June 2001 Newsletter - Winton McGoll YHS 1959

Winton McGoll YHS 1959 Sent the following article: YALLOURN CHILDHOOD MEMORIES What was it like for a young boy growing up in Yallourn? Growing up as a boy in Yallourn was about as ideal as any budding Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer, or should that be 'Smiley', could possibly dream of. I was born at the Yallourn Hospital in November 1946, a baby boomer. With 3 older brothers (Ron, John and Trevor) in a neighbourhood of kids my own age. Those early years were full of summers. Did it ever rain? I am sure my mother could have reminded me of the miserable days when it was too cold and wet to go outside, except of course to go to school during the week or to Sunday School at St Johns each Sunday morning. Digressing, my mother, a member of both St Johns and CWA choir, must have been disgusted when I flunked the audition to the St Johns Choir, ho hum. My neighbourhood was the area Church St, Broadway West and Westbrook Rd. in those primary school days my mates were Robert (lnky) Engwell, Don (Houie) Houston, Billy (Tex) Cox, Norm Backman, Alan and lan Coad and Brian French. What did the parents possibly think when these naïve primary school kids called Brian - 'Franger'. Honestly, we didn't understand. The joy of those primary school years was not only kicking the football and playing cricket on the road, but 'going up the bush'. "Where you going Don?", "up the bush mum", was the typical explanation for every excursion. it may have meant to the 'little bush', which was the bit of scrub before the levy bank between the Coach Road hill or the Reservoir hill, or the 'big bush' that went beyond the road between the two hills. When my mother said 'don't go down the river', she generally meant to stay away from mighty Latrobe. Sometimes we obeyed, but the temptations of the river were too great - what fun it was to swim (nude) in the river. The tell tail sign in summer usually was the blackberry stains on the clothing. The biggest and juiciest blackberries were down the river. Does anybody remember swimming through a layer of coal dust floating on the river surface? The river was great, just great. My mother used to reminisce about the days when there was a proper swimming 'pool' immediately upstream from the bridge – but that was way before my day. The bush was also great, and many fun hours were spent building huts, wrecking other kids huts, smoking cigarettes, discovering black and copperhead snakes under logs - running away screaming 'snake! snake!', gum leaves as toilet paper - had to use something! Lighting fires, cooking spuds in the fire coals, building dams on the creek, wrecking dams on the creek, pulling over saplings. Boys will be boys! The trouble we went to cover up the evidence of smoking. Goodness, chewing gum leaves to take smell of tobacco from our breath. I think that on most occasions it was successful. Boys, silly boys! The envy of all us kids, was the kid with a 'Daisy' air gun. As I recall, none of my neighbourhood mates ever had one, instead we became very adept at firing sizeable stones 'yonnies' with our slings. Any of us could knock a blackbird out of the air from 50 yards, well that's my story and I'm sticking with it!! One of my mates from Primary School was Eugene Rybalko, he lived down at the Married Quarters. He had a Daisy air gun. Through YOGA, in a roundabout way with the help of Cecily Waters, I made contact with Eugene the day after the March '96 Reunion. Eugene joined the Heidelberg Golf Club where my wife Mary and myself are members. After 38 years, it was a real joy to meet up with him again. Eugene could not believe that I remembered the Daisy. Yes, Yallourn really was a great place for kids