“Grandfathers are just antique little boys.”
Day three of the gratitude challenge is about being grateful for a family member. For me, it would have to be my Great Grandfather, a man who epitomises the term ‘gentleman’ and whom I feel blessed to have had such a close relationship with over the course of my life. The photo below is from my birthday celebrations in 2013, when at the grand age of one hundred and five, he still came out for lunch with the family.
Grandpa is a man of great humility and also great mischievousness, with a great sense of humour. He served in Darwin during World War Two, and then worked for Gordon and Gotch, a publishing firm, beginning as a travelling sales representative, where he would take the train out of Sydney on Monday morning, travelling up the coast line to Port Macquarie, then inland covering Armidale, Tamworth and other regional locales before returning to Sydney on the Saturday; and finishing his career with them as the head of the Australian offices. He has now been retired for longer than he worked.
I think my sense of humour and my appreciation for ‘old world’ mannerisms comes from him. Spending time each week with him as a child, particularly once we returned to Tamworth, and seeing him potter about in his three-piece suit (oh, he would take the jacket off to do his gardening if it was hot), and sharing afternoon tea with him in exchange for me taking the garbage bins to the curb on collection day are prized memories of my childhood. I, alone of my generation in my family, have experienced Grandpa will full control of his faculties. I will never forget him telling me to speed up when he took me for a driving lesson once we left town as he liked the feeling of going quick sometimes.
I wish that I had thought to sit and record our conversations years ago for the benefit of others who have not had the opportunity to hear the memories of his life. He saw West Side Story in the original showing in the USA, and gave me his copy of the program from that night, with his ticket stub inside it a few years ago.. I think my love of three-piece suits, which I rarely get to express, definitely comes from him. He is very firmly ‘blamed’ as the source of our whole families love of dessert, often being heard saying that dinner is incomplete without it.
For his one hundredth birthday, he of course received the letter from the Queen which still stands on his shelf. When Mrs C21stT and I were planning our wedding I told her that she could have anything she wanted, and that all I wanted was for Grandpa to be there, and accordingly we held the wedding in my hometown of Tamworth. Grandpa was excited, telling the staff in the Aged Care Facility in which he resides that he needed to look good for the day, and he made it. He was energetic, looked suave as always, was able to see and hear everything, pulled himself upright for the photo below and looked quite pleased with everything. That is a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life, having a man whom I have looked up to for so long, able to attend in person, still in charge of his faculties, my wedding at the grand age of one hundred and one hundred and three.
I have a deep love and respect for Grandpa, and with his one hundred and seventh birthday looming in little over a month, I am immensely grateful for his presence in my life and the influence that he has had on who I a am.
As a side note, I put together the below list for his one hundred and third birthday and posted it to my Facebook wall. I copy it here as it still boggles my mind how much he has lived through.
103 Years of History
Bumping this up again as another year roles around and Grandpa turns 103 on Friday….
Some of this stuff might seem like ‘yeah whatever’, but this is all stuff Grandpa would have grown up and seen going on around him. Stuff I learned in history class, or from textbooks and docos. That boggles my mind, it really does.
He was born 16th September, 1908.
Other people who were born this year include…
Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig voice actor Mel Blanc
James Bond writer Ian Fleming
Creator of Daffy Duck, Tex Avery
The first photographer to have an exhibit in the Louvre – Henri Cartier-Bresson
Actress Bette Davis
Jazz muso Lionel Hampton
Actor Rex Harrison (who won a Tony for his role in Grandpas favourite show, My Fair Lady, as Prof. Henry Higgins)
US President Lyndon Johnson
Director of The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago – David Lean
The origianl Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun – Ethel Merman
WW2 Radio Broadcaster, who opened with “This Is London” Edward R. Murrow
Oscar winning actor Jimmy Stewart
Australian Cricketing Legend, Sir Donald Bradman
Commonwealth Monarchs since 16th September 1908 (5)
Edward VII – 22 January 1901 – 6 May 1910
George V – 6 May 1910 – 20 January 1936
Edward VIII – 20 January – 11 December 1936 (abdicated)
George VI – 11 December 1936 – 6 February 1952
Elizabeth II – 6 February – 1952 – present
Australian Prime Ministers (27)
Andrew Fisher 13 November 1908 – 2 June 1909
Alfred Deakin 2 June 1909 -29 April 1910
Andrew Fisher 29 April 1910 – 24 June 1913
Joseph Cook 24 June 1913 – 17 September 1914
Andrew Fisher 17 September 1914 – 27 October 1915
Billy Hughes 27 October 1915 – 9 February 1923
Stanley Bruce 9 February 1923 – 22 October 1929
James Scullin 22 October 1929 – 6 January 1932
Joseph Lyons 6 January 1932 – 7 April 1939
Earle Page 7 April 1939 – 26 April 1939
Robert Menzies 26 April 1939 – 28 August 1941
Arthur Fadden 28 August 1941 – 7 October 1941
John Curtin 7 October 1941 – 5 July 1945
Frank Forde 6 July 1945 – 13 July 1945
Ben Chifley 13 July 1945 – 19 December 1949
Robert Menzies 19 December 1949 – 26 January 1966
Harold Holt 26 January 1966 – 19 December 1967
John McEwen 19 December 1967 – 10 January 1968
John Gorton 10 January 1968 – 10 March 1971
William McMahon 10 March 1971 – 5 December 1972
Gough Whitlam 5 December 1972 – 11 November 1975
Malcolm Fraser 11 November 1975 – 11 March 1983
Bob Hawke 11 March 1983 – 20 December 1991
Paul Keating 20 December 1991 – 11 March 1996
John Howard 11 March 1996 – 3 December 2007
Kevin Rudd 3 December 2007 – 24 June 2010
Julia Gillard 24 June 2010 – Incumbent
There are currently six living former prime ministers: Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, John Howard and Kevin Rudd.The oldest of these is Gough Whitlam, who is 94. On 22 January 2009, Whitlam achieved a greater age than any other person who was Prime Minister of Australia. At 52, Kevin Rudd is the youngest former prime minister.
U.S Presidents Since 16th Septmeber 1908 (19)
William Howard Taft
Warren G. Harding
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
George H. W. Bush
George W. Bush
Plus, there have been EIGHT Catholic Popes during Grandpas life.
Other Events The Year Grandpa Was Born
- January 1 – The Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology formally commences operation
- February 11– Australia regains The Ashes with a 308 run victory over England
- April 20 – Sunshine train disaster: Two trains collide in Melbourne, Australia, killing 44 people and injuring more than 400
- May 7 – The Coat of Arms of Australia are granted Royal Assent
- August – Boys in Australia first participated in the scouting movement, within a year of scouting starting in England
- August 20 – The Great White Fleet, the first visit by the U.S. Navy to Australia, arrives in Sydney.
- September 16th – William Durant, founded General Motors Corp on the same day Grandpa was born
- 21st September, Captain Charles Hazlitt Upham was born. A New Zealand soldier who earned the Victoria Cross twice during the Second World War: in Crete in May 1941, and at Ruweisat Ridge, Egypt, in July 1942. He was only the third person to receive the VC twice, the only person to receive two VCs during the Second World War and the only combat soldier to receive the award twice, was imprisoned in Colditz Castle, and nearly escaped.
- September 27th – The Model T Ford was built for the first time.
- Canberra was chosen as the Australian capital
- At the 1908 Summer Olympics held in London, Australia forms a team with New Zealand and competes as Australasia. They win a gold medal for rugby football, a silver medal for middleweight boxing, and in swimming a silver medal for men’s 400 metre freestyle and bronze medal for men’s 1500 metre freestyle – both won by Frank Beaurepaire
- The 1907–08 FA Cup was the 37th staging of the competition, Wolverhampton Wanderers won the competition for the second time, beating Newcastle United 3–1 in the final at Crystal Palace
- The FA Cup 1908–09 was the 38th staging of the competition, Manchester United won the competition for the first time, beating Bristol City 1–0 in the final at Crystal Palace, through a goal from Sandy Turnbull
- The 1908 FA Charity Shield was the first Charity Shield, a football match contested by the winners of the previous season’s Football League and Southern League competitions. The match was played on 27 April 1908 between 1907–08 Football League winners Manchester United and 1907–08 Southern League champions Queens Park Rangers. The match was played at the neutral venue of Stamford Bridge, London, and ended as a 1–1 draw, goals coming from Billy Meredith for Manchester United and F. Cannon for Queens Park Rangers. Since extra time was not played, and penalty shoot-outs did not exist in the early 1900s, the match went to a replay, also at Stamford Bridge. The replay was played four months after the original match, on 29 August 1908, and finished in a 4–0 victory for Manchester United, crowning them as the first ever Charity Shield winners. Jimmy Turnbull scored a hat-trick for United, the other goal coming from George Wall. The 1908 Charity Shield raised £1,275 for charity and is the only Charity or Community Shield to date to have required a replay.
Other Events During Grandpa’s Lifetime
- 1910: George V becomes King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India.
- 1911: Roald Amundsen first reaches the South Pole.
- 1912: Republic of China established and ends the Chinese Empire. Sinking of the RMS Titanic. Balkan Wars begin.
- 1914: Beginning of World War I. Panama Canal opens.
- 1916: The implementation of daylight savings time. The Gallipoli Campaign fails. Battle of the Somme.
- 1917: Russian Revolution. USA join the Allies for the last 17 months of World War I. Independence of Poland recognised. The first Pulitzer Prizes are awarded.
- 1918: End of World War I; Spanish flu pandemic.
- 1919: Treaty of Versailles. League of Nations founded in Paris. Polish-Soviet War begins. The Italian Fascist Party is established by Benito Mussolini. First experimental evidence for the General theory of relativity obtained.
- 1921: Irish Free State is established, while the Province of Northern Ireland is created within The United Kingdom. Adolf Hitler becomes Führer of the Nazi Party.
- 1922: Howard Carter discovers Tutankhamen’s tomb. The Irish Civil War begins. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) is formed .
- 1923: Time Magazine is first published. The Walt Disney Company is founded.
- 1924: Death of Vladimir Lenin. FBI founded under J. Edgar Hoover.
- 1925: Benito Mussolini gains dictatorial powers in Italy. Mein Kampf is published.
- 1927: The Jazz Singer, the first “talkie”, is released. Joseph Stalin becomes leader of the Soviet Union. World population reaches 2 billion. Australian Parliament convenes in Canberra for the first time. The BBC is granted a Royal Charter.
- 1928: Discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is established.
- 1929: Wall Street crash of 1929 and the beginning of the Great Depression. The first Academy Awards are presented.
- 1930: Discovery of Pluto by Clyde Tombaugh. Salt March by Mohandas Gandhi and the official start of civil disobedience in British India.
- 1931:Construction of the Empire State Building. The Star-Spangled Banner is adopted as the United States’s national anthem.
- 1932: BBC World Service starts broadcasting.
- 1933: Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany.
- 1934: Hitler becomes Fuhrer.
- 1936: Hoover Dam is completed.
- 1937: Japanese invasion of China, and the beginning of World War II in the Far East. Neville Chamberlain becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The IRA attempts to assassinate George VI.
- 1938: Munich agreement hands Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany. Time Magazine declares Adolf Hitler as Man of the Year.
- 1939: Nazi invasion of Poland triggers the beginning of World War II in Europe.
- 1940: Nazis invade France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway. Katyn massacre in Poland. Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Battle of Britain as the British Empire fights alone against the Axis Powers. The Blitz begins.
- 1941: Beginning of the Holocaust. Bombing of Pearl Harbor, which leads to the USA joining World War II. Hitler commences the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union
- 1942: Manhattan Project begins.
- 1943: Battle of Stalingrad ends with surrender of the German Army.
- 1944: D-Day landings. First operational electronic computer, Colossus, comes online
- 1945: End of World War II and the Holocaust. Death of Hitler and Mussolini. Creation of the atomic bomb, and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. United Nations founded.
- 1946: First images taken of the Earth from space.
- 1948: Assassination of Mohandas Gandhi; beginning of apartheid in South Africa.
- 1949: Partition of Germany.
- 1950: Beginning of the Korean War
- 1952: Detonation of the hydrogen bomb and the first scheduled flight by commercial jet. Development of the first effective polio vaccine.
- 1953: The first ascent of Mount Everest, Death of Joseph Stalin.
- 1954: Supreme Court of the United States ends racial segregation in public schools; Soviet Union generates first electricity by nuclear power;
- 1957: Launch of Sputnik 1 and the beginning of the Space Age.
- 1958: Founding of NASA, invention of the cassette tape
- 1959: Dalai Lama exiled from Tibet; first documented AIDS cases; beginning of the Vietnam War; First images of the far side of the Moon.
- 1960: World population reaches 3 billion.
- 1961: building of the Berlin Wall; first human spaceflight
- 1962: Cuban missile crisis, The Beatles’ first record.
- 1963: Martin Luther King delivers his “I have a Dream” speech; assassination of John F. Kennedy;
- 1968: Assassination of Martin Luther King, The Troubles begin in Northern Ireland
- 1969: Moon landings; Woodstock festival; the earliest incarnation of the Internet.
- 1970: Maiden flight of the Boeing 747. Deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin
- 1972: Northern Ireland’s Bloody Sunday.
- 1973: Beginning of the Watergate scandal.
- 1974: World population reaches 4 billion.
- 1975: End of the Vietnam War.
- 1977: Introduction of the first mass-produced personal computers; launch of the Voyager spacecraft, currently the most distant man-made objects in the universe.
- 1978: Invention of artificial insulin
- 1979:Margaret Thatcher becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Implementation of China’s One child policy.
- 1981: First orbital flight of the Space Shuttle.
- 1985: Live Aid. Mikhail Gorbachev becomes Premier of the Soviet Union. First use of DNA fingerprinting.
- 1986: Challenger and Chernobyl disasters. Launch of the space station Mir. First close up images of the planet Uranus.
- 1987: Stock market crash of 1987. World population reaches 5 billion
- 1988: Construction of the Channel Tunnel begins.
- 1989: Fall of the Berlin Wall; 1989 revolution and collapse of Communism in Europe. Tiannanmen Square Massacre in China. End of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Exxon Valdez oil spill.
- 1990: Sir Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web. Reunification of Germany. Launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. Gulf War begins.
- 1991: Dissolution of the Soviet Union and independence of 15 former Soviet republics. Boris Yeltsin becomes the first democratically elected leader of Russia.
- 1994: End of apartheid in South Africa and election of Nelson Mandela. Opening of the Channel Tunnel.
- 1995: Establishment of the World Trade Organization.
- 1997: Tony Blair becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from UK to China.
- 1999: Euro is established. Crisis in East Timor leads to 1400 deaths. World population reaches 6 billion.
- 2000: International Space Station begins operations.
- 2001: 9/11 attacks destroy the World Trade Center in New York.
- 2002: Bali bombings.
- 2003: Space Shuttle Columbia is destroyed on re-entry.
- 2004: Boxing Day Tsunami occurs in Indian Ocean.
- 2005: 7/7 attacks on London Underground. Hurricane Katrina kills nearly 2000 people in the Gulf of Mexico. 80,000 are killed in an earthquake in Kashmir.
- 2006 – Australian of the Year Dr Ian Frazer develops a vaccine for cervical cancer.
- 2008: Great Recession begins.
- 2009 – Barack Obama became the first African-American president of the United States
- 2009 – The Indian Space Research Organisation discovers water on the Moon.
- 2010 – Polish president Lech Kaczynski and 95 others died in an air disaster in western Russia while en route to a ceremony commemorating the genocide of Polish officers at Katyn in 1940. Investigations into the accident are still ongoing.
- 2010 – An explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig, operating in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, left eleven crewmen dead and resulted in a fire that sank the rig and caused a massive-scale oil spill that may become one of the worst environmental disasters in United States history. On June 18, 2010 oceanographer John Kessler said that the crude gushing from the well contains 40 percent methane, compared to about 5 percent found in typical oil deposits. Methane is a natural gas that could potentially suffocate marine life and create “dead zones” where oxygen is so depleted that nothing lives. “This is the most vigorous methane eruption in modern human history,” Kessler said. On June 20 an internal BP document was released by Congress revealing that BP estimated the flow could be as much as 100,000 barrels (4,200,000 US gallons; 16,000 cubic metres) per day under the circumstances that existed since the April 20 blowout
- 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull – A massive ash cloud is formed by the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, on April 14, 2010 grounding flights across northwest Europe. Scientists began recording volcanic activity there in 2009 which increased through March 2010 culminating in the second phase eruption in April.
- 2010 Pakistan floods – Began in July 2010 after record heavy monsoon rains. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan was worst affected. At least 1,600 people were killed, thousands were rendered homeless, and more than thirteen million people were affected. Estimates from rescue service officials suggest the death toll may reach 3,000 victims.
- 2011 Queensland floods – Began in December 2010 primarily in Queensland. The flood cause thousands of people to evacuate. At least 200,000 people were affected by the flood. The flood continued throughout January 2011 in Queensland, and the estimated reduction in Australia’s GDP is about A$30 billion.
- February 2011 Christchurch earthquake – New Zealand’s prime minister says 181 people have died after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit Christchurch on February 22, 2011, making it New Zealand’s second-deadliest natural disaster after the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake.
- 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami – On March 11, 2011, a catastrophic undersea earthquake of magnitude 9.0 occurred offshore of eastern Japan, the greatest in the country’s history and created a massive tsunami which killed over 15,000; it also triggered the Fukushima I nuclear accidents. The overall cost for the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accidents could reach $300 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster on record.
- April 25–28, 2011 tornado outbreak – Regarded as the deadliest tornado outbreak ever recorded and dubbed the 2011 Super Outbreak, a catastrophic tornado outbreak from April 25 to the 28th affected the Southern United States and killed over 330 people, most coming from Alabama. Damages are expected to be near or over $10 billion.
- 2011 – The Royal Wedding of UK’s Prince William of Wales to Kate Middleton
- 2011 – The Leader of Al Qaeada, Osama Bin Laden, who was responsible for the development of the plans for the September 11th attacks is killed in a raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan by Seal Team 6 of U.S military Special Forces on the evening of May 1, 2011.
- 2011 – The Royal Wedding of Albert II, Prince of Monaco to Charlene Lynette Wittstock
- 2011 – The shutdown of the largest UK tabloid, “News of the World”, after 168 years in print due to the 2009 phone hacking scandal.
- 2011 – NASA Launches Atlantis marking an end to its three-decade shuttle program.
- 2011 – Completion of the Harry Potter film series, which is currently the world’s highest grossing film series.
Most of this is stuff I learned about in History classes or old textbooks. Grandpa was alive for it all. And up until a few years ago, had a collection of front pages from newspapers of a lot of these events. Grandpa has lived through it all. The wars, the Great Depression, the start of the common use of cars, the space age, the nuclear race, TV, records to tapes to CDs to DVDs…this list is just stuff I thought was interesting.
Cost of Good During Grandpas life
A loaf of Bread in 1911 was 2.4cents, 2kgs of sugar, 9.7cents, a dozen eggs were 12.1 cents, a 1kg leg of lamb was 8.6cents, while a 1kg leg of pork was 11.2 cents.
Jump forward to 1965, during the “Golden Years”. A loaf of Bread was 15.7 cents, 2kgs of sugar, 41.8cents, a dozen eggs were 60.2cents, a 1kg leg of lamb was 65.7cents, while a 1kg leg of pork was 136.5 cents.
Jump now to 1990. A loaf of Bread was 131.3 cents, 2kgs of sugar 237.8cents, a dozen eggs were 238.8cents, a 1kg leg of lamb was 488.5cents, while a 1kg lef of pork was 689.8 cents.
Now think about how much you pay for those down at your local cornerstore.
I haven’t updated this to reflect events since this list was originally posted on Facebook.