- The Arts
OPINION: Gerard Oosterman | October 17, 2009
Article from: The Australian
I CAME to Australia from The Netherlands in 1956 with my parents, and after a year or so bought an Italian motor scooter.
Motor scooters were big in those days, with scooter club meetings held all across Sydney.
After two or three years, I found that to date a girl I needed transport with more than two wheels. This is where the 1950s Single Spinner Ford sedan came into play. It was a V8 car with leather seats, no seatbelts and three allowed on the front seat.
It was the period of a very popular television series, Bonanza, which had a character called Little Joe who was forever combing his hair. If only I had some of this Little Joe’s elan and flair, I thought.
Together with my V8 Single Spinner, I might just crack this code of dating a sheila. Sheilas and blokes were staples of Australian vernacular then.
Off I went, one Friday night, with copious amounts of brilliantine in my straight hair, which I slightly pushed forward to get a wave and something to flick back at an opportune moment when a girl might be looking. I had practised this Little Joe effect enough to feel fairly confident it would overcome the disadvantage of my guttural Dutch accent.
That was another hurdle at the time, having an accent. The Aussie boys were miles in front and seemed to have it when it came to charming the girls.
At last, success. I knew the pride of Erin would be my best chance of winning a date. The multi-mirrored ball on the ceiling was throwing fascinating effects all around and, as was the norm then, girls with their hooped skirts were across the room and the boys with their suits and brilliantine were on the other side.
The orchestra started with a cheery “Kids, what’s the matter with kids today?” and the boys rushed forward for the dance. The pride of Erin was when partners were changed after a turn or so.
This meant refusals by the girls were kept to a minimum and most blokes managed to get in at least one dance.
I had only a few seconds at my disposal during a turn with a girl I thought looked lovely, with a kind and friendly look.
Unbelievably, she agreed to a date the following Saturday.
I turned up with my V8 and, after a thorough inspection of me by a very large dad, we took off for a drive to Gosford, north of Sydney, taking in Wangi Wangi and Woy Woy.
The previous week there had been a willy willy at Woy Woy, and for some reason I thought of including a look at the storm damage there. The girl was very quiet and it was a difficult day.
Even so, I had triumphed. I finally had a date. At the end of the drive I took her back to her formidable father and she thanked me generously.