Friday, 23 May 2014

Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way

The full quote is "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way". These are Tolstoy's opening words to his 1877 novel, "Anna Karenina".

This is the story of one such unhappy family, which I am trying to piece togther from the contents of a box found in the back of a cupboard of a deceased estate. The box contained photographs. It contained certificates. But mostly, it contained letters, nearly all of which were written in the 1940s.

This is a story of five people: Cyril, and his wife, Jennie; their children Irene, and Ross; and, Irene's daughter, Wendy. However, it is not their full story, just the part illuminated by the contents of a box which came into my possession in 2010.

The photograph shows the Cole family home, "Rossrene", c. 1924. It is where the Cole family lived from c. 1923 until 1958. It was in Emma Street, Kalinga, a suburb of Brisbane, QLD, Australia. It is no longer standing. Cyril is on the verandah. Jennie is at the top of the steps with Ross. Irene is partway down the steps. Irene is about 12 years old, and Ross is about 8 years old.

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