One of the more lasting impressions of my distant past are memories of our neighbour, Bill Miami. Bill Miami was of Italian descent but adopted out to an orphanage as a baby. At least, that was the story told by others. He never spoke about it and why would he? Our family who had only recently arrived in his neck of the woods, Revesby, were his new neighbours for many years to come. Bill was married and also had six children when we arrived. So with twelve kids all-round, there was plenty of activity. Never a dull moment, as they say.
My memories of Bill were his fondness for keeping his lawn. During an industrial accident he had lost four of his fingers which left him just his thumb on his right hand. Despite this handicap Bill would spend hours each week-end on his knees prising out unwanted grasses. He wanted a stable mono-grassed lawn. Every now and then he would stand up, overlook his little pile of unwanted weeds and proceed with rolling compressed tobacco between his open palms. The cigarette paper was held between his lips. After the ‘ready rub’ was loosened to satisfaction he would roll it into the cigarette paper and light up. These were probably his moments of greatest joy and satisfaction.
We had a lunch yesterday at the Dungog Ladies Bowling Club. We walked in and as expected, it was suitably empty with just a few ladies bowling outside. One lawn was perfectly cut and groomed. The other lawn was artificial lawn, perfect for bowling. Not a man in sight. I felt I was treading on a very hallowed but flowery carpeted ground. The bowling club was from the 1965 era. At least that is what the honour rolls seemed to indicate. You know those brown maple veneered boards with scrolls and golden lettering? There were lots of names of lady champion bowlers dating back from 1965. There were champions from single, doubles, triples and foursomes.
We walked into the restaurant part of it, all still decked and decorated out from the opening date of 1965, I suspect. They had those tables and chairs with splayed legs, soft vinyl covers on the chairs. Plastic embroidered table cloths and huge menus. We had sizzling pork, vegetables with oyster sauce and a chicken-chilli dish. We were the only customers.
While we were eating our meal, some lady bowlers walked in silently, all in correct white attire and with small cases that must have held their bowling balls.
It reminded me so much of the days of Bill Miami and his lust for lawns and ciggies.