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EYE-BALL Stories – Title: My Grandfather …

February 11, 2012
Previous EYE-BALL Stories …:

– 11th Feb ’12 – My Grandfather …

| Author: EYE-BALL Stories | 21st Nov 2012 |
GrandfatherIn a world where family values are being forced to the wall, and sacrificed in so many harmful ways – mainly due to the economic necessity for both parents to work to survive – I quite often turn to reflective moments and ponder how lucky I was to have grown up knowing and enjoying the humanity and love of a wonderful Grandfather who had a far greater impact on my early and later childhood than was ever realised.

His love for all his family was ever-present from my perspective – and my relationship with him was the most important relationship I had in my family group.

He never played favourites that I was aware of – but I always felt that he knew that I craved his company and wanted his influence at every opportunity.

It is only now … and as I look to my own grandchildren that I can see clearly how much of an impact he had on my life. I was a sickly child until I was 13 or so – rheumatic fever and nephritis gave doctors little hope that I would survive past five. Yet – survive I did with continued long-term bed rest and hospitalisation – all the while living a life secluded from activity, schooling was by correspondence and friends were far and few other than siblings, cousins, Uncles and Aunts, and Grandparents at family gatherings.

Both sets of grandparents lived to see me reach an age 25 – my fathers parents living until I was in my mid 40’s. The Grandfather I speak of was on my mothers side and he was lost to our family not long after my first son was born. My family grew up in a central Queensland country town made famous for its dairy industry and the number of sporting heroes who went on to make fame and fortune on much larger stages.

The Grandfather I talk of had a nickname – ‘Jorgie’ – and he could not read nor write. He served in the Second World War as a maintenance engineer on US active Warships – the Australian military would not draft him because of colour blindness and mangled fingers on one hand. He was in Singapore delivering war supplies when it fell.

After the War he became an engineer – having his religious Minister read the questions and write his answers to the tests to get his accreditation. As children we never knew this until much later – and as my health improved with activity my brother and I would go with him on jobs to farms to help him repair and install refrigeration and other machinery being used on farms.

We did most of the manual labour and were often called on to read the labels on machines – the reasons were the print was too small – or my Grandfather could not get down low enough – and his favourite – that he was teaching us how to fix refrigeration units. He would have us read it and tell him what we thought it meant – all the while thinking that he was our teacher.

As we grew older and bolder – we began to figure out what the story was and subtle enquiries confirmed his illiteracy. We loved him more because of the hardship he endured that we all took for granted –

He had a song that he played over and over again – even when he had his family around – it is YouTube linked below – click the link to play it while you read the rest of the story … [Daniel Boone – “Beautiful Sunday” … ]

To hear this song as we pulled up outside his tidy petite weatherboard house – with the monstrous back yard – full of mulberry and hazelnut trees, grapevines and honey bee boxes – it was always an adventure. The many fish tanks with all sorts or exotic fish, and the stories he had to tell made us all joyous at the anticipation of each visit to my grandfathers home.

His was a full life from a boys perspective – he raised a son and three daughters – all passed now except for my mother. These days were full of family interaction – games, cards, cousins fighting, playing, adults standing around talking and intervening when required – he held stage and we were all drawn to his love for his family.

He owned and trained race horses and some of his best stories were about how he had to fix the races to win – sometimes his horses would race in two races on the same day – these were picnic meetings and the owners, trainers, and jockeys were all in on scams to try and win a weeks wages from the ‘kickbacks’ being paid all over the place.

He often told these stories and added or took from them as he saw fit. The story most often re-told had every other owner, jockey and trainer, even the stewards having backed his horse to win. He told how he had lined up the bookie to take all bets. On the way to the barriers the other horses stayed well away and were all hanging back from the Grandfather’s horse. When they loaded the horses the whole course hushed – they had all backed his horse and on form the horse should have won. Yet – the instructions to his jockey would see his horse get beat.

They all jumped on terms – the Grandfathers horse drew the middle of the field and the jockey immediately snagged his horse to the rear – this set off a chain reaction. Every jockey had their mounts in front reefing and pulling trying to hang back as well – they all had their heads turned around looking behind. The race was a six furlong race and at the four furlong marker there was a break in the outside fence on the point of a turn that ran up a furlong or so into a blind shute.

The jockey had been instructed to ride his horse into this shute leaving the course proper. When he did this all the other horses were in front and had gone past the shute entrance – having seen what had happened the other jockeys began to pull up their horses – it was futile – the horses were galloping and the jockeys couldn’t hold them forever – eventually they all cantered to the line and the time for the six furlongs was nearly 30 sec outside the normal race times.

Of course there was an enquiry – and the jockey had to lie about his instructions as all good jockeys do – there was a gear problem when the horse returned to scale – the bridle rein had broken was the excuse.

The irony was the same horse was nominated for a later race over eight furlongs and when that race came along – the horse was again backed off the map – and he duly saluted and if the punters had doubled up to get square – they went home even for the day.

It was a great yarn to impressionable boys who lived on every word told – this and many more similar stories kept us entertained for hours.

He took me on a trip to Brisbane to see a Minister in the QLD Government – my Grandfather had been duelling with the Local Council over ‘noise pollution’. He lived near the towns tennis courts and the night fixtures and social tennis was supposed to finish by 10pm.

Well this hardly ever happened and for two odd years the Local Council refused to police the matter in all seriousness. I sat in the chair in the Ministers office and listened as my Grandfather took on the Minister arguing his case. I was ever proud of my Grandfather and that day – he gave me more reason to look upon him with awe and kinship.

The trip home – some six hours was as captivating as the trip down – he again told the stories of his childhood – his brother’s death in a bar brawl, the navy experiences, the hardship in his life and how he always overcome adversity. He was my hero …

As my own sport developed and success followed – he was my biggest fan – travelling everywhere to watch his grandchildren play sport. He kept scrapbooks – well his wife did – my grandmother would read him all the stories in the local papers. My favourite event was playing cards – 500 – with my brothers and my Grandfather. None of us wanted to be his partner – we all wanted to beat him and have the crowing rights.

Well one day my older brother and I were playing my younger brother and Grandfather – the game was tight – and in the follow of tricks my Grandfather was caught reneging on a trump lead – well all hell broke loose. My Grandfather had a half a dozen or so small heart attacks by this stage and on this day he had another – or would have us all believe. My mother rushed in when she heard the yelling and accusations – she led him from the table and got him to lie down – to this day we all know it was a feigned spell – but we loved him for it because he was fiercely competitive and that was something we all inherited.

We played many more card games and he never tried to cheat us again – well not that we could catch him at it. Our victories were very rare and he enjoyed our wins as much as our losses – always telling us where we led a wrong card or some other wisdom that made us all better card players.

All these memories are vivid and real whenever he is though of – that is often when I ponder my own granddaughters – all four of them thanks to a daughter and eldest son. They’re aged 7 months to almost 7 years and can be a handful – but oh so cute when they want to be.

Their parents do a wonderful job in trying circumstances – both sets working and putting the children in day-care. The grandfather I want to be can never be – divorce and distance through domicile to where they live and I reside – make it impossible to have regular contact. It is hard to manage the time with parents so busy – they get little enough quality time with their children as it is – sharing them between divorced parents makes it doubly hard – they do try and I treasure every moment I have with them.

It is different – the reality of what life demands and the draw of bright colours and music on the TV, texting, and other gadgetry make real human contact less desirable. Within half my lifetime so much has changed – in another 25 years how much more different will it be again?

I see the opportunities to foster strong family ties deteriorating every day – children becoming more reclusive and relying on webcam and other means of shortened contact rather then the full-life human contact experiences.

If I could tell my family about what my grandfather offered to me – and tell them their lives could be less stressful if they took time to smell the roses and relied on simple entertainment values as opposed to the high cost, high maintenance, high stress lifestyles they all live now – perhaps some of the past generations affection and wisdom can be passed on.

Children today are bored so easily – 10-15 min attention spans and often shorter – demanding as opposed to asking – no manners unless asked for – and outright rudeness and lack of respect for elders – hopefully all traits that will self-correct as they learn the secrets to getting on with others.

I loved my Grandfather as all grandchildren are proned to do in generations past – with today’s families having to travel to find work and cheaper housing – much of the opportunity for the joy of an engaged grandfather involving himself in his grandchildren’s lives is lost in this modern world. It is also the same for many Grandparents – sad for them as they miss the contact they would have hoped for as they raised their own children.

Australia is an aging population and within that Grandparent and Great Grandparent population, there is so much love on offer. At the other end of that scale – there are so many children dumped in day-care centers by parents force to work to feed and take care of their family. These child minding centers – where ‘love’ is never part of the carer’s relationship with their charges – are not the answer for a healthy child experience. The bonding of children aged 3 months to school-age or so with parents and other family members is so important. What is happening is a tragedy impacting in ways that only the future will count the cost …

Somewhere in the middle of all this is an opportunity – and to ensure our children get the guidance and love they so desperately want and need – our parents all need help – and grandparents in most cases can help to provide an answer.

Reach out to a GRANDPARENT – they are willing and waiting …

Author – Ian B. …

Please – if you found this story moving, or to your liking and would like to promote it via your social media contacts – i.e. Twitter, Facebook, or other icon linked account below – please click your favoured Icon(s) to promote the story.  Thankyou.

EYE-BALL Stories has reached out to his local community looking for ‘hero-type’ stories, stories that are compelling, personal, and of depth that they resonate a want to tell them to everybody.

This originally started as a suggestion to the Local paper to canvas high schools and have seniors take on a project to find a local hero and do a story.

The format suggested groups of 5 or so go out and search their local community looking for people who have made a difference in people’s lives, be it fire fighters, aged carers, police, SES, or someone whom they could write a story about to give locals something to cheer and feel good about.

People want to know their communities and the belief was that these stories would induce some community spirit … the paper begged-off the suggestion when sponsors could not be found.  Approaches are now being made directly to the Schools.

In the meanwhile – this section of the EYE-BALL Blog site is prepared to publish any ‘hero’ type stories about any person in any community. Please send in your story – names can be withheld if so desired … use this E-Mail address to send in your story … don’t forget to attach any photos you want published as well.

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  1. david the pragmatist
    February 13, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    A nice story.
    I copied and sent it to my children, the sentiment is real and yes blood is thicker than water.

  2. Warwick
    February 15, 2012 at 12:40 am

    An excellent story, an excellent initiative, and what a great song “Beautiful Sunday”. Focusing on the positives.

    Australians still don’t really come to terms with their identity. It has come a long way in my lifetime. It is still developing and emerging as we breathe. Reconciliation with the indigenous was a quantum leap. There are others. I enjoyed Red Dog for it’s tongue in cheek approach to Australia’s identity.

    As I child I did not know of my convict ancestry. I did not know my grandfather was in the 7th Lighthorse of World War I. When I discovered these facts, I developed a thirst for more. Why did my other great grandfathers come to Australia? (and great grandmothers). Elizabeth Craigie (nee Logan) contracted typhoid on voyage to Sydney in 1837 (free settler) and died in quarantine and was buried there never disembarking at Sydney. Her children including my Great Great Grandmother went on to found our family. Her brother worked with Henry Parkes. Henry Parkes gave him his printing press after entering politics and he started a newspaper in Armidale. That great great grandmother’s husband, a pardoned convict worked for Ben Boyd. He was convicted in Dublin with 23 shillings he claimed he won at cock fights, and charged as a pickpocket.

    If you continue the logics, there are so many stories that remain unsaid. The selectors of NSW and Qld is the equal of any American celluloid tale of opening up the west. A great story teller of his time Henry Lawson was the son of an immigrant Larsen, and his father was a selector at Mudgee. Yet Henry only wrote of life as a jackeroo or as a drover. A story in itself.

    Twelve months ago at a family funeral I shook hands with Bryce Courtenay. I told him I loved his books. The yarns of a forgotten age. I told him I was also an avid reader of Ruth Park. First he said that Ruth Park was a much better writer, then he added it is funny neither he nor Ruth Park were born in Australia.

    I would like to contribute more to the initiative of nominating an inspiration. I will have to think harder.

  3. Gerry Hatrick
    February 15, 2012 at 10:28 am

    As a toddler each Friday night Uncle Bob would bring Nana to our house. Nana would have butterballs she had bought at Paddy’s Market and Uncle Bob would have chocolate. (sometimes a bag of maltesers).

    One night I barely remember, but has been retold to many times, Nana bought me a cricket bat. She had bought it at Paddy’s Market. It was as tall as me.

    On a different night Nana bought me a set a cowboy slippers, with a marshall star on one ankle, and a little six shooter on the other ankle. It completed the cowboy suit and ten gallon hat I got from Santa. My favourite was Bronco, and then I liked Cheyenne. No prizes for guessing were she sourced the slippers from, you guessed it, Paddy’s Market.

    Another time she bought me boxing gloves. Uncle Bob took me out the back yard and lit a Peter Stuyvesant and offered me thrupence for each time I could knock the cigarette out of his mouth with a cigarette. Again she got the boxing gloves from Paddy’s Market.

    One time Nane bought me a little suit case (maybe lunch box) in the shape of a wagon from the wild west. I was told it was special, Nana had kept all her important things inside.

    One Easter, my sisters were given an easter egg and a shilling by Nana, and mine was last. It was an oversized easter egg. When I opened it, inside was a football. At my age I would have preferred the easter egg and shilling. She obtained the leather outer at Paddy’s Market and took it home and polished it up and then shopped the whole length of George Street to buy the right sized bladder.

    Nana always gave us silver coins and watched as we put it in our money box.

    On those Friday nights while Nana would sit with us children and Mum, Dad and Uncle Bob would play chess, and drink two bottles of beer (long necks in the modern parlance). Dad would encourage me to watch but I would prefer to be with Nana. Mum and Nana would be given a glass of beer each, and then Mum would make a cup of tea. We would get very diluted sweet milky tea. Only because Nana was there.

    Nana got very sick when I was six. She never really lived in her own home any more. She lived with my Aunts until finally she was put into an old persons home to die. She died when I was 8. We were told her heart was the last organ to stop working.

    After Nana passed away Uncle Bob would still come over on a Friday night, but now they would play 2 bob solo instead of chess. Nana hated gambling

    Uncle Bob was Dad’s hero, so we grew up believing he was our hero. On the night before the 67 final he gave me 2 shillings to back the Berries against Saints. I had picked every winner in the final series that year. Once the Berries knocked out the Dragons Souths were firm favourites. I was 9.

    Uncle Bob died too when I was 11. I recall Dad telling me vividly. I was selling papers outside BMC and Dad got dropped off from work across the road. Dad approached me choking on tears, and said “Uncle Bob had died”. He turned around and walked away to cry privately.

    A few years later as a teenager I was telling me new brother in law about the hero Uncle Bob. He asked me if I meant the paedophile. I was truly shocked. I had no idea what he was talking about. He claimed Uncle Bob would sit on my sisters bed after she had bathed and watch her dress. That story has never been corroborated. Mind you I also have not asked.

    At my own fathers funeral a decade later I spoke to Uncle Bob’s son and said we shared a bond because of our special fathers. Without a word he turned away in a show of disgust. I didn’t understand this either, even though by now I was an adult.

    Throughout the years I have attempted to corroborate a few facts. I have mentioned my cousin’s attitude towards his own father. Pretty much I was told my cousin could be strange. Not exactly a man’s man. He does have a wife and two children. I also asked about Uncle Bob being an SP bookmaker back in the 1930’s at Bondi with a full phone set up etc. My Aunt said it could not possibly be true and went on to tell me other stories about Uncle Bob.

    What I definitely know to be true is love. What I firmly believe to be true is that much mental health stems from being happy in your body, and healthy attitudes to who you are, and where you came from. I think my brother in law was simply being a devil saying my childhood hero was a paedophile. I feel Dad’s story about the SP bookmaker had an element of truth, and it did not matter anyway. I also believe that telling this story helps me, maybe not the reader. I am telling the universe.

  4. February 15, 2012 at 10:48 am

    A share that is appreciated …

    There are many private thoughts that come from family history – we will never know them all because everybody has secrets they take to their grave …

    Having an opinon challenged by something you can never imagine being true tests our resolve on so many levels – most often it is better to just remember the person you knew from your own experiences …

    Thankyou for the share and your contribution is much appreciated …

    EYE-BALL Stories ….

  5. Herman
    February 16, 2012 at 6:46 am

    In May 2011, I nominated two people from a local community group to the Order of Australia. After about 6 months of agitating others who knew these two people better than I to nominate them had fallen on deaf ears I did it myself. They will likely be on the honour’s list on next Australia Day.

    The wife of one of the nominees said to me I hope it does not occur on the Queens birthday list. Imperialistic logics.

    The question is do people realise how easy it is to nominate a worthy cause. Please google “it’s an honour”.

    You will often hear people ask is it OK for Freddy Fittler to earn $700,000 pa as a footballer, then to receive a gong for services to sport, (Rugby League). Then as a different layer, they might ask “how about John O’Neil” a rugby administrator handsomely paid and awarded a gong after a successful RWC and all of its associated economies.

    In short people of profile know how these things work, and the most modest and humble tend to not pay much attention. It is a different stratosphere.

    I urge if you know a good cause please take the time to nominate them. I feel we can’t all nominate everyone, but when a shining example does exist, take the time to do something good. I revert to a conversation I had with Senator Susan Ryan in 1980 at a Prospect County Council function. It was before she was elected to Bob Hawke’s first cabinet/ministry. Ms Ryan questioned our antiquitated loyalty to imperial honours. Back then knighthood’s were basically sold to major Liberal Party backers. Sir Tristan Antico, Sir Reginald Ansett, Sir Peter Abeles and so on. The labor party had stopped recommending Knighthoods. I felt Australian honours were the way to go. Anything that captured the egalitarian precepts of Australia. The fact that John Kerr was knighted still rankled in the ALP.

    Since Black Saturday the new honour for bravery is a great development. I feel certain that everyone would know someone out there worthy of nomination. The issue is let a real sensible selection process ensue.

  1. April 16, 2012 at 11:28 am
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