Just a simple country boy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
My story, the story of my coming of age

Submitted: November 12, 2014

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Submitted: November 12, 2014

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It was 1960 in a small NSW country town, the main street was bustling with people. The boy clung to his mothers skirt as she maneuvered the perambulator through the people. Occasionally another lady, complete with hat and gloves, usually clutching a child or pram or both would stop, exchange pleasantries, kiss each other lightly on the cheek and proceed on their separate ways. On this occasion a middle age woman stopped, her face half hidden beneath a veil was pale, it's paleness exacerbated by heavily applied powder contrasting the rich red lipstick and rouge. 

The older lady spoke quietly to the boys mother, telling her she has a new recipe for "Plain Cakes", one that was given to her sister in Ipswich, it was their grandmother's. She invited the boys mother for afternoon tea next Thursday and she would let her try one, freshly baked. The boy loved "Plain Cakes" but knew he would miss this opportunity. It was preferable anyway, otherwise he would have to sit there quietly while they chattered about this and about that.

The pair rounded a corner, the boy gazed at the fruit on display wishing he could grab one of those big red apples. The mother continued pushing the perambulator along the footpath, the boy, daydreaming was lead by her skirt as she swooshed through the streets.

They came to a huge store, two stories. There was only a dozen two story buildings in town and this was one. They called this an emporium which he assumed meant a big shop full of wondrous things. His mother entered through one of two large doors which the boy struggled to open but was rescued by a strange gentleman who bowed and tipped his hat. The boys mother smiled, then blushed, whispered a soft "Thank you Sir" and continued down the large centre isle.

The store was like no other in the town, it was full of all sorts of things. Each side of the large central isle were islands with various products on display. In the centre, standing alone like some robot from the future was a large upright vacuum cleaner. It was a new model and they had an excess of them so they were going to reduce them, the boys mother continued, no use looking at what you cant afford.

The isle came to an end at a huge counter which stretched across the width of the store at right angles to the centre isle. Standing across the counter was a middle aged man, to the boy he looked old, but he would have been in his thirties.

He had short curly black hair and thick rimmed glasses, and a thick moustache lay above his top lip. It smiled (the lip not the moustache) as the boys mother came to the counter. He went to reach for a pad from the counter and a pencil that was somehow balanced between his ear and his head. The boy's mother took a piece of paper from her handbag and presented it towards the grocery clerk with a white gloved hand.

He nodded and smiled and said, "Your husband will pick it up as usual Missus". "Yes thank you" the boys mother replied and as she turned to leave a lady dressed entirely in black except for a white blouse with lace cuffs, beckoned to her. "Mrs Brown (for want of a better name and to protect the innocent) that school uniform material is in". 

The boy shuddered at the word, school he thought. Well Christmas was over, the soft drinks, the lollies, the chocolate crackles were all gone. The tree had been ceremoniously taken to the dump and the needles all swept up. Yes it was a new year, 1960. A new decade, but more school.

The boys mother bought enough material to make him his pants and shirts. She looked at the baby girl in the pram and said "One day I will make you uniforms too". She took the material back to the counter where the smiling clerk came over and took the material. "I'll take care of it for you Missus" he said.

The boy and his mother left, hurrying back to the main street. She had promised the boy a treat if he behaved himself, and she was good for her word. The boys step quickened as he remembered his mother's promise, and he had been so very very good.

They arrived, the boys heart was racing, oh how he loved this place. He and his mother walked to the front, the entire front of the shop was open, large concertina doors had been opened to show a fairly large fishpond, complete with a fountain and a half dozen fish around the perimeter sprayed water back into the pond. Either side was a semicircular staircase that went up a dozen steps to where you could look back down into the pond. There were a dozen bright fish darting here and there.

The boy's mother had parked the pram alongside the stairs in a place allocated for leaving perambulators. She carried the boy's sister and they proceeded to a large counter that sat in the middle like a huge island. Along the counter were tall vinyl topped stools that the boy scrambled to climb onto. Why he did, he didn't know, he knew what would come next. "Get down, we don't sit here". The boys mother found an empty table and placed his sister in a high chair that was nearby. Nodding politely to other customers already seated and either waiting for their orders or consuming them.

A short rotund woman, not unlike Mrs Esma Hoggett from the Babe movie came to serve them. The boy sat up excitedly, he knew what he was going to get. An Ice Cream Sundae, all that behaving was going to pay off.

It was a wonderful time, the air smelt different, people were different, the boy would turn 7 in 1960, within the next decade he, and the world as he knew it was going to change. It would be 10 years until the boy turned 17, and these ten years would change him forever.

In two years time, 1962, what would be the start of some 60 000 young Australian men would head off to the jungles of Vietnam. The boy would know little about it, except there were pictures of tanks and planes and soldiers on the news every night.

President John F. Kennedy would be assassinated in 1963 and man would land on the moon in 1969. Our radios and televisions would be filled with a group of four young men from Liverpool in England. The boy would find hair on his top lip, his voice would break, he would started to notice that girls were different in a kind of nice way, and he would watch bodies carried out of village huts every night on the news.

As he sat scooping out the icecream froth with a long spoon, the troubles of the world were a long way off. His present objective was to consume this delight in front of him, then when his father joined them, they would go and pick up the shopping and head home.

Home was a small mixed farm, mixed in that they grew vegitables and had dairy cattle.  It wasn't a large farm, just 30 acreas for his father and grandfather to scratch a living out of, but they were good farmers and the productivity was good.

The farm next door was owned by the boys uncle, his father's sister's husband.  They had two children also and the boy and his cousin often went fishing in the river which bordered his cousins farm.

His father pulled the car up at the side entrance, the man with the pen behind his ear brought out a trolley with out parcels and loaded them into the car boot.  His father then thanked him, and drove off.

The farm wasn't too far from the town, just too far to walk comfortably, but not too far.  The boy however thought it may have been a million miles away 

 


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