My feelings are sensible on opening Harry’s album. Inside the front cover is a clipping Bea, his wife, took from The Herald, a Melbourne broadsheet, on Monday 25 November 1963.
“Assassin Shot Dead on His Way to Gaol,” shouts the headline flung across the top of the page, displacing the masthead. The news is about Lee Harvey Oswald and the story continues on pages 3, 4, 5, and 6. Bea didn’t clip the story of Jack Kennedy’s killing.
There are a couple of blank pages at the beginning and then on page two are three items by David Martin, a man who worked “as a freelance journalist and editor of The Australian Jewish News. He quickly became part of Australian literary and political life. He joined the Communist Party in 1951, was active until 1956 and remained a member until 1959”, according to the National Library of Australia’s Web site.
Most of the clippings are undated. But they are carefully clipped, neatly edged, and glued carefully in place. On page four the date 12 October 1953 is written in green ink on a clipping that features a poem, ‘Mao’s Gift’. “This poem of the Peking Peace Conference is by West Australian poet Victor Williams, who has been invited to the USSR by the Soviet Writers’ Union.” According to the Web site of The Guardian, the “weekly newspaper of the Communist Party of Australia”, Williams turned 90 in 2004.
The album is the product of the labour of a passionate man. Many of the poems are mere doggerel, but there’s no doubting the enthusiasm of the person who selected, clipped, and pasted each one into his scrapbook. My mother, who adored her father, told me the clippings are from The Tribune, a Communist Party newspaper.