Thursday, February 08, 2018

Sidetracked by Armidale families past and present

I have been trying to focus on moving main writing projects forward. I like some of the coverage I have been getting, Madeline Link's  Take a trip down memory lane, here's what Armidale once looked like is an example, but it has narrowed my focus.

That's not helped by my discovery of new sites, Armidale Families Past and Present is an example, that constantly distract me: I know her, I went out with her, is that what happened?, I remember him, I remember that corner store, we did that and so it goes on.

For every one person who lives in Armidale now, there are 3+ who used to live there. The site has suddenly exploded in membership as those living elsewhere like me return to share memories of times' past. It's like a drug, the sudden discovery of people who share memories and experiences. Often our memories are wrong or partial, but that is corrected.

This you tube newsreel is of the 1960-61 Scout jamboree at Lansdowne. I was there! Comments follow the video.

In the discussion thread I wrote for Zivan Milanovic who was a mate and there with me.
Memories of the 1960-61 Jamboree follow. This is part one.  
We were young compared with some of the other troops, with a few of us just going into Senior Scouts, Those were the red shoulder flashes on the scout uniform Zivan put up. I say this because I was just so impressed with the marching and discipline of the New Zealand scouts who just seemed so organised and sophisticated, able to do things we could not. That may have been the opening ceremony, but there was also some form of combined concert or display.  
I can see our camp in my minds eye. We had a central campfire surrounded by tents. I think that we were given rations to cook or eat, including tins of jam. They blew up if popped into the fire to create an explosion. In our case, this left jam fairly widely spread over the tents! I know that I had a small portable aluminium camping set with a fry pan on the bottom, a small billy and mug that sat in the middle and a plate that clipped over the top.  
There was some central area where we could buy drinks and ices. There were banks as well trying to encourage thrift. I remember opening multi accounts with small sums of money just for the hell of it. I don’t know where we washed. I suspect we got a bit smelly. I do remember putting hot coals into an enamel mug to try to iron some creases out of my uniform! 
This is part two. 
At least once we were allowed to go into town via train. 15,000 scouts on the streets of Sydney make quite an impact.
We went to Luna Park, the first time I think I had been there. This was fabulous. We had some form of multiple pass allowing us to go on many things like the rotor many time. Girls and uniforms! Somehow we managed to collect a girl in, I think, the ghost train! 
As part of the Jamboree there were various walks available. Some longer ones struck me as hard work, but I did go on one overnight down into the Grose valley. On the way down a scout fell and was hurt. Some of the bigger seniors or rovers were sent back running to stretcher the wounded warrior to the top.  
We camped in Blue Gum forest, a beautiful spot. That night we all gathered around the camp fire and sang and played various games. Next day back up the side of the cliff on a different path. It was hot, I was out of water, so flung myself down and lapped up some water from a shallow pool. The more experienced scout leaders lit a small fire and made themselves a cup of tea, a lesson for me. 
Overall, it was fun, fun, fun.
Zeke, Zivan, posted some memorabilia from the jamboree. The scarf on the right, the NSW scouts received this, I still have.

As an historian, I am fascinated by this stuff.

Armidale is not a big city but is divided by the creek, by where people went to school,  by religion, by our parents' interests and roles.

I did not go to the pool room although I walked by it; I did not play hooky to go to the Blue Hole, although I do have some of my own stories there in a different context; I was Methodist while others were Catholic;  I went to TAS, an all boys school, and was too shy to sometimes talk to let alone chase girls.

So there were divides.But as an historian, the detail of local life is fascinating. As a person, it's even more so.  I am sucked in, waiting for the next installment.

This will ease. But for the moment, it's totally sidetracked me from my main writing themes. I'm not complaining, mind you. It really is fun.

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