Jimmy Jones

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A story about an amazing, unique and very mysterious man. His early life (what we know of it), his life on our sheep station and a few descriptions about his 'uniqueness' (is that a word?). Enjoy!

Submitted: March 03, 2017

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Submitted: March 03, 2017





Glad you asked. And I wish I could answer. But I'll have a go anyway.

While Jimmy was part of my life throughout my childhood, teens and early 20s, I never really knew him. I don't think anyone did - including Jimmy himself most of the time.

But he would have been one of the biggest and most mysterious characters of all time to me. When I was younger I always just took him for granted - but now that I am older and have had a chance to reflect and reminisce on my younger life - there he is, not exactly standing proud and tall - but there, very much a presence.

So who was he? There are a few facts which we do know about him. He was born in New Zealand (in 1885, apparently and I do recall him proudly describing the day of his birth as being the same day that they hung Ned Kelly) but no-one knows anything about any family or much about his early life. My late father did recollect that Jimmy came to us (on our family sheep station in South Australia) as a 'cowboy' in January of 1945. Apparently, he had been drafted into the New Zealand Expeditionary Force when the Great War broke out, but then deserted, throwing away everything but the boots which he wore for life. And I mean for life - they were the only footwear of any sort I ever saw Jim wearing.

According to my father, Jimmy moved through various employment in different states of Australia, through which he accumulated a wealth of knowledge. He was a Seventh Day Adventist or Christodelphian and claimed to be a Russian Communist - apparently, shortly after he arrived at our station, my grandmother asked if he would like anything to read. His response? 'Do you have any Judge Rutherford tracts?' I do vividly recall that Jimmy was a man of few words - very few words. And when he did talk, the topic could be months or years after the topic/event had taken place. An example of this was when he was being driven home from the local town (60 kilometres) after his annual holiday. I believe he had been enjoying a drink or two - or three - or...  The journey was the usual completely quiet event but for Jimmy suddenly announcing his opinion about a 'friend' who had died years before. 'Clarrie dead hey! Best place for him, the sod - no hereafter for him!' Guess they were not friends, after all! On the whole, Jimm's entire vocabulary could be counted on one hand - two at a stretch. His main words were: 'Woosh. Woosh'. To this day, non-one knows what that means but it was Jimmy's favourite line. He did also mention the weather on the odd occasion: 'Hot eh?', 'Cold eh?' or whatever was relevant at the time.

His hygiene was not the best and we always knew when he had showered or bathed, or whatever he did - about once a year. He'd come to his meal (in the main station kitchen) and simply say: 'Water hot '. That's all it needed. We knew. Mentioned above are his boots - I was trying to remember his general wardrobe - or lack therein. All I can remember is a very old cloth cap (similar to those that I have seen coalminers in the UK wearing in the past), a deep blue or brown denim jacket and long cloth pants, kept up with a string tied around his waist. As can be imagined from this - the poor old bloke did smell - badly!

His duties on the station did diminish over the years. Milking our cows was one of them - and it was quite the vision watching him after a day in the afore-mentioned local town - particularly when he tried to walk up a rise into a westerly wind. Something like this - not quite in a straight line and often backwards - for three steps forward, he would take one back. The cows must have enjoyed those particular milking efforts - very light on if at all!

My father recalled one particular evening when Jimmy asked on of the other employees what time the sun went down. Upon being answered, he'd tell them there would be a corroboree about an hour after that time. And sure enough - around the nominated time, spurred on by a good few alcoholic drinks, Jimmy came out of his room, dancing and singing. Quite a  sight, so I have been told.

Jimmy was also an excellent writer - beautiful hand writing and excellent command of language. I believe several books were discovered under his bed after his death and these remain in safe-keeping on the station for any of his relations to claim - if they do. One of his other hobbies was absolutely unique - he made models of lyre birds and bunches of flowers and worked on perpetual motion. His tool kit consisted of pliers, tin snips and soldering iron  (solder he obtained by melting it out of tins) and his material: wire and thin pieces of tin. His lyre birds and flowers were cut out of tin and fashioned into the most beautiful, colourful and incredible works of art. His 'perpetual motion' was not quite so successful but did display an amazing sense of creativity and imagination - his efforts were complicated machines of arms, levers and all sorts of things - but sadly, none worked. Further evidence of his imagination was in his dart for shooting rabbits. It consisted of a short  piece of number eight fencing wire, sharpened at one end and let into a tube of rolled tin. The other end of this tube had a short strand of rope inserted in it and towards the front, a form of fin. The thrower, along the lines of a 'shanghai' was a piece of wood held in the hand. On the top was fastened a 15cm strip of rubber (old motor tube) with a slotted piece of leather fastened to it. The fin on the dart was fitted into the slot on the leather, then drawn back as far as possible - and released. The dart would have been lethal for a long distance as the pointed wire, with such force, had very good penetrating power.

Jimmy Jones (or James Henry Jones - that part we do know definitely) passed away in the mid 1970s. An amazing and unique character.

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