In between the years ( Auto-biography)

on the frozen lake of Ankeriasjarvi 1965.

on the frozen lake of Ankeriasjarvi 1965.

The years between being self employed, the running of a modest business, and meeting up with Helvi  again in Finland in 1965 could not have been as remarkable as those prior or since that event. I can’t remember too many outstanding occasions on par with first meeting her in Austria, arriving and living in Italy  after the ‘bank with suit’ months and the boat journey back to Australia. I do remember arriving in Fremantle again on a Sunday. Nothing much had changed. A deja vu of a return to a bright blue sky, simmering heat and empty streets with the weatherboard houses and their covered up windows staring out like so many blindfolded eyes. The Sunday Telegraph pages still being blown about. The street dogs scratching. I knew the score.

Another item was my dad picking me and Bernard up from the boat at Sydney’s Woolloomooloo and the stalling of his car up a steep hill at a red light. The traffic light turned green and red several times before dad finally managed to pull away. We were all a bit nervous but Bernard afterwards remarked he would not be driven again by my dad. I was subsequently told by my brother that at one stage an infuriated driver had followed father all the way home, ran out of his car and told him; ‘right, put them up you bastard’ and wanted to fight him. That’s what his driving had managed to achieve. Dad got a screwdriver and was threatening him as well. It was mum who stopped the melee and managed to calm things down. Even so, that he passed his driving test to get a driver’s license at all at his age was remarkable. Driving his car with my mum gave him great pleasure. I can still see him, washing his car holding the garden hose. In winter this hose was often frozen up and he used to have to boil a kettle to get the ice from the car window before driving off to his work.

We had the painting business running in no time at all. I used to either walk around the job and estimate a quote just by looking at it or if the job was really big and was drawn up and designed by architects, worked out the price by using an extract of a bill of quantities, relevant to the decorating and painting trade. Bernard then drew up and type a letter of quotation on the before mentioned buff coloured letter head and matching envelope. Once we had done a few jobs we used the success of previous jobs and builders as a reference as to our expertise and skills to perform the task in time and within the limits of the quotation. We soon had teams working all over Sydney.  Australia certainly proved to be an easy country to set up a business. In Holland that would have been much harder, being riddled with laws, rules and regulations. Australia was and still is an entrepreneur’s paradise.

Helvi and I kept in contact sporadically by letter but our hearts grew fonder. I found it hard to believe that such a beautiful  and kind girl liked me.  I had a photo of her in my wallet and could not get over her smiling face.  The photo had her wearing a university student cap.

waving down the upcoming train at Ankeriasjarvi 1965.

waving down the upcoming train at Ankeriasjarvi 1965.

In the intervening years of returning to Australia and going to Helvi in Finland  I managed to again squirrel together a small but important amount of savings. As I was wandering around the inner city one day I noticed a block of town houses going up and promptly put down a deposit for small bachelor one room studio on the top floor. It showed a view from that top floor that on reflection I felt could not be really true. I figured it had been taken from the top of the crane that lifted the building materials on the site. I knew about heights and had worked on swinging stages. I returned to the office of the agents and demanded my deposit back. I then found another much older apartment in an existing building in Kings Cross. It had a bedroom as well as a lift and glorious city views over the area and bang opposite the Way-side chapel. This chapel was a hang out for hippies, prostitutes and drug addicts. A haven for the destitute and a safe place for the lost souls that any society ought to care for but not always does.

In later years it became a place for the trendies and celebrities to get married in. I bought this apartment which included all the furniture, had a gas-run fridge and small gas stove with oven. It was also on the top floor right underneath the lift mechanism which used to make a grinding noise each time it was used. Never mind- it was perfect. If I remember right, it cost 7750.- Aus. Pounds.

Less than two years later, Helvi and I would be living in it!


26 Responses to “In between the years ( Auto-biography)”

  1. bkpyett Says:

    What a lovely picture you draw, Gerard. First with road rage, and then your haven for you and Helvi with city views!


  2. Curt Mekemson Says:

    I remember my dad’s driving, especially in his older years. When ever he saw something that interested him he drove toward it. “Right, Pop, that is a beautiful flower but I don’t need to see it closer.” I like the budding relationship with Helvi. –Curt


  3. Yvonne Says:

    “before mentioned buff coloured letter head and matching envelope.” For some reason, this brought Hyacinth Bucket from Keeping up appearances to mind. 🙂

    You have had a most interesting life, Gerard.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dorothy Brett Says:

    Another lovely piece gerard, I hope you are filing these safely to put together a book you could call “Diary of a Dutchman”.love from Dirothy in Den Haag
    Btw we went to see your home in Den Haag and photos will follow.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I do print all those pieces now on the good advice of Rod who has been very encouraging. WP could shut shop and all might be lost. Who knows?
      Can’t wait for your opinion and photos of our old place in The hague.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. rod Says:

    Another excellent post. Good to know the developer failed to pull a fast one on you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. nonsmokingladybug Says:

    Interesting how different times were then isn’t it? My husband and I were separated through an ocean for some time. It didn’t separate us, it brought us closer together.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Andrew Says:

    1965 means 50 years ago. Remarkable and a testament to you both. I loved Mr. Magoo

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, someone last year reminded us of the 50 years. How time flies. It seems like yesterday when we met. When I look at the photos it all still seems so recent. I remember making a fire in the -20c and boiling a billy in a Finnish forest with Helvi.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Time sure was going by fast for you and it’s remarkable how you and Bernard set up a successful business so fast. That was a good thing too since you had met Helvi and it was in the cards that a marriage was in the making.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Ivonne. The wedding bells did metaphorically ring clear, but not in reality. I had to get so many clearances from all sorts of Australian insitutions, the date had to be moved and changed so often, we finally got married in a Finnish registry office and as I did not speak much Finnish, probably agreed to all our mutual promises.
      We had rented a cottage on a frozen lake at Ankeriasjarvi. It was magically situated overlooking the forest and lake.
      We fed each other pancakes and drank coffee.

      Liked by 4 people

  9. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    A busy time between meeting H. and finally getting together. Much accomplished though to lead you to pancakes and coffee.


  10. elizabeth2560 Says:

    I love the title “in between years”.
    And quite appropriate too, those years before you settled with your true love.


  11. Lottie Nevin Says:

    It’s fascinating reading about your life, Gerard. Your memory is superb, all the little details are still there, making it a joy for us to read and the photos are a lovely addition. How wonderful that you and Helvi have been together for all these years – I take my hat off to you. I’m afraid I’m not that good at marriage though I’m giving this one my best shot!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Some people have several runs at marriage and some strike gold first time around. It is the journey that counts and is not really some kind of marathon that has to be suffered or endured. A steady pace instead of running manically.
      I re-read your last post and am amazed how you two are making a life in sunny Espanja. I take my hat off too.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Says:

    A lovely newsy post. Setting up a business just like that! Nowadays you would have a hundred forms, endless interviews with bank manages and several months wasted before you could start… on second thoughts, I bet that car wash business at the end of the village was started in just the same way.


  13. Patti Kuche Says:

    Oh happy days and what a glorious part of town to be setting up home in!


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