(The above shot I found yesterday in a box full of photos. It is very interesting and shows perfectly our situation at that time. My father seems to be sitting on an asbestos sheet wearing a tie. Frank shirtless at the front. Dora cuddling our pet dog, mum in a deck chair. I seem to be just hanging on. The plight of our lives seems so clear. Was it the birth of the curmudgeon? The house behind Dad on the other side of the road does have windows but venetian blinds were at pitch fever popular and so was ‘privacy’. England had moats and drawbridges, Australia has blinds). The house next to the venetians had a Dutch family living in it).
As I motor-biked past a car sales yard, I noticed a large car for sale amongst many others. This car was a powder blue colour and its chrome glimmered seductively. They say men fall in love with cars. Even the primates shown recently on TV, the male gets drawn to anything with wheels while the female ape cuddles dolls. What hope have we got? As a homo sapient men might as well do away with free choice when a car sales yard beckons us more than a bevy of dolls. I mean what could be nicer than cuddling a doll? Yet, it is the hot embrace of high revving pistons and killer speeds that we seem to be drawn to. The smarmy salesman saw me coming looking out from his little window inside his pigeon hole office overlooking his domain of gaping cars. The perfect customer. A young man on a the hunt for his first car.
‘Care to take a closer look,’ the man said while consolidating his opinion of me. He had seen so many come and go that day but not many young ones. He could tell, having honed his car salesmanship at his previous sales yard along Parramatta Rd called “Pacific cars is Terrific”. He had broken the back of many a customer’s reluctance. He knew the ropes and his cars and was keenly sought after around the car-yard precincts of Sydney. The year would have been around 1961/62. I had gone through a Lambretta scooter after which I bought an ex-police bike with side-car in which I used to go rabbit and fox hunting with with my brother John. John was very tall, over two metres. I don’t know how we fitted tent and two rifles in the outfit but we must have. When one is young matters of comfort are hardly ever considered. When getting to my present age, comfort is all and sleeping in a tent gets a bit hazardous with serpents and crocodiles around, huge poisonous cane toads that can kill by leaving a slimy substance. After seventy, the inner spring mattrass beckons like a nun waiting for her habit.
(Photo showing my mother with (late) brother John and his wife jenny behind her. Helvi looking at camera, then brother Herman, brother in law Dieter and sister Dora. Notice we are sitting on paint drums! The Broadway slow combustion wood-heater. A real Christmas tree and candles. They were very good and happy times.)
(Outside our first house in Balmain taken from the street, facing the harbour on the other side.)
I walked around this blue car, both clock-wise and anti. The tension between us was palpable. I knew what it felt like to drive a bunch of condensed steel, wherever I steered it to, but also felt that to be inside a car- space was going to be a different experience. The salesman remained quiet so far, confident his prey was now slowly being seduced. They all get to it, sooner or later, he surmised philosophically. ‘Would you like to go inside, get the feel of it?’ Of course I would. No sooner the door was opened, I slid inside. Leather seats, a cigarette lighter! The salesman nonchalantly stalked back to his office. The perfect ploy. He knew his trade so well. The master at work.
As soon as I sat inside the car, I was gone. The smooth feel of the steering wheel and smell of waxed leather and..it had a huge back seat as well, with inbuilt ash trays. I could drive my parents around, a real treat for the family. I got out and went to the office. The salesman put the phone down. ‘I want to buy the car,’ I said. ‘Oh, I just had an enquiry about the same car, a bloke had a look earlier on,’ the salesman said with cruel intend. I signed the papers with two years of payments on ‘easy terms’ and drove off. The car, a Ford Single spinner V8 cost 220 Pounds. Oh, what a feeling!