5 years ago I created an annual exhibition called Handkerchief & their Stories.
I wanted to show that handkerchiefs are more than just a piece of fabric or a functional item. I wanted to showcase the handkerchiefs people had kept over the years, the ones they cherished but more importantly I wanted to share the stories behind those handkerchiefs …. how they were acquired, loved and the journeys they have followed.
When I started our exhibition we had a shop front in Ballarat appropriately called - Little Square, each May I provided this free exhibition in our shop.. This year we were invited to be apart of Ballarat Heritage Weekend, which couldn't proceed however I have recently been inspired to start collecting and sharing Handkerchief stories again.
One story I just love is about Sir Robert Menzies. I am very grateful to Liz from Geelong who sends me this Handkerchief every year without fail for everyone to see. I am so impressed and honored she trusts me to look after these precious items.,
I remember when I met Sir Robert Menzies... he was in Ballarat for the 150 year Democracy Conference at the Federation University in 2004. I was assisting with the conference and one of my roles to liaise with guest speakers, Sir Robert Menzies was a key note speaker.
He of course had an amazing presence and was such a distinguished gentleman, I still remember clearly his instructions for his visit... he had to stay at the Ansonia Boutique Hotel, in the front room on the right.
When I was sent this story by Liz I was very pleased .... this story is exactly how I remember him a gentleman with no nonsense. Some of you may have heard this story before ... but it is one of my favorites and I still love looking at the handkerchief and the photo.
Sir Robert Menzies's Hankie
When I was young my father, mother, brother and I were invited to a private dinner at which Sir Robert and Dame Patti Menzies were guests. I remember thinking Sir Robert must have been royalty because he had a chauffeur! My mother, a British History and English teacher, was lucky enough to be seated next to Sir Robert. She found him to be extremely delightful and interesting and enjoyed a wonderful conversation about British history and the influence of the monarchy in Australia. At one point, during the evening, mum needed a hahandkerchief and, uncharacteristically, had forgotten hers. Sir Robert gladly obliged and gave her his beautifully starched and monogrammed hankie. My mother never kept anything belonging to anybody else in all of her 89 years on this earth. But this was one hankie she just could not give back!