control had not been long introduced and stores & shops etc. were not allowed above a margin fixed by the government. It was my job to investigate all departments, interviewing staff etc. When, coincidentally I had to confront my old headmaster from Melbourne High School who, retired, was working there part-time. I remembered he had a face that looked as thought it had been carved out of granite with a manner to match.....I didn`t want to face him and soon changed places with another chap in my department.
Those were the food and clothing ration books and coupons as a result of government control of manufacturing and purchasing - the only way to deal with severe shortages of manpower and resources...Later on, in early December 1941, Marge and I, my Mum and Dad, Freda and Ken left Melbourne   to enter into a business partnership with my Uncle David Diamond, mum`s eldest brother who was operating a secondhand furniture shop in Lismore, northern New South Wales, after travelling against many folk escaping south from a possible invasion threat.........
We were holidaying in Ballina over Xmas when my father suddenly became ill and died in Lismore hospital just 46 years old of a brain tumour of and / or aneurismwhich prompted our immediate return to Melbourne and my eventual return to the Pay Corps of the Australian Army in Swanston St opposit  the Museum where I spent the rest of the war...........
The only battle in which I was engaged was "The Battle of Swanston St" in which I was daily engaged trying to get a seat on overcrowded keep fit, once a week we had to march around the  city streets with a break at Treasury Gardens for drill etc. They needed a Band to lead the troops and had great difficulty in getting a Drum Major to lead it. I volunteered, was immediately issued with a whistle and a long baton which I quickly learned to twist & turn in the proscribed manner....
Every now and then , when I considered it right,I would blow my whistle for the band to play and when I considered it right blow it again for them to stop, to give them a break.
When we reached the Gardens, the Band discreetly indulged in the practice of "spine-bashing" (lying on our backs etc.) while the troops indulged in various drills.My work was clerical because of my accountancy experience and I had the pleasure of talking with many famous Australians when collecting pay while on leave....
Once a week the Commanding Colonel carefully inspected long rows of desks with paper, pen & books all on the right corner in proper regimental order!(Typical Army.....)
VP day, August 15, when Japan surrendered, I was in a city Drill Hal having had drops in my eyes for a test and told to wait in a room till called. I was the only one there and I suddenly heard loud shouting, screaming and the honking of car horns....I came out of the room - the whole place was deserted and the doors were locked but after a while I found a wayout through a window and joined the mad mobs celebrating the end of the war and I had to ask someone to tell me what number tram to get as I couldn`t see prop-erly.....
                                 `till next time - in about 7 - 10 days

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


The dramatically devastating death of the majestic heritage-listed nearly 100 year old tree, 3-4 metres from residential buildings - madly murdered by wild winds on the edge of Ardoch`s Village Green was really remarkable because of no injury to human life and just one tiny window broken. It was memorably mourned by most of Ardoch`s 300 residents. After I related the news to ABC Radio`s Jon Faine for about 6 minutes, they immediately dispatched a camera crew from the newsroom........

Recently I came across some poems written by my marvellous Marge 22 years ago - wonderful words about a pine tree and perfect pine forest at at our previous "Prospect Hill Park " hone in Wandin North, just 10 minutes from lovely Lilydale. I`ve also added American author Joyce Kilmer`s well-known poem "Trees" often heard on radio sung by Richard Tauber and Paul Robeson.

The Pine Tree

I am but a small part of you. You are like me.
You too were transported from your environment to this new land.
You came, like me, to plant your seed in this new land.

We did not make the choice -it was made for us.
You were a seed in someone`s pocket - but more than that
You were a seed in a man`s heart and imagination.....

We came to this land as strangers - your seeds
are scattered by the winds.
You,in your mighty splendour give new depth of colour

to this ancient land. You, like me, am an intruder.
We came to this land not by choice - we were brought
here by necessity to survive.

My need of you is greater than life. You are life......
My me you are the old and the new
I too have given birth to new life and learned

to love this new land. Your vast branches and rough
crusty trunk deep[ with colourand smell, and your
tears of resin bring me back to size.....

I am nothing without you...

Mother Pine

You stand tall and proud - your peak soars to the sky.
Your arms spread wide to protect your root system.
You are shy,yes, you vevever shed your gown

You only drop your needles one by one.
You are always perfumed, always ready to dance
and sing in case the wind blows.

You only make music with your upper half -
You drop your groan, you creak - you
groan, you creak....

This is your way to ask me to look at you...
"Look at me -look at me you say" and I do
You spread your domain with a coloured mist

And with it you engulf you. If you would have me,
Mother Pine when I am no more
My ashes I would give to your bosom.

Marge Greenberg February 1986

I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree,
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth`s flowing breast,

A tree that looks at God all day and lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear a nest of robins in her hair,
Uoun whose bosom snow has lain who intimately lives with rain

Poems are made by fools like me, but only god can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer

`till next time - about 7 - 10 days.....

Monday, April 7, 2008


All my  long life I`ve been a fast walker - so much so that friends often asked my dear deceased wife Marge, "Is Harry a nervous person - he walks so quickly...?" She would tell me and we`d both enjoy a good laugh. I`v never been nervous or anxious, I rarely allowed anything to upset me, believing that response is negative and futile. I`ve believed for a long time that "Nothing matters it`s how you deal with it that`s important."  
Well, one day I`m an extremely fit "oldie" with every minute of every day satisfactorily invested, and the next morning when endeavouring to stand up out of bed I felt unduly unsteady and couldn`t walk without grabbing hold of cupboard door handles, furniture etc. thinking gosh I`m disabled!
As I`ve aged I`d adopted the habit of not hopping out of bed instantly when conscious but dangling my legs to avoid giddiness but this was something different and I spent quite a few minutes hobbling up to my study to find out from the dictionary the meaning of "disabled" which is "deprived of physical or intellectual power or pecuniary means" and immediately thought thank goodness I`m not deprived of pecuniary means!
I was fortunate to have remembered seeing a shop in High St Prahran that sold wheel-chairs and walking aids and soon took a taxi there, rapidly returning home with a 4-pronged stick to help me around the apartment and was soon acquiring the necessary skills to enable me to use the stick in my right hand and carefully carry and balance a cup of coffee, food or what ever in my left I need to carry anywhere.
I sure have slowed down, having to think whether whatever I wish to carry is too heavy or awkward before starting off automatically............I had a visit from a physiotherapist who checked my stick and my walking, and commenting on my obvious wobbling gait suggested I return it and get a normal adjustable stick and consider a 4-wheeled walker with brakes. He also considered I consult a neurologist feeling I`d possibly suffered a small stroke.
Since penning those thoughts above I`d suffered a very nasty fall. I`d opened my front door, just before 7am to pick up my Age usually on the mat or near to  it but it wasn`t there but when I looked up, there it was about12 metres away in the middle of the road, obviously carelessly chucked by the deliverer. I was momentarily a little annoyed and hobbled across to it without my stick, leaned over and crashed face down on the brutal bitumen. I did not pass out, suddenly becoming aware of blood streaming from my forehead, cheeks, nose elbows and knees...I just lay there...for how long I don`t know and I`ll never know how I eventually stood up ( not a soul in sight) with nothing to grasp but I did, getting on one knee by pushing down and hobbling inside through the apartment leaving a thick trail of blood through the long passage to the laundry where I kept my store of first-aid equipment. I quickly washed the wounds as best I could and sloshed Betadine all over them and covered them with some sticky plaster. I then contacted those of my family I could and after having the wounds properly dressed by a professional intensive care nurse, my dear friend Libby McLean, holidaying in her Ardoch town-house.  from her home in the Blue Mountains. I was soon admitted to caring Cabrini Hospital (see my blog 27.3.08) for a stay of 5 days..
It really was remarkable nothing at all was fractured. Since coming home from Cabrini, I`ve regained enough confidence, with my wonderful 4-wheel walker to visit Carlisle St, have a most necessary haircut, visit the bank & do a little necessary shopping. Although there`s a taxi-rank I waited about half an hour before using my mobile for the first time, getting a cab and then swiftly home.
I thought.... how much we take for granted like good health etc. and how rarely do we appreciate our many many blessings.........
Re disability, I came across an old Greek proverb................"In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king....."
                              `till next time, in about 7-10 days....


Thursday, March 27, 2008

My 2008 Easter

I spent my 89th birthday on Easter Sunday surrounded by dozens & dozens of gorgeous girls........(No - I wasn`t dreaming) OK - some of them may be in their late fifties but they all exemplify the endearing enthusiasm of the nurses at Cabrini morning I was woken at 5.30 by an Indian lady named Devi who flashed me a most magnificent smile as she took my temperature, checked my blood pressure etc. I told her what I thought of her smile and how, when travelling in a tram or train I`d lean across the aisle telling folk they had a beautiful smile and not keep it for themself but keep on giving it away! Then I`m always rewarded with a sunnier smile and occasionally "You`ve made my day"....... being a cheeky oldie I can get away with it. Devi told me she`d been nursing at Cabrini for over 3O years...I was astonished, she only looked about 40-45.
During the day I tactfully asked other nurses  how long they`d worked there - one saying "A really long time, about 20 years"  it was her turn to be astonished when I told her about Devi. I soon restored her possible slide in "self esteem"(truthfully) when I said "Impossible - you told me you are a grandmother"
While I was bearing my bottom for an injection to Trish a pretty youngster in her late 40`s or early , I learned prior joining Cabrini she`d worked many years in the "Age" for Ray Davie the CEO of the Real Estate Section. I knew Ray really well when I had a real estate agency in Croydon. He and I shared such a remarkable rapport & I was honoured by his absolute trust for the valuable top spot in the muchly-desired Editorial,  he accepting without question, the veracity of the admirable adjectives I`d chosen to describe a property.
I think I`ve mentioned before, as I age, I`m absolutely amazed how so-called "coincidences".. constantly seem to occur..while here at Cabrini I learned that Sonia & Fred Hall, a pair of my kind,caring neighbours at Ardoch who have a mirror image of my apartment above me, attend the same synagogue as my neurologist who happens to be related to my niece Geri Lazarus by marriage.....Jo has just rung me to tell me when reading Boba`s Jewish Cook Book , a fund-raising effort for Bialik College she`d found a recipe of Sonia Hall.....
Prior to Sunday, for a few weeks I actually felt my age - that is 89 instead of 35 as I`ve felt for quite a long time....however last saturday night I had the best sleep for weeks then, after being woken at 6am for tests I slipped into a serene slumber  awakening at 7.40. At 7.42in came my elder daughter Jo and hubby Jim, carrying the biggest coffee-iced chocolate cream cake (my favourite) with son Peter & wife Vonne...2 minutes later in came my breakfast and so we immediately strolled to a spot with plenty of chairs for the 5 of us ( spare room in a 4-bed ward is very limited) so I enjoyed a terrific birth-day party. Campbell,`s second son with Meg his elder daughter had popped in with birthday wishes the day before and later on Sunday and yes, I still feelhis brother James, wife Elaine & children Jacob Ailsa and Matthew arrived so we walked to the same spot as earlier - this time for an afternoon party . An hour or so later Sally, Peter`s eldest daughter arrived with Gabe and my 10th great-grandchild Toby Bo, about 8 weeks old flashing me the most beautiful smiles - especially when photographed across the handles of my 4-wheeled walker carrying L and P plates made by Jo as a reminder to take care as I`d been caught speeding - that is walking too fast in the corridors, as I`ve always walked all my life.
Later on,Peter & Vonne`s second daughter Wendy with her 6ft 5 Norwegian partner havard, came to say goodbye as they left next to return to Oslo, It was agreed we`d postpone the planned family party and treasure- hunt until my  90th birthday next year. Meanwhile I enjoyed a delectable bottle of Chardonnay given me with a goblet and
a huge magnificently-presented cellohane & ribbon-wrapped basket of fruit from Cabrini.......and yes, I still feel 35   (in the mind).........................
                                            `till next time - about 7-10 days

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Absolutely Admirable Ardoch

About 13 years ago while seriously soaking up the sun in Queensland I was reading the Real Estate section of the Age and found an advert that immediately acclaimed our immediate active attention - it was describing a unit on Marine Parade St.Kilda facing our beautiful bay...  although we had regular visits by 3-4 grandchildren about 10-12 being popped on the plane at school-holiday time Marge felt she was missing the younger ones etc. and so we entertained the idea of selling out in Noosa and returning to the big smoke...we were facing the Ocean and decided on a seaview if possible after muchly enjoying our 3-6 months stints at Sunshine Beach (5 minutes to Noosa`s heart). We immediately flew down but found it had jus been sold. The agent suggested some other properties which had no appeal until she asked, "Would you be interested in an older Art Deco apartment with 9-10 ft ceilings on about 5 acres in East St.Kilda with a sea view?" We answered "Quite possibly...) as we had much-loved large furniture in our town house in Hawthorn limiting the range of promising purchasing opportunities.
We met her the next day at Ardoch, a large picturesque property fronting busy Dandenong Road just past Chapel St and were very excited but didn`t allow the agent to be aware of this as we strolled down Ardoch Avenue as she explained her firm had only just listed the property for sale comprising about 12-13 Art Deco Californian Bungalows  hugging a verdant Village Green and a glorious garden with over a dozen Heritage-listed huge trees and this was her first visit. We were very excited but made sure the agent was unaware of this.
There was much building activity as the homes were being refurbished and /or altered - internally only because the Heritage Listing forbids exterior alterations. The property was once the farm home of Sir William Wardell, Victoria`s first Surveyor-General and built in 1864. We walked across the Green and climbed up the steep stairs and yes, there was a genuine glimpse of Port Phillip Bay but no way, at ages of 76 & 74 respectively consider anything but at ground level .
She then showed us a superb spacious 3 bedroom apartment with timber walls painted a horrible "Education Department" green as the complex had been used as a school for problem teenagers and street kids...when Sir William Wardell`s family had died out about 1920 an enthusiastic entrepeneurial American sw Ardoch`s palatable potential and built a cluster of individual homes around a huge Village Green about 3/4 acre ased on English ideas which gradually encouraged a colony of artists and musicians...
In our building which contains only 2 residences,  one was used by the world-renowned singer Dame Nellie Melba - John Brownlee the famous tenor and Gladys Moncrieff the singer also lived here, but over the years, Ardoch`s glamour gradually faded,  & the whole area was finally taken over by the Government and used as a school for a few years and then refurbished in conjunction with a private developer...
 We immediately left a holding deposit - it was used a display unit for 6 months and we moved here in July1995..... not long after, friends were asking me "What`s it like living at Ardoch?" I`d answer "Here I`m living in Paradise - no traffic noise, the splendid satisfying serenity, wonderful friendly but, trams, trains, buses - all combine to make Ardoch unobtrusive neighbours, a heated swim pool, gymnasium and sauna just 100 metres from my front-door - so close to everything- all combine to make Ardoch quite ideally unique, and it was one of the first cluster housing developments built in Australia.
`till next time, in about 10 to 14 days...

Monday, March 10, 2008

My Sweet Little Sister's Obsession

I recently learned my sister had an obsession about the Australian pianist David Helfgott and the film "Shine" and she agreed to my suggestion she should submit a few lines about him to me and here they are in her own winsome welcome words:
A few years ago my husband Nat and I visited the local cinema to see "Shine"..For anybody who may have missed it, this was an outstanding true story about David Hefgot, the son of a central European Jewish immigration family.As a small child he had already displayed signs of becoming a great pianist which he did in time - unfortunately his father was always forever criticising him to practise - pushing him into every possible available eisteddford, musical concert etc. until the boy cracked under the severe strain and by the time he became a young adult, he`d become quite eccentric. It was a beautiful true story & eventually saw it three times...
Geoffrey Rush played David as an adult - this performance winning an Oscar .Having seen David interviewed on local TV I could not get over the likeness of the two and how incredibly Rush showed his mannerisms. We tried to get tickets for his his Concert Hall performances in Melbourne but sadly missed out and I was extremely disappointed as I`d become obsessed with his life story.
Sometime later we visited Coffs Harbour and were interested to learn that the next weekend was featuring the Bellingen Jazz Festival and decided to go as we both loved jazz and the town was but a 40 minute drive away. We then learned that David Helfgot had lived there for many years, and was going to perform with the Raaf Big Band at this festival  for which we were to buy tickets two rows from the front! David played Gershwin`s "Rhapsody in Blue" and I was totally spellbound - and felt everyone there was similarly affected when, after a brief pause of silence after his last note the whole audience stood - as one, and clapped, clapped, clapped shouting"bravo", "bravo", "more", "more" etc. but there was on encore.....
He has become very frail in his later years and was led off-stage by the conductor, muttering to himself, but stopping to hug, kiss, or shake hands with everyone in the two front rows shaking hands with Nat after hugging me........
When the conductor returned he said David had insisted on visiting the hall`s kitchen where he apparently helped himself to a handful of teabags - obviously some sort of fetish. This event was a highlight of our Coffs Harbour holiday.
When I asked my sister "Would you watch him onscreen or TV again if the opportunity arose?" "Definitely, absolutely" I agree with her it was and still is an obsession......
Talking of music, Louis Armstrong (1900-1971), when asked about what he felt about people who copied his style said "A lotta cats copy, but people still line up to see the original"......
When I was visiting Paris a couple of years ago and in a long queue to see the Mona Lisa being pushed by my grandson Simon in a wheelchair we were taken out of the queue by an attendant and guided to the front about 1 metre from the sculpture so we could take a great photo.........

`till next time -in about a week - 10 days

Saturday, March 1, 2008

George Bell and the Queenscliffe Maritime Museum

All my long life I've found that of the two sexes I always got on extremely well with females but it wasn't till about 10 years ago I had my first true male friend...

Living right opposite us about 20 metres away was a charming couple, George & Glenise Bell who actually lived in Geelong using their Ardoch residence as a town house with George working with Coles-Myer. He started early-morning swims with me and in no time at all we became great mates. He had not long before become computer-literate and soon smoothly subtly submitted suggestions I should follow in his footsteps however I gave this idea little consideration and regularly resisted him for about 5 years until I suddenly had 3 grandchildren living overseas - 1 in Paris and 2 in Oslo, and soon realised the rich rewards of keeping in touch with them .

George Bell.

With grandson John`s assistance I bought a computer and soon became a successful student of George as me made regular trips to Ardoch from Geelong after his retirement due to illness. His next abiding ambition was to introduce me to Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsular of which I knew nothing apart from blissful bay trips from Port Melbourne to Queenscliffe and Sorrento by the paddle-steamer Weeroona. George and Glenise were most kind and I recall with relish staying overnight in Geelong and touring the nearby beaches for the first time - Lorne, Torquay, Ocean Grove etc. but I really received a great thrill when he took me to the Queenscliffe Maritime Museum.

My long love of the sea, I think, is strongly in my genes from my fabulous father, a devout sea and ship-lover, and our trips to Port Melbourne to see the big ocean-liners, and the influence on me of growing up seeing a photo of me, a 3 year-old, in a navy uniform & cap, and always proudly wearing a model full length white sailor suit outfit with a front horizontal flap instead of a button-up fly - exactly the same as an adult outfit - my grandmother had brought me back from London.

On our trips down the bay on the Weeroona, as a 10-11 year-old, the captain always called me up to the bridge to handle the steering wheel - imagine what a big deal that was! We had wonderful trips to the Museum...they have for permanent display various artifacts I've donated such as an antique model of Captain Bligh's "Bounty", my paintings of the Black Lighthouse and pilots' cottages at Queenscliffe & the Weeroona & miniature painted sea-chests. Other artifacts, an 1880`s ship in a bottle, a painting of Pt. Lonsdale Lighthouse( whose 120 odd sloping steps I quickly climbed 3 years ago when I was 86) will go to them when I pass on.....

Every morning as I use the computer I'm so grateful for George Bell's patience, persistence and thoughtfulness.....he actually conned me into seeing my first football game for over 70 years, wearing a Tigers beanie he'd bought me!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Memorable Multiculturalism at Temple Beth Israel

I attend the Temple Beth Israel (TBI) fairly regularly on Saturday mornings and about two or three years ago I met a charming middle-aged couple Graham & Stella Edgar sitting in the same row with whom I was soon engaged in conversation prior to the start of the service. The following week they were there again and I quickly realised they'd joined the small dedicated band of "regulars"...

A few months later I received an invitation to their wedding and a few weeks later had great pleasure in attending the neighbourly nuptials at the Temple one Sunday afternoon with about 60 guests forming a huge circle around the happy couple under the "Chuppah" (wedding canopy).

The wedding at Temple Beth Israel.

Yes, the bride was noticeably nervous and was attended by her daughter acting as Matron of Honour. Their tiny toddler grandson, carefully carrying the ring on a white velvet cushion, perfectly performed his decorous duties at the appropriate time.

Unbeknown to most of the other guests and I was the fact that the Edgars had been attending conversion classes for some time - Graham having started on his own, later joined by Stella who initially wasn't interested. The Rabbi was delighted they'd decided to become formally married and everyone joyfully joined hands and danced a "Hora", a traditional Israeli song to the truly thrilling tune "Havanagillah", after which all pleasurably partook of a wonderful wedding breakfast.

It was later revealed that this couple, originally from New Zealand, had been married for approximately 30 years - and so another substantial brick of multiculturalism was added to the solid foundations of TBI with it's many barmitzvahs & batmitzvahs (13 year old boys & 12 year old girls) of Asian birth as well as adult folk from all around the world...

Congenial close ties have been established between some Sudanese Muslim families and TBI members with children of similar ages, visiting each other's homes & sharing outings, picnics etc. - more evidence of the importance attached to the necessary need for the direct dissemination of more information about diverse cultures in this confused mixed-up world...

Since writing the above, another delightful couple, Graham & Chris Smith, firm friends of the Edgars, have also become TBI regulars and I'm fortunate to have them sitting right next to me.

'till next time - in about 10 days