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Snippets 23 July 2008
Welcome to the 37th Opal Festival 2008! An Opal Queen Entrant greets you in the Bowls Club foyer. She’s poised and distinctive in her sparkly bright blue gown and tiara with a sash draped over her right shoulder.

The late Sharyn Kosloff was the first Opal Queen in 1971. Leonie Brouff and Coo Barry were her attendants. Wal Fife was Master of Ceremonies of the inaugural event.

Sharyn was a professional seamstress and made the blue gown to wear when she crowned the 1972 Opal Queen, Lydi Pardey. Judy Howard and the late Kerrie Lehman were her attendants. Diane Brown compered the event.

In 2007, Sharyn’s family, Norma and Bob Johnson, kindly donated the gown and tiara in her memory to the community when they retired back to Lightning Ridge after years on the coast.

We wish everyone a successful Opal Festival 2008. Do drop by the Historical Society display in the big hall. We have some action this year in the form of a slide show. Pick up a Time Capsule 2008 submission invitation too. See you there!

Barbara Moritz
21 July 2008 01:45pm
Snippets 16 July 2008
Opal buyer Les Taylor submitted this poem to the Time Capsule 2008:
Lightning Ridge…an Appreciation

It’s been a wondrous forty years, especially for me,
In going to visit Lightning Ridge since nineteen fifty-three –
The mining trips, the buying trips, the frosts, the heat, the birds,
The unique, friendly people, showing mateship beyond words.

I’ve gouged hundreds of nobbies, snipped them, given them the rub.
As a buyer I’ve been analysed by drinkers at the pub.
I’ve played the organ at the church and preached to numbers small.
Sparred with a local boxer at the old Memorial Hall.

I’ve driven the long road many times that leads you to the Ridge.
Exciting starting the last lap across the Walgett bridge.
I’ve seen the ‘roos and emus, the wonder of the plains.
I’ve seen the droughts, the thunderstorms, the dust, the mud, the rains.

I’ve sat beside the big log fires on icy winter’s nights.
The stars seemed just above my head, like myriad gleaming lights.
I’ve heard he tales of old Bill Kite and many miners more.
I’ve seen the Aussie battlers shop, way back in Dawson’s Store.

And now that I am ninety-odd, I want the folk to know
I’m grateful that I’ve had the chance to see the township grow.
And if I had my time again, I guess I’d do the same.
I’d hit to road to Lightning Ridge, the town of growing fame.

Les lives on the Gold Coast with his wife.

Barbara Moritz
14 July 2008 01:07pm
Snippets 9 July 2008
Another Time Capsule 2008 gem came from John Allport, the eldest son of Queenie, born a Molyneux, and Roy. ‘Memories of the Depression in Billy Goat Lane’ tells of John and his brother, Billy delivering goats milk to miners on the opal fields as well as in the village. Their mother and great auntie, Nellie Boules, milked the herd that roamed the town but always returned to the lane that runs between Morilla and Harlequin Streets.

In those years, people relied on the many goats for milk, made butter from the cream and killed the surplus half-grown goat kids for meat and made floor mats from the skins. In fact the Allport boys’ lives “….seemed bound by Billy Goat Lane, a highly scented thoroughfare because of the resultant pong from the billy goat’s foreplay practice of piddling on their front legs.”

These two ladies also ran a laundry service – washing, ironing and mending – for the owners from surrounding properties. The menfolk had no work at this time. Their contribution towards the household was “….to spend two days weekly out along the district roads filling potholes, repairing culverts, etc. with road picks and shovels. They were picked up in drays and taken to/from the job and got no money but rather a chit that could be cashed at the local store for basic food.” The two stores alternated months to accept the chits thus sharing the contribution to the village shopkeepers.

“On the other days of the week, the men worked underground in the individual mines trying to find opal which would allow them to stop being on the Dole which, to many, was a thing to be ashamed of.” Jack’s dad was one who felt that way, he reports in his submission to Time Capsule 2008.

Don’t forget your submission. Time flies – it’ll soon be October when we put it down.

Barbara Moritz

14 July 2008 01:05pm
Snippets 25 June 2008
The Time Capsule 2008 submissions are bringing in some interesting info. We have received an original pen/ink done by Judith Cassab, Archibald prizewinner, done in 1968 of the Fern House, Lightning Ridge.

This was a feature in Opal Village behind the Bottle House being built by German artist, Tex Moekel. Dorothy Ezzy and her husband Jack set up the complex in 1968 where they also ran the first hire car service. Huck cut opal there and, generally, this was the second tourist attraction after the Walk-in Mine.

Dorothy died suddenly in 1969 and is buried in the Lightning Ridge Cemetery. Her daughter Eileen Bilson of Eunai Creek has sent the society a collection of Ezzy memorabilia over the years and now this very special original Cassab for the Time Capsule. She included a clipping telling of this well-known artist’s work featured at the Parramatta Heritage Centre in 2005 along with fellow Archibald prize winners, Nora Heyson and Margaret Woodward.

Judy Cassab, a Holocaust survivor, arrived in Australia in the 1950s. Her book of diaries was published in 1995 and, sure enough, there it is, the entry of her visit to Lightning Ridge with her friend and pupil, Beryl Foster.

She writes, ‘It’s a bizarre world with hundreds of molehills on the surface and the corresponding mini-mines under it. Ancient motors hang on strange poles and ropes. People live in makeshift hovels, and the only hotel is a tram.’ (Sounds like entrepreneur Harold Hodges welcomed ‘the girls’ at the Tram-o-tel and they got a bit sidetracked!)

Barbara Moritz
22 June 2008 01:49pm
Snippets 18 June 2008
What a surprise a couple of weeks ago to find a ‘new’ old portable mini-puddler tucked around the corner at the back of Heritage Cottage. The wire mesh basket is welded onto the base/metal legs of a kitchen chair. Identifiable are sections of star-picket for bracing, lengths of round steel and a down-slanted tray to feed in the opal clay.

The paddle within the wire mesh basket is padded with tyre rubber and at the top, a place for something to rotate it. There is a side plate that could hold a little motor. Metal pegs attached to little chains fit neatly into places to latch the affair and, yes, anyone can just pick it up and take it to the next dump.

Our mystery donor was revealed in conversation about other matters of heritage. It turns out that Janet from the Mines Department spotted this girl-friendly mini-puddler in a ditch. Thank you Janet!

In the tidy-up on the Preserved Fields around the town, many engineering icons have been removed and crunched. Should you spot unusual treasures that show the ingenuity of yesteryear, please keep the Historical Society in mind.

Help us save the character of the Preserved Fields by being vigilant. Please notify us so we can tie pink streamers on these treasures to tag them for the Sculpture Garden at Lunatic Hill. This growing collection of icons and old vehicle bits supports the determination over the years of the independent miner to survive at Lightning Ridge.

Barbara Moritz
16 June 2008 01:58pm