Children Don’t Need School (7)

Leave Your Children with Good Memories

My Aunt Maisie (1916-2000) was the last of her generation to die. Some years before her passing, she told me of an experience with her Dad, my Grandfather Hugh (1875-1948).

As a young, single man, he’d gone from South Australia to Western Australia, looking for gold, with indifferent results. He’d found enough to get by, but that was all.

He married Grandma in 1911, and when the Depression came, he took his youngest daughter Maisie on a train journey from his farm which he’d bought around 1910, where they lived near Cowra, NSW, right across through western NSW, into South Australia. Why?

He’d passed through there in his gold mining years, some thirty years earlier, and had staked some sort of mining claim on a piece of land there, in a little town on the railway line. Now, with times being tough on the farm, he chose to return there with her, to see what could be done about his “claim.”

Well, nothing eventuated from the trip. Whatever he thought he had in terms of a “claim,” it was either no longer valid, or was of no value, and they returned to the farm and family, with no results.

This would have been some trip for her, as a girl of 14-15. Around 3 days each way in a very plain steam train, with very ordinary comforts. I have no idea what they slept in, or on, but after my train experiences going to and from boarding school in Sydney from 1967-1972, it would not have been luxurious!

And as for the food, she didn’t go into the details, and it didn’t occur to me to ask her. But she remembered the journey with him, with fondness.

Why is this important?

You want your children to have good childhood memories. You don’t have to be either a brilliant or a perfect parent for this to take place. Nor should you have to spend a lot of money to achieve this. But you can be an enjoyable person, for your children to be around.

In February 1969, my parents came to Sydney for a few days, where I was at boarding school. I met Dad at Central Station, and he took me to the Test cricket, where Australia was playing Test cricket against the West Indies. The famous West Indian bowlers Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith were bowling, and the two Australian batsmen Bill Lawrie and Doug Walters each made a century and a double century, respectively.

All that changed in 1970. In November of that year, my Dad suddenly died after a heart attack, aged 52. No more going to the cricket with him. Forty years later, when Bill Lawry was still doing TV cricket commentating, it would remind me.

The lesson?

Some may have castles on the banks of the Rhine

Or go to the orchestra each evening at nine.

But richer than them will I always be,

‘Cause I had a Dad who spent time with me.

Make sure you’re one of those dads.

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