Life and Nature

At Play

My mother maintained, Pauline Barnes was always influencing our getaways, although I’m not too sure about that, we were doing pretty well at our own instigation.  

Pauline often raided her mother’s wardrobe, stealing her makeup, and LP records. When my mother saw her coming, she would say, “here comes trouble, she’s not to take you out of this yard, I will be watching you”. 

Pauline did instigate missions, in and out of the yard. We had a make-shift high jump bar constructed in our back yard and competed with each other. We climbed trees and jumped from high above into hay stacks, or from shed roof tops. We constructed cubby houses on top of the sheds and ate plums until we were sick.  

The Barnes family were true-blue Aussies. We were the children of foreigners. We marvelled at the different culture of Australians, in comparison with our Dutch heritage. Mum spoke Dutch at home. The Barnes’ swore like troopers, had a great sense of humour, often at our expense, and were hard working and hard playing. Their stories of holidays in the outback, travelling to Roto, Hillston, Broken Hill, tales of jackarooing and the big roos they saw, cattle stations and pig shooting.

Margaret Barnes had a good body, and on hot days had no problem whatsoever mowing the lawn, in only her bra and shorts. She had a great passion for American and Australian country and western music. 

There was an old car body on the property adjoining the Barnes’. We slid onto the old dusty leather seats. Pauline wearing her mother’s bikini, which was far too big for her, red lipstick plastered on her face, with a portable record player. In this old car we would wreck her records, and this was my introduction to the country and western greats of the 60/70’s and bands such as the Hollies.

Jos was different from all the other boys in town, although it was not obvious to us. He had only his sisters and Pauline to hang out with. Jos had an uncanny gift of drawing people in, they gave him things, for instance, Mr. McDonald gave him an old-fashioned organ, a little out of tune but worked well. Dad had written notes on the keyboard in the hope just one of us kids would catch on to playing the dam thing, but none of us did. After dad passed away, mum took an axe to it and used it for firewood. Jos was angry for months after. 

Jos was an actor, he could mimic just about everyone, sometimes hilarious, entertaining the entire family. He also loved to dress up in anything he could find. He was artistic and good at drawing, painting and modeling clay objects. We brought home buckets of clay which we dug out of a creek, and Jos would model all sorts of things from it. Including hundreds of tiny bricks to build a castle. Once constructed he destroyed it, in a bombing mission, much to my amazement and dismay.

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