Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Youth: My favourite years; 1969 in review!

Happy New Year to both of my regular readers.... numbers may increase in 2014.. one never knows!

In a previous blog I mentioned favourite years. You see as a sentimental person I often look back at what has been and revisit the memory of that particular time and event.

Apparently (so I am told) I have an excellent memory.. to me it is simple to remember things.. I "daisy chain" events together so that as I remember one.. the others flood in.

So today I would like to revisit one of my most favourite years.. 1969.

Where do I start..

With 15 summers under my belt, I am a student at Power Coaching College at Stanley Tce at East Brisbane. My classmates include Selwyn Hasthorpe (still see him today.. QLD Manager for Mistsubishi), Tony Harrington, Greg Gibson, Allan White, Ignatius Kalatzis, Louise Sweeney, Bruce Tinney, Pam ?, Susan ? amongst others and the wonderful Julie Vanek whom I thought was a magic bird!

Wow was I hooked on her!

So this is school.. but why such a good year?

Well a new teacher, Mrs Ewart found a way to get into my brain and make it learn things. An amazing experience. Not only did I learn things, my thirst for learning was triggered too! I would spend nights at my desk listening to Mike Ahern on 4BC coming out of the speaker of my transistor radio while I studied the finer points of grade 10 biology. I loved it My brain was like a sponge sucking things up!

Mike Ahern on 4BC and biology study. 1969

And the music... wow, talk about the soundtrack of your life. From "Such a lovely way" by the Groop to Manfred Mann's "Mighty Quinn" to finishing the year on a musical high with "Abbey Road"!

And what else do young blokes love?

Cars and motorbikes!

The amazing Monaro GTS and Falcon GT.... then the Prince Skyline GT; not forgetting the Mazda Cosmo sport that was at the motor show. I remember going to the Brisbane Motor Show at the exhibition grounds with Allan White. (He was older and could drive.. bonus!) We stood at the UK Motors stand and argued the toss.. what was faster, a Mini Cooper S or a British Racing Green MGB. To settle the argument we asked the guy on the stand...

His answer?

"I dunno mate.. I'm just a shit kicker minding the stand!"

At 15 I had never heard that expression before... and we still didn't know the answer!

Then there were motorbikes. Allan brought a friend's Suzuki Hustler 250 twin to school one day. Julie asked me if I could ride a motorbike ... of course I can. So silly Allan took the bike to a park near Churchie and let me loose riding this thing around the block at 16! No licence, no helmet and some poor bloke not knowing what was happening to his two stroke twin rocket that he was probably working hard to pay off on HP!

The Gods were smiling and no harm came to anybody.... I felt good!

No I felt great!

Man this is living!

A couple of days later we were in Bennet Honda's show room in the valley looking at Honda 450 DOHC bikes. The salesman told me they had a 750cc four cylinder coming. I simply couldn't believe it! 750CC AND 4 cylinders.. what next?

A man on the moon!

Yes indeed!

But just before Armstrong set foot on the moon, I turned 16. And my favourite bird Julie shared a birthday with me too! She was 1 year younger. Ignatius drew a giant birthday cake on the black board with 31 candles (our combined ages) and wrote "Happy Birthday Mark & Julie" on it.

What a day.

Winter rolled on.. the Dick McCann Show on Channel 10 was a favourite topic of conversation at school.

As lunch approached one day in July, Mr Lind our principle came into our class. "It seems Neil Armstrong is going to walk on the moon this afternoon and as we don't have a TV set here, you are all free to go home and watch it".

And watch it we did... I still think man landing on the moon in my lifetime is the highlight of my non personal life.. if that makes sense?

Back at school Mrs Ewart our science teacher asks us to write what life will be like in 2000 here in Brisbane. I calculate that I will be 47 years old.. and over the years that date and age stay fixed in my head. I never really thought about my life post 47 in 2000.

I never thought about being 50 let alone 60... scary stuff!

But I digress...

Before we know it winter is over.. we are mesmorised by "The Real Thing" and "Where do you go to my lovely" on the transistor radio. Johnny Young writes "Here comes the star" for Ross D Wylie and has Molly Meldrum produce it. Magic song and instant hit!

We skip off on free periods to play pinball in a small cafe/milk bar in Stanley St.

Pinball Wizard is another radio hit.. Ignatius is our pinball wizard .. man he could play well!

Some Fridays Mrs Ewart does a class swap so we can finish at lunchtime and go to the movies. Lots of movies to see... "The Party" with Peter Sellars, "Funny Girl"... I saw Grand Central Station in that movie and it blew me away. Just had to see it. Finally made it there with Deb in 2010!

Grade 10 exams are on us.

We sit for the exams at the Kangaroo Point Tech College (now gone) and the day after the last exam, we all meet up again at the school for our end of year party.

I take along my battery powered record player and a bag of 7 inch singles, the girls bring French Onion Dip and Jatz.. and we celebrate, sing and dance in the class room and dream of the future.. and say our good byes.

That was hard.. we were a small group and all felt connected.

So where are they now?

Well I ran into Ignatius a few times.. last time c1998. I took Julie out a couple of times in 1970.. but she was cool and I was a nerd in today's language…. so that fizzled. Selwyn and I talk a few times through the year... but as for the rest?

Well scattered to the four winds I guess.

Would love to meet up with them again as they were all an important part of one of my favourite years... and I loved them all.