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Dining and Sewing in the Bluestone

It was back to the Bluestone for me this morning the headquarters for Deaf Children Australia.  Not a great day, it was raining the whole time.  I was there to catch up with Neil and to look at some film footage that they have.  Before I met him I took some photos of the Auditorium.

Leanne Cole - AuditoriumThis is how it looked today, but when the building was still a school for the deaf, this room was the dining room and it was full of tables for the boarders to eat.  Apparently the day students didn’t eat in here, they had a room in the basement for them to eat. Quite strange all the different sorts of segregation that went on here, though I am sure it went on everywhere.

Leanne Cole - Singer Sewing MachineThis old machine is sitting in the hallway outside the Boardroom, which was once the girls dormitory.  I don’t know if this is one of the original machines, but it is certainly of the right time.

Now, hopefully I can figure out how to do this, but I have some footage for you from the 1950’s.  It is of a few things, it goes for just under two minutes.

It is pretty funny, but I hope it gives you an idea of what it was like.

Remember if you would like to help Deaf Children Australia and the restoration of the Blueston then you can Donate Here.

56 Comments
  1. Things were sure different then, on so many levels…

    June 12, 2013
    • Oh yes, scary that it was only about 60 years ago.

      June 12, 2013
  2. Love the flashback photos!

    June 12, 2013
  3. Love the video. It really brings the past to life! Also, I really like the photo of the auditorium. The tone is so soft.

    June 12, 2013
    • I thought adding some video to the posts would be great, give them a different aspect. I love watching them. Thank you Nia.

      June 12, 2013
  4. The Singer sewing machine brings back happy childhood memories when my sister and I would pretend it’s a ship and the big wheel is the ship’s steering wheel. My mom hated it because apparently it ruins the pedals.

    June 12, 2013
    • Haha, I bet you mum didn’t like it. My mother had one, but I don’t think she ever used, at least I don’t remember her using it.

      June 12, 2013
      • Sadly my mom traded in her old Singer for a high-speed beast of a sewing machine. I would have loved to learn how to sew the old fashioned away.

        June 12, 2013
      • Oh no, I wonder what those were like to use?

        June 13, 2013
      • Scary at first, at least that’s what mom said. But they get work done twice as fast.

        June 13, 2013
      • Probably get the work done fast because you aren’t trying to work out how to get the machine to work, you just about need a degree to use some of the machines these days.

        June 13, 2013
  5. Love those windows and how you have captured the natural light coming through. Didn’t recognise it as one of your own! MM

    June 12, 2013
    • Haha, yes I haven’t done anything really to the image, not like me at all. Thanks MM

      June 12, 2013
  6. My mum’s still got an old singer just like one, complete with treadle.

    June 12, 2013
    • They are so wonderful, my mum had one when I was growing up, but I don’t remember what happened to it.

      June 12, 2013
  7. The video is funny but also thought-provoking. For me, one of the funny parts was when the announcer talks about, “high standards being maintained at the home” and the visual is socks etc drying on a laundry line. The part that made me think was when they compared the deaf to “normal children” and “normal people.” The language I’m used to hearing is “deaf versus hearing.” Somehow, the word “normal” takes it to a different level. ps- my grandmother had the same sewing machine. It made me smile to see it again. Thanks!

    June 12, 2013
    • It is so strange and yet very condescending as well. I love the bit about how they are suited to certain tasks because they can concentrate, I am so glad times have changed since then. It is interesting, that is for sure.
      I think many of us knew someone with one of those sewing machines, it certainly brings back memories. Thanks Gina.

      June 12, 2013
      • Condescending is exactly the level it hits. I am so very glad things have changed. And that deaf children today are encouraged to have bigger dreams than concentration tasks. Thanks again for sharing this.

        June 12, 2013
      • Yes exactly, I am so glad of that as well.

        June 12, 2013
  8. I think your photo of the Singer appears in the video. Makes me wonder where these children are now.

    June 12, 2013
    • Yes, I think it is too. I think they are living their lives doing whatever they ended up doing. I have seen video of groups coming back to the school to talk about their time there, they do it fondly, and they obviously have loved memories of it. Much the same as any kid who goes to boarding school I think.

      June 13, 2013
  9. I loved to see the image of the old Singer – my grandma had one just like that! Fond memories.

    June 12, 2013
    • That is wonderful, I think a lot of us remember them.
      I was talking to my daughter the other day, who has now decided she wants to start sewing, how when I was younger you could save a lot of money if you sewed yourself, but it isn’t the case anymore, it is now more expensive to sew clothes. Shame really.

      June 13, 2013
  10. I think it’s wonderful that things has changed for children with different needs – and that during the 60 years things has gone so much better. My grandma had a sawing machine like that. Love the photo of the Auditorium – such a bright room.

    June 13, 2013
    • Oh yes, thank goodness times have changed. It is so different these days. Thank you Viveka.

      June 13, 2013
  11. the auditorium is nice and bright! love the sewing machine, my mother had one similar, it was my grandmothers. love old things like that.

    June 13, 2013
    • It would have been a lovely place to eat, especially on a nice sunny day. I wonder what happened to all those machines, my mother had one too, but I don’t know what happened to it. I love them to Heather.

      June 13, 2013
  12. That footage is fascinating!
    Nice picture, but a bit ironic to call it an Auditorium, isn’t it?

    June 13, 2013
    • I love watching the old footage, and yes it is a bit ironic, I hadn’t thought of that.

      June 13, 2013
  13. Pat #

    My grandmother had a sewing machine like that. I love the workmanship that went into making it.

    June 13, 2013
    • The workmanship in them was amazing, not like the plastic things we get these days.

      June 13, 2013
  14. What became of the home? Why did they close it and what took its place. It is so strange to see how, as a society, we used to treat children with birth defects like deafness. Now, we don’t shunt them away into group homes, we each take on the responsibility of raising children with challenges ourselves. One of my grandsons is on the autism spectrum; I wonder what would have become of him during this time in our history?

    June 13, 2013
    • It is terrible to think about it, I think in the beginning the children were made wards of the state. I don’t know when they stopped that. Though, we have to remember that these places were nurturing and they were cared for. Otherwise, who know what would have happened to them. They were taught to communicate, always, the guy who started the school was himself deaf and he signed, so he taught other deaf children how to sign. They learned how to do things and they were educated. I think for the 1860’s that was wonderful. There is still a school on the site, but they are no longer in the Bluestone. I don’t know when that happened. Though there are still places for children from the country to board, though, most kids are integrated into normal schools where ever possible now. With Cochlear earplants and things, many deaf children now hear, or hear enough so they can continue at normal school. The home is now the centre for Deaf Children Australia.
      It is scary what used to happen to some, especially children who are Autistic, or with Down Syndrome, they were locked away in mental assylums and never thought of again, or something like that, thank goodness we have moved away from that.

      June 13, 2013
      • I know, I shudder to think how we as humanity used to treat anyone that was different!
        I could tell these children were well cared for and seemed happy – well as happy as you can be when you are pulled away from your family and left for another to care for you!
        But I guess, back then, parents didn’t’ have the resources to raise, care for or teach special needs children.

        June 17, 2013
      • I do think that it was because of places like this that we now have those resources, as so much was learned. I don’t know about where you are, but here they are all about integration and getting ALL kids into the same education units, time will tell if it was successful.

        June 18, 2013
  15. I really am OLD!! I actually remember one of those sewing machines in our house. Great photos and memories

    June 13, 2013
    • Then I must be too, my mother has one too, though I don’t ever remember her using it. Haha, Thanks Nora.

      June 14, 2013
  16. Chris Thumm Photography #

    Neat! I have an old sewing machine like the one in your photo! It belonged to my great grandmother! 🙂

    June 14, 2013
    • That’s pretty cool, does it still work?

      June 14, 2013
      • Chris Thumm Photography #

        Last time I plugged it in it did (many years ago) though the motor seemed a little worn out and sluggish. I just have it in a spare bedroom of the house for display since I don’t really have the need to use it.

        June 14, 2013
      • My mother had one, but I don’t know what happened to it, I know she doesn’t have it anymore. It was never used, well not that I remember.

        June 14, 2013
  17. Wonderful film clip, Leanne, and two great images (color-adjusting really enhances the details, I find–and obviously, you have, too!) of a place quite devoted in the past to assimilate the deaf into ‘normal’ society. I continue to wish I had funds to donate, but all I can do from here is plead to your fellow Australians and others to donate and keep this grand architectural specimen of another time in prime condition–it is historical and must be remembered by all for the good it has done!

    June 15, 2013
    • Thanks 1000, I love the film clip, so wonderful. It is a great building and I do like the links to the past that it has and I like that they don’t want to completely change it and forget what it represented in the past.

      June 15, 2013
      • 😉 !!! They must be really good people, and I continue to hope and pray for their success…which can ultimately lead beyond ‘national pride’!

        June 16, 2013
      • They are, and I hope so as well.

        June 16, 2013
      • :>) !!!

        June 16, 2013
  18. I have a sewing machine like that : my grandmothers…

    June 15, 2013
    • Oh how wonderful, do you use it Dawn, does it still work? You often, well used to, see them at places, but they are often used as decoration with a lovely doily and something sitting on top of that. That is what my mothers was used for. I must ask her what happened to it.

      June 15, 2013
      • Yes it does work Leanne…. but I don’t use it, so it mainly just for looking at 🙂

        June 17, 2013
      • I think a lot of people use them for the same thing Dawn, I know that is what my mum used it for. 🙂

        June 17, 2013
  19. My mom had a Singer sewing machine that looked just like that….
    back in the olden days.
    We also had a wringer washer…..I got my hand stuck in the rollers once.
    Technology has come a long way since then.

    June 16, 2013
    • My mum did as well. oh I remember those as well, they were so labour intensive, though better than beating everything against a rock I suppose.
      Yes, thank goodness.

      June 16, 2013
  20. poppytump #

    The video clip was a great find Leanne . As others have said how things have changed .
    The original dining room I’m sure is a lot brighter now and no smell of cabbage Lol as there always used to be in school dining rooms .
    I don’t have the sewing machine but have a base with the old treadle wheels which I’ve put an oak top on ..

    June 22, 2013
    • Yes, apparently the kids who went there hated the food, and the stories they tell about it, well, I am glad I didn’t have to eat it.
      The smell of cabbage, Haha, I don’t know, probably.
      The base must look really interesting, especially because of the treadle wheels. Sounds really nice.

      June 22, 2013

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