My Dad, he was a happy man until the day he died.
It's Fathers Day here in Australia on Sunday September 3, it's
fitting that this is the start of our Spring season and we are looking
toward the most pleasant time of the year as we celebrate the lives
of our Fathers.
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
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
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
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
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
I am including two poems with this post, the first one I wrote
about 20 years ago about Dad, and then one he wrote about
70 years ago to his favourite brother Fred.
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
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.
I did an update for his 90th birthday just 7 months before he
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.
Sad to say my Dad finally called it quits on
I don’t have the inclination for another update, just a fond farewell.
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
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
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.
Written by Merv Holt (about 1935)