Sepia Saturday #14 – Hey-Ho! Away we go! Donkey-riding.


Don’t know “Jack” ‘bout folks

In this picture, but it’s been—

‘Round for donkey’s years!


Not entirely true.

My Dad had this photo tucked away in his dresser drawer, but there is no writing on the back to remind us of who these people were.  My best guess is the young boy on the left is either my uncle, Odran (Hugh) or Patrick (the youngest in the Davison family.  The lady in black next to him could be my great grandmother (I don’t know her name). The young lady next to her looks very like my Aunt Betty, but could also by my Aunt Jane who is the youngest girl.  I believe the woman on the right is my grandmother, of the photograph from Sepia Saturday #8.

Judging  by the dresses, I think the photograph must have been taken around the 1950s, but I can’t be certain. It would definitely have been taken in the North of Ireland, somewhere in the country outside of Belfast.

I can see where my father got his love of animals and I’m so grateful he passed that appreciation on to me.


The poet G.K. Chesterton wrote one of my favourite poems: The Donkey.

As a little girl I used to love this poem for its reference to the animal itself, even though the first three verses seemed a bit scary to me. Then, as a youth, I came to appreciate the meaning behind the poem – the vindication in the final verse. The relevance the donkey claims with respect to Palm Sunday (my favourite Sunday in the church calendar) is powerful. No other animal was selected to be there when Jesus rode into Jerusalem to accomplish His Passion, Death and Resurrection, only the humble donkey.

Now, as an adult I visit a Donkey Sanctuary not far from my home town where I can see for myself the indelible cross placed on the animals’ backs.

My father once wrote as a footnote to a typed copy of this poem : “It surely cannot be mere happenstance that the donkey is the only creature of the animal kingdom that is clearly marked with a cross on its back and front shoulders, thus” (and hand-drew a cross in black at the end of the comment). I believe he may have made a good priest or theologian.

The title may be simple, but this poem is complex.

The Donkey

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

G.K. Chesterton

Kat Mortensen©2010 
Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

For more great explorations into family histories through photographs, visit the Sepia Saturday blog to find links, or sign up yourself and post a picture or two.


Sepia Saturday #13: The Road to Singapore

(“Aboard the USS St. Paul (a cruiser) in Singapore harbour with my US Navy host.”)

On October 7, 1942, at the age of 15 1/2, my father William Henry (Harry) Davison, who was born in the Whiterock area of Belfast in Ireland, enlisted in the British Army to escape what he called “a dead-end job” at the linen mill back home.
He was assigned for the first 3 years to the Southernmost part of England in Berkshire, Hampshire and Kent.
Many years later, in a letter to a family member, he wrote, “In Hampshire, I saw all the goings-on for D-Day, but was not involved in that, as I was too young.  I spent the years from 1947 to 1949 in Germany, from 1949 to 1952 in Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong and the final year of my Army service, in Hampshire until discharge from the Army in May 1953.

(As written on back: Port of Singapore waterfront.  November 1949.)
“Discharged on 4th May, I didn’t even go back to Belfast, but did visit my Mother, who lived then with an invalid brother, Patrick, in Portsmouth.  The 16th May was the day on which I departed by ship for Canada.”
My father often talked of Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaya with great fondness.  He was the sort of man who, if he saw someone who even looked remotely Asian, would make his way up to them and strike up a conversation.  It gave him great pleasure to spout a few (albeit broken) words of Chinese or talk of particular districts in the cities he remembered so well.  My dad loved to interact with people of all kinds—he was a man who would literally give you the shirt off his back. 
My mother tells me of a cold day when he came home from work  in the downtown core of Toronto without the big wool sweater his own mother had knitted for him and sent overseas. When my Mom asked him where the sweater was, he responded, “I saw this fella who looked really cold…”
I think his Army days and experience with people from all walks of life all over Europe and Asia gave him a real feel for his fell0w-man.  He loved everybody.

“Taken in Singapore on the US cruiser St. Paul in the year of 1950 if my memory serves me properly.”

Oops! Almost forgot, if you’d like to see more great photographs, visit the Sepia Saturday blog where you’ll find links to everyone who’s playing along.  Feel free to join in!

Sepia Saturday 12: Two little maids from school

(My grandmother, Katie on left, my grand aunt, Annie, on right. Circa 1906.)

Two Little Maids (With apologies to G & S)

Two little maids in their flowered dresses,
All made up with their curly tresses,
Fans in hand, for the show, I guesses,
Two little maids from school!

See them smile as they sit so long!
Katie’s waiting to sing her song!
Annie hopes she won’t get it wrong!
Two little maids from school!

Two little maids and they’re also sisters,
Young as they come—they’ve got no misters,
Hope that their shoes don’t cause them blisters,
Two little maids, from school!

One little maid is my mummy’s mum—
Two little maids loved to gaily hum—
Both older maids liked their coke and rum.
Two little maids from school!

Two little maids in the play, Mikado,
Up on the stage it takes bravado,
All that will rhyme is El Dorado
Two little maids from school!

Kat Mortensen©2010  Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Don’t forget to visit the new dedicated Sepia Saturday blog to sign up or just to find links to other wonderful photos and stories.  You can also find our group on Facebook. Thank you.

Sepia Saturday #10 – Some day my Prince will come.

*Please note: I changed my comments to the embedded format yesterday and I have been informed that commenting was not possible as a result, so I have restored the full-window method of commenting.  I’ve done a test and it appears to be working again. Thanks to Alan for drawing my attention to it.


For Valentine’s Day:

Yours Truly in the pretty white dress with the garland of flowers in her hair. It was around 1965 or ‘66 and our parents were invited for a visiting day at the Sacred Heart Day Nursery in Toronto. They had no idea that I was the little Princess in the routine, nor did the parents of my Prince know that he was in the starring role either. I think we just forgot to tell them. Isn’t Prince Charming adorable with his shiny cloak and glittering crown?

That’s my mom in the back corner with the light-coloured suit. Doesn’t she look proud?

As you can see, I was far more interested in the camera than my partner; this was my moment in the spotlight, after all!

Here’s what I remember of my days at the Sacred Heart Day Nursery:

  • the best creamed corn, mashed potatoes and cubed ham for lunch.
  • sticking something in someone’s ear while playing “doctor” (not THAT kind of doctor!)and having them need a real doctor as a result.
  • doing my impersonation of Clarence, the Cross-eyed Lion from Daktari
  • learning to master playing the triangle
  • wearing matching checked coat and hat in the springtime.
  • the dark purple tulips in a garden just up the road
  • the small chapel where we were very quiet and spoke to God
  • the nicest nuns on the planet
  • having a party on our birthdays with shiny hats and cake and ice cream
  • playing princess and dancing around a big white basket (not sure why).
  • running into Mummy and Daddy’s arms after school

If you’d like to join in with Sepia Saturday, now you can simply visit our dedicated blog at the Sepia Saturday site. Sign up to follow along and add your name to our links’ widget to participate. You can also find our Sepia Saturday group on Facebook where you may like to become a member. Search “Sepia Saturday” to find our group.

Sepia Saturday #9 – A Girl and A Car

(Photo by my father, Bill Davison. Click to enlarge.)
Something much more recent for a change.  This is my sister, Nancy and me all dressed up and heading out to our favourite night club, Raven’s, in Mississauga, Ontario, circa 1985.
I bought this dress from a second hand shop in Toronto. It was a light turquoise at the time and I wore it to a friend’s wedding, along with pointy-toed (I mean SERIOUSLY pointy) white, sling-back flats and dangly silver-chandelier ear-rings.
A few years later, I bought a box of  r.i.t. dye in this bright purple shade, grabbed my mom’s cast-iron canning pot and boiled me up a new dress!
The hair-do was my usual coiff for the 80s and the colour was just me trying to look more Irish.  Love the gloves, eh?
This is the infamous Chevy Impala of this poem, New Red Car, this poem, Wheels and the post, Drive, He Said.  She looks a bit mean in this photo with that gaping maw in the front, but she could “turn on a dime” and driving her was as smooth as paddling a canoe on a calm river. 
We drove her into the ground.  She was going on 14, had not only a hole in the front grill, but also one in the floor of the driver’s side . I have rheumatism in my left leg from those winter drives across Dundas St. heading out to Raven’s at the Tower’s Plaza at Dixie and Dundas, Crown 33 on the Lakeshore in New Toronto and any other bar with a dance-floor that would have me!)
When she finally packed it in, you had to climb in on the passenger side and slide across the front seat to take the wheel and one of the windows was permanently at half-mast.
I called her variously, “Christine” (for obvious reasons), the Get-Away car and the Boat.  I loved her and I was sorry to see her go.  We never had any “official” accidents, but there was one time my friend Marianne and I were heading home after a night of tearing up the dance floor. We were on a back road heading back to hers, stopped at a traffic light on a dark, lonely road.  We were just sitting there when I heard a muffled sort of a bang.  I asked M, “Did you hear that?” “Yeah, she said. What do think it was?” “Dunno.”  We both turned around at the same time to find a small car rammed into our back end.  It was a Chevette , the beetle to our big, fat old toad of an Impala.  When we checked the vehicles for damage, Christine, didn’t have a scratch on her.  The Chevette was toast.
God, I loved that car!

Kat Mortensen©2010  Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Got a sepia post you’d like to share? Leave me a comment with your link and I’ll post it here so we can all find you. 
We will be getting a linky-thing-a-majiggy going for Sepia Saturday as soon as Alan Burnett gets back from his Panama cruising.  (Any day now, I hear.)

Willow @ Willow Manor
Betsy @ My Five Men
Larry @ Larry’s Photo a Day
Martin @ Square Sunshine
Tony @ Bench (Tony Zimnoch’s Blog)
Stephanie @ Stephanie Says
Barry @ An Explorer’s View of Life
Dominic @ Dominic Rivron
Lettuce @ Lettuce-eating
Cynthia @ Muse-Swings
Kimy @ Mouse Medicine
Ladrón de Basura @ Junk Thief
Meri @ Meri’s Musings
Rhonda @ If You Do Stuff, Stuff Gets Done

Sepia Saturday #8 – Portrait from a Wedding in Dublin



















My Granny, Mary Ann Poland

on her wedding day, Dublin (1916)

(My source of information, a.k.a. my mom, now tells me this photo is actually my dad’s Mother and not my dad’s Grandmother as I had previously indicated.  We’ll get this straight yet!)


Kindred Spirit


Who was this woman?

We’ve never met,

yet her blood

floods through my veins.

She passed down to me,

my character—

in part.


Was it the easy ire,

or perhaps, the way I can laugh,

heartily, like a man?

Could it be the furrow

in my brow,

or the cowlick

in my hair?


Maybe it’s the keen eye

for the scene

around me,

or even my love

of a favourite

dress, or a fancy hat.


She was fond of flowers,

that’s clear,

and it looks like lilacs

were dear to her

(me as well).


Did she also

love the smell of  coffee?

Could she quaff

a pint with the

best of them?


Her hands— they’re not

like mine; mine are

slender and soft.

Hers must have been rough

and worn from tough


and her face is far

too full,


but I have that forehead,

that nose, those lips!

I’ll look you straight

in the eye,

the way she does.


How did she end her day?

I wonder.


Did she climb into

a cold bed,

wearing socks

and gown and cap—

pull the covers up

and shiver, “Brrrr!”?


Did she kneel down and

to her saviour pray?

Kiss her man goodnight?

We’re not so different

if she did.


I wish I knew

for sure.


Kat Mortensen©2010 
Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

*Please note: My mother is the source from which I am verifying information on the ancestors revealed in these photographs.  She frequently calls or e-mails  to correct some information she has imparted.  I am at the mercy of her memory and any scraps of paper with notations she may find.

Sepia Saturday is ordinarily coordinated by my very good friend, Alan Burnett of the News From Nowhere blog.  As he is on a well-deserved cruise-vacation with his lady-wife, I am pleased to assist him by posting all participants of this feature for the next few weeks.  Please advise me in a comment if you wish to be included in the links’ list below.  Thank you.

 ACADIANEIRE’S HERITAGE (my own newly-created blog devoted to my ancestry)



LARRY’S PHOTO A DAY (Larry Burgus)












JUNK THIEF (Ladron de Basura)