Retrospection is the reward and pay off for getting old when past events outweigh future, at least in quantity if not quality as well. How did we fare is not an unreasonable question that might arise out of those people faced with the possibility of soon not even able to wonder anything anymore, let alone those questions pertaining to life’s achievements.
How do the scales weigh? Here is what happened during some earlier years; 1956 in fact. This could be seen as giving at least some background or grounding for the unfurling of some sort of life into the future.
After having been wined and dined on our boat (Johan Van OldenBarnevelt) for over 5 weeks or so, the bus trip from Sydney’s Circular Quay to our camp at Scheyville, interrupted by the driver’s ‘pub-stop’ at Home-bush’s Locomotive for a couple of schooners, having calmly left a busload of anxious and nervous European migrants in the sweltering February heat, our arrival at the camp’s Nissen Huts was somewhat of a difficult transition.
After all; the mellow sounds of the violin, piano, with twanging base and the brass instrument (was it a saxophone?) still reverberating from the luxury liner evening soirees ringing in our ears needed more time than just the 3 hour bus trip to our camp…The lingering and haunting tune of Dean Martin; ‘Was it on the Isle of Capri where I met you,’ clashed violently with the lurid car sales yards signage and yawning bonnets of Parramatta Rd, Sydney. Can you imagine?
My mum thought those Nissen huts were for the push-bikes. Yes, but why are there mattresses inside, my dad queried with his Dutch pragmatism coming strongly to the fore? Having to flick maggots of the mutton chops did it for my poor dad. He went on one of those mattresses for two weeks, utterly depressed. He finally got up and put on his polished fine shoes, laced them up and decided to at least move… We moved away from the camp and shared an old half demolished house in the middle of old Mr.Pyne’s timber yard on Woodville Rd, at Guildford, with another Dutch family. The yard contained stacks of building timbers, baths, bricks and an old 1946 Chevy Ute on three wheels, a Sheppard dog on three legs and a generous abundance of very fast rats outrunning the dog.
They were old friends from the period of war torn bombed out Rotterdam and had migrated to Australia in 1951. No doubt they had experienced the Nissan Hut and maggot delights far more heroically than us, or actually my dad. My mum was made of sterner stuff.
I made the best of it. It was in the camp’s flimsily built shower partitions that I viewed for the very first time a woman’s pubic bush, having peeked through a slight gap between the partitions separating males from females. I was fifteen. I had already seen naked breast in a ‘native African’ news reel in The Hague, a year or so before migration and had lived of that ever since. Considering the daily inspection of food possibly laden with maggots, the very first view of something I was so curious about was a bonus. I leaped with joy. My teen years’ patience was rewarded and had come to full fruition. Well, not fully, that came later, all in good time though, I was still young.
That view of my first female pubic bush in Scheyville migrant camp made up a hell of a lot, considering all the misery that my parents experienced. The woman was a Polish mother of three children. I used to pass her briefly on the way to our huts to eat our meals, hopefully without any extras. I looked her in the eye deciding I would be honest with my little secret, at least by not avoiding her gaze. Was she suspecting something?
I am still gasping over my parents’ bravery. How did they do it with six children?