submitted by George Poulos on 15.11.2005
There is a very famous saying by Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw which goes - "If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance".
What it means is - don't hide your skeletons in the cupboard - let them out - make them dance - turn so called negatives into positives - delight in them - transcend the anxiety and fear associated with them.
[Shaw's quote was used by the Casimaty family (Tasmania) to begin their comprehensive 200 page family history].
Review, KAΣΙΜATΗΣ TO CASIMATY
On Saturday 12th November, 2005, I drove to Dubbo, in central western New South Wales. Known as "the hub of the West" - it lies 40 miles, (64.37 kilometres)
See, Conversion table at - http://www.online-calculators.co.uk/conversion/mileskilometres.php
north of Gilgandra, the town where I was born, and schooled to the end of High School, in New South Wales - the Higher School Certificate.
In the morning, I went to the Dubbo Cemetery to literally let one of our family skeletons out of the closet.
Location Map of the Old Dubbo Cemetery
Old Dubbo Cemetery sign. Looking from Myall Street; the southern end
About a year after I was born my mother gave birth to a blue-eyed black-haired baby girl called Ollie (Olympia). Every person who saw Ollie, such as my Theia Ayryiro (Auntie Sylvia) from Warren, Bright (Victoria), and Goulburn, agreed, that she was uniquely and stunningly beautiful.
Birth Certificate, Ollie K (Tzortzo)Poulos
At 6 months she died, as the result of a severe respiratory tract infection - or something similar. She was rushed to Dubbo Base Hospital by ambulance - died - and was buried there.
My mother travelled in the Ambulance to Dubbo, with the distressed child. In her subsequent life my mother always "froze" when she heard the sound of a siren.
My mother had been concerned about Ollie's health over a 2 week period. She took Ollie to the doctor on a number of occasions, expressing her fears that the child was very ill.
The Gilgandra doctor, I think it was Doctor Barrett, turned her away. The Funeral parlour's [C. J. Shakespeare & Sons, Dubbo], Record of Death and Order for Internment lists the doctor, as Dr Adams (but this could well have been the doctor who received Ollie at Dubbo Base Hospital). The child, the Gilgandra doctor asserted, was suffering from a flu, and would recover. This was just another case of an "ethnic" woman, over-reacting.
Ollie was dead on arrival at Dubbo Base Hospital. The date was Thursday 28th January 1954.
Death Certificate, Ollie K (Tzortzo)Poulos
She was buried at 2:00 pm, the next day; Friday, 29th January, 1954.
I have asked my father how frequently he has visited the gravesite in his life. He confessed - "very rarely. It was too painful". This is despite the fact that my Dad was in Dubbo - at least - every Wednesday without fail, on he weekly Fruit Shop buying mission. "I was always far too busy, as well." I believe that my mother's visit were equally as infrequent.
Neither I, nor my three brothers have ever visited the gravesite. The family never visited the gravesite of Ollie - as a family. The story of her death was rarely eluded to in our family.
I don't recall my father ever spontaneously speaking to me about Ollie's death - nor her grave-site. It was only as an 89 year old that he confessed to my wife Lorraine that "Ollie's death...broke my heart. For 6 months I had a beautiful little girl...then she was taken away. I was working so hard then...too hard...16 hours a day....I just had to kept working...that was all I knew then." Ultra-hard work was my fathers "coping mechanism".
Before I left to go to Dubbo - I asked my father whether the grave was marked - and he said it was. So I figured that if I walked past every grave in the cemetery, eventually I would find it. I did walk past every gravestone in the old Dubbo cemetery, [there are 3 cemeteries in Dubbo]. This took about two hours - but I did not find my sisters gravestone.
Somewhat disillusioned, I went to the Dubbo Regional Library. This is when my luck began to change. The librarian in charge of this section was Ray Brown's [an old class mate] younger sister from Gilgandra. (Ray now owns a fish and chips shop in Dubbo?!?!)
She gave me the undertakers certificate, Council Reference numbers - a grave plot number - Ollie's grave site number is: 3142, and (although she shouldn't have) - names of persons with gravestones - with grave site numbers close to Ollie's. (ie., 3140, 3143, 3144). She also gave me a map - and provided me with basic idea's about where the grave should be.
Record of Death and Order for Internment Certificate, Ollie Poulos
When I returned to the old cemetery, my luck continued. Ollie's clay plot number "brick" marker - had NOT been uprooted by vandals - as 98% of the others in the cemetery had been - and hence, I was able to locate her grave-site. There was no headstone, just a red-clay burial site - only about 4 feet (120cm) long - with fragments of broken glass on it. [My father's memory of a gravestone - was completely wrong. Not all memories and oral histories are completely correct, even on really BIG issues?!]
Ollie Konstandinou (Tzortzo)Poulos. The Grave site
I thought I would cry when I found it, but I didn't.
I felt three overwhelming emotions, a sense of deep satisfaction, and sense of completion - the sense of completing a family "circle". Also mixed in was some remorse - because our family, would have been a much "better" family, if Ollie had grown up with us.
To use George Bernard Shaw's phrase - I am extremely happy that I made "this skeleton dance". Time is a great healer, and I was perfectly capable of coming to terms with a reality system which has been suppressed in our family for a half century.
Locating Ollie's gravesite. A Co-ordinate system.
The question now, is to endeavour to devise a co-ordinates system, by which other members of the family can also readily locate the gravesite.
The best system is to
1. Obtain a map of Old Dubbo Cemetery.
Location Map of the Old Dubbo Cemetery
2. Enter the cemetery via the Myall Street, (Southern) Gate - Myall St. Entrance, on the map.
3. Walk west until you arrive at the section marked Babies on the map.
4. If you walk close to the Southern fence you will arrive at a prominent child's gravesite which is designed like a childs crib, or cot.
This is located 12 rows back from the Barden Avenue, and Myall Street Corner. (Far west of the cemetery).
Looking across the child's crib gravesite, facing West
Looking across the child's crib gravesite, facing North
Looking East, from the corner of Barden Avenue and Myall Street, to child's crib gravesite, in the background
5. From the child's crib gravesite - head due north, and count along 12 rows of graves (even if they do not have headstones, or are non-existent).
6. There you will find clay marker stone 3142.
7. Adjoining 3142, directly to the East, is the grave-site of a little boy called "Georgie".
This has a deep brown marble gravestone, and is inscribed:
In Loving Memory
Beloved Infant Son of
G and L Thomas
Aged 5 weeks
"Georgie" is also enscribed in white across the gravestone.
Tragically, it also includes the inscription:
Our Dear Son
David J Thomas
Aged 2 days
That is, a double infant fatality in the Thomas family.
If you stand in front of the Thomas gravesite, and look due West - the first marker "behind" the end of the Thomas gravesite, is Ollie's marker stone.
Ollie Poulos's gravestone marker in relationship to the Thomas headstone
Next to this headstone on the right (when facing West), is another equally tragic headstone, that of Beloved infant children of A.J. and .....Cook; again indicating a multiple tragedy.
Ollie Poulos's gravestone marker in relationship to the Thomas and Cook headstones
One thing I do know, from the C. J. Shakespeare & Sons, Dubbo], Record of Death and Order for Internment notice, is that the cost of conducting funerals in Australia has escalated well beyond the rate of inflation.
The cost of wreath was £2, the Funeral Directors fees, £2.02.00, and (I assume) the cemetery fees, were 18 shillings.
Probably as a result of both my mothers inability to communicate, and the record-keepers indifference to "ethnics", my mothers maiden name Coroneos, is incorrectly spelt Coronos.
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