Tuesday, August 5, 2014



…and held it's breath
hoping that time would stop 
and peace would resume..

It was not to be
and would not be that way again
for five long years.

So much heartache, tragedy and death
broken dreams, families, 
and so many broken bodies and minds.

Brave men and women  
at the front and at home
fought and waited and hoped.

100 years ago 
it was to be the war 
that would end all wars..

If only that were true.

©Crissouli August 2014

Many have written, and will write, of the history of World War 1. I have chosen instead to revisit some earlier posts.





The photographs used were from the Public Domain. 

ANZAC Mounted Div (B01518) Frank Hurley

FrankHurleyAustralian8inchHowitzerBattery   Public Domain

Friday, July 11, 2014


CATHERINE,  you know I had to say something..

It is with great sadness that we, her friends and fellow bloggers and genealogists, recently learnt of the passing of our friend, Catherine Crout - Habel.

This was so unexpected to most of us and the waves of disbelief and sadness spread quickly., yet I can't think of Catherine without smiling...

Catherine first made her mark in the blogging circles with her blog, 

It was a must read for many, passionate, informative, full of family history and always seeming as if Catherine was talking beside us. As bloggers do, we tended to become friends quite quickly.  Catherine lived in South Australia, she was very enthusiastic about the history of her state, and interwove her family stories with the tales of the times.

Catherine's love of her family shone through all. She often included very personal stories in the hope that by sharing them, she may have been able to help others. One in particular was about her son, Jarren, who died from measles when just an infant. She mourned him all her life, but delighted in telling us what a beautiful family she still had.. she was so proud of them all. 

 Rather than tell Catherine's stories, I'll let her tell you via her posts... via the various links I will add here...  she had so much to offer...

 What I can do is to tell you about my friend, who made me laugh and made me cry, often at the same time.. We didn't always agree, but that was ok. However we were often involved in the same things, such as bringing various issues to the fore...

 Catherine, of course, went on to really get involved, working with another friend, Kylie Willison and others...

 Catherine loved to see the funny side of things... as she showed with her lesser known blog....

She was passionate about history, genealogy, her family, her friends, her very many causes ( just Google her name), did I mention family? She would argue at the drop of a hat, then tell you a funny story to follow... she had a great sense of the ridiculous, and  had a way of including you in the joke. As a former teacher, who never really stopped teaching others, she also loved to learn. We were working together on a project that remains at this time unfinished, but I will finish it for you, Catherine... and to think I spent all that time teaching you how to use EXCEL...

Catherine, ever the teacher...

Catherine didn't often talk about her health, but this one post was an exception... she scared us all, but she laughed it off saying if she could beat that, she could beat anything. Unfortunately, there was more to come...

 Rest in peace my friend, while we are saddened, Heaven will be a brighter place for having you there and while we all know that there is a season for all of us, it is still hard to say goodbye....

♡♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ 

The photos below are courtesy of her daughter, Kirrily...

Catherine, her great grandmother, mother and grandmother...
Catherine with Kirrily

Catherine and Cullen
Catherine and grandson Jay

and Catherine so happy on one of the family gatherings she loved so much.

♡♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ 

Thursday, July 3, 2014


I can't believe I missed it, but I did, I really did...
I thought I knew the actual date, 
but it seems that it was hid...
...den ...from all the dates I have to know..
Sorry, yes, I really am, but here, with little fuss
it was the 30th of June, just 3 short days ago...

Three short years I've had this blog...

It's now nudging 50,000 views... and still the most popular posts are anything to do with Australia.
Following closely are

 Thank you for your continued support...

 Perhaps you might like to visit some of my other blogs...

Thursday, June 12, 2014



Every now and then a story about a particular person just takes your breath away.. today, I felt that way, through tears, as I read of the story of this amazing man. 

 You may have heard of him, but I had somehow missed that... This remarkable man put his own life at risk by helping 669 children to escape Nazi Germany. Their 'crime' was to be born Jewish. Nicholas Winton, then a young stockbroker, who was of both German and Jewish origin, was already living in England with his family, when he read the signs, of what was about to become, in a troubled Europe. In 1938 he returned to Prague and began contacting parents of Jewish children and offering them safe passage for the children to the only country that would accept them at that time...England. Word soon spread and so many parents begged that he take their children to safety. He kept complete files and photographs of all, amounting to 669 children in all who were accepted into English homes. 

 Sadly, there could have been another 250 but the last train was to leave on September 1, 1938... the day that war was declared by Germany when they invaded Poland. Those children never made it. 

Nicholas Winton, now Sir Nicholas, kept his deeds to himself, though he did keep tabs on many of the children. Not even his wife knew what he had done till she was cleaning out their attic one day and came across a suitcase full of lists, photos, letters from parents and other documents... and then the secret was out...

I will leave you to discover the rest of the story for yourselves as you browse through the following...

This is more on his story as told by his daughter...


I am happy to say that this remarkable man has this year celebrated his 105th birthday...

There are so many articles available... these will take you to just a few...




God Bless you, Sir Nicholas Winton.

Sunday, June 1, 2014



Remains of the past ... the laundry in mental asylum with old washing machines on Povegli

Remains of the past ... the laundry in mental asylum with old washing machines on Poveglia Island. Picture: Ella Pellegrini Source: Supplied

IT wasn't so much what Giovanni said but how he said it.

A stout, balding, no nonsense sort of fellow, the local cold meats delivery man gave no hint of drama or exaggeration in a Venice bar where word had spread two Australian journalists planned to spend the night on the infamous Poveglia Island.
Walking over to our table, the big man nods upwards in our direction as he takes a seat, lights up a cigarette and draws deeply through gritted yellow-stained teeth.
"Watch out for Paolo, he is the bad one, he was a doctor there, he will cause you troubles," he starts, exhaling a billow of Lucky Strike smoke above our heads, as if picking up on a continuing conversation.
"I know them all Paolo, Marco, Giorgio. Giorgio is okay friendly fantasma …. My father would take me fishing there as a boy and when I was older I stayed there myself for 15 nights. When I came back I told everyone what happened to me, the ghosts what they did, Paolo's ghost mostly, pushing me — whoosh, whoosh — always pushing, and things moving.
"They all say 'Nane', they call me nickname, 'you are crazy'. Now everyone says the same thing about the island.
"And you want to go there, so you tell me who is the crazy one?"
As quickly as he advanced on our table, Giovanni now retreats back to the bar, apparently content his duty is done. At a table next to ours another man turns slightly.
"He is right," he says, over one shoulder before he turns back around to slug his distinctive orange Aperol Spritz aperitif.
It's not clear what Giovanni was right about — Dr Paolo being a bad spirit, he himself being mad or us. Seems wrong to ask. One or all should probably have been obvious.
Now as our boat splutters rhythmically across the Venetian lagoon towards the island as the blazing Italian early summer sun loses its edge, it's clear the question should have been asked.
Poveglia has for some time been the tale that Venetian parents tell wide-eyed children who plead for a fright they know they will later regret.
Scary and spooky ... an aerial view of the haunted Poveglia Island.

Scary and spooky ... an aerial view of the haunted Poveglia Island. Source: Twitter

It's death and ghosts and doctors wearing Medico Della Peste masks; those distinctive scary white masks with the long hook beaks you see in carnivals now but which were used as a misguided form of protection by physicians in the 17th century to deal with plague victims. The masks are intrinsically linked to this area as the plague's toll was so huge on the local populace it spelled the downfall of the Republic of Venice.
Poveglia has been inhabited intermittently since the 9th century, abandoned for several centuries with its fortunes rising and falling like a Venetian tide.
Empty corridors ... on Poveglia Island, Venice. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

Empty corridors ... on Poveglia Island, Venice. Picture: Ella Pellegrini Source: Supplied

In 1776 it was taken over by the Magistrato ally Sanita (Public Health Office) as a quarantine station for goods moving from the Adriatic Sea into the Venice Lagoon.
When in 1793 two ships entering the area were found to have been carrying plague sufferers, the island became a confinement station. Other plague sufferers were forced to the island to die, shipped over in some instances with the bodies of tens of thousands who had already succumb to the inevitable and were now to be burnt and buried on the island in pits. Its grounds are said to hide the remains of more than 100,000 bodies, overgrown blackberry bushes now hiding mounds that were once humans.
Overgrown bushes and eerie ... a bathtub left outside one of the buildings on Poveglia Is

Overgrown bushes and eerie ... a bathtub left outside one of the buildings on Poveglia Island Picture: Ella Pellegrini Source: Supplied

In 1922 the 18-acre site became an asylum for the mentally ill and it was during this period experiments including lobotomies were said to have been performed. The hospital was shut in 1968 and the island was abandoned and has been sealed off to the public by government authorities to this day. Not that any locals or tourists would go there anyway. Even fishermen stay away although some use an outer seawall to dry their cray and crab pots and nets. Stories persist however, as have the sightings of spectres and hauntings and hearings of moaning from a time past that has now earned its reputation as one of the world's most haunted islands.
At sunset ... the canal around the island at sunset on Poveglia. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

At sunset ... the canal around the island at sunset on Poveglia. Picture: Ella Pellegrini Source: Supplied

The last warmth from the island disappears fast in the evening, as the sun's finger-like rays pull away across the shimmering waters of the lagoon to the fist of the Dolomite Mountains.
For much of the day it brings so much life to Poveglia, illuminating the large ramshackle rooms of the island's clutch of buildings and ruins that throughout history have been marked by death and suffering. A bell tower, long bricked up, stands imposingly over the site including the former hospital, asylum, prison and small chapels.
Darkness fill the crevices of the buildings, and our minds as we are left to wander alone along overgrown pathways and cluttered corridors of the hospital. There are no street lights just a sliver of moon and an old pocket torch.
Left to rot ... remains of the quarantine station for goods, a confinement station for pl

Left to rot ... remains of the quarantine station for goods, a confinement station for plague sufferers, a mental asylum on Poveglia Island. Picture: Ella Pellegrini Source: Supplied

There's little to do now but wait, although for what we are not sure.
The island is littered with remnants of human occupation from many generations. Old wooden shutters fall off ancient hinges as ivy with stems or trunks the size of a man's forearm snake their way into rooms. Terracotta roofs of buildings have collapsed, in part bringing old reed and mud style plaster ceilings crashing to the tiled and stone slab floors.
No ghosts seen yet ... the rooms in the mental asylum dormitory. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

No ghosts seen yet ... the rooms in the mental asylum dormitory. Picture: Ella Pellegrini Source: Supplied

In some rooms cast iron lion claw feet baths sit rusting where they have sat from decades before as do hundreds of hospital beds, gurneys, steel bedside tables and surgical instrument benches, too much for anyone to bother to have cleared out.
The bell tower ... where a mad doctor conducted tortures on patients inside. Picture: Ell

The bell tower ... where a mad doctor conducted tortures on patients inside. Picture: Ella Pellegrini Source: Supplied

A ceiling fresco in apparently what was a chapel peels away and only two or three pews remain, which no doubt were once full of Catholics praying for better times. Greying shower and partition curtains sway in the breeze to the sound of cooing from pigeons who have adopted the tops of the white-tiled cubicles. Scaffolding was erected after the hospital closed to preserve the imposing structures but that is now having the opposite effect after years of clinging to the sides of soft red brick walls and falling masonry.
Inside the station ... stairs in the kitchen area on Poveglia Island. Picture: Ella Pelle

Inside the station ... stairs in the kitchen area on Poveglia Island. Picture: Ella Pellegrini Source: Supplied

Now in the dark, with only the torch and mobile phone to illuminate a ring of light around me
I check my shadow. It is distorted by the torch beam bouncing off other things in the room that was an asylum, including old beds and pungent mattresses.
Hairs are now up on the back of my neck and in an instant I decide to move. Walk more, clear the mind. A heavy dew is now descending so best to keep moving anyway.
There is no sight in the all enveloping darkness, so now our ears burn to tune hard into surrounding sounds.
Silence is deafening ... the mental asylum at night on Poveglia Island. Picture: Ella Pel

Silence is deafening ... the mental asylum at night on Poveglia Island. Picture: Ella Pellegrini Source: Supplied

Rustlings are more pronounced and I point the torch here and there into the far reaches of the rooms and corridors. There are plagues of rabbits including albino ones running about the place, I saw them earlier scurrying about in what had been an orchard and is now a wild canopy of barbed blackberry spines and honeysuckle. Lizards and millipedes also abound and the rustling surely could be them.
Vacant ... the laundry in the mental asylum with old washing machines. Picture: Ella Pell

Vacant ... the laundry in the mental asylum with old washing machines. Picture: Ella Pellegrini Source: Supplied

We had earlier seen the remains of three large gulls torn apart and in various states of rot so perhaps a wild dog or some such is on Poveglia. Perhaps we are not alone after all.
There's also the wind blowing through the dilapidated buildings blowing leaves and refuse about; a whistle here a low hum there. Across the way I can hear bells toll from the Santa Maria dell Assunzione on nearby Lido island. There are, apping waves and further still the faint sounds that are the din of a distant tourist-boat in Venice.
The chapel ... inside the mental asylum at night. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

The chapel ... inside the mental asylum at night. Picture: Ella Pellegrini Source: Supplied

Earlier I had literally stumbled on a chiselled stone block covered in bramble and read its message: "Ne Fodias Vita Functi Contagio Requiescunt MDCCXCIII".
Mobile phone reception on the island is intermittent but after a while the annoying turning wheel that tells me the phone is thinking about helping stops, and Google tells me the message roughly warns "do not dig there are contagious bodies here".
Stuck in time ... the kitchen still covered in asbestos on the haunted Poveglia Island. P

Stuck in time ... the kitchen still covered in asbestos on the haunted Poveglia Island. Picture: Ella Pellegrini Source: Supplied

The pungency of the site, buried and or burnt bodies or not, is overbearing and makes breathing difficult. Dank rooms are covered in mould and mildew or now even trees that have decided to assume residency. The entire island is in an advanced state of decay, man's achievements and or his failures being allowed to be consumed by nature in all its forms.

For the complete story please go to


Thursday, May 29, 2014


An introspective journey into American history.


Miss America 1924



Helen Keller Meeting Charlie Chaplin


Leather gloves worn by Lincoln to Ford's Theater on the night of his assassination. Blood stains are visible at the cuffs.


Phoebe Mozee (aka: Annie Oakley). Famed for her marksmanship by 12 years old,

she once shot the ashes off of Kaiser Wihelm II's cigarette at his invitation.

When she outshot famed exhibition marksman Frank Butler, he fell in love with her and they married.

They remained married the rest of their lives.


Very Young Lucy Lucille Ball around 1930


Two Victorian sideshow performers boxing - the fat man and the thin man.


Amy Johnson, English aviator 1903-1941 One of the first women to gain a pilot's licence,

Johnson won fame when she flew solo from Britain to Australia in 1930. Her dangerous

flight took 17 days. Later she flew solo to India and Japan and became the first woman

to fly across the Atlantic East to West, she volunteered to fly for The Women's Auxiialry

Air Force in WW2, but her plane was shot down over the River Thames and she was killed.


Prison Garb 1924. Belva Annan murderess whose trial records became the musical "Chicago."


Female photojournalist Jessie Tarbox on the street with her camera, 1900s.



Roald Amundsen was the first person to reach the South Pole. At approximately 3pm on December 14, 1911,

Amundsen raised the flag of Norway at the South Pole and named the spot Polheim Pole Home.


The extraordinary life of Maud Allen: Seductive US dancing girl who was sued for being too lewd,

outed as a lesbian, and fled London after being branded a German spy who was sleeping with the

prime minister's wife.


John Fitzgerald Kennedy


Wedding day photograph of Abraham and Mary taken November 4, 1842 in Springfield,Illinois

after three years of a stormy courtship and a broken engagement. Their love had endured.


Billie Holiday at two years old, in 1917


Washington, D.C., circa 1919. "Walter Reed Hospital flu ward." One of the very few images

in Washington-area photo archives documenting the influenza contagion of 1918-1919,

which killed over 500,000 Americans and tens of millions around the globe. Most victims

succumbed to bacterial pneumonia following influenza virus infection.



Filming the MGM Logo


Amelia Earhart


Mae Questel ca. 1930s, the voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl, Minnie Mouse,

Felix the Cat (for three shorts by the Van Beuren Studios), Little Lulu,

Little Audrey and Casper, the Friendly Ghost


Bea Arthur (née Bernice Frankel) (1922-2009) SSgt. USMC 1943-45 WW II.

Enlisted and assigned as typist at Marine HQ in Wash DC, then air stations in VA and NC.

Best remembered for her title role in the TV series Maude and as Dorothy in "Golden Girls".


In 1911, Bobby Leach survived a plunge over Niagara Falls in a steel barrel.

Fourteen years later, in New Zealand, he slipped on an orange peel and died.


Emily Todd was Mary Todd Lincoln's half-sister. In 1856 she married Benjamin Helm,

a Confederate general. After Helm's death in 1863 Emily Helm passed through Union Lines

to visit her sister in the White House. This caused great consternation in the Northern newspapers.

Emily Helm took an oath of loyalty to the Union and was granted amnesty.


Three days before his 19th birthday, George H.W. Bush became the youngest aviator in the US Navy.



Market Street, San Francisco after the earthquake, 1906.


All-American Girls Baseball, 1940s


Sacajawea. Stolen, held captive, sold, eventually reunited the Shoshone Indians.

She was an interpreter and guide for Lewis and Clark in 1805-1806 with her husband

Toussaint Charbonneau. She navigated carrying her son, Jean Baptiste, on her back.

She traveled thousands of miles from the Dakotas the Pacific Ocean.

The explorers, said she was cheerful, never complained, and proved to be invaluable.

She served as an advisor, caretaker, and is legendary for her perseverance and resourcefulness.



A Confederate and Union soldier shake hands during a celebration at Gettysburg in 1913.

Image from the Library of Congress. July 1-3, 2013 marks the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.


Geraldine Doyle, who was the inspiration behind the famous Rosie the Riveter poster.


Vintage Baked Potato Cart. A legitimate fast food lunch option back in the day.



Cyclists ride in the first running of the Tour de France, in 1903.


Sergeant Stubby (1916 or 1917 April 4, 1926), was the most decorated war dog of

World War I and the only dog to be promoted to sergeant through combat.

America's first war dog, Stubby, served 18 months 'over there' and participated in

seventeen battles on the Western Front. He saved his regiment from surprise

mustard gas attacks, found and comforted the wounded, and even once caught a

German spy by the seat of his pants (holding him there til American Soldiers found him).


Nightwitches - Female Russian bombers who bombed Germany during WW2.

They had old, noisy planes & the engines used to conk out halfway through their missions,

so they had to climb out on the wings mid-flight to restart the props.

To stop Germans from hearing them & starting up the anti aircraft guns, theyd climb

to a certain height, coast down to German positions, drop their bombs, restart their engines

in midair & get the hell out of dodge. Their leader flew 200+ missions & was never captured.


Marilyn Monroe meets Queen Elizabeth II, London, 1956 Both women are 30 years old.


Chief Petty Officer Graham Jackson plays Going Home as FDRs body is

borne past in Warm Springs, GA, where the President was scheduled to attend

a barbecue on the day he died. April, 1945.