"In the beginning"

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The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily the views of the blog management, (on the other hand, they are not necessarily not the views of the blog management).

No effort has been made to stay within the bounds of the truth in this blog as it has always been the view of the management that the truth should never be allowed to stand in the way of a good story.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Random thoughts about my Dad

My blogging son Marcus did a post about his Dad, (a wonderful man that I know very well) recently and I thought the idea was worth repeating, so, in no particular order here goes.

My Dad was a boy from the bush; he grew up in “Gippsland” in Victoria in 1911.
He did not see his first motor car until he was 9 years old, an indication of the remoteness of the area.

Dad always claimed that he left school in the third grade, and his only good subject was “rounders” (a ball game, for those not familiar with it) be this as it may, Dad was very well educated by life.

Dad grew up in the depression years, work was hard to get and you certainly couldn’t be picky about what you did, thus his early years were spent at manual jobs like; shearing, wood cutting, coal-mining and rabbit trapping, (already the rabbit population in Australia was in the millions and growing fast)

Dad soon realized that he was not making much progress working with his hands, so he decided to try letting his mind take over. What a revelation! He turned to buying and selling used cars, way before the days of “used car salesmen” he bought and sold properties, houses and small farms. All this from a starting bank of three pounds, (six dollars)

Dad was, as I said in the first place a “self made man” who got no kick start from anyone else, and in a few short years he had progressed to a very comfortable state.

Dad by now was able to engage in his love of horses, he became a trainer/breeder of thoroughbred race-horses, and while he never had any world beaters, he did have a few horses that won races, winning was always pleasant, but the joy of his life came from the inter-action with racing people and his beloved horses.

Dad was an enigma when it came to money, having grown up in hard times, he could be almost miserly about wasting, (read spending) money unless it was to earn more. Having said that, Dad was one of the most generous men to his family and friends that I have ever known

Dad and my Mum had a stormy relationship for twenty years before splitting up. He found his “soul mate” when he married again, Dad and Ada, my step mother, spent fifty wonderful years together.

Harking back to Dads, hard to follow at times, ideas on money, he gave me a perfectly presented four year old Mercedes Benz once. The proviso was that I drive him home in it, some 1000 miles away, not surprisingly I agreed to do this. Dad paid for the fuel on the trip, and said to me only put $10.00 in the tank at one stage as fuel was 4 cents a litre cheaper in the next town. This from a man who had just given away a $40,000.00 motor car and now is intent on saving maybe 80 cents on fuel???

Dad could recite from memory, maybe 25 or 30 poems by his favourite authors, the list included some he wrote himself, his style of presentation, which was robust, made him very popular at parties and such.

Dad was a big man with long legs, he would stride around a horse paddock at a pace that nearly had you running to keep up, we are talking of Dad up to the age of eighty here!

Dad worked on his property until the age of 85 still feeding horses and slashing weeds and attending race meetings. When he finally “retired” he and Ada moved to a lovely unit at the coast, sadly he had left this move a bit too late as they only had a couple of years before his health deteriorated badly, he died a happy man though at the age of ninety.

Dad did not agree that he had left his move too late, his claim was that he had been doing exactly what he wanted to be doing all those years.

I am including two poems with this post, one I wrote a few years ago about Dad and one he wrote about 65 years ago to his favourite brother Fred.

Easy Merv

The story I’m going to tell you
Might come with a bit of a jolt
The tale of one mans good fortune
The story of one, Mervyn Holt

Whether through luck or good judgment
No matter through thick or thin
Didn’t matter much what he tried next
The cash just kept rolling in

When everyone else had a battle
To keep their old bombs on the track
Merv just bought them and sold them
In a little used car yard out back

Then if it’s spare parts you’re after
Easy Merv won’t see you go wrong
After he has all your money
He’ll sell you the parts for a song

Years back he moved up to Queensland
Even there he made lots of dough
Now he says its god’s country
But we know it belongs to Joh.

Of all of the things he has tried
Things to which he’s turned his hand
I reckon he’d have to rate best
A coalmine upon his land.

Sit back and tally the royalties
Without having to chance his luck
The more that goes out the richer he gets
The dollars roll in with each truck.

There’s a bloody big hole in the paddock
Where heavy equipment digs deep
But Merv sits back and enjoys it
Says it helps him to get restful sleep

He still has a few slow racehorses
Doesn’t bother with training today
Leases them out to another
Lets somebody else buy the hay

But if perchance one should get up
And win a cup for the shelf
The thrill of a win still excites him
You’d reckon he rode it himself.

After years as a bit of a battler
He reckons that he’s found the lurk
Now he sits back in style
And drives to the track in his Merc.

Now if you should chance to visit
And on the pool table you dare
To lay a challenge before him
He’ll wipe the floor with you there.

Must be a sign of the times
A miss-spent youth you might say
While sleeping at night under bridges
Somewhere he learnt how to play

He’s had a couple of close calls
And fought his way back to health
He says when you think you are dying
What’s the good of all of your wealth?

All he needs now for contentment
The very last thing he would seek
Is for Hawkey to agree to send him
A pension cheque every week.

Peter Holt

Time for a little update
As the years keep flying past
As Merv approaches ninety
He’s sold the farm at last.

It’s fair to say he’s slowing down
There’s no Merc. to drive today
But it really doesn’t matter
He’s not driving anyway

Now living in retirement
In a unit at the coast
Watching boats and playing pokies
Are the things he likes the most.

Peter Holt

Letter to Fred

I undertake in these few verses,
My dear old brother Fred,
To tell you just how light my purse is.
And what I’ve been doing of late.

Last year in 1935, I was working In Yallourn
But snatched it coming on the summer
I think the only trouble was
The weather got too warm.

For when a man is hanging all day
To the end of a pick or shovel,
Its then he tries to better himself
And gets further into trouble.

I finished up, and went to town
And to those city agents I went and did the rounds,
Of course I didn’t know the ropes too well,
But every time I got lost, I managed to locate the bell.

I’ll tell you Fred it weren’t no easy task,
Climbing all those flights of stairs
Until at last I took a tumble,
And got in those lift affairs.

When I introduced myself
And said, “I want to buy a farm”
They held out their hands to me
Of course I took it calm.

They praised up the blocks they had,
And made me feel like a squatter too
When they asked if I’d like to go,
And inspect a block or two.

The first place I went and saw Fred,
It had no boundary fence,
It was 3 parts heath and scrub
And bracken fern the rest.

Of course I turned it down Fred,
Don’t you think that that was best?
It was then I went to Hawsley, he’s another city sneak,
He took me out to where I am, out here at Dixon’s Creek.

He praised the place right up to me
As that they’re paid to do,
Until at last I said I’d take the place
And put the business through.

‘Twas then he took my shillings Fred
Every one I had
And things have set in dry my lad,
And things are bloody bad.

The little bit of fruit I had
It hardly paid to spray.
And to those Melbourne agents
I went and gave away.

So now then Fred I’ve done my best,
With this you should agree,
So think yourself lucky
That Freddie isn’t me.

So now then Fred I’ve got to close
At expenses I must look,
I’ve used up a 1/4 inch of pencil
And of paper, near a book.

So now I’ll say goodbye
To Fred my fondest brother
Although we are so very close
We all love one another.

Merv Holt

6 comments:

Merle said...

Really interesting post that brought back quite a few memories!!The pomes are good too and very familiar. Probably people think we cannot spell poems.It was your idea!!
ope all is well with you as it is
here with me & mine. Have you e-mailed Stacey to see how she is?
Probably Marcus is still crying over Geelong, I think Heather is.
I had forgotten you used to like Carlton many years ago. Cheers.

Peter said...

My football loyalty has always been a bit suspect when you think about it.
Carlton, Footscray, Geelong, Brisbane,
AND whoever is playing Collingwood.
Bruce, Jane and Cody will be here in a little over a week, will be good to see them without all the work/sport interuptions.

kenju said...

Peter, what a nice post, giving us a peek into the life of someone who meant a lot to you. I love stuff like this.

Kenju comes from the 1st 3 letters of my last name and the first 2 of my first name.

Peter said...

Thanks Judy,the justaskjudy blogsite was a pretty fair indication of your first name, but I wasn't sure about the Ken.
So I could become Holpe, no we won't go there.

Marcus said...

Lot's of stuff I didn't know in there Dad, I'm glad you've recorded it. Your blog is getting better and better.
I didn't know Bruce and Jane were going to Qld!

Peter said...

Marcus, find and re-read "I could write a book" there is heaps more detail about Dad in there.
B&J&Cody are going to a wedding in Bundabeg, (how would you like to live in a town whos very name declared it to be a "berg") and then spend some time with dear old Dad.
While I was typing dear I accidently hit D insead of R at the finish, hope that's not a premonition, or a proposition or a preposition or......