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Snippets 25 May 2005
Ernie Dalheimer buried his wife, Agnes, in Melbourne in 1965 and ‘went walkabout’. He travelled the Inland and made many friends. But like so many, he got to Lightning Ridge and stayed. He lived at the Tram-o-tel and became good friends with Debbie and Harold Hodges. Ernie spent over 20 years here and hadn’t ‘cranked up the motor of his cutting plant since the early 1970s’, he wrote in a letter sent to Deb’s friend, Kathleen Pockley, in Sydney. He lived in a caravan behind the house and had pet emus, Heckle and Jekyll. We have photos of Heckle in the Diggers Rest standing next to Harold!

The big birds were town characters as was ‘Ernie Emu’. After Harold died, Ernie kept an eye on Debbie. When she went into care at Peak Hill, he passed the time listening to his beloved Strauss waltzes and writing at least 20 letters weekly to his friends everywhere. He added Kathleen to his list, reporting day-to-day activities, 1985-1989. Marlene Kremmer, Kathleen’s daughter, has placed these letters in the care of the Historical Society. Ernie willed his 51% share of A Dalheimer & Sons, Gem cutters in Melbourne, to his niece, Dianna, and nephew, Brendon, at the time of his brother’s death in the early 1980s. He was buried in 1990 in the Catholic section of the ‘ghost orchard’ as he called the cemetery in his letters. Brendon visited Win and Rhonda White in the mid 1990s.

Barbara Moritz, Secretary
27 March 2006 03:24am
Snippets 18 May 2005
Ernie Dalheimer was born in 1919 and had one brother. His father, Augustus ‘Gus’ was born in Idar Oberstein, gem cutting capital of the world to this day. In 1908, Gus came to Australia where he met Lena, born here of German parents. Ernie learned gem cutting – opals and sapphires, mainly – and he and his brother worked in A Dalheimer & Sons, est. 1908 in Melbourne. In about 1934, Ernie went to night school to learn more about electrical work. Apprenticeships weren’t offered in those hard times so Ernie paid for his own course and ended up foreman at Vulcan Electrics. During WWII, Ernie did a lot in the recording industry – the stylus cutting and playback jewel ‘needles’ for theatrical shows. Ernie also helped a lot backstage and on spotlight at the Tivoli Theatre in the 1940s. Throughout his correspondence to Kathleen, he mentions his joy at hearing good music, often from his own collection of cassettes, and uses snippets from theatrical performances. Once, Ernie spent more than a year in a sanatorium with tuberculosis and did lots of painting – large watercolour landscapes – and charcoal sketching. He even won prizes. But when he was back in real life, he couldn’t mix a colour. He just wasn’t in the mood! Continued next week…..

Barbara Moritz, Secretary

27 March 2006 01:18am
Snippets 4 May 2005
Dentist’s Hill at the 9-Mile has an interesting name-origin. Marg and Dave Jackson from Grenfell came to the Ridge following up the family story that her great uncle was the dentist who died there. It seems that in 1927, Douglas McEwen was travelling north on the old Goodooga Road when his lorry lurched into a tree at the bend. He was 57 years old. McEwen’s passenger, the publican’s son, ran back to the 6-Mile to raise the alarm. Aboriginal elder Fred Reece gave a colourful account of the event on a video recorded in 1985 by Len Cram. He came along the next day in his lorry, saw some smoke rising and was drawn to the place of the accident. He saw the tree sheared and on the ground burning. Marg and Dave reckon they have found the stump that now has volunteer trunks growing around it. The Jacksons have the Death Certificate that supports Uncle Douglas’ burial in the Presbyterian section of the Lightning Ridge cemetery. However, McEwen’s granddaughter, Barbara Fagan, from Coonamble says she brought her mother to the Ridge in the 1950s to look for the grave but without success. So, his name was added to his wife’s marker, 1919, at Manly. McEwen’s death is recorded in the New Angledool records according to the Births, Deaths & Marriages on the Internet. Just generally people were buried in the front section closest to the road for easy access in times of flood, so many graves are unmarked. The recent cemetery records publication, Outback Burials, has no record of Douglas McEwen’s death.

Barbara Moritz, Secretary

27 March 2006 01:18am
Snippets 11 May 2005
In the 1960s, Harold Hodges started the Tram-o-tel, the first motel in the Ridge. He and his friend, John Molyneux, also got the first bank agency here by giving each school pupil a twenty-cent piece to deposit in an account. These are but two innovative moves ‘Hodgie’ made in our formulative years. Hodgie and Debbie lived in Morilla Street in front of the trams located behind where the chemist is today (as you read in April 13 Snippets). They came to the Ridge from Parkes in 1959 and lived out their lives on the opal fields. We have many photos and some film footage of Harold in action. He was a great motivator and died in 1983. Recently, letters written to Kathleen Pockley of Punch Bowl by her friend, Debbie, have been presented to the Society. When she was unable to write and after her death in 1986, the Hodges’ dear friend, Ernie Dalheimer, wrote to Kathleen. This gives us an interesting record of town activities of the day. Thanks to Marlene Kremmer, Kathleen’s daughter, for anticipating the value of this correspondence and returning the letters to the town for posterity.

Barbara Moritz, Secretary
27 March 2006 01:17am
Snippets 27 April 2005
Esmond Peterson came to the Ridge hoping to find his grandfather’s grave. Family stories say that Bill was buried in the Ridge but local records can’t confirm it. He knew that his grandfather had lived in ‘a little stone hut’ near the village in the 1920s. A few years ago, his father and brother went right to it. Where else could it be but on Doug Saunders’ lot in Rainbow Street. Esmond recognized the not-so-obvious stone front from the photo his father had snapped. The many unmarked graves in our cemetery are evidence of harsh time in a transient mining community. More than fifty names are recorded without plot numbers in Shire Records. No doubt in the early days men were even buried in a shaft on their claim. During summer, others were simply wrapped in blankets and buried quickly anywhere. When you visit the local cemetery, neat, white crosses set by the Funeral Advisory Committee mark new and some unmarked graves. Original headstones placed by caring family and friends create interest and bright flowers liven up the sunburnt landscape.

Barbara Moritz, Secretary
27 March 2006 01:16am