Thursday, 14 November 2013

Youth: A roll of carpet, an old trailer & half a bottle of rum! What could possibly go wrong?

My family had a beach house on Bribie Island. It was an old timber and fibro shack in Campbell Street, Bongaree. The road was sand.. so you had to turn into our street at high speed to get to our driveway before you got bogged! Of course when it rained, the sand was a lot firmer and supported your car's weight.

Dad spent most weekends up there.. mum and I went along sometimes.. great memories from my early teens spent there. One Saturday I was sent to Renton's hardware store to have our gas cylinder for the Primus refilled. We had a slow combustion wood stove, but for a quick cuppa  it was the Primus. Now out the front they had a community notice board.. and on this was an advert for a large piece of carpet. The house had timber floors and I had heard mum and dad discussing the idea of carpeting the "lounge" area.

Back to the house I go.. tell my parents and before you know it we are in the old EK Holden and headed to Woorim (on the ocean side) to buy this carpet. Now dad had this old boat trailer, and he had made a box frame out of handy angle bolted to the top. This trailer was not a great example of something that should be taken out on the road! It should have been used as reinforcing in one of dad's under house concrete slabs that he used to make nearly every second weekend! It was basically stuffed. I learnt some of my auto electrical skills on this trailer repairing the wiring to the lights as a 13 year old.

We find the house, knock on the door (no phones) and ask if the carpet is still for sale. Yes it is.. the cash changes hands and I am despatched to roll up this carpet and tie it to the trailer. This is 1965 and I am just about to turn 12.

Talk about sending a boy to do a man's job!

Job finished.. where's dad?

I hear his voice from the back of this house.. and he and the former carpet owner are sitting in the shade  demolishing a bottle of Bundaberg Rum! I am offered and accept a Coke.. while the rum and iced water mixture continues to flow from glass to lip of dad and his new friend. They discuss Robert Menzies.. as the carpet salesman notices a strong resemblance between the great man and my father!

It doesn't take long before the bottle is less than half full.

Dad looks at his watch.. "Is that the time? We need to go son!"

Into the mighty EK we hop and back across the island. The road was different back then.. straight as a gun barrel without the dog leg at it's Eastern end.

"Dad.. you think we are going a bit fast?" says I. "No son. only doing 60 MPH!" comes the gruff reply. He tells me I sound like mum!

Into Campbell street we turn.. big burst of power (well what power there was in an auto EK) to cross the sand and pull up at the garden gate.

"Son; untie the carpet and put it under the house would you please?"

Around the the back of the car I go…. "Er dad.. the trailer is missing!"

Now my father never swore.. so I cannot tell you what he said.. as this day.. well he made up for 67 years of abstinence!

We drive back across the island and look for it.. nowhere to be seen.

The mighty EK is turned around and we retrace our steps home.. nothing!

All of a sudden I see two wheel tracks heading off into the bush.

"Stop the car dad.. we stop and I walk back up the road a bit.. and in the bush is the trailer.

And the carpet is still on it!


The trailer plug wiring is stuffed .. but we reconnect the trailer.. putting a split pin through the release handle this time and head for home.

When we get back mum says.. a car like ours pulled up here before and then drove away!

(Mum couldn't tell one car from another)

She continued on… "I knew it wasn't ours because it didn't have a trailer on the back! Ron.. have you been drinking? I can smell rum on you and it's not lunch time yet!"

We never told mum about that little episode; although the following weekend when the carpet was laid by a bunch of dad's boozy mates.. she commented on how much sand was in the carpet.

Ah.. golden days at Bribie Island!

Our weekender at Bribie!