Meet the ancestors

I am in Auburn today, and surrounded by photos of relatives and friends – mum had little suites of pictures of various branches of the family dotted throughout the house – cousins in one area, we kids in various places, dear friends on the mantlepiece, her mother and father, her special aunt, on the dressing table or on the bookshelf. They remind me of her when I see them, and of my granny, her mother (whom we called mama), who has appeared here previously (in some of the said photos, ones that are at my place). They both kept in touch with family members near and far and valued them all. There are fewer photos of dad’s rellies. They didn’t get their pictures taken very often, and so there aren’t many of them. Today I took some photos of the photos.

Mama’s parents, my great grandparents, are on the bookshelf. They died, both of them, before 1910 – her father when she was around 5 (in about 1903), of cancer of the throat and tongue (he was obviously a smoker); her mother, of rheumatic fever, in 1909, when mama was 10, nearly 11. They both missed all the big events of the 20th century, excepting Queen Victoria’s death (if that could be called a big event). As they died when she was so small herself, her impressions of them were idealised – and now even the photos are fading. but here they are…


Jeannie Dickson Brown (nee Reid) and George Dickson Brown

On dad’s side of the family, the photos only go as far back as dad’s parents. His dad, Richard Alfred Becker, died when I was small – around 4 or so. I remember him in my mind’s eye in images – a dark, quiet bedroom; a gaunt, quiet figure. We have one picture of him as a young man – I think he looks like my cousin Kevin.


I do remember his mother, Dossie May Becker nee Venning. She lived on for 20-odd years after her husband died, a very quiet, reserved person. There is one fabulous photo of her as a young woman. The story goes that her first sweetheart was killed in WW1 – and this photo may well have been taken in the time before he died.


The final photo I’ll feature here today is a group shot of my mother and her extended family, taken at some big family occasion in around 1930. Mum is in the front row, on the left, looking very bored by the whole procedure. One brother is second from the right in the front row, with a beaming smile, the other brother is in the second row from the front, second in from the right, with the curly hair. The cousins knew each other well, and it’s a picture that mum loved and got a good laugh out of. Mum’s grandparents are in the centre of the picture – mum was particularly fond of her grandmother (Rosetta, called Gran). Her father is sitting to the right of Rosetta, and her mum (Stella, or Mama to us), is second from the left in the back row.


The pictures are tiny glimpses of lives I hardly know, but they are linked to me in the inevitable way of family ties, reaching back through years, living in colour then, but now just shadows and hints. I doubt if any of them would ever have imagined the internet, and the possibility of another life on a blog written years into their future…



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