Posts Tagged ‘Nissen huts’

The Story of a crestfallen Philatelist.

June 1, 2013

press20070104

After the sad moving away of my first love ‘Marga’ to Utrecht, never to be seen again except in restless hand- fantasies, the days of touching and viewing of her roseate breasts were over. Little could I have known then it would be years before any girls would feature again, well after that fateful day in my V8 Ford to Woy Woy with devastation of Willy Willy storms, tempests and a very tough unyielding female friend.

I was terribly crestfallen, immensely sad and understood how Napoleon must have felt after being banned to Elba. When my parents were planning to migrate to Australia I almost wished for a change of heart. I was ready to embrace Siberia instead and totally related with the music of Schubert and his Lieder with his longings for a grave in the deepest and coldest of oceans. I just about ruined my father’s wind up record player with over and over again listening to music plumbing the depths of despair, tragedy and the morbidly supernatural.  My head was at a downward slope and acute angle to my chest, not unlike the swans featured in the songs of Schwanengesang D957. I relished it when I learned he had died at just 32.

My mother noticed my listless poking around at the mince and spuds. “What’s the matter Gerard?” “Oh, nothing mum, I am not hungry”. “Why don’t you read a good book?” This is of course one of the most damaging and maddening questions a mother can ask but she did love her kids. “I am sick of reading” I skulked, hoping she would not ask if my hands were kept above blankets at all times.

I did try, and had rigged up a small globe attached by some clever wiring to a square battery allowing me to read numerous Jules Verne books underneath the blankets. On some mornings the most magic of frozen patterns on the inside of the windows would greet me, totally symbiotic with my mood. Winters were never as cold as then. An icy wind would blast a wounded soul steeped in a ridiculous juvenile self-pity.

But, as often happens when young and down, another world opened up. It became the world of soaking postage stamps off envelopes and cards and sticking them in albums. It was the perfect hobby on cold winter evenings. It became a hobby that so enthralled me, I became manic, going around the neighbourhood asking for stamped envelopes.

I had started this some years before but with the advent of first sexual twinges and a twirling Marga I had thrown the album somewhere in a box together with my collection of leaden soldiers and horses. During imaginary games of war with friends, I rigged up my mother’s spring loaded wooden cloth pegs and with rubber bands had fashioned primitive cannons. Wet props of paper as cannon balls shot down opposing soldiers and their horses on our corridor’s wooden floor.

The time between adolescence and adulthood were turbulent and with migrating plans now well on their way, (We had seen numerous Australian Government promotional movies with postmen joyfully leaping over sun-drenched white picket fences with waving brilliantly white toothed gleaming happy neighbours intermittent with white crested surf and golden tanned girls on Bondi beaches) my parents decided I might as well leave high school and start work earn some money to help our start in Australia.

We would land with the clothes on our backs and traveling trunks filled with linen and pillows or with whatever could be shipped over (my dad’s only suit and neckties, with polished shoes). We would need beds and mattresses first, my mother declared somewhat teary. We can’t land in Australia on the 11th of Febr, 1956 and sleep on the floor somewhere. As it was we ended sleeping on kapok mattresses and proper beds but in Nissen huts. (I can hear readers sighing, not the bloody Nissan huts story again)

The boat trip was still some months away. I managed to get a job with a fruit and vegetable shop. They were high class and delivered to most embassies in The Hague. My job was to deliver whatever they ordered and did this on a heavy-duty push-bike. I pedaled as never before with a solid cane basket fastened above the front wheel and suspended from the handle bars.

I handed my wages over to parents (for 8 beds and mattresses.) but I kept tips which I decided I would save for a camera that I had spotted in the window of a nearby camera shop. It was an Agfa Clack.  Numerous times while cycling past, I would stop and stare at this camera.

I learned the cultural habits of those different countries that I delivered the fruit and veggies to by the size of their tips.  A limited perspective I know, but I had as yet not developed better criteria. The most outstandingly generous, and I am donning my cap here, was the US. I would get tips more than my entire weekly wages. My Agfa Clack was as good as in the bag within a couple of deliveries to the US embassy of Kipfler spuds and hot-house grown Muscatel grapes…

God bless America- Land that I love etc.

Not only tips, the staff in the kitchen gave me packets of Camel cigarettes (I was smoking) and fed me chicken soup, piping hot. “Sit down buddy”, “you’re shivering, here get this into you”. A most cheerful lot of people and I practiced my school English on them. I never forget their generosity and joviality.

The most miserly were the rich Dutch living in Wassenaar which still is a kind of snobbish enclave on the edge of The Hague with huge houses hidden between oak trees with pinched-up nosed inhabitants. After knocking on the door they would spy me through a little hole in the door first. “Just push the stuff through the opening” they would say in a peculiar ‘high-Dutch’ accent and the door would be opened just enough allowing the vegetables to be pushed through the gap. I must confess that a delivery to an address to Wassenaar involved me snitching grapes or an apple away from their delivery. Served them right, I can hear a chorus of approval from you, the readers.

Thank you for reading…

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My first view of naked Woman.

May 6, 2013

vaginatree

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?