We have a copy of The Rape Of Poland: Pattern of Soviet Aggression inscribed thus:

‘With best regards for Mr. F.L. McDougall the author St Mikolajczyk Washington, March 5th 1949’.

As the reader knows, my ignorance is next to boundless and I had to look both these people up.

From wiki we discover that the author had every reason to write this book, with the explicitly emotive title.

Stanisław Mikołajczyk (July 18, 1901 – December 13, 1966; Polish politician, was Prime Minister of the Polish government in exile during World War II, and later Deputy Prime Minister in postwar Poland, before the USSR took political control of Poland.

His importance in the period of the 1920s-late 1940s to the history of Poland would be hard to overestimate. If I were in the habit of using modern journalistic jargon, I would call him a key player. Fortunately I am not. The wiki entry continues:

Mikołajczyk’s family came from Poznań in western Poland, which in the 19th century was part of the German Empire and known as the Province of Posen. He was born in Westphalia in western Germany, where his parents had gone to look for work in the wealthy mining regions, as many Poles—known as Ruhr Poles—did in the 19th century. He returned to Poznań as a boy of ten. As a teenager he worked in a sugar beet refinery and was active in Polish patriotic organisations. He was 18 when Poland recovered its independence, and in 1920 he joined the Polish Army and took part in the Polish-Soviet War. He was discharged after being wounded near Warsaw and returned to inherit his father’s farm near Poznań.

In the 1920s Mikołajczyk became active in the Polish People’s Party “Piast” (PSL), and after holding a number of offices in the government of Poznań province, he was elected to the Sejm (the Polish Parliament) in 1929. In 1935 he became Vice-Chairman of the executive committee of the PSL, and in 1937 he became party President. He was an active opponent of the authoritarian regime established in Poland after the death of Józef Piłsudski in 1935.

When Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September of 1939, Mikołajczyk was a private in the Polish army,[1] and served in the defence of Warsaw. After the fall of Warsaw he escaped to Hungary, where he was interned.[2] He soon escaped and made his way to Paris via Yugoslavia and Italy.[2] By the end of November, Mikołajczyk had reached France where he was immediately asked to join the Polish government in exile as deputy Chairman of the Polish National Council.[3] In 1941 he was appointed Minister of the Interior and became Prime Minister Władysław Sikorski’s Deputy Prime Minister.

In April 1943 the Germans had announced that they had discovered the graves of almost 22,000 Polish officers who had been murdered by the Soviets at Katyń Wood. The Soviet government said that the Germans had fabricated the discovery. The Allied governments, for diplomatic reasons, formally accepted this, but Mikołajczyk’s government refused to do so, and Stalin then severed relations with the government in exile.

When Sikorski was killed in a plane crash in July 1943, Mikołajczyk was appointed as his successor.[4] “We do not wish to see only a formal democracy in Poland,” he said in his broadcast to Poland on taking office, “but a social democracy which will put into practice not only political, religious and personal freedom but also social and economic freedom, the four freedoms of which Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke so finely. In any case there is and will be no place in Poland for any kind of totalitarian government in any shape or form.”

But Mikołajczyk faced daunting challenges. It was obvious by this time that the Soviet armed forces, not those of the western Allies, would seize Poland from German occupation, and the Poles feared that Stalin intended both imposing Communism on Poland and annexing Poland’s eastern territories, which were populated by Poles, Ukrainians and Belarusians.

During 1944 the Allied leaders, particularly Winston Churchill, tried to bring about a resumption talks between Mikołajczyk and Stalin, but these efforts broke down over several issues. One was the Katyń massacre. Another was Poland’s postwar borders. Stalin insisted that the eastern territories should remain in Soviet hands. Mikołajczyk also opposed Stalin’s plan to set up a Communist government in postwar Poland.

As a result, Stalin agreed that there would be a coalition government in the Soviet seized territories of Poland. A Socialist, Edward Osóbka-Morawski, became Prime Minister of the new Provisional Government of National Unity (Tymczasowy Rząd Jedności Narodowej – TRJN), and the Communist leader Władysław Gomułka became one of two Deputy Prime Ministers. Mikołajczyk resigned as Prime Minister of the government in exile to return to Poland and become the other Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture.

Many of the Polish exiles opposed this action, believing that this government was a façade for the establishment of Communist rule in Poland. The government in exile maintained its existence, although it no longer had diplomatic recognition as the legal government of Poland.

Mikołajczyk immediately set about reviving the PSL, which soon became by far the largest party in Poland. He was helped, ironically, by the radical land reform pushed through with the support of the Communists, which created a new class of small farmers who became a firm political base for the PSL. The Communists knew they would never win a free election in Poland, and so they set about preventing one, despite the pledges given by Stalin at the Yalta Conference.

In June 1946 the 3xTAK referendum was held on a number of issues. The PSL decided to oppose the referendum calling for the abolition of the Senate as a test of strength against the Communists: two-thirds of voters supported Mikołajczyk, but the Communist-controlled Interior Ministry issued faked results showing the opposite result. Between then and the January 1947 general elections, the PSL was subjected to ruthless persecultion, and hundreds of its candidates were prevented from campaigning.

From 1946 to 1948, military courts sentenced 32,477 people, most of them members of democratic parties for ‘crimes against the state’. Only then the elections were held. In order to be sure that the elections would produce the ‘correct’ results, the Polish security apparatus recruited 47% of the members of electoral committees as agents.[5][6]

The elections produced a parliament with 394 seats for the Communist-controlled “Democratic Bloc” and 28 for the PSL, a result which everyone knew could only been obtained through massive electoral fraud. Indeed, the opposition claimed that it would have won as much as 80 percent of the vote had the election been conducted in a fair manner.[7] Mikołajczyk, who would have likely become Prime Minister had the election been honest, immediately resigned from the government in protest. Facing arrest, he left the country in April. Winston Churchill, upon seeing him in London, remarked: “I am surprised you made it out alive”. In London the Polish government in exile regarded him as a traitor for having co-operated with the Communists. He emigrated to the United States, where he died in 1966. In June 2000 his remains were returned for burial in Poland. His papers are in the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

As for the owner of this book, FL McDougall, we find him well-preserved in the records too, this time in the Dictionary of Australian Biography. Frank Lidgett McDougall (1884-1958), public servant and economist, is perhaps best described as as wheeler-dealer. After serving as an Anzac in WWI, he soon became indispensable to PM Bruce:

…who encouraged his advice and later observed that McDougall ‘brings me a new idea every morning’. Bruce summoned him back to the Prime Minister’s Department in Melbourne in 1924, then arranged for him to return in January 1925 as part-time secretary of the London agency of the Dried Fruits Control Board with the direction: ‘in your more uplifted moments you can call yourself the confidential representative of the Australian Prime Minister, when less inflated a secret service agent!’

He seemed spot on with his assessment between the wars of the problem of Germany:

A member of the Empire Marketing Board in 1926-32, during the Depression he preached that governments should increase food consumption and improve diets and that Australia should produce more food to feed the hungry. At the International Economic Conference in Geneva in 1927 and as a member of its economic consultative committee he extended his horizons, stressing the need to reactivate trade in Europe and substitute ‘a reasonably fat Germany for a desperately lean one’. McDougall was a regular adviser to Australian delegations at the League of Nations in Geneva from 1928 until its demise in 1940. At the 1935 assembly Bruce and McDougall evolved the slogan ‘Marry health and agriculture’, promoted so effectively by Bruce that a permanent committee (including McDougall) was set up to report back to the assembly on nutrition in relation to health and economics.

The ADB entry for McDougall is fascinating, do take a moment to read it in full.

The early 1940s found him in Washington, supported by Eleanor Roosevelt and dining at the White House. It is this Washington connection that we see joining the author and owner of the books. The ownership history of any book lends something to the book itself, but in such a case as this, the meeting of these two important figures of twentieth century history, it is all the more enticing. I find it hard to imagine we will sooner or later end up in a world where the book will no longer have its own history and memories. Humbug on technology!

John Oxenham WWI poet

You have to be a historian to appreciate the dichotomy between what was valued in the past and what we have chosen to keep of it now, which of course, will be reevaluated by future generations ad infinitum. Books and writing bring it home all the time. Who’s heard of John Oxenham? And yes, he is the father of the famous children’s writer, Elsie Oxenham. History has left us with ‘the war poets’, a select group whose writing about WWI is currently how we like to see it. But what about back then? In this period as we are reflecting on the first of the big twentieth century wars, might it not be apt to remember it as those who lived through it remembered it?

And if that’s the case, then it isn’t Siegfried you should be reading, it is Oxenham. His poetry sold over one million copies during the war and his hymn, ‘For Men at the Front’, sold at least five million copies, that being the most conservative estimate.

For The Men At The Front

Lord God of Hosts, whose mighty hand
Dominion holds on sea and land,
In Peace and War Thy Will we see
Shaping the larger liberty.
Nations may rise and nations fall,
Thy Changeless Purpose rules them all.

When Death flies swift on wave or field,
Be Thou a sure defence and shield!
Console and succour those who fall,
And help and hearten each and all!
O, hear a people’s prayers for those
Who fearless face their country’s foes!

For those who weak and broken lie,
In weariness and agony–
Great Healer, to their beds of pain
Come, touch, and make them whole again!
O, hear a people’s prayers, and bless
Thy servants in their hour of stress!

For those to whom the call shall come
We pray Thy tender welcome home.
The toil, the bitterness, all past,
We trust them to Thy Love at last.
O, hear a people’s prayers for all
Who, nobly striving, nobly fall!

To every stricken heart and home,
O, come! In tenderest pity, come!
To anxious souls who wait in fear,
Be Thou most wonderfully near!
And hear a people’s prayers, for faith
To quicken life and conquer death!

For those who minister and heal,
And spend themselves, their skill, their zeal–
Renew their hearts with Christ-like faith,
And guard them from disease and death.
And in Thine own good time, Lord, send
Thy Peace on earth till Time shall end!

and here, from his best-selling – though he had to publish it at his own expense as his publishers didn’t want to – book Bees in Amber


He writes in characters too grand
For our short sight to understand;
We catch but broken strokes, and try
To fathom all the mystery
Of withered hopes, of death, of life,
The endless war, the useless strife,—
But there, with larger, clearer sight,
We shall see this—His way was right.

This is how people lived and died during WWI, with the words of Oxenham providing the meaning, the reassurance to make the unbearable bearable. We should not forget this.

Talking of taking over countries, as we are, whilst watching the Ukranian situation, we have a pictorial history of Australian bank-notes which includes the notes the Japanese intended to use in Australia when they took over. They were in New Guinea at the time and some combination of a compulsive need to be organised and a sense of being on a roll, I guess, led them to have these printed. Ouch. It really brings home how touch and go it all was.

I’ve been meaning to write something about this myself, but Judith has beaten me to it. I will add to it another time.

Judith writes:

I let Monica answer the phone as a rule. My familiarity with telephones stretches back less than sixty years, and coming to terms with technology new to me is not my strong point. For some reason, though, I fielded a call a couple of days ago. It began inauspiciously. The enquirer mentioned haggling. I mentioned that I don’t, but would get the book in from the storesheds anyway. He rang back the next day and asked for me. I was able to tell him what a lucky fellow he was: the book was listed at $75 but the insured postage was a mere $6 by insured large letter, making a total of $81.

Once, for bookdealers, pricing was a bit like breathing – you hardly noticed that you were doing it. You made it up as you went along. Now with all the information on the internet it may be a little more difficult: look up a title, find a given price range, viz. $0.01 to $2564 and take your pick. However, it remains quite refreshing to come across a potential customer who has studied the subject, although these customers are seldom of the kind who help us booksellers pay our bills. The enquirer had calculated that the book was worth $60 to him, postage included. He recommended with cogent argument that I accept his offer. He based his price on a number of incontrovertible facts. Firstly, the size. It seemed to him that, with but 112 pages, the 279 x 198 mm book was not much more than a pamphlet. Secondly, the subject matter was people whom nobody has heard of, and some of them are, in fact, already dead. The clinching argument concerned a theory of supply and demand. It appears that Pioneer Books is oversupplied with this title as we have never sold this copy, and it is highly unlikely that anyone, apart from himself, will ever want to buy it.

I had to agree with everything he said. I mean, it’s almost self-evident. I did demur over the word ‘pamphlet’, but it’s certainly no Gutenberg Bible. And, yes, the subjects of the book, are, like most of us, practically unknown, and if not already dead, soon will be. And, yes again, there is, at the moment, no line of people at our door all desperately hoping to be the lucky purchaser. Most telling of all is the devil’s advocate in the heart of all sensitive new age booksellers, informing us of the likely final resting place of most of our unsold stock in this digitally blighted age.

Nevertheless, the phone call ended with my suggesting that he try elsewhere for a cheaper copy. I wished him luck, and told him that though he could not get a better copy, I’d be surprised if he didn’t get a cheaper one. He, admirable man, accepted defeat less easily than I. He asked me to consult my partners and suggest to them that we accept his offer.

What is it about secondhand books that inspires such fiscal restraint among a certain percentage of buyers? Many years ago Paul and I provided a collector with a copy of a title in the ‘British Trials’ series. The purchaser, a man who had accumulated great wealth as a defence lawyer for the notoriously criminal and who has since received official honours for conspicuous philanthropy, looked at the book, deemed it not worth the $25 we were asking for it, paid us $15, and left.

‘How did that happen?’ I asked. ‘Why did we let it happen?’ Paul asked; then, ever the philosopher, shrugged his shoulders. ‘Oh, well,’ he said, ‘If ever we take up crime instead of bookselling perhaps he’ll give us a knock-down on his fees.’

Once I would have concluded these observations by drawing attention to the coincidence that it is only when the bookseller is considered to be overcharging that these differences of opinion arise. However, a few months ago a woman came to collect a copy of Mincham’s book on the Flinders Ranges.

‘That will be $15 dollars,’ said Monica.

‘No,’ replied the customer. ‘I couldn’t pay $15 for this. It’s worth $25.’ And she refused to pay less even when Monica showed her the price clearly on our data base

As I’ve mentioned, I’m looking at Australian poets in the period mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries because we seem to be listing lots at the moment, and difficult lives is a common theme, particularly for the women.

Each has a unique story, and yet each is nonetheless typical in the struggles and privations experienced. For over 150 years now Carleton is remembered as the creator of the lyrics for one song, its impact being sufficiently longlasting that it came close to becoming our national anthem, losing out to ‘Advance Australia’. She won a handsome sum of money for her efforts and given that she had a gainfully employed husband, one might be forgiven for thinking ‘pin money’ then. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Caroline Carleton

Caroline had married in England and a few years later in 1839, with two young children, they boarded a ship to take them to a new life in Adelaide. Both children died during the voyage, the horrors of which I don’t think we can even imagine. Her husband had been a medical student when they married and never finished his studies. Perhaps this is reflected in his dizzy progression from job to job in Adelaide, which wiki describes thus:

After a few false starts making cordials, castor oil, and other commodities, Charles (who never completed his degree) became around 1844 medical dispenser to the Colonial Surgeon, Mr. James George Nash F.R.C.S. They may have resided at the Adelaide Hospital, where Caroline had two more children. In 1842 he was assayer with Alexander Tolmer’s expedition to Mount Alexander which subsequently escorted a quarter of a ton of gold to Adelaide. In 1845 he and a Dr. Davy built a trial lead-smelting furnace. In 1847 they moved to Kapunda, where Charles was employed as assayer and perhaps as medical officer.

In 1849 they returned to Adelaide, where he opened a chemist’s shop at 37 Hindley Street, then in August 1851 to ca.51 Rundle Street. He visited the gold diggings at Forest Creek, Victoria, perhaps working as an assayer and gold buyer, and returned to his Rundle Street shop with new advertising directed at miners. The shop was taken over early in 1853 by James Parkinson and throughout 1853 to May 1854 he was selling bottled English porter and stout at Blyth’s Building, Hindley Street.

He was returning officer for Grey Ward in the 1855 Census.

He took a position as superintendent of the West Terrace Cemetery in November 1855.

He may have taken on the position, but it was Caroline who did the work. He spent his time ill and then dying. It was towards the end of this period that she wrote ‘The Song of Australia’ under the name of Nil Desperandum. Surely, if you have heart strings, reading that tugs at them, doesn’t it? We read in a recollection of Carleton written in 1922, that the clergymen of Adelaide petitioned the government to permit her to continue on the work she had been doing for her husband, but the plea was declined. If her son has been old enough, it could have been awarded to him and she could have done it for him – or for any male – but not on her own account.

And so the government officials of Adelaide made the decision that Carleton should be a desperate mother of 5 children with no means of supporting them other than selling poetry. She set up a school – as was another common ploy of destitute educated women in the colonies – indeed, we recall the relatively successful example of MJ Franc in South Australia – but found it hard going and so we see her next in the court notices of the newspapers of the day:

South Australian Register
Thursday 8 August 1867 ‘The Undersigned, CAROLINE CARLETON, of North-terrace, Adelaide, Schoolmistress, do hereby declare that I am unable to meet my engagements with my Creditors. Dated at the hour of half-past two o’clock in the afternoon, this seventh day of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven.’
Wednesday 28 August 1867 She is one of a long list of paupers listed to appear in court for insolvency.
Wednesday 18 September 1867 She is too ill to present herself to the insolvency court and so her case was adjourned.
Wednesday 9 October 1867 ‘In that of Caroline Carleton, the insolvent was again absent, aud the Official Assignee was empowered to issue a warrant for her arrest if he thought proper.’ and the same day:
Wednesday 9 October 1867 ‘In re Caroline Carleton, late of North-terrace, schoolmistress; an adjourned final hearing. Mr J. W. Downer for the insolvent. The insolvent did not appear, and after a few remarks by His Honor animadverting on her contemptuous treat ment of the Court, the Official Assignee was em powered to issue a warrant for her arrest if he thought fit.’
Wednesday 23 October 1867 In the matter of Caroline Carleton, the insolvent was awarded a second-class certificate without suspension.

She struggled on with her notion of opening schools and died utterly exhausted in her early fifties.

The Mail
Saturday September 1, 1934 published the following about Carleton written by Beatrice Bevan who I understand to have been a critic and poet.

Authoress of ‘The Song of Australia’

WHEN an Act of Parliament created the Colonisation Commission of South Australia to deal with the new colony’s settlement on lines worked out in Newgate by the notorious lawyer abductor of heiresses, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, there was in the house of the Gordon’s at Layal in the Azores, the baby who was later to come to South Australia and to be acclaimed ‘Australia’s National Poet’ and, in England was the girl who was to be the authoress of ‘The Song of Australia.’ ‘ Caroline was the daughter of William Baynes of Bonner’s Hall, near London. At 18 she mar ried Charles James Carleton, of an old English family, and a few years later left with him and their two little children for South Australia.. It was a sad voyage, for their two children died, but soon after reaching the new land Mr. Carle- ton was given a medical appointment in Ade- laide, and later, at the Kapunda mines. He had studied medicine in England, and intended some time to return and fully qualify for his degree. Prospects in South Australia were bright. Mr. Carleton bought up land at Glenelg, and opened a chemist shop.

THEN came the financial crisis. The Government was practically insolvent, and so were many individuals. Mr. Carleton was urged to go through the insolvency court, as others were doing. He and his wife decided somehow to meet their liabi- lities, without taking that step, and they did so, though with a young family to provide for, the struggle was too much for Mr. Carleton’s never too robust health. He was given the position of Superintendent of Cemeteries, not too cheerful an occupation, and too much work for his health. Caroline Carleton did the work in his name, and it was under these conditions that she wrote our ‘Song of Australia.’ which won the prize given by the Gawler Institute on the occasion of its second anniversary. Herr Carl Linger won the prize for the musical setting. On Mr. Carleton’s death the Governor was petitioned to allow her to keep on the work she had been doing in her husband’s name. There was objection to the position being held by a woman. Her son was too young for it to be in his name, so she lost it. She then began to teach. but. though her bright spirit remained indomitable to the end, she had reached the limit of physical resistance. She caught a chill was unable to teach, and went to live at Wal laroo with a daughter who had a school there. She died in 1874, four years after Adam Lindsay Gordon, died in Victoria. IN the Wallaroo Cemetery is the obelisk of polished red granite, set on a square base. One side has a scroll on which is inscribed:— ‘In memory of Mrs. Carlton, authoress of The Song of Australia.’ who was interred in this cemetery on July 12, 1874. Aged 54 years; Erected by her admirers. November. 1923.’ The baby from Layal has been acclaimed ‘Australia’s National Poet.’ and has the niche next to Lord Tennyson (another link with South Australian history) in the Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey. How shall we honor Caroline Carleton? By making her song the national song of Australia?

I’ve started thinking – too much perhaps – about the bravery of these women who came to Australia, leaving behind their families, their safety, their homes. To what extent was their poetry the thing that made it bearable for them? Carleton wrote this, a regular theme of these women who came to this utterly alien primitive place on edge of the world, while life was utterly desperate.

Oh, say not that no perfume dwells
The wilding flowers among;
Say not that in the forest dells
Is heard no voice of song.
The air is laden with the scent
Borne from the clustering flower
With which the wattle is besprent,
Like Danae’s golden shower.
And silvery wattles bending low
Sweet incense scatter far,
When light winds kiss the pensile bough
Beneath the evening star.
And forest flowers of varying dye,
Now white, now blushing red,
In modest beauty charm the eye,
And fragrant odours shed.

There’s perfume breathed from Austral flowers,
And melody is there —
Not such as in far Albion’s bowers,
Falls on the accustomed ear.
But thrilling snatches of wild song,
Poured forth from lonely glen,
Where winds the hidden creek along,
Far from the haunts of men.
And hoarser notes in wild woods heard
Sound like strange harmonies,
As flashes past the bright winged bird,
Gleaming in azure skies.
Then say not that no perfume dwells
The wilding flowers among.
Say not that in the forest dells
Is heard no voice of song.

They were able to elevate themselves above the shitty drudgery of life in exile and elevate their readers at the same time. Thousands of people turned out to remember Carleton on Centenary day in Adelaide, 13 March 1936. In the mid-1970s when the competition was held to decide the new national anthem, Carleton’s Song of Australia was one of only three which were seriously considered. There is no entry for her in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. There is one for the man who composed the music. When you read it, you might keep in mind that the only reason that there is a remembrance to him, created in the 1930s was because one was built for Carleton.

Carleton’s most famous legacy

Who is Alice Bunker Stockham?

I’m listing Tokology A Book for Every Woman reprinted many times and naturally got to wondering what on earth Tokology is.

tocology (also tokology): The science of childbirth; midwifery or obstetrics.

Dr Alice Bunker Stockman
one of the first female doctors in the US

Stockham would be one of my choices for the impossibly interesting dinner party. She was one of the very first female doctors in the US, and strongly advocated gender equality. wiki says this:

Alice Bunker Stockham (born November 8, 1833 in Cardington, Ohio – d. December 3, 1912 in Alhambra, California)[1] was an obstetrician and gynecologist from Chicago, and the fifth woman to be made a doctor in the United States. She promoted gender equality, dress reform, birth control, and male and female sexual fulfillment for successful marriages.

A well-traveled and well-read person who counted among her friends Leo Tolstoy and Havelock Ellis, she also visited Sweden and from her trips to schools there she brought back the idea of teaching children domestic crafts, thus single-handedly establishing shop and home economics classes in the United States.

Stockham lectured against the use of corsets by women, made public endorsements of the healthiness of masturbation for both men and women (still controversial when echoed by US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders more than 100 years later), advocated complete abstinence from alcohol and tobacco, and believed in women’s rights.[2]

Stockham was very concerned with the economic plight of divorced women with children and prostitutes who wanted to get off the street. She felt that these women had no marketable skills and would be unable to support themselves, so she had copies of her book Tokology, a layperson’s guide to gynecology and midwifery, privately printed and gave them to “unfortunate women” to sell door-to-door in Chicago. Each copy came with a bound-in certificate signed by Stockham and entitling the bearer to a free gynecological exam.

For more detail on the contents of the book go to Medical History

She also invented and wrote about the concept of Karezza, again I quote from wiki:

It refers to non-religious spiritual sexual practices that draw upon tantric techniques of body control but do not involve any of tantra’s cultural or iconographic symbolism.

She promoted Karezza as a means to achieve:

1. birth control (she was against abortion but she wanted women to be able to control pregnancies);
2. social and political equality for women (she felt that “Karezza men” would never rape their wives and would actually treat them “decently”);
3.marital pleasure and hence marital fidelity (she advocated Karezza as a cure for “failing marriages”).

In the Adelaide Advertise and Register on Wednesday 18 March 1931 the following obituary appeared:

Mr. Frederick W. Russack, senior commerce master at the Adelaide High School, died suddenly at his home, Hughes Street, North Unley, yesterday.

He was 64. The Director of Education (Mr. W. J. Adey), who was a boyhood friend of Mr. Russack in the Mount Pleasant district, where he was born, said that Mr. Russack’s studies covered a wide range of subjects. He was particularly gifted in English, and the classics were an open book to him. Many young men would grieve the loss of a true friend and a wise counsellor. His earnestness, enthusiasm, and love of children had gained for him the respect and esteem of many old pupils. After having passed through the Teachers’ College, Mr. Russack was assistant in various schools. From 1887 to 1893 he was on the staff of Way College. He returned to the Education Department in 1900, and in 1901 was appointed housemaster, lecturer, and accountant of the Roseworthy Agricultural College. On the opening of the Adelaide High School in 1908 he was given control of the commerce classes. A widow, three sons (Messrs. Roderick Russack, Lance Russack, and Allen Russack of North Unley) survive.

Maybe your eyes glazed over when you read it. ‘Yeah, so?’ It’s just the sort of thing people write in obituaries isn’t it?’ But it doesn’t mean it isn’t true….

and so over eighty years later, I’m sitting here listing this:

Wilson, Osmond Leonard, J.P., F.A.S.A., F.A.I.M., A.C.I.S. (Compiled by) You’ll Get Your Reward: The Story of the Russackvillains Club and some Commercial Classes at Adelaide High School 1908 – 1931 ([Adelaide]: Russackvillains’ Club: 1981) Pictorial wrappers (that is, paper covers) (292 x 210 x 10 mm thick). Illustrated. A remarkable story of the inspirational teacher, Frederick W. Russack and the students who kept his memory alive at luncheons and annual reunions for fifty years after his death in 1931. This book is written by one of the surviving Russackvillains, ‘with deep respect for a good man who achieved part of ‘his reward’ in the lasting love and remembrance of the ‘Russackvillains’.’ Loosely included is a ‘List of Russackvillains as at 2.11.1981’.

I find this quite moving and it made me see what I could find out about the author. It turns out that Osmond Leonard Wilson was a pioneer of the Blackwood area of Adelaide. He was a keen amateur photographer and the City of Mtcham has an OL Wilson Photographic Collection and there is also a .pdf you can download about Wilson’s life and photographs here.


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