21 Narracan Avenue

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House Number: 
21
Street Name: 
Narracan Avenue
Plan number: 
35
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Back references from House in Tenancy for Place: 21 Narracan Avenue
Memories Resident Family House

Neighbours: Next door - Tom & Kate Evans, a childless older couple on the north side. Tom was a WW1 veteran. On the southern side, were
Jack & Glennie Butler & son Tony. Jack was part indigenous from Tasmania and when he was a small baby, he was snatched by a wedge-tailed eagle
who got his claws into Jack’s nappy. The eagle carried him 20m before dropping him unharmed. Over the back fence was “Tiny” Chancellor, a big man,
his wife, and son “Jumbo” who was even bigger. We never knew their real names.

Memories of Keith Boyle:
My family arrived in Yallourn when I was around 4 years old, perhaps 1956. I was enrolled at the kindergarten in Broadway West. The playground was very popular and there were little 3-wheeler bikes that were on a roster. After a long wait, my turn was imminent. The teacher asked us what story we would like and I answered, “the one about the swagman who burns his bum on the camp fire.” There was an audible gasp. The teacher sent me to the corner and I missed my turn on the bike at playtime. In our house, a bum was a bum! I really liked a girl called Linda and I told my family and was teased for the rest of the year with, “Oh, Linda from the kinder.” On the last day, we all slid down the wooden inside slide for the last time and were given a red and yellow plastic watering can as a leaving gift.

I remember Yallourn Primary School with fondness in the main and the swirling coal-dust getting in our eyes, ears and noses when the winds blew. The school was fully bituminised: no grass anywhere on which to kick a ball. Grazed knees were ubiquitous. I remember a group of highly credentialed soccer players coming to the school and giving a skills demonstration on the larger bituminised area. I think some of them were Scottish. They got me in and I joined up. The 3 teams were Kangaroos, Emus and Wallabies. The Wallabies were the weakest or younger team and we had a goal-keeper named Brent McArthur. One day the silly Irish coach put another kid in goal and we were beaten by a Moe team 14-0! Bring back Brent!

I was apprehensive entering grade one in 1958, as the boys down the street had warned me about “Crabby Crane” : she had a reputation for being very strict and for her liberal use of the strap.
On day one, we lined up and were sent to the left to Crabby Crane, or to the right to a young female teacher whose name I can’t recall. My name was called and I was sent left! After a few days someone realised there was a mistake: because of my birthdate, I should have been in the other room. The teacher was kind and sweet. I remember learning to write on slates and vividly recall the teacher reading the book ”Little Black Sambo” about an Indian boy who outwits a group of hungry tigers and they chase him around a tree until they turn into ghee! (A wee bit racist by today’s standards ??) and John & Betty books.

The next year, my teacher was Miss Read: she was a very good teacher and cleverly kept order by
personifying the strap, which was named “stingy wingy“ and lived on top of the P.A. speaker. She’d say, “Look out or stingy wingy will get you!“ Miss Read was married during the year and I remember giving her a lace handkerchief as a gift.

In grade three, I had Mr O’Connor. He was an innovative teacher ahead of his time. He gave students responsibility and trusted them to not let him down. He made school so exciting that if I was sick, I’d pretend I was well because I didn’t want to miss out. He organised the rows with student mentors for some subjects, had group work, lots of plays and competitions; he was a creative teacher and the best I ever had. At the end of the week, the leading row got a slice of a fruit pie or stationery. A special prize was a caricature drawn by Mr O’Connor. At the end of the week, he would get out the cricket bat and call out the names of who had deserved a 1, 2, 4 or six as a punishment. Line up, bend over at the crease and whack! The student who scored most runs was Wayne Jahn. Apparently, he lived in a caravan with his truck-driver father who was often absent. He wasn’t a bad kid, unfortunately, he eventually ended up in Pentridge Jail, from which he attempted to escape. He killed a warden and got a life sentence.

There was of course a lake in Yallourn and it was also called the “swimming pool.” I remember the bulrushes growing in it. I was forbidden to go near it as I could not swim. My brother and I were lured there by David Brown who lived just around the corner in Outlook Road. We got found out and I was smacked on the bum (any audible gasps?) with the wooden spoon. A rare event in our house. Not long after, an appeal was made to build an Olympic sized pool in just about every country town in Australia (just after our success in the Melbourne Olympics). The manager and lifeguard of the pool (probably the first one) was a man called Otto; he may have been Austrian or a central European at least. He was the colour of a cooked sausage, as he always walked around in his swimming trunks and nothing else. He could swim 2 lengths of the pool underwater on one breath. His young son at perhaps 4 years old, could swim and dive from the diving board.

Further up Lake Rd was the scout/cub hall. On the way, there was an air-raid shelter from WW2. I took two other boys in there and told them it was a dungeon used to keep prisoners and I even showed them blood stains on the walls (probably rust in the concrete). I used to go to cubs at night on my own or with my brother and a torch. My dad worked shift work, so he could only drive us one week in three. This would be unthinkable now, but kids felt safe and we hardly ever locked our doors, even when we went out.

The butcher (I think the butcher shop was in Garden St, next to the bookmaker ???) had an index finger missing on one hand, probably chopped off at work. When little kids came in, he would pretend to be scratching in his ear with the short finger, which ostensibly disappeared into it. When one was no longer impressed with the ear trick, he would pretend to pick his nose!

“Cracker night” was a big event in the 50s & 60s. My aunt & uncle bought my brother and me a big box full. There were all sorts of spinning, twirling, flashing fireworks and we had fun letting them off in the front garden. About 11 o’clock at night, we heard a commotion of excited voices outside. We were called out of bed and out of the house…..it was on fire. A spinning cracker had landed in the canvas verandah blinds and set the verandah on fire. Neighbours came over with hoses and buckets and put the fire out. No more cracker nights for us. The next day my parents went down the street shopping. A couple of officious looking men from the SEC arrived with clip-board in hand and wanted to know about the fire. We told them that a couple of boys were playing with fire-crackers and accidentally set the house on fire. They wrote a report and later in the week builders arrived. When my parents came home, we told them the story and they told us off for not telling the truth, but simultaneously seemed somehow quietly pleased. We said that we told the truth, but didn’t say exactly which boys.

Unfortunately, I went from the best teacher I ever had to a man capable of psychological bullying.
He sat me in the same seat as he gave to my brother the year before: right near the door. There were 2 rooms without corridors, that opened to the weather. Mr F. had all the girls at the front and put all the boys at the back, where he promptly ignored them. The year before, my brother spent times after school making billy-carts at his house with other boys. When the big town billy-cart races came, he said that the boys had all the fun building them, so the girls can have fun racing them. Several times he humiliated me. On one occasion, I had my hand up to go to the toilet, but he kept saying, “Keith, put your hand down.“ Despite my mild protests and body language, he made me sit there until I pissed myself and then made me clean it up. A boy I had to sit next to used to draw rude drawings and feel my genitals. I told my mother and she said I should talk to Mr F. He took no action, so my mother went to the Headmaster, who wasn’t too happy with Mr.F. The Headmaster said I could choose whom I sat next to, so I chose Barbara who I was in love with! She lived in the same street as me in Narracan Ave. I remember waiting outside the school toilets, waiting for Barbara to appear. (Romantic location.) When she came out, I said, “I love you Barbara,” then got so embarrassed that I ran away, twirling my arms like windmills. It must have done the trick, as Barbara allowed me to walk home with her. As we passed the fountain in the town square, I kissed her on the cheek. I don’t think she was too impressed, as I don’t remember doing it again. I used to go over to her house and do craft activities. Her mother was nice and her father was quite bald at a young age. So, I chose Barbara to sit next to….until I got sick and missed school. When I came back, Mr.F had installed another girl next to me; Cheryl. She seemed to have a perpetual head-cold and when I opened my desk lid, I saw that my desk was full of used tissues. Mr F. said, “Well, you like sitting next to girls, don’t you?”

That year, 1962, had unusual weather. Thick, blanketing fogs meant walking to school with a torch,
getting very damp and not seeing more than 2 metres ahead. People’s faces would loom out of the gloom. It snowed in Yallourn that year. Many teachers let their kids out to play as most had never seen snow. Mr F. eventually let us out, but two kids had been knocked semi-conscious when students packed their snowballs with ice. Our class was out for about 3 minutes before the whole school was called back in.

The previous year, in 1961, there was a long and violent storm in Yallourn. It blew down trees and TV antennas. Reception was poor in most of Yallourn so most houses had towers with steel guy-ropes, but most of them blew down. My father knew a man who went to use his outdoor loo and when he grabbed the door handle, the door blew off and he got carried across the yard…. hang-gliding had been invented! I was always worried that “the night-soil” man would come when I was sitting on the toilet and whisk the pan from under me. As well as the outdoor ‘dunny’, our house had a wood stove, an ice-chest a chip heater in the bathroom and a wood-fired copper in the laundry room, also out the back. The chip-heater was a metal cylinder with pipes through it. It had a fire box, so you would set the fire with paper and sticks and light it and wait until the water was not too cold, but not too hot. One jumped in but had to re-load sticks when the water cooled and before the fire went out.

In 1963, Mr Fulton was my teacher. He reminded me of Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird“; wise, calm, measured and mature. His family had a golden retriever who used to turn up at school, but was promptly locked in the woodshed. I remember John Crane, son of Crabby (sorry, John) coming into my class dressed as a bell-hop and he did a tap-dancing routine. Half way through grade 5, we left Yallourn and moved to Morwell and I sadly had to leave behind my erstwhile girlfriend, Barbara - I think it was all over by 1963 anyway.

Keith Boyle, 21 Narracan Ave, Yallourn 1956 -1962

Further comments from Keith Boyle:

Tom Evans, who lived next door in 23 Narracan Ave. told me when I was about 7 years old a story about his time in the trenches in World War 1.
I assume he was in Northern France . One night Tom was sitting on the latrine trench on two narrow logs : one for the feet and one for the bum,
when there was an artillery barrage. In the darkness and confusion, someone kicked the foot- rest log and Tom tumbled into the pit….he was in up
to his shoulders ! He shouted for help but no-one could hear him with shells exploding. When the barrage stopped, some soldiers could hear his cries
for help but could not see where he was : no-one thought to look in the latrine trench. Eventually, he was found and thrown a rope and they pulled him out. The stench was atrocious and no-one wanted to help get his clothes off, so they hosed him down with two large hoses. The smell did not leave his
uniform after several washes, so he burnt it and applied for a new one.

Even though Yallourn was a safe, low-crime town, we did have trouble with a milk thief there for a while. Each morning for a week when we went out
for the milk to put on our cornflakes, it was gone. My dad Syd, got up in the dark after the delivery for a couple of mornings and tied fishing line around the bottle neck. This line ran across the lawn and in through the bedroom window. Next to his bed was a small bell. When the thief grabbed the bottle, the bell rang and woke Syd up. He chased the guy, but didn’t manage to grab him or find out who it was. The next night, he mixed up a white powder into a bottle of milk- it was a strong constipation remedy- and substituted it for the one delivered by the milko. It must have been a very strong dose, as no-one ever stole our milk again.

Doc Andrew :
My mother said that Doc Andrew finished top of his year at medical school and could have got a position anywhere. She said he asked if there was anywhere crying out for a doctor and he was told, Yallourn, so he went. When I was born I struggled to put on any weight for the first 3 months. Doc Andrew diagnosed severe anaemia and the iron drops cost 30% of the families weekly wage. When I was about 6 I was small and wimpy so my mother took me to the Doc. He did all sorts of tests and asked all sorts of questions. At the end he said, “Mother, what this boy lacks in brawn he makes up for in brains.” He was my mate after that.
My mother Dilys told me that Doc Andrew was famous for predicting the sex of a baby. His strike rate was unbelievable. I think eventually his secret was revealed, as my mother told me he said to the expectant mother, “Mother, I think you will have a boy, all the signs are there.” If he happened to be wrong, then he insisted he said “girl”, and if the mother did not believe him, he took out his little book, with the mother's name, date of visit and the sex of the baby written down. He would tell her she was mistaken as here it is in black and white.

Yallourn Police:
My father Sydney had an English driver’s licence and when he bought an Austin A40 in about 1953 , he went to the police station in Yallourn to get an Australian licence. The policeman got in the car and they drove all around town until the policeman said that’s enough. (He was sitting in the back reading the newspaper.)
On the way back to the station it teemed down so dad drove right up to the station door to let the policeman out without him getting soaked. Dad said, How did I go ?
The cop said, “Failed. See that sign; it says, 'No Standing, Police Vehicles Excepted.’ "

Yallourn Cinema (Picture Theatre)
Yallourn cinema was an impressive, imposing building.
There was a mothers and babies’ gallery where mothers could take could take screaming or feeding babies . I remember when my sister was born and we went to the cinema at night , I could look behind and above and see my mother behind the large glass wall, nursing my sister. I think I found that more interesting than the film.

The first colour film I can remember was," Wizard Of Oz” and it was the first film I saw at night. I must have been quite young , as my father carried me all the way me home on his shoulders. I don’t think we had a car at that time. Later on , my brother and I went on our own. You could get into the show and buy a sherbet bag or White Knight bar for two shillings (two bob.) There was always a feature and shorts , along with news-reels , which soon disappeared with the popularity of TV. One “short” was a pirate serial that went for about 20 minutes. Four or five or us would re-enact the pirate story all the way home, with sword fights, wresting, fist fights and ship boardings.
The proprietor of the cinema used to come out before the film and ask which film we would like to see the next week. The kids would stamp, yell and applaud for the film of their choice. I can recall one time when someone worded us up beforehand on the next week’s choice : one film was called “Paris by Night” or something like that (it was a long time ago !) It was apparently salacious and risqué, although these words were not familiar to me at the time. Someone probably said it was ‘rude’,
so we all clapped and stomped for that film instead of the usual Disney film. (Notice I use the word “ film’ and not “movie”. There were no movies in Australia in those days.) The proprietor pretended to not hear our responses and announced that the Disney film had won.

There was a kid who I think lived in Narracan Ave whose name was Victor . I always associated his name with the mower, Victa. His older sister used to draw classical nudes and she was a bit of an entrepreneur, because she used to sell them for 2 shillings, the price of a film plus White Knight. I was about 8 year’s old when I decide a piece of erotic art was worth more than the price of cinema admittance. I commissioned my masterpiece and sacrificed the film . I was presented with a scroll which unfurled into a portrait of a standing nude, with face in profile and one hand held horizontally and a dove standing on the outstretched hand. Classy. I kept it rolled up in my bed-head cupboard and took it out every-now-and -again for a good squizz. When I was sick in bed, I heard my mother coming down the hall, so I pushed the drawing down under the bed-clothes. My mother said she would make the bed, so I said I was too sick to get out, so she stared to tidy and tuck whilst I protested that the bed was fine as it was. I didn’t want to protest too much and give the game away. I wonder whether she knew it was there all along and was toying with me. Ultimately, the stress of being found out was too great and I destroyed the drawing. No longer the art collector; back to the cinema buff.

Kernot Hall:
Significant events occurred in Kernot Hall. I can recall lining up for polio inoculations in the hall around 1959 : the dreaded needle was vaguely waved across a bunsen burner, then it was used on the next victim in the line. I thought it was going to both sting and burn. I wonder how many people got hepatitis from this method of sterilisation ? There also were large vans parked around the town offering free chest X-rays to identify tuberculosis.

The scouting cubs put on a play about Robin Hood, possibly in 1960, in Kernot Hall and I think the title role was played by Ian Johnson. We had the rakish crepe-paper green hats and green clothes, except for Friar Tuck and Will Scarlett, and in one scene, chewed meat off the bone. At the rehearsal we got stuck in to the meat but were only supposed to pretend to eat it because it was also going to be used in the actual show, so we were sternly rebuked. Mr brother Alan had a small part, but stage fright meant that he forgot his lines and entrance completely.

Around this time a cowboy entertainer came to Yallourn's Kernot Hall. I think it was Tex Morton. He sang songs,cracked whips, did lasso tricks, memory tricks, card tricks and sang more songs ! I was impressed with everything except the country and hillbilly singing. ( I’m glad I didn’t know then that this "cowboy" came from New Zealand!)

I still can’t recall Stuart Park, but I am finding that memories are fragmented and random. It’s like looking into a mirror and hoping to see all of one’s past reflected, but the mirror is smashed and all we can see is a few large, significant pieces and a lot of small, insignificant fragments. I can recall a dozen or so memories from when I was 3 years old ; some were important events and others are seemingly random and of no particular importance.

I can remember Paul Hilditch , a lanky fellow, who offered to “wax” with me in kick-to-kick football on the lower asphalt area at school. Paul Rigby’s father was a doctor at the hospital and I believe he lived in a house on the hospital grounds and I went to play at this house several times. (Were there houses within the hospital grounds ?) I heard a story that Reggie Ganz mother went to the school and slapped a teacher. The Ganz' had a big black car and Mrs Ganz wore fur coats. Mr Ganz was a surgeon at the hospital. But who did I sit next to every day in classes at YHS? Except for grade four, I have absolutely no idea.

Boyle 21 Narracan Avenue

Electoral Roll - 6 November 1968

Hornsby 21 Narracan Avenue
Arndt 21 Narracan Avenue
White 21 Narracan Avenue
Randall 21 Narracan Avenue
Back references from Relationship in Photo for Place: 21 Narracan Avenue
Titlesort icon Photo Description Relationship
21 Narracan Avenue - Boyle Family

Alan & Keith Boyle in front of 21 Narracan Ave