Tag Archives: Family history

November verse 7: Misses Aitkin Entertain

I searched on my father’s surname (Shaw) and my mother’s pre-marriage surname (Aitkin) on Trove. Only two items showed up: an account of their wedding, which was pretty much a description of the wedding dress and veil with the wedding as vague context, and the short piece below, which inspired today’s stanza. Esme, then 18 years old, was to marry my father two years later.

The third last line refers to a common observation of the time that Innisfail was the most cosmopolitan town in Australia, as in this item in The News (Adelaide) in January 1934.

November verse 7: Misses Aitkin Entertain
Johnstone River Advocate and Innisfail News, 8 August 1933

On page two, thirty Misses gather,
plus one Matron, three Mesdames.
The Misses Aitkin, helped by mother,
play joint hostess to the games.
BRIDGE AFTERNOON, there in the rest room,
safe from work and men: asylum.
Highest score wins, not a purse,
but linen hankies, white of course. 
Antigonon adorns the tables,
pinker than each player's cheeks.
On other pages, murder, strikes,
and conversation rich as Babel.
This room's genteel, all-English, safe,
a place we know well, sunlit cave.