Old folk at lunch

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A big trip

Being something of a hermit these days, twenty minutes is usually the maximum journey time for me.  But today I excelled myself.  I took a three hour trip to Kingaroy!

So what incentive was behind that?  Bullock horns.  Yes:  Bullock horns.

About a quarter of a century ago, I visited my father's cousin,  Alex Fletcher (now deceased), at his farm in Ban Ban springs.  And when I noted a set of bullock horns mounted in his living room, I asked after them.  And he told me that they were actually the horns of my grandfather's favourite bullock.  My grandfather and great-grandfather were both bullockies (teamsters in American parlance).  They were the heavy carriers of their day, using teams of bullocks.

And I am actually rather proud to be a descendant of bullockies.  Henry Lawson's poem "The Teams" tells you most of what you need to know about them.  Lawson portrays the men as strong silent types and that is certainly my memory of my grandfather Jack.

So when I saw the horns I thought that I should ask for them when Alex died.  I did not keep in touch, however, so was not around when Alex died.  Not long ago, however, I received an email from Peter, Alex's son.  Peter was seeking help with genealogy in general and the identification of old photographs in particular.

I mentioned the bullock horns to Peter and -- wonder of wonders -- Peter not only had taken them with him when he had to give up the family farm but actually offered to give the horns to me!  It was good luck that I hardly deserved.

So my brother Christopher and I got into his ute today and drove up to Kingaroy for a prearranged meeting with Peter.  We went to a local cafe for morning-tea/lunch and spent a lot of time looking at old family photos and trying to identify them (without much success).   I was pleased that I was able to give Peter a rarity in exchange for the horns.  It was a copy of a large old family photo, taken in about 1880, of his and my great-grandfather.

Handing over the horns.  Christopher, myself and Peter (L to R)

Peter turned out to be a very nice man and his wife too was very pleasant so it was a good  meeting.  Peter rather surprised me when he told me he liked the little jokes in the genealogy I have put on line.  People usually seem to miss most of my jokes.  It's probably a tribute to Peter's own good nature that he got them.

On the way up and back Chris and I had lots of discussions.  We rarely do that because we tend to think alike on most things so there is nothing left to say!  We are both a bit fired up over the persistence of global warming nonsense, however, so we both spent a lot of time pointing out absurdities in that theory.

When we got back to Brisbane, I left the horns in my brother's keeping.  He lives only 10 minutes drive from where I do and already has a small private museum of family mementoes so he is the obvious person to look after the horns.

Christopher took a big collection of family photos to Kingaroy with him and there were quite a few with me in them that I did not have copies of so he left the collection with me temporarily.  And out of the collection, I have reproduced one below.  It is about 60 years old and was developed in sepia.  I put it up because I think that it is the last photo in which I looked reasonably good-looking.  It has been a long slide downhill since then!

There is a larger copy of the photo  on Facebook.

I think my little brother looks rather gorgeous in the photo and he is still as good humoured to this day.  I am on the right (as ever) and my sister Jacqueline (now deceased) is in the middle.

And, last but not least, my grandfather's team

Peter, who is a cattleman, thinks that the best bullock in a team was always up the front to steady the mob.  So  the horns should be from one of the bullocks in the  photo. And he thinks that the one on the nearside of the team at the front, looks to have the same shaped horns as the set we have.  If only we knew the name of the bullock concerned.  Bullocks all had names that they were known by.

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