03 May 2010


This is my pappa. Or is it papa? It's been spelt both ways.

This is Pappa, my dad's dad. What a special man.

He was an aircraft machanic and then a car mechanic. He was almost everything else too, a very resourceful man, he was.

You know, he even had gumball machines in shops and my dad and his brother used to go around and collect the money from them. And I found that out after Andrew and I bought one at the markets, painted it red and put it in our living room. You mean Pappa had gumball machines? Really?

And I thought it was pretty ingenious that he nailed the jam lids to the roof of his workshop and then screwed the bottles in with lots of nails and bits in them. There were jars on the roof! I used to think that was amazing as a kid...

He was a stockman and was pretty handy with a whip in his day. What's amazing is my brother now makes whips and cracks 'em too (of course).

Dad told me the story recently of how the neighbourhood dogs wouldn't stop barking (this is when Dad was a kid) and everyone was getting fed up. Pappa said, "I'll fix those dogs." He coiled his whip and strode over near the offenders.

Dad said he dropped the coil, flicked his wrist and th-wack! Mate, no more dog problems. Gave them such a fright...wish I could've seen it. Wish I could've heard it. I love whip cracking.

Just for the record - Pappa was quite the poet too. I remember reading some of his work one day and being quite amazed at how he thought of just the right words for just the right spot. You know how poetry is, it's hard. He wrote about Australia and his bush life. It was wonderful.

He had the most amazing handwriting too. It was gorgeous, flourishy cursive writing. I'm going to see if I can find some and take a photo of it to show you.

I mentioned above that he was resourceful. He was. He used to paint, fix things, do up cars, build stuff, mend things - all that hands-on work. When you're a tools man like Pappa, you have not only a workshop, but a big shed.

I never went into the shed much, but one day he and I were poking around in there and I saw two old trunks looking pretty old and dusty. "They'd look nice done up." I said to him and then thought nothing of it.

That Christmas Pappa (and Gran) gave me this.

Isn't it gorgeous?

It was Emma Jane's in fact - she was Pappa's grandmother. This was the trunk she bought with her when she came from England.

The poor thing had seen better days, but Pappa restored it to it's former glory and gifted it to me. He did up the other one too and gave it to my sister.

I wonder how old this trunk is really?

Was it new when Emma got it?

Ever watch Who Do You Think You Are? on telly? Amazing stories. It's one of my favourite shows. It started with the UK version, we've had an Australian version and now Channel 9 is showing a US version. Fab.

They could pick any person and tell their story and it'd be amazing. I love the commonality that all the Australian stories have - someone in the last 200 years came over here by boat. They had to. They did. To those people, we of the colonies thank you.

So many memories.

Memories of who owned the trunk and how far they travelled together.

Memories of my grandfather and his special gift to me in doing it up as a keepsake for me to enjoy.

Memories that are kept in the trunk. It holds all my bits and pieces.

He was a pretty special man, my pappa. I miss him. And oh my goodness, he'd love to see all the whip cracking that goes on in the family now. Pete, Dad, Andrew and even the kids (nephews and niece) Luke (14), Sarah (11) and Jack (8) are all really good.

Even Casey (at two) likes to give it a go. So cute. Case has yet to thwack the thing because he's only two and the whip is 7 times his length, but he'll get it, he'll get it. And mate, his father can thwack it like nobody's business, but that's another story and you know I'm gonna tell it!

It's so fun to make connections and identify with our parents and grandparents. To see how we're the same and different and to see common things between us all. It's all about family and memories and roots. It's good.

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