Memoirs - Page 20

In the course of my life I have not, either often or long, allowed myself the “luxury” of reflecting on the past – I am convinced that the present or the future cannot change it – so retrospective ponderances have not been a stock in trade for me. I have not, myself, too often worked diligently at preserving or maintaining past relationships or contacts, particularly in situations where times, the fates, circumstances – or whatever – have moved me and my erstwhile associates into different spheres of endeavour or geographical areas. As a general concept, however, that is a somewhat two edged sword as I could just as easily recognise and state that a considerable number of my associates and acquaintances of the past have not “pursued” me (as one may say) into the future.

Notwithstanding that, some glimpses into the environments which I have experienced and the experiences I have enjoyed and endured, in what has been a constantly changing country, may be of interest to a future reader who has “gone this far with me”.

My first recalls of awareness are of the Glebe and Forest Lodge, in Sydney’s inner suburbs, where home (modest rented apartments), school and church were the focal points. Most existed on or radiated around the Pyrmont Bridge Road – a very heavily trafficked thoroughfare off Parramatta Road and an alternative route, via Ultimo, into the City (nowadays termed the CBD) and, of course, to the Harbour Bridge and the north side suburbs across the harbour.

Transport (public) buses plied Pyrmont Bridge Road with, to either side of our apartment residence (at no. 205), Glebe Point Road and Ross Street accommodating public tram services (on in-ground tracks). Shanks’ pony (walking) was the principal form of transport used for my movements within my limited sphere of early activities but I did graduate to the trams, principally, in due course (most direct route to the City) as used by Mum in her to / from work activities (Mockbell’s in Martin Place - downtown) or occasional long distance shopping.

We had little opportunity or need to move very far out of the local area – I recall occasional outings (by bus no doubt) to a park in Ashfield, on Parramatta Road (?), where Vince and I pursued the impossible task of salting birds’ tails (to what end I know not) and of course, tram trips into the City (for shopping or a treat) and beyond – for example to the Zoo (Taronga Park) or to Manly (involving a trip on the harbour via ferry) or one of the other beaches – mainly Bronte or Coogee.

In those days the suburban streets were the play areas, there being not a great deal of pell-mell, heavy vehicular traffic as occurs today with the school grounds (very nearby) being generally accessible (either public or denominational) as were local parks and / or sporting ovals precincts. One notable one was Jubilee oval, backing onto Rozelle Bay in the depths of the Glebe which was a public recreational facility – sporting oval; gardens; walking paths; a lake and open play areas / facilities promoting family picnics.

My circle of friends embraced Les Durrington (the local Catholic school wise-head and enforcer); Billy Rosewell – a follower, like me – rather than a ‘doer’; his cousins – the Allyne boys (John and Kevin) who – like their father before them – were sporting legends in their own time (they were adept at any sport and each went on to play first grade Rugby League for Balmain before injuries put paid to their “careers”). There were, of course, hordes of others who – for some reason – though nameless and faceless now – no doubt had inputs into my development. At the end of our school days – 1948 at St. James’, Forest Lodge – most of us shared the indignity of losing the inter-school (Patrician Brothers) shield for the season’s cricket competition being beaten in the final with a less than half strength team (as a result of absences due to final examinations commitments) after having been undefeated all season.

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