About My Father
DO NOT GO WHERE THE PATH MAY LEAD. GO INSTEAD WHERE THERE IS NO PATH AND LEAVE A TRAIL.
It must have been in WW 11, that the family went to see the Disney movie “Bambi”. It was at a time when American servicemen came to Sydney or Brisbane for R & R leave. The Yanks as they were affectionately called had superior quality uniforms and superior amount in their paypackets; women and not just young ones , flocked to the capital cities in search of romance. The movie “Bambi” is on, Bambi’s mother is shot by a hunter, the forest is being destroyed by fire, Bambi is crying and so are people , not just the children, in the audience. “ I want my mother “ says Bambi. More tears and a rude man in the audience pipes up , “She’s out with a bloody Yank” “Tut Tut,” went my father to quieten the man, but my puzzlement over my parent’s laughter as I overheard them later in the kitchen, almost approving of the man’s comment, was not answered until adulthood.
Dad was also a champion target shooter and when Mrs Denford would not venture outside not even with a hat, she having had a huge lump of flesh pecked from her scalp by a magpie, the police sought out my father to destroy the bird. Of course that happened in late 1940s and would be handled a different way today. I hasten to tell you that Dad did not like toy guns because children played at shooting each other – not a good thing.
He taught all his daughters to waltz, he and Mum often boasting of how they used to win waltzing competitions. The man had to put egg shell on his shoes and if any shell appeared on the dance floor, then the couple were eliminated.
Yes , sport was his favourite subject- so Australian - he was athletic, a runner in his youth, umpired some sports, followed the races often, but did not bet ( not with six children to support) and when he wasn’t attending the vegetable patch , went fishing. There’s a secret spot of his in the Bellinger River at Urunga that he christened the Snapper Hole.
He did not talk about the war. Once I ventured (It must have been Remembrance Day, 11th hour of 11th day of 11th month) “ How did you feel at the end of the war Daddy?” And he said “I looked up in the sky and there was a beautiful angel.” He was given to exaggeration and telling stories.
His smoking habit was a shame. He had been gassed in some field in France and spent brief time in hospital. He told me that he had been all but buried during an explosion and that a tree trunk and his arm over his face gave him some protection.
I choose not to talk about his smoking and his roll-your-owns, for the pain is overwhelming. Someone said at his funeral “He was both a gentleman and a gentle man” so true.
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