50 to 50 #1: Born in Gawler

Fifty days from today is my 50th birthday. Yes, Five Zero. This is the first in a series of blog posts to celebrate that milestone.

I’m not quite sure how this will unfold, except that each day I’ll find a photo or object or concept that relates to the year of my life in question — in this case that’s, erm, gulp, 1960 — and see what emerges.

Today’s photo was taken when I was just six weeks old.

That’s my father holding me. He was 35 years old. Yes, rather old for that era, but he’d been married before and had a daughter. The fact that he divorced and re-married was so scandalous in rural South Australia that the daughter was taken away to live with her grandparents and they cut off all contact with him. The first time I met anyone from my father’s side of the family was at his funeral a decade later.

And yes, dad is smoking around the baby. Different times, eh? Not the ever-present pipe I remember him for, but a black Bakelite cigarette holder.

The dog’s name was Toby.

The photo would have been taken by my mother using a Kodak Box Brownie camera in the back yard of our house at 43 Adelaide Road, Gawler. The house is still there, but with what looks like a really low-grade renovation.

I’ll also be posting photos at Flickr (there’s another 6-weeks-old image there already) and mapping locations at Google Maps (see over the jump).

Continue reading “50 to 50 #1: Born in Gawler”

Surprise! Prohibition leads to crime!

Gosh, who’d have thought? Ban tobacco in a jail, where almost everyone smokes the stuff, and suddenly black market cigarettes are US$125 a pack. Jailhouse cooks make more from smuggling than cooking.

Chuck Alexander, executive vice president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, says: “It didn’t do anything but make (tobacco) a lucrative business.”

Thanks to the clever lads at Freakonomics for the pointer — and some fascinating follow-up comments from their readers.