[Editor: These items are extracts from the “Society” section in The Bulletin (Sydney, NSW), 30 January 1913. Included are items regarding birth rates, shipwrecks, lack of rental properties, cadets for the Duntroon Military College, age disparities in marriages, and the Kangaroo and Map stamps.]
When the Good Australian rewards go round there will be a few mostly-overlooked women due for a share. So far, about the only limelight they have had is thrown by Statist Knibbs’s latest Census Bulletin. In the section dealing with wives who are mothers of Australian citizens, 49 are quoted as having had families numbering 21 and over; there are 27 with 20 children; 49 with 19 children; 130 with 18; 271 with 17; 674 with 16; 1380 with 15; 2743 with 14; 5358 with 13; 9329 with 12; 13,478 with 11; and 20,229 with 10. Of those women who gave birth to 21 or more, 14 were born in England, 11 in N. S. Wales, six in Victoria, four in Tasmania, four in Ireland, two in Scotland, and two in Germany. English-born wives headed the list with families of 20. There were six of them. Victoria was next with five. Of those with 19 and 18 children to their credit, England again takes pride of birthplace, with 20 and 31 respectively. N. S. Wales natives top the list in families of 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11 and 10. The sad feature of the table is the great number of women who have borne only one child. There were 105,019 of them — the highest number of all. Next comes 104,253 women with accredited births of two children; and, of a total of 733,773 wives, 89,064 had rocked no cradle. However, there are a heap of these to whom the Statute of Limitations doesn’t yet apply.
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The Semaphore anchorage off Port Adelaide has “laid” an uneasy ghost at last — the wreck of the Norma. At least one other ship has piled its bones on hers, and an uneasiness about fouling them is held responsible for one or two collisions, including that which recently carried away the screw-pile light, and two valuable lives. The Marine Board of S.A. has somewhat tardily dragged and dynamited, till now it can guarantee that only fragments remain, with 30ft. of water above them.
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The British India S. N. Co., which follows the P. and O. Co. as the biggest British firm trading to Asiatic ports, has purchased the Currie fleet of steamers. These are among the largest on the Australian register, and are husky competitors of the B. I. Co., especially in the jute trade. The absorption is a distinct move forward by the B. I. people towards the domination of Indian cargo trade. Archibald Currie, the founder of the line that bears his name, was chairman of the Victorian Marine Board for many years.
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The house-chaser leads a strenuous life these times. A metropolitan landlord was grabbed by an anxious stranger the other day. “I want that cottage of yours in Blank-street,” gasped the grabber. “But it’s let to Dash,” replied the capitalist. “I know,” said the applicant; “but he’s just murdered his wife in the back-room, and been arrested for murder!” It transpired later that the home-seeker was only 30 minutes behind the tragedy, and had beaten two others by but 10 and 15 minutes respectively.
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Of the second batch of 33 Australian youths just admitted to the Military College at Duntroon, eight are from N.S.W., three each from Tassy and South Aus.; one from Bananaland; and no less than 18 from Victoria. Westralia, which supplies none at all, is, in most things, good Australian — there is none better — but wages are high and work plentiful in that State; and a “military career” evidently makes no appeal yet to the local youngster.
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According to the last census, the oldest married woman in Australia was something between 95 and 99. Her husband was 34 or less. Sixteen wives whose ages are between 90 and 94 have husbands under 84. At the other end of the proceedings, two wives of 16 have husbands over 50, and one wife between 25 and 29 has a husband over 90. Husbands and wives who live to extreme old age do not figure among those who have a phenomenal number of children; but one husband and two wives whose ages are less than 44 have 21 children or over. And four girls of 17 have made a fair start to put up the same kind of record by already accumulating three children each.
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“Lavender”: Pleasure is merely a matter of taste — or smell. Recently the sad sea was generous enough to present a South Australian beach with bulky salvage in the shape of a 60ft. whale (dead). After spending nine days on the shore in a January sun it was still dead. As it seemed a pity to waste it altogether, the stranded mountain of blubber was utilised as a peg on which to hang a Sunday marine excursion from a port some 40 miles distant. Quite a lot of passengers paid several shillings — and got up early — to attend the levee, the host being discovered doing his level best to break the Sabbath with the force of a hundred Dago fish shops and seven glue factories. When the picnickers left, the whale was still dead, and the finder’s offer to sell the carcase had not evoked any rush of clients.
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There is a young man at Geelong who ought to take a Tatt.’s ticket or a wife while his luck is in. Driving a couple of horses and a waggonette along a country road on a dark night, he suddenly met one of Fitzpatrick’s trains doing a 38-mile-an-hour sprint. It hit the turn-out, killed both horses, smashed the waggonette to splinters, and gave the surprised young man a joy-ride for 60 yards on the cowcatcher of the engine. And all he got besides was one small scratch.
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“Sub Rosa”: The Education Department of South Aus. is in a ferment. When the present director assumed office “promotion by merit” came into force. It’s a first-rate rule, only unfortunately it opens wide the door for favoritism, or suspected favoritism, which is almost as upsetting. The teachers are divided into two classes, those who know the Director and those who don’t. Those in the second class rightly or wrongly think they have small chance of getting out of the ruck. When an appointment is made the usual question put by this class is, “Comes from Moonta, I suppose?” The Director came from Moonta. No doubt from the worry of it all, the present Director is a wreck, and for his own sake as well as the Department’s, it is to be hoped the Government will put the direction into the hands of a board of three. That would remove the present bogey (or whatever it is) of favoritism from the premises. If it isn’t done, something is going to break, and that always means a mess to be cleaned up.
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The most biting criticism of the new dejected-kangaroo stamp has come from within the service. A country postmaster in N.S.W. was sorting his lettters, and came on a couple bearing the new stamp. “Ha!” he whinnied. “Sticking coupons on the letters, are they!” and he gleefully surcharged each one twopence.
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If the Australian really has a sense of humor, some of him must have grinned ironically recently when H. N. Sloman, the new headmaster whom the Sydney Grammar School has thought it necessary to import in the good old fashion, was picking a farewell chop in London. Among the valedictory bone-pickers were 22 ex-Grammar School students earning a crust in England, presumably because their own country (which includes their own school) hadn’t a crumb for them. If any humorist of them all unobtrusively dropped a sardonic chuckle into the tomato sauce, the situation certainly provided an excuse.
The Bulletin (Sydney, NSW), 30 January 1913, pp. 12-13
Archibald Currie = (1830–1914) master mariner, shipowner, and businessman; he was born in Saltcoats (Ayrshire, Scotland) in 1830, and died in St. Kilda (Vic.) in 1914
See: J. Ann Hone, “Currie, Archibald (1830–1914)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
Bananaland = Queensland, so-named as a lot of bananas are grown in that state, being located in the tropical north of Australia
B. I. Co. = the British and Irish Steam Packet Company, a shipping company which carried passengers and cargo between Great Britain and Ireland; it was founded in 1836, nationalised by the government of Ireland in 1965, and sold to the Irish Continental Group in 1992; it was commonly known as B&I, or the B&I Line
See: “British and Irish Steam Packet Company”, Wikipedia
bogey = an imagined cause for fear or alarm (may also refer to: someone or something which causes fear or alarm; a frightening or haunting specter, especially a “bogeyman”); an evil or mischievous spirit; a demon, ghost, goblin, or another hostile supernatural creature; the Devil (also spelt: bogie)
British India S. N. Co. = British India Steam Navigation Company
See: “British India Steam Navigation Company”, Wikipedia
carcase = (an alternative spelling of “carcass”) a dead body
crumb = a small amount of something
crust = money; to “earn a crust” is to earn a living, to earn money, to work at a job for payment; possibly related to the phrase “give us this day our daily bread” (from Matthew 6:11 in the Bible), and therefore a reference to the “crusts” (the hard end pieces, or end slices) of a loaf of bread
Dago = a person of Southern European or Mediterranean ethnic background, e.g. Greeks, Italians, Portuguese, Spaniards (derived from the common Spanish name “Diego”, i.e. “James”); it is often considered to be a derogatory term, but it is not always so
Fitzpatrick = William Francis Joseph Fitzpatrick (1854-1940), Chairman of Commissioners of the Victorian Railways (1901-1903 acting, 1910-1915); he was born in Galway (Ireland) in 1854, and died in Melbourne (Vic.) in 1940
See: 1) “Obituary: Former rail chairman: Mr. W. F. J. Fitzpatrick”, The Argus, (Melbourne, Vic.), 8 May 1940, p. 3
2) “Former Railway Chairman”, The Age (Melbourne, Vic.), 8 May 1940, p. 10
3) “Obituary: Former Chairman of Victorian Railways dies”, The Advocate (Devonport, Tas.), 8 May 1940, p. 2
ft. = an abbreviation of “foot” or “feet”; a foot is a unit of length in the British imperial system of measurement (a foot is equal to 30.48 centimetres) (the plural of “foot” is “feet”)
jute = a rough fiber used for making matting, sacking, and rope (can also refer to the plants from which the fiber is obtained)
levee = a formal reception held in honor of someone; a formal reception of guests or visitors at a royal court; an afternoon assembly held by a British monarch (or his/her representative), attended by men only; (informal) a social occasion
Moonta = a town located on the Yorke Peninsula (South Australia)
N.S.W. = an abbreviation of New South Wales (a colony in Australia from 1788, then a state in 1901)
N. S. Wales = an abbreviation of New South Wales (a colony in Australia from 1788, then a state in 1901)
P. and O. Co. = The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (a British shipping company)
See: “P&O”, Wikipedia
ruck = a collective, crowd, group, mass, multitude, pack, or throng of people; the common, ordinary, and undistinguished people as a collective entity; a mass of things which are common, ordinary, and undistinguished; a large quantity
S.A. = an abbreviation of South Australia (a colony in Australia from 1836, then a state in 1901)
Sabbath = the Biblical seventh day, regarded as a day of rest (from Exodus 20:8-11, in the Bible); observed as a day of rest and worship by most Christian denominations on Sundays, and by Jewish denominations and a minority of Christian denominations on Saturdays
Semaphore = a coastal suburb of the Adelaide metropolitan area, located north-west of Adelaide (SA)
See: “Semaphore, South Australia”, Wikipedia
South Aus. = an abbreviation of South Australia (a colony in Australia from 1836, then a state in 1901)
Statute of Limitations = a statute (law) which sets a maximum time limit regarding the period after which someone may not be tried for a crime
See: “Statute of Limitations”, Wikipedia
Tassy = (also spelt “Tassie”) Tasmania (a colony in Australia from 1825, then a state in 1901; named Van Diemen’s Land until 1856, when self-government was granted)
Tatt.’s = Tattersall’s Consultations, a gambling company established by George Adams (1839-1904); it was named after the Tattersall’s Club in Sydney (based at Tattersall’s Hotel); Adams became the owner of the hotel, and organised Tattersall’s Sweeps (sweepstake gambling for horse races); Adams developed his gambling enterprise, and called his company Tattersall’s Consultations, which later became the Tatts Group
See: 1) Decie Denholm, “Adams, George (1839–1904)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
2) “George Adams (businessman)”, Wikipedia
3) “Tatts Group”, Wikipedia
waggonette = (archaic spelling of “wagonette”) a four-wheeled carriage with a crosswise driver’s seat at the front, with two long lengthwise benches or seats (facing towards each other) in the back section, often used without a covering or top
Westralia = Western Australia (a contraction used to denote the state of Western Australia)