I have been tempted down the trail of reminising once more,
I will post a few chapters of what I laughingly refer to as
"my Book" if you enjoy it please let me know, if you don't enjoy
it let me know that too, whichever gets the vote will decide the
fate of "the Book"
Growing Up Wild
How many times have you said, or heard somebody else say, I could write a book about so and so, whoever it might be.
Well having made the comment many times about my Dads life I finally decided to bite the bullet and have a go.
My father was born at Seaspray, not far from
Charles and Margaret eked out a living on a small acreage farm located on pretty marginal coastal land, so it followed that with 6 husky sons to look after the boys grew up fairly quickly, and were well able to survive in the scrub that surrounded them.
The boys were all pretty close, but it was the last 3, my uncle Roy, my dad Merve and my uncle Fred who were the ones that stuck closest together.
There was only a few years between them but Roy adopted the protective role while Merve and Fred developed a fine tuned sense of fun, that was to stay with them throughout their lives even when times got tough, which they often did.
One of Fred’s sons is quoted as saying he didn’t know there was any other kind of meat than rabbit until he was 14 years old, be this as it may, there certainly was an over abundance of rabbits in the area.
And as the family never let the truth stand in the way of a good story, it may be one of the many examples of folk-lore we will discover during this trip down memory lane.
The boys all attended a small rural school nearby, when they couldn’t get out of it, either by helping around the farm, or simply wagging it, truant officers were unheard of in those good old days.
Dad talked of riding their ponies to school and often being detoured by a wild ride through the scrub in hot pursuit of a kangaroo or wallaby.
His lifelong boast was that he reckoned he hadn’t done too badly for a third grade boy who’s only good subject was rounders.
There would be very few who would deny the first part of this statement.
Dad eventually progressed to a bike which he was riding along a rough bush track when he saw his first motor car.
This had managed to sneak up on him from behind, the driver gave him a blast on it’s old klaxon horn, he got such a fright he dumped the bike on the track and hit the scrub running flat out.
Hard to imagine from a man who would become one of the very first used car dealers in Melbourne in years to come, perhaps it also had something to do with him becoming one of the biggest motor wreckers as well, could it have been revenge?
As the boys progressed to their teens and started to feel their oats, they discovered girls, dances at local halls, and pool halls, where Dad learnt to play a mean game of pool.
I was foolish enough to challenge him to a game once, and only once, as he gave me a hiding I still remember.
This was the era when Roy’s protection of the younger boys came into it’s own, if they danced with somebody’s girl and were invited outside to settle the score, Roy would suddenly appear stating that Merve and Fred had come for the dancing while his sole reason for being there was for the fighting.
They soon developed a reputation that preceded them, and they had very little trouble if Roy was about, “he could scrap a bit,” was Dads comment years later.
This growing up period encompassed some pretty tough times, leading up to and including the great depression years when work was hard to come by and you certainly didn’t pick and choose your jobs, spending the night under a bridge wasn’t uncommon.
Dad and Fred became pretty good blade shearers and could usually get a job shearing during the season, but as transport was a long way from today’s standards it had to be fairly local, or those bridge accommodation units came into play.
They eventually moved on to machine shearing, but by the time this was becoming the normal method Dad had already worked out that he was never going to get rich working with his hands and was exploring the possibilities of using his head.
There followed a succession of jobs, that ranged from rabbit trapping, fencing, shearing and crutching and even a stint as a coal miner at the open cut mine run by the State Electricity Commission.
At around this time he met my Mum who was a young widow with a small Son, because my half brother Jack was a Holt this had something to do with him changing his name from Flint to Holt.
This wasn’t a subject that was ever discussed but I do know Grandma Flint never forgave him or my Mother for this.
My sister Merle was born during the coal mining days, but plans were afoot to buy a farm so serious searching for the right farm at the right price began.
They finally settled on a 40 acre farm with a 4 roomed house on it, all for the princely sum of 190 pounds, ($380.00!!) and it was from here that I first saw the light of day.
To call it a farm was praise that it definitely didn’t deserve, it was hilly, hungry country that couldn’t support enough stock to pay the bills, much less run at a profit.
This same area has since become a rich wine grape growing area but that progression took 40 years, a bit out of my Dads time frame.
To make ends meet Dad took off to Melbourne where he got a job with the Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board driving double decker buses, and that’s another story.