In my collections of cassette tapes I have some of my grandparents and parents telling stories. I would have recorded these on my tape deck using a tiny little microphone. The quality isn’t that great and there’s lots of background noise.
These are moments in time.
This story is about 1938 when my paternal grandfather, Percy was out making roads at a place called Mooralla. That’s just out of Hamilton, near Cavendish. As the story goes, my grandfather somehow pull a horse down on his leg and it broke his leg. That’s my grandfathers leg, not the horse.
In 1980 Percy, my father, Brian and his eldest son, Daryl, were sitting around the dinning room table telling tales. Shane, No. 5 son, the not-so-attractive-as-me, was also there and has a very minor role in the telling of the story. Asking as he always does, the probing question.
I recall, or I imagine, it’s hard to tell this many years down the track, that it was a Sunday afternoon. We would have been home from church. Dad would have started the Sunday roast while we were at church. My grandmother and mother would be in the kitchen talking about how to get the flour lumps out of the gravy, you can hear the sounds of the grand children in the back ground. The tale unfolds.
Here’s the audio recording and the transcript below to help you make sense of what is being said.
Brian: What year did you break your leg?
Percy: 19… Pat was a baby..
Brian: Yeah, I know Pat was a baby
Percy: And that’s 42 years ago
Brian: 1936 or so?
Percy: 1938 it would’ve been
Brian: 38, 1938 when you put that little horse down on your leg
Brian: And you know what he done? Lenny Presser’s father was bringing him home in the car, he had a motor bike helmet and he had to have a piddle so he piddled in the motor bike helmet and threw it out the window.
Brian: Now that, that thing that he threw out today.. was one of those you know…
Daryl: Yeah, leather type, yeah
Brian: Yeah, would be worth half a million bucks
Brian: Coz Percy pissed in it
Percy: We just started this road work up at Mooralla
Daryl: Oh yeah
Percy: I pulled this horse, young horse, I pulled on my leg and it just went [snap] just like that and he drove me to the hospital, the old hospital and he went in and seen Doctor O’Donnell and he came out, he said, you drive him back to the hospital he said, they’ll be there to meet you. And I got up to the hospital and they had a stretcher, put me on it. But they wouldn’t admit you in those days
Daryl: Without your doctor
Percy: Without going to your own doctor
Brian: That’s 1938, just before the war, you couldn’t work for 12 months. He was on crutches for a long time, then your arms give way under the crutches and I remember he finished up with a leg in plaster and an arm in plaster
Shane: Why did the arm give way?
Shane: Why did the arm give way?
Brian: Nah, hey, with the use of the crutches
Percy: They were too long
Daryl: Your legs were too short
Brian: No, no. All that was wrong the crutches were, weren’t adjusted for him. And now there was Miller’s, Thompson’s, and ah, no, Miller, Miller’s, Laidlaw’s, Bullock’s, they all finished up knocking back credit.
Percy: That’s right. Yeah.
Brian: They all knocked back credit. Now. Father Edwards come out home, Port Fairy Road, ah, come out home and they ran a ball.
You or for us people and they ran a ball at the town hall here to help dad and family and this other bloke and his family, no I can’t either [remember who it was], I forget the other fellas name, but he was in the same… he had a big family too.
They put this ball on town hall for Pop and the family and this other bloke and his family. Now, it was a sell out.
Now I remember Father Edwards, now he come out home on the, it was on the Friday night, he come out home on the Saturday morning and we’d been eating rabbit for twelve months.
My mother when she cooked rabbit, nah, nah, she could cook them and we loved them.
He come out home then and he had all these left overs from the ball, you know, lammingtons, sandwiches, chicken, you know, whatever might have been there, and he put them on the table.
By jove, I can see myself and, I can still see myself and two bigger brothers, Tom and Ray, pushing others, yeah, it’s ours!
That’s it, we all had a good feed.
That was one of the things that the church and the town come to.