Wednesday, July 25, 2018

FUNNY HOW TIMES SLIPS AWAY...


Joy and me...Circa 1962
Me....May, 1963

Randall and Me...our casual wedding day..Sunday, 21st March, 1976
My beloved Pushkin...circa 2000...in Gympie
Southside, Gympie
Town Hall, Gympie
Tozer & Jeffery Building in Upper Mary Street, Gympie
Jones Hill, Southside, Gympie...progress is taking over....

Changes are happening around us all the time.  Some changes are for the better, some are not; some are worthwhile; some are pointless, to say the least - just plain silly – totally ridiculous. 

A few weeks ago, during one of the rare occasions I am allowed to roam free, un-tethered and unchaperoned among the populace, while enjoying a pleasant conversation with my local newsagent, I stated, “I’m glad I’m growing old!” 

A lady, similar in age to me, who was standing within earshot said, aghast;

 “How can you say that?”  

“Easily,” I replied.

 Smiling, I repeated my declaration, but slower the second time around.


 “See!  Easy!” I said.  

We burst into laughter. A pleasant conversation ensued between the two of us.

Thankfully, some things never change.  In this instance, I refer to enduring friendships; and one in particular that has extended over 70 years. 

On 6th July my long-standing friend, Darry, celebrated her birthday.  She does sit down at times, in case you’re wondering.

Darry was two months short of 9 years old when she and I met.  I was three and a half; six months shy of four years old. 

In May, 1948 a change of scenery occurred when my family, with me tagging along grasping my favourite doll, left Slade Point, a seaside suburb of Mackay. A steam train transported us to Gympie, where both my grandmother and mother had been born.   

Our new abode was across the street from Darry and her family’s home. 

Soon thereafter she became my first best friend. 

In the November, Darry ran across Fern Street, up our front stairs, to attend my fourth birthday party, and to help demolish my ice cream birthday cake.  The cake being a huge incentive, I imagine. 

It had been the first ice cream cake I had ever seen.  I believe similar applied to her.
  
Strangely, I wasn’t very fond of ice cream when I was a child.

Darry was my only “outside” guest.  The other invitees/attendees were my grandmother, mother and older brother, Graham.

Before Darry and I became mates my best friend, and only friend, had been my beautiful cat, “Socksie”.   I wrote my sad story about "Sockie"and posted it a couple of years ago.

Immediately upon meeting a strong bond was forged between Darry and me.

Our unique connection remains unbroken to this day.  

In 2002, a month after I arrived here on the mountain, Darry returned to Gympie from Brisbane.  On and off through the years, she'd lived and worked in the city.

For a couple of years or so, for a change of scenery, she worked in London, too. 

We enjoyed phone conversations over the past couple of weeks, during which she and I discussed the uniqueness of our friendship. 

There would be few people who have a similar relationship to the one Darry and I share. 

For a nine year old and four year old to become good friends is distinct, unusual in its self.  Such a difference in age at that stage in a child’s life is massive. Our age difference made no difference to us.  It never has - not when she was 15 and I was 10; not when she was 18 and I, 13 years... and so on. 

We played together. We enjoyed listening to records.  Often Friday nights were spent together at her home.  How I looked forward to those ‘sleep-overs”.  Impatiently, I would wait for permission to be allowed to race across the street.  Mum or Nana wouldn’t let me leave until dinner time had passed. 

 “It’s not polite to arrive on someone’s doorstep at meal times!”  Was the rule in our home.
 
Those Friday nights would be spent giggling, talking, playing records, singing along to our favourite songs.  Musicals such as “Oklahoma”,  “Carousel” and “My Fair Lady” were high on our list.

We shared our dreams. We carried on like a pair of loonies. We tried to skate together with only one pair of roller skates between us. With one skate on her right foot, and the other skate on my left foot, our arms entwined, we weren’t very graceful as we “skated” along her garden path. 

Aspirations of becoming a world-acclaimed skating duo were scrapped pretty much straight away. 

Games of shuttlecock, with “monkey nuts” off the palm trees in our yard stuck into the cone-shaped shuttle, which turned them into speedy missiles were enjoyed after school. No eyes were lost in the process.  No humans, cats, dogs or guinea pigs were harmed.

Darry had friends of her own age, as did I once I began school.  However, our friendship remained uninterrupted. 

The strength of our friendship doesn’t change even though we don’t talk every week – or even every month.  But, when we do catch up, it is as if we’d only chatted, or saw each other  “yesterday”.

An everlasting alliance beyond our control began in 1948.  It was in our stars - our destiny - our fate - whatever it’s called. 

Darry turned 79 on 6th July. Her sense of humour hasn’t changed.  She’s the wonderful, straight-shooting, honest, nonjudgmental person she has always been.

Another good friend of mine with whom I’ve been friends since we met in our early years of primary school celebrates her birthday on 7th August.  

During our teenage years Joy and I, along with a couple of other girlfriends spent every weekend during spring, summer and autumn at the coast, surfing, sun-baking and dancing our feet off at the record hops.  

Joy’s younger brother, Russell - she had three brothers – two were older than her - and my brother, Graham were lifesavers with the Noosa Heads Surf Lifesaving Club.  Both Graham and Russell are no longer with us.  Six months after my brother passed away, which was 6th June, 1998, Joy’s husband, Rod died.

During our loss, our grief, we were “rocks” for each other.    

Joy and Rod had four children...two boys and two girls, all of whom are wonderful people.

After my brother fell ill, early in 1998 I knew I needed to move back down to South-East Queensland from the north to be closer to him.  At my request, he’d been transferred from the Townsville hospital to a Brisbane hospital for treatment.

It was Joy I called upon for assistance in my transition.  I didn’t want to move back to the city, having left city-living in 1979.  I had no desire to return to the city. 

Gympie, to me was my logical choice.  I knew the town well, and it was only a couple of hours drive to Brisbane, a trip I ended up doing every day until Graham's passing six weeks after my returning to Gympie.  I missed only one day, perhaps two, in between working, when Graham was hospitalised.   

Looking back now, I’m not sure how I managed to do that, but I did.  We can achieve much when it is what we must to do.

From Mackay, I rang Joy who has never lived anywhere else other than Gympie, explaining what was going on in my life.  She had friends who, at the time, were seeking a tenant to take up residency in an investment rental property they owned.   

Sight unseen, Joy’s friends took her at her word, and character reference.  They took  me on as their tenant.  

Joy also contacted the owners of Gunabul Restaurant-Function House explaining my situation. 

Wasting no further time, at 7 pm, Anzac Day, Saturday, 25th April, 1998, I hit the Bruce Highway at Nebo Road, Mackay.  I headed south...my destination was Gympie, my old hometown that I’d left many years previously...in July, 1965.

I had both a job and a home waiting for me upon my arrival from Mackay where I’d been managing a motel.  For the first week until the rental property was ready for occupancy I was Rod and Joy’s house guest. 

My ginger cat, Pushkin, was also their guest.  Pushkin, who had travelled the length of Queensland with me, living here there and everywhere,  (Pushkin also lived on Newry Island with me, preferred to remain out of sight and out of the way of Rod and Joy’s two cattle dogs.  One dog was a Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog) and the other a Kelpie. 

Joy and her now late husband, Rod ran beef cattle on their property, on the banks of the Mary River, at what is known as the “Southside” of Gympie.  The property is around 360 acres in area (145 hectares).   The road that runs along the property bears their family name.

As well as breeding cattle, Rod owned and operated, with staff, a Gympie butcher shop, Joy. on the other hand, owned and operated her own hairdressing salon through the years.

55 years ago....7th July, 1963....(funny how times slips away)...Joy turned 19 years of age.  It was a Wednesday.  On the Saturday night, the 10th July, a birthday celebration was held at her family home.   

Her family home was partly high-set. The party was held underneath the house.  The floor was concreted and wooden palings formed the "walls" of the underneath section of the house. 

Coloured lights, streamers and popular music of the time soon put the party-goers in a merry mood.  

I remember the evening well.  Along with 20 or so other happy teenagers, I danced, and danced, and danced the night away. 

One of the guests at Joy’s party that evening was a young man, a relative stranger to the town.  He’d only arrived in Gympie a few weeks previously to join the staff at the local radio station as a radio announcer.   

I’d only seen the handsome young fellow from afar as he walked past my place of employment....the office of solicitors, Tozer and Jeffery.  For the first few weeks in town, until he found suitable shared accommodation, the young man was a guest at a hotel, The Freemasons, which was just up the road a bit from where I worked.

The evening of Joy’s party we just nodded and smiled at each other.  I remember him dancing nearby to where I was.  We bumped into each other a couple of times, accidentally, but that was our only interaction that night.

How was I to know then, on the 10th July, 1963, in the future, he and I would become boyfriend and girlfriend; and then, a couple of years later, become engaged...and then a few years down the track, become husband and wife? 

The handsome young stranger was Randall, who would become - after his lengthy overseas odyssey, travelling wide and far; after spending almost a decade living and working in New York - my second husband. Randall is now my ex, but remains a good friend – a best friend.

Through the years Randall would jokingly tease me, stating my bumping into him the night of Joy's party wasn't accidental.  If I did, it was, on my part, anyway.  He's always had a vivid imagination!

Old friends...are good friends...best friends, even better friends....

It’s comforting – good for the soul - to know some things don’t change... 

37 comments:

  1. You are fortunate, well I am not sure that is the right word, as if there is some luck in it, but I will go on. You are fortunate to have life long friends. So few of us do, and certainly not us. The good friends we have had in the past have moved on in various ways, some even selfishly dying. I really think you have to work at friendships. They don't just happen without effort on a least one person's part, if not both. And you have to overlook things at times. Most slights by friends are not intended. Complicated for me really, as I am quite tolerant of people's faults, whereas my partner is not and is very easily offended.

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    1. Great old photos too.

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    2. Hi Andrew....I'm still friends with a couple of girls/women I used to work with in my first ever job at the solicitors' office, too. I worked in that office from 1960 to 1965...and we've retained our friendships over the many years. Many bridges have been crossed along the way.

      With my very good friends we don't have to see each other all the time...or speak together all the time...the friendship...the quality of friendship remains. I'm a pretty reclusive person...and my good friends understand and accept the way I am and who I am....and vice versa applies. I'm not someone who goes out for "coffee with the girls"...it's not how I am.

      I'm still friends with three members of my staff from our Hinchinbrook Island days. We keep in contact, and a couple visit me every now and then.

      Actually, all my good friends, best friends, bar one (one who lives here on the mountain)...I've had for many years. Things don't change much in my own private little world/life! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  2. Love the photos and your memories. Life long friendships are very, very precious. I stepped away from a friendship which had spanned nearly 40 years a while ago. It had to be done, but it hurt then and now.
    I hear you on being happy to grow older too. I wouldn't be a teenager again for anyone.

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    1. Hey EC...that would've have been difficult, but there are times one is presented with no other choices, no other options. You have to do what is best for you. hard though it may be.

      I enjoyed being a teenager. I doubt the teenagers of today have the fun we had back then. Different era; different attitudes. For me, the early Sixties, were great years to be a teen.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  3. Long memories Lee, and happy ones too. I haven't kept in touch with anyone at all as the years have gone by. If I saw any of the girls I once knew in school, I probably wouldn't recognise them. Ditto any friends that were made in the short times we spent at various destinations while husband #1 was in the Army. We moved so often, we were always saying goodbye and once back in Adelaide, the moving continued as we sold first one house, then another and from then on just kept moving trying to find a cheaper place to rent.
    I am beginning to make friends here now though, most of the neighbours are nice, older people who are happy to stand and chat, that's something I have to get used to.
    I agree with you on growing old too. I'm happy to grow old and take things a bit slower. I'm certainly not ready to die any time soon.

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    1. Hi River. I've met and known lots of people (and still know lots of people); acquaintances are many - but friends...well, friends are a different kettle of fish altogether.

      Good friends - best friends...those who I trust with "me"...are few...each are worth their weight and more in gold. We don't need to see each other...we don't even need to talk with each other often...our caring, trust and respect remains...it never changes.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  4. Your ability to conjure up the past with written words is outstanding Lee. You take us back there and you make ordinary happenings seem extraordinary. Thank you for this journey back. I think I have seen that picture of you in May 1963 before - there's mischief in your eyes. I guess it never went away.

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    1. G'day Yorkie. Yes, I have posted that particular photo previously. It was a studio photo taken for a particular purpose at the time.

      "Mischief", my dear, along with "Frances", is my middle name! :)

      Thanks for your kind words. :)

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  5. Good friends we love, old friends we treasure.

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    1. Hey Arleen...we certainly do...and they are the ones we trust with our innermost thoughts and feelings...and the opposite applies. There is no judgment.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  6. Your stories about long time friendships are heart warming.
    It's nice that you and your ex Randall are on good terms. You both look smashing in the displayed photo.
    You're right about some changes around us being pointless, even ridiculous, but what can we do about it? there are stronger forces than us that decide on things.

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    1. Hi DUTA...I'm still on good terms with my first husband, too...but more so with Randall...our friendship will always be there. And I am grateful that we are still very good friends.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  7. how wonderful to have such good friends and so many wonderful memories mixed in with the sad ones. Every memory you tell amazes me that you have such a good memory for the past.

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    1. Hi there, Linda....somehow I missed your post until just now...as I did DUTA's.

      Many moments in time are embedded solidly in my mind!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  8. You are indeed very fortunate to have such long standing friendships.

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    1. Hi Delores...Yes, I believe I am. I am a solo, alone person who enjoys my own company...but I know I am fortunate to have those few trusted friends.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  9. I can't imagine going through adult life without at least one person from your childhood who remains your good friend. I have a few of those. Even tho it may be many years between visits with those friends, our words and thoughts instantly take up where we left off the last time. Amazing! Love your stories and memories, Lee.

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    1. G'day Peace Thyme...with good friends the years between seeing each other, or even speaking with each, make no difference. That's they way it is if that person matters in your life...and vice versa.

      Acquaintances are many...good friends are few - and cherished. :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  10. What a wonderful gift--one that I'm sure requires work--to maintain friendships like that your entire life. Kudos.

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    1. Hi Sandra...I don't know about the "requires work" part...I believe good friendships take care of themselves. If one has to work at a friendship, personally, I think it really isn't a friendship of the best friend/good friend status. It perhaps is more fittingly, likely, an acquaintance.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  11. I enjoyed this post Lee, thank you for taking the time to write and share it here.
    I just love seeing the photographs, and I know I've said it before you have such a good memory and many great memories!
    I do keep in touch with a lot of my friends first met in childhood days … a lot has passed in the years between, but we still talk and share wonderful friendship, that is so special.

    My good wishes

    All the best Jan

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    1. Hey there, Jan...It's wonderful to have those friends...no matter if only a handful...who know and understand you...as you. No bells or whistle attached.

      I do have a good memory...I think I inherited that particular gene from my Nana. Nana had great recall.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  12. Hi Lee, Having just returned from a holiday connecting with old friends, some of whom I haven't seen for 30/40 odd years, I do wholeheartedly agree with you. I had lost touch with a couple but thanks to modern technology had tracked them down. And we picked up like we'd just seen each other yesterday. Good, strong friendships easily last the distance! And I agree I'm happy to be where I am, the age I am, right now.

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    1. Welcome back, Pauline. :) That's the test...the proof of one's true friends. We don't have to live in each other's pockets...the friendship remains intact.

      Thanks for coming by....it's good to see you. :)

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  13. Growing older is lovely as long as you don't allow yourself to get rheumatism of the soul. It was Aunt Jimsie in the Anne of Green Gables books who said that anyone can have rheumatism in the body, but when you get rheumatism of the soul you might just as well pick out your coffin. You have no signs of rheumatism of the soul, and i hope you and your friends and family continue to enjoy each other and the love that doesn't change for many years to come.

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    1. Hi messymimi...I also hope I don't get rheumatism of the soul. And if I do, I'll keep it to myself, and just annoy the hell out of me!! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  14. I've remembered why I said I'd pop over 'later;' rather than 'now' when I responded your comment on my blog post about the same topic of old friendships. I always get engrossed in your posts but I'm a slow reader and they do take time! I particularly enjoyed this post.

    Also coincidentally, having just written about friendhsip, I've got a post in draft about time as well.

    Like EC I had to 'abandon' a very old friendship a few years ago. It was complicated and the sadness is that he may never know why I cut the friendship off.

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    1. Hello there, Graham.

      Sometimes ties have to be cut, sad though it may be...but there are times when it is the best action to take.

      Thanks for coming by....I appreciate you taking the time...I always do. :)

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  15. Slowly... “I’m glad I’m growing old!” LOL

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    1. Sometimes I just can't help myself, Annie!! :)

      Thanks for coming by.:)

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  16. Like Annie - I cracked up over that. Funny. :)

    How nice that you and Darry are still friends, after all these years. Nice.

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    1. Hey there, Lynn...Yes...Darry and I sure do go back a long, long way. I am lucky to have such a good friend. We've not seen each other for about 16 years now, but that makes no difference at all. The last time we got together was a few months before I moved here where I live now.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  17. Old friends are good for the soul. Maybe I'm being sexist, but I think women are more likely to carry on friendships like the ones you've described. Perhaps that's why men don't live as long either. Moving back to your old hometown after a decades long absence is intriguing. I sometimes what it would be like to move back to my old hometown since I haven't lived there in over 40 years. Do visit quite often though.

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    1. Hey, Dave. I felt comfortable moving back to Gympie after all the time spent away from it. It was a far better decision than moving back to the city of Brisbane...I'd lived in Brisbane for 14 yers, but I felt more at ease back in Gympie.

      No...you're not being "sexist" whatsoever, as far as I'm concerned. That is not your style. :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  18. Anonymous10:14 PM

    It was nice to know about your friendship. I feel worried when my age get increased. Now a days i lack in my health and feel tired lot which tells me about my age...

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    1. Hi Weekend-Windup....the years do creep up on us,tht's for sure. The aches and pains certainly remind us. :)

      Thanks for coming by.:)

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