LIFE’S A BALL
is the self told story of an average bloke who lives the second half of the 20th
century – the early part of which was influenced greatly by the effects of the
first half on his immediate family forebears.
fortunes fluctuate as Lifes ball bounces one way then another.
and post war childhood, bitter sweet teenage, schooling successes and abject
failures, sexual and social awakening, sports, marriage, parenting, divorce,
deaths, the swinging fortunes of work ethic, travel, remarriage – and life for
in Wonthaggi, Sandringham, Brighton and St. Kilda in Melbourne, and then in
Brisbane, Bribie Island and Goondiwindi, Queensland, the story may well typify
the effects on family life influenced by political and peer (social)
pressures of the time.
is told to pass on the mistakes, the pleasures, the rewards, and perhaps
knowledge to his Son, and to relative family children to give them all an
insight into their own formation through family influences over the 20th century
and before it.
the best is still to come . . .
In Store Price: $28.00
Online Price: $27.00
Format: A5 Paperback
Number of pages:
Genre: Non Fiction
Publisher: Poseidon Books
Date Published: 2006
Cameron, its July 1st 1997.
Your mother has been in intensive care at
; when you told me this for the very first time I felt a weight lift from me. Not
out of spite I hasten to add – but for some reason after all these years my
mind has cleared. Its as if my brain had been in meltdown with the facts
blocked out. With that my abilities, talent and skills, particularly my
intuitive, instant creativity, activities and attitude were curtailed.
I was in fact, burned out.
Now though, memories have been coming from
nowhere. Ive woken during the night recalling people, places, and events that
have long been hidden, and I feel the time is right to commence documenting a
little family history for you. I hope its informative and that the good, the
bad and even the ugly give you an insight into the life and times the family
went through, and how they were affected by events of the twentieth century.
Now for some housekeeping, the girls in this
story, although real, are composites for their sakes (and my legals). Bondy is
not an entity. She embodies many others – a body corporate!
Everything within this book indeed happened, but I
must disguise all the lovely ladies concerned – and embody them within the
So it is with The Adviser. The bastard
existed; so did his actions, but hes hidden from legal sight, which is in one
way rather unfortunate.
Jerry is based on Sally, but is again a
conglomerate. No single person joined in each and every one of the escapades
Ive outlined. But those Sal missed, I suspect hed have enjoyed as much
All the conversation quotations may not be
verbatim, but they certainly do express the gist of whatever was said at any
given time. I make no apologies for specific details of sexual awakenings before
marriage, and the tertiary education in the same subject I received (and taught)
between marriages. As the experts say, What happened, happened as a result of
what happened – and cannot be unhappened. Perhaps there should be a BSex
(Hon)? What a way to graduate!
Appreciation, and much love is expressed to
Kathleen, you Cameron, Thel Tuckey and our siblings and cousins. What you will
read is how Lifes Ball Bounced.
I hope you consider it worth keeping.
R – Dad
Beginning the Background
The three grandfathers and grandmothers were young adults at Federation in
1901. Alf Plant was a miner and a butcher. Joe and Dick Crawley were bakers.
I dont know much about their individual early
days – Pop Joe had married Sarah Elliott from Port Melbourne. Mum was their
fourth and last child after Joe, Frank, and George. No one seems to know what
happened – suffice to say that Mum was brought up by Dick and Nell (Ellen)
– but she was extremely close to her brothers, particularly Joe and Frank. A
few years later, Thelma Tuckey was taken in by
and Pop. Mum and Thel developed a closeness akin, if not better, than the best
Pop Dick had a number of souvenirs from WWI where
he served (literally) in the kitchens in
. None of them talked about individual happenings, except that I knew somehow
from them about Flanders Fields and the town thats now named for
Dad was born in Rutherglen, but my memories of the
Plants and Webbs are from Wonthaggi where Pop worked at the coal mine and hung
his own meat. He was active amongst the workers, and was a past President and
Life Member of the Wonthaggi Working Mans Club.
Wonthaggi was a coal-mining town. The mine/s were
State-owned, supplying coal to the Railways. Some other mines in nearby
Leongatha and Korumburra were private concerns, but they also supplied coal in
There were trying times in the forties when major
strikes held up production and the State wanted their workers to scab at
the private mines. Eruption! Theres a TV documentary series about those times
(and earlier I suspect) that Im told is quite accurate. Also, our cousin Amy
wrote a poem of the time, which is included in my Other Writings
Pop used to campaign vigorously for the miners and
the party from the back of a dray, whilst Dad and his cornet plus a few other
members of the Salvation Army band would try to drown him out. Ben Chifley,
former train driver, was their idol. Arthur Warner, State Minister for Transport
(their boss) was not.
Two major things happened on the eighty-mile beach
near Wonthaggi. First, a whale was washed ashore. Its jawbone was preserved and
placed over the corner verandah of Taberners hotel right opposite Wonthaggi
railway station. Visitors carved their names on it.
Second, (Sir) Arthur Warners yacht was washed
up on the same beach during or after a storm. Wonthaggi folklore alleges the
locals left it there. High and dry.
Pop and Nammy hosted the Webb brothers from time
to time. Paddy Webb went to
where he became famous (infamous?) as a Union activist on the waterfront.
George Webb, former bullock driver, went to
Glenhuntly where he was one of the last woodmen – horse and cart – supplying and
delivering firewood locally. Betty and Les Linklater shared the place with him
and a Webb sister I knew only as Little Aunt – real name, Mary. They lived
behind a drapery shop that they demolished to build the house you might remember
Another brother Sloke – real name Frank,
and Pop in his last years. He was famous for his limp and walking stick – he
would limp along the street until out of sight, then tuck the stick under his
arm and walk at a steady gait to the pub. Sloke would either stagger back or get
a lift from Dick Brook the Wonthaggi taxi operator.
One thing stands out in my memory about all these
men. They were hard. Hands gnarled. Tough. Working men not from the cities. And
yet they were gentle, even though their tough old leather belts, probably
fashioned by themselves, also served as effective disciplinary tools for the
youngsters of their day. I would have liked to have known them as a man.
Their ladies were brought up in the Victorian era.
They ruled the home, served their men, educated the children, and all without
pre-packaged foods and work-easy appliances. Wood stoves were the norm. Coal
burners in Wonthaggi.
The fire never went out at Nammy and Pops. The
embers of the coal fire at nighttime would light the stove in the morning, and
the embers of the stove would ignite the coal in the fireplace at night. This
was the generation who were born in the horse and cart society, and who saw the
effect of steam, petrol and oil the generation that experienced the birth of
the automobile, the aeroplane and electricity.
They lived through the hell of two world wars
they served in one and watched and waited through the other.
I remember being with Pop Plant watching Sputnik
soar above our back yard in
, and he said simply, Ive seen it all now son.