|Colonel David Hackworth....|
A few years ago I wrote about the following episode in my life, but following a post on “Georgia Girl with an English Heart” – and Kay’s response to my comment therein I thought I’d re-post some what I'd written, and givee more detail about the late Colonel David Hackworth, who for a time back in the mid-Seventies was a friend of mine.
This story...a true story...begins at Scaramouche Restaurant; a Brisbane restaurant in which I worked, part-time at nights in the mid-Seventies. I had my Monday to Friday day job within the Queensland office of the Kolotex Group of Companies, but I started working at Scaramouche on Friday and Saturday nights because of my interest in restaurants and the preparation of food; and to earn extra money. Also, Randall (now my ex), upon his return from almost a decade overseas, based mainly in New York City for a period worked at Scaramouche during the day and at its sister restaurant Manouche at night. Rather than spending my evenings sitting around twiddling my thumbs, it was far more interesting and much more fun waiting tables at Scaramouche.
My18 months or so stint at Scaramouche started off with my working two nights a week; towards the end I was doing five nights a week. I enjoyed every moment while learning so much about the industry.
The food presented at Scaramouche was French-style. The magnificent, historical old brick building housing the restaurant stood proudly on the corner of Turbot Street and Coronation Drive, Brisbane. Once upon a time it had been a church. The Brisbane River flowed just across the way...across from the front entrance to the building on the other side of Coronation Drive that runs between the river and what was once the stately building and restaurant.
"Scaramouche" was the "In" restaurant during the time I worked there. French food was the rage at that stage. Until its creation there had been nothing like it in Brisbane.
The restaurant was the brain child of its owner/operator Peter Fluckiger, later to become Peter Hackworth.
“Peter” although with the masculine-spelling of her name is of the female gender. Peter turned 80 on 4th February, 2016. She is an exceptional, amazing woman. Peter is still working and inspiring others. Her imagination has never recognised boundaries. Peter is, and has always been an entrepreneur personified; one who is always a few steps ahead of the rest of us.
In 1957 Peter started off in the restaurant industry. In her early 20s, she opened “The Primitif” coffee lounge in the Piccadilly Arcade, Queen Street, Brisbane, opposite the G.P.O.
From its conception The Primitif was very popular. Situated below street level, its atmosphere was bohemian and “beat”. I’m sure the spirits of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg were regular guests at a table set aside especially for them.
Red wine, sipped over steaming bowls of Spaghetti Bolognese while listing to jazz and folk music was the order of the day and night. The aroma of freshly-brewed coffee also filled the air. Peter imported an Italian coffee machine and two Italians to operate it!
Peter, during the early days of Scaramouche, also owned another restaurant, "Manouche". It was, situated on Milton Road, Toowong. Before Peter got her hands on it, it had been a humble,little old cottage-style shop that was selling antique furniture and bric-à-brac. Peter converted it into a small French restaurant.
Peter was and still is a legend in Brisbane's restaurant industry; although now, at the age of 80, she’s no longer involved in the restaurant industry. Nowadays she is involved in the fresh produce and craft street markets.
And then....along came David Hackworth. ... a fine-looking man, of that there is no doubt....a man who exuded an almost palpable aura...
I remember clearly the first time I met David. It was a Saturday night, around 7.30 pm....he arrived at the entrance doorway to Scaramouche. I greeted him, thinking he was a diner coming to dine in the restaurant. From the first moment I set eyes on the man before me who was looking me directly in my eyes, I took notice. He commanded one's attention. My heart even began to pound. Unless one had a heart of stone, I believe his presence would affect others similarly. He asked if he could see Peter, so I led him to where she was.
The late Colonel David Hackworth, one of the most decorated veterans in U.S history....who I was fortunate to call a friend back in the mid-Seventies. David was an impressive human being.
Amongst his collection of personal medals were eight Purple Hearts.
David Hackworth moved to Australia after he left the US Army. At the time he’d been on active duty in Vietnam during the war in that country. Often David had visited Australia during his R & R and had fallen in love with this country.
Disgusted with what was going on within the military hierarchy David left the Army. He was of a family of military men; his forefathers before him had been in the US Army.
David decided to settle in Australia. He bought acreage at Uki in northern NSW (not the Gold Coast as Wikipedia and the Arlington Cemetery sites erroneously state.)
With his own hands, he built a stunning pole home using timber from his property.
David and Peter met through a mutual friend who lived in Sydney who believed they’d be a good match.
By the time they met, Peter had married and divorced three times. First she was married to an Austrian baron; then to a private investigator; then followed Kurt Fluckiger, who, while also being a Swiss precious metals’ expert, somewhere along the line learned how to cook French food, and he became the chef at Manouche, and father to their daughter, Gian. Peter also had an older daughter, Michael from an earlier marriage.
David and Peter married. Together they had a son, Ben.
David turned his expertise and his fine mind for detail into helping Peter run Scaramouche, turning it into a very viable, profitable operation. David was a leader...a natural-born leader.
My ex, Randall, by that stage was employed in the real estate industry. He acted as their real estate agent when they bought their house at Auchenflower, a Brisbane suburb. David and Randall got on well. When David wanted to look at property with the view of possible future enterprises, he looked to Randall for advice etc.
The four of us shared some very happy moments. One time Randall and I spent a fun-filled, memorable weekend with David and Peter, along with mutual friends at the farm in Uki.
With David as “Activities Commander-in-Chief” there was never a dull moment throughout the whole weekend.
The house was fascinating; it was inviting; it was intriguing. The land it sat upon was lush.
The highset house constructed of timber and glass had solid, sturdy, structural poles (trunks of trees) as thick as electricity poles running from the ground through to the ceiling; they became part of the interior decor. Solid as a rock, the strongest cyclone would’ve been incapable of destroying the house. Not only had David personally built the house, but he designed it as well. No matter where one sat, lay or stood there was a view of the verdant surrounds and the mountains. From memory there were over 300 acres in all. The number 360 sticks in my head...I think there were 360 acres in total....but don’t quote me!
When David moved to Brisbane to be with Peter, he installed a manager/caretaker on the property. Ducks were raised at the farm; vegetables and herbs were grown. The ducks were part of Scaramouche’s menu as were the fresh herbs and vegetables. David created recycling way before ‘recycling” became the “in vogue” word and activity. The food waste from the restaurant went to the farm to feed the ducks and be dug into the produce gardens; and the produce from the farm went to the restaurant. A distribution of fresh ducks became a profitable business, too.
Restaurants from Sydney to far North Queensland bought the ducks from David’s farm to put on their dinner menus.
Another night I’ll never forget was the night when Peter and David discovered Randall and I were off to the drive-in movies. They begged to join us. Loaded with deliciously decadent, cream-filled, toffee and chocolate-topped goodies (pastries) from a French patisserie in Fortitude Valley known as "The Eiffel Tower" - off the four of us went in our1964 EH Holden Wagon. (I always drove the EH wagon; while Randall drove our 1975 Volkswagen Passat).
Randall and I’d not taken much notice of what the secondary movie was going to be on that particular night’s programme. I’ve never forgotten the lead-up, secondary movie, but I've never been able to remember what the main feature was!
We certainly sat up and took notice when the 1975 comedy starring Elliott Gould began to unfold...the movie was “Whiffs”. Gould plays a gullible military private who volunteers to be the subject of numerous military biological and chemical weaponry experiments. He later robs banks as a result.
David had a wicked sense of humour, which was just as well for our night shared at the drive-in movies, I guess. Things could have performed a somersault and turned upside down otherwise....
Anyway, he was the one who pleaded to come along with Randall and me. Who were we to deny his pleas? He, too, enjoyed the movie and laughed along with the rest of us. Much merriment went on in our car that evening.
After Peter and David divorced, David returned to the US; and he remarried.
David Hackworth was a War Correspondent during the Gulf War. He wrote books...non-fiction...of course.
David's own life story is one worth knowing. He was a fine man; a unique person.
Colonel David Hackworth was an serious, intelligent, complex, yet simple man; one with a strong, powerful character. A man of contradictions he was also lots of fun; full of inventive mischief; it was better to be his friend than his enemy....I was his friend.
When preparing to make the movie “Apocalypse Now” Francis Ford Coppola flew to Sydney to meet with David. It is said Coppola based Brando's Colonel Kurtz and Robert Duvall's character on David. David never denied this to be so. He reputedly spoke the memorable, and oft-quoted words, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” that were so famously uttered by Robert Duvall’s character.
Sadly, David passed away, eleven years ago - 4th May, 2005 – at the age of 74. He was interred at Arlington Cemetery...there he rests in honour.
David Hackworth was an outstanding man. I will always be grateful that I was fortunate enough to get to know him; to be a friend, if only briefly in the whole scheme of things.
David and I share the same birth date....Armistice Day.....11th November....