January 2007 Newsletter - Arthur Hugh Bland

Arthur Hugh Bland I’ll try to be brief for, at 78, I am inclined to ramble, especially about the old days. My deep interests are not always entertaining to others. To begin at the beginning is always a good place….so Strzelecki Road is the place to start. My Aunts, Eunice Herbert and Muriel Herbert had a house there – I think number 3 from the corner. It was right at the top of the town and backed onto the bush. The neighbours were Mr & Mrs Law on the left, and Mr & Mrs Rainbow on the right. Mrs Rainbow just passed away recently at the age of 101. They had an only daughter, Sylvia, whom my brother and I both doted on. We spent many holidays there and grew up with the town. What a wonderful solid place Yallourn was to us kids from Yarram. My Aunt Eunice was with the town almost from the beginning. Her title of ‘Head of the Main Office typing pool’ fitted her very well. She was the most organised lady with a heart of gold, but a very stern exterior. She spent her entire working life in Yallourn and was the last house to leave Edge Hill Road. She very nearly went with it. The house went to Brandy Creek and Miss E Herbert bought a unit in Moe, where she spent her last days lost without her girls and staff. Auntie Muriel came to Yallourn a little later and rose to co-manage the haberdashery at the Company store. She later married a widower, Harry Benjamin, and they produced a son against all odds, named Ross. Harry built a house at Torres Track, when it was just that. All bits and pieces from the Reclaimed Depot; all short lengths of timber and plaster that would fit in a lunch bag or the boot of his car. The house still stands at Torres Street, Newborough, but has been substantially modified and strengthened. Harry died and that brave and vibrant lady married her childhood friend at 82 & 86 and went to Geelong, where she died after a happy two years. Now me! At age 14 (1942) I failed my Intermediate Certificate by History & French – either one was mandatory. So the family decided the best thing was to come to the Aunt’s – do the Intermediate Technical course in the day and attend the High School twice a week, and nights with Miss Hummerston. This I did. The Tech was just what every boy needed to me. Solid Geometry and Tech Drawing took me all year to master, but the ultimate upshot was Inter Tech Cert at the highest standard and passed History as well! My class at the Tech was illuminated by the genius of Bill (Herky) Collins, who deserves a page to himself. What a wheeler and dealer he was, even at 14. Other lads were Arthur Pearce, Bill Shankland (who walked around the parapet of the Tech School 3 storeys high), Ian Price, Ian Somerville Akers, Walker, McMillan, William Hitchcock, H Martin, Brown, Duxbury, Hattam, Maxfield, Summerton, McAllister, F Dunlop and so many others which lie dormant in memory waiting for a stimulus. The girls are a much harder list as I was a late developer, but topping the list would be Audrey Wiggins and I hope this does not embarrass her. I also hope she can remember me. Her sister, Jeanette, with dark velvet hair, so different to Audrey’s red hair. I met Vernon at bowls in Traralgon once or twice and heard of his family – good and bad. My wife’s Aunt and her usband – Rev Oliver and Nan Harris – were Methodist incumbents at Yallourn just before my time. Rev Brown was the preacher in my year. I was in Yallourn when the bushfires licked at the back gate of Strzelecki Road. Grandma, who with Grandpa Herbert was retired to live with the Aunts, had me dressed in both my suits and wallabies were hopping down the street. What a day! My Uncle Claude (Bill) Herbert was a foreman with Yallourn Bus Lines, just after the war. He had a withered leg and a wicked punch in both hands. He drove the Friday night bus to Morwell and took no cheek from anyone. My brother, Ian Bland, worked for A V Jennings after the war, when all those houses were built. He boarded at the Eastern Camp, as the Aunts were a bit severe on him. I fondly remember Hazel Benson, who worked in Haberdashery and also Miss Kath Kane (a large and mothering lady who understood my homesickness). I still get sad when I hear Currawongs plonking in the evening…the bloke in the library at the Store where I spent a lot of time and bought nothing.- The Aunts symbolise Yallourn to me - kindly, caring, generous, dependable. So, all in all, we loved Yallourn and mourned its passing as our youth went with it