Posted by: jkirkby8712 | August 17, 2011

Tuesday, 16 August 2011 – letter to the family, and memories of ‘The Sound of Music’

It was on this date, in 1977, that Elvis Presley died, and I can remember exactly where I was, when that news came through – in a motel, sitting down for breakfast, up in the far north western Victorian town of Ouyen. I was with my boss and his secretary [Geoff W and Lucie, a little French lady], and it was part of a three day ‘working trip’ to a couple of the national parks in that area [at the time, I was working as an ‘internal auditor’ with the Victorian National Parks Service –  best job I’ve ever had!]. I recall Lucie was extremely upset at the news.  Anyway, on last night’s ‘Smorgasbord’ program on the radio, I played a couple of tributes to Elvis, including an interview done offstage during one of his early-career performances – a rather amateurish, from the point of view of the interviewer, but it was interesting to hear the responses from a young and impressionable Elvis at the time. This Friday night, one of our new presenters at the station, an Italian guy who has a couple of excellent programs on during the week featuring in particular, international music and/or music and songs from migrants made good in Australia, has planned a six hour marathon, entirely dedicated to Elvis Presley.  Normally, we don’t encourage an individual to go beyond a 3 hour time period, but an exception has been made in this case – I wish him well, though personally, will only hear the tale end of his six hours, as I have a football match I’m intending to go to that night!

Today, I sent out an email to each of my siblings, as well as my four ‘children’ concerning a family ‘function’ planned for the beginning of September. The contents, which follow, are self explanatory. I didn’t really expect any positive responses, mainly because of the distance [of my siblings] involved in where they live. However, this evening, was pleased to learn by Face Book that my youngest sister [the only sibling who still lives in Victoria] from down Ballarat way, was interested in making the trip on the Saturday in question, and might even bring her daughter with her.  At least there would be another person [or two] from my side of the family! Anyway, this is the general gist of my information to the family.

Greetings all [or most],
Just thought I’d update you on a ‘family related’ event taking place in September. At present, I’m trying to find time to complete the preparation of  a  document on the life of William Kirk, our Great Great Grandfather, and original ancestor settler here in Australia, who died on 3 September 1911.   My plan is to have this available for a brief plague dedication ceremony which is going to take place at the Charlton Cemetery, in central Victoria, at the site of William’s Charlton grave, which up until this time, has been unmarked and neglected, though I have taken numerous photos of the plot over the years.  Family descendants of one of the four brothers of our great grandfather [James Kennedy Kirk] have organised a plague for William’s grave, and we are going to officially  ‘dedicate’ it on  the anniversary of his death [Saturday, 3rd September this year].  As a part of that planned  ‘ceremony’, I’ve been asked by one of the daughters of Emily Bowers [who died a couple of years ago in her 90s, and was a granddaughter of William] to read out the original Obituary which appeared in the local paper at the time of his death. 
This same family also had a plague placed at the grave of William’s wife  [Isabella Kennedy], in Talbot, last year. In the interim, my research has discovered that William and Isabella were actually divorced in 1875, hence the reason for her dying in Talbot, away from the family [which has been a family mystery, up until last year].  That divorce has never been previously mentioned in any of the family history that I’ve been following up.  The ‘story’ from the newspaper reports of the time of the various associated court cases reads like an episode of ‘Days of Our Lives’!!!  However, my document for the purposes of 3rd September, won’t be elaborating on that aspect of his life!!
Anyway, not expecting anyone else to be able to make such a trip in September [though all are invited], I will, as soon as it is available,  send you the document I produce. It will in fact be just a small section, of what I hope with be the ‘Kirk Family’ book, which I’m currently working on, and plan to expend some considerable time on, over the next 12 months. I will be in Castlemaine overnight on the 1st September –  that was where William & Isabella’s first daughter was born and died, on the goldfields there in 1855 –   and then two nights at the Charlton Foundary Arms Motel [Friday/Saturday night]. The actual ‘ceremony time is not finalised as yet but is expected 12Noon and 2pm on the day in question.  Not sure how many we will get in attendance – have spread the word amongst a few ‘family branches’ but have not over advertised it too much, as is not intended a reunion of any nature. But will be interesting to see who turns up!!  Any queries, let me know.  No doubt there will be a report forthcoming after the event.


Cheers to all, from Bill………….”


It is certainly true that I am working on a family history at the moment, though my confidence about being able to achieve a successful outcome were diminished a little yesterday, when I received in the mail a similar document – a family history [not connected with myself] but which I had ordered because it was centred around the same parts of Victoria that my own ancestors came from. This was a beautifully  put together book complete with great photographs, etc, and professionally printed – almost a coffee table sized book. A perfect example of what I would like to achieve, but somehow, I’ve just realised I have a long way to go!!


‘Showtime’ program No. 299 tonight – one more to go before I relinquish that time slot, and that particular program, which I have been producing since May 2005. I will miss presenting the kind of music that this show has featured on a regular basis – Broadway, stage & screen –  although no doubt, I will manage to slip a bit of show music into Monday night’s program from time to time,  and also no doubt, there will be the occasional time when in my usual fashion, I will fill in a vacant time slot with a one-off ‘Showtime’ special every now and then. Anyway, tonight, we came special emphasise on two musicals in particular – Oklahoma, and The Sound of Music [with the latter, music from the original motion picture which starred Julie Andrews & Christopher Plummer in the two lead roles]. In that movie, which over the years, I have seen on a number of occasions, I am particularly impressed by the role played by a ‘then’ young Charmian Carr, who played the eldest daughter of Captain Von Trapp – Liesl –  and one of my favourite tracks on this particular CD, is an interview with Charmian, which occurred just as the movie was about to be released. I have offered wondered since then, what happened to her ion later life. Decided finally, there was one way to find out – look her up, on the internet!!  Judging by the following report from Wikipedia, she didn’t go on to any kind of long term acting career, but instead, settled for domestic life and business interests. I found the following, though in fact, there was much material about young Charmian [who is actually 4 years older than me!!] but the following will suffice as a precis summary.

‘Carr also appeared in Evening Primrose, a one-hour musical written by Stephen Sondheim, which aired on television’s ABC Stage 67 in 1966. The male lead was Anthony Perkins. She has written two books, Forever Liesl and Letters to Liesl. While publicising The Sound of Music after its release, Carr met Jay Brent, whom she married in May 1967. She retired from acting to raise her two daughters, Jennifer and Emily, and to establish an interior decorating company. The marriage lasted until 1991. Carr now owns and operates Charmian Carr Designs in Encino, California. Her interior decorating clients included Ernest Lehman, screenwriter for The Sound of Music; Michael Jackson, who hired her because he was a fan of the film; and other cast members from the film. On December 12, 2007, Carr made a rare television appearance as a guest on Loose Women where she shared some of her memories of making The Sound of Music with the hosts. Carr reunited with all of her co-stars from The Sound of Music on The Oprah Winfrey Show in October 2010 to celebrate the 45th anniversary of The Sound of Music.   In another bio I read, it was noted Charmian Carr was born Charmian Farnon and that she got her name because supposedly her father liked the name after reading William Shakespear’s Antony and Cleopatra. Charmian was the name of one of Cleopatra’s maids. Our Chazrmia was the second of three daughters. In the interview I referred, she volunteered the information that it was her mother in decided on that name for the reasons specified.



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