Sunday, July 4, 2010

Growing up, slowly but surely!

The four young men pictured in the post were myself, extreme left, and my three best friends, Mick (his mother called him ‘Michael’ and always looked sharply at me when I referred to him as “Mick”), Kevin and Peter.

Me you know most about.

Mick was first a railway guard then joined the ACT Police and was lead Police Motor Cycle Rider for the Governor General’s official escort until one too many falls during general duties on our ACT icy winter roads left him with crippling back injuries. Mick now resides on the north coast of NSW looking after his grandkids, doing good works and assisting his daughter and son-in-law to run their family restaurant.

Kevin worked all his life in the electronics industry in Sydney until he retired and moved to Hawkes Nest NSW to retire and where he loves playing his golf.

Peter became apprenticed as a boilermaker at garden island dockyards and worked as a boilermaker until he retired and moved to Grenfell NSW – the home town of Australia’s renowned poet, Henry Lawson - where Peter is now a respected member of the local Probus Association.

We were four of the closest friends and even girlfriends and future wives could not break that bond – tho’ I’m certain some parents would liked to have done so.

To us, growing up was bush, creeks, gullies where we built ‘hides’ to avoid other adolescent groups. One of our most famous was in a time of a ‘power struggle’ over territory – a huge defunct quarry – where we built dugouts and fortifications around the top of a 10 metre cliff to protect ourselves from the dreaded “Princes Street Gang”! It also commanded access to the short cut through the quarry to the Lane Cove River and the prized ‘swimming hole’ at Magdala Road.

We had catapults, spears and bows and arrows in our armoury as well as rocks and other weapons such as cudgels for ‘close combat’. We had also roped-in some of our sisters and brothers and other 'hangers on' to reinforce our position.

The day arrived when the Princes Street Gang (Yes! another group of 12 year olds) mounted their assault on our fortifications. The battle raged for what seemed like hours as we repelled assault after assault as they clambered up the slope to where we commanded the high ground. (Why they never tried flanking us along the ridgeline I have never understood until this day!) We were almost over-run and running short of armaments when someone fired off an arrow which lodged in the thigh of one of the Princes Street Gang who collapsed screaming in the midst of the melee.

I stood up and called a halt and made our lot cease and hostilities and went to the stricken lad. It was only a flesh wound but I pulled out the ‘arrow’ (a sharp stick) and bandaged his leg with my handkerchief.

A “Truce” was formally declared and we all agreed that it was too hot to continue fighting, so after a short discussion it was agreed we’d all go down the river for a swim!

Ain’t kid’s life grand – who would let their nearest and most precious engage in those activities these days?

No comments: