Presentations to Seniors’ Groups on Queenie, The Dog on the Tuckerbox and Flame Stands Waiting.
My last few blog posts have been about visiting schools and libraries and talking to children about books and stories and why I write. The other side of ‘story’ is talking to groups of seniors in clubs or retirement villages such as Probus, Legacy & Rotary.
Requests for these presentations originally came out of some articles I wrote about the writing of ‘Queenie One Elephant’s Story’, which were published in the Probus Club Magazine. I went on to publish articles on the writing of both ‘The Dog on the Tuckerbox’ and ‘Flame Stands Waiting.’
Requests for these presentations continue without any prompting from me. There is always a lady who comes and asks for my business card, ‘My friend runs a ladies morning group, or is a member of a Probus club etc.’ and it goes on, word of mouth.
I talk about my love of books and writing and how I came to write, give some background on my educational books, explaining the differences between educational publishing and trade books, then move on to talking about Queenie, The Dog on the Tuckerbox and Flame Stands Waiting.
In the bigger clubs or at retirement villages where there’s the benefit of data projectors and screens, I run a power point presentation which includes old photographs of Queenie and other Melbourne Zoo animals, photos of the statue of The Dog on the Tuckerbox, pioneers, wagons and bullock trains and information about the magnificent carousel at Melbourne’s Luna Park and how it has been turning there since 1923. I explain that although the story is set on the Luna Park Carousel, the horse I call Flame could be standing on any carousel anywhere in the world and I have some wonderful photos of other beautiful carousels in Australia, England and Europe.
Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking to the Ladies Group at Edrington Park Retirement Village in Berwick. After lunch, about 35 ladies (and a sprinkling of men) gathered in comfortable lounge chairs to take a journey down memory lane. They also shared with me their memories of Queenie (one lady even showed me her photo of riding Queenie in 1930) ‘How big she seemed’ and ‘There was no room left on the howdah, so I rode on her head!’
They all nodded when I mentioned stopping at the almost half way point between Melbourne and Sydney with my parents and siblings in our FC Holden with a caravan on the back and having a picnic at the statue of The Dog on the Tuckerbox, five miles from Gundagai and they are taken back to their younger days when I mention carousels and how beautiful and special they are – a ride on a carousel can take you away to another place and time.
The photo below is of the ladies from yesterday’s group who all rode Queenie. There are others who share their stories of ‘Jessie’ the elephant at Sydney Zoo and ‘Maryann’ in Adelaide. I am still hoping that one day someone will bring along one of the postcards which were given to those who rode Queenie or a pencil – white with gold writing and inscribed ‘Queenie’s Birthday.’
When I left the village yesterday the residents were relaying their stories to each other and reliving their past and as I walked away it was a good feeling to know that I think I’d brought some sunshine and pleasure to these ladies on a wintry Melbourne afternoon.
(‘Flame Stands Waiting’ and ‘The Dog on the Tuckerbox’ are available in any book shop (or if not you can order them) and ‘Queenie One Elephant’s Story’ will be coming out in paperback in January.)