Photo courtesy of Norma Fellows, nee Moore, of Maitland.It’s a Friday night in old Maitland, dear reader. The wind is fierce and cold – and if you aren’t wearing a coat, it’s because you don’t own one.
I receive a call from a friend. He has a photo for me. He told me about it while we sat listening to a kids’ concert inside the beautiful St Peter’s Church at East Maitland.
There, in that amazing building up on Stockade Hill, near where they hanged them high for their sins, he told me about the photo.
I’m to go and meet him down in the High Street, the shop will be shut, but he’ll wait out the front on the silent street – he’s got the photo.
And I’m away, dear reader, out into my Friday night streets; and it’s across the lightless Belmore Bridge, all dark and eerie, with the river murmuring below, and I can see where the old bridge once joined the town, beside the Belmore Hotel, beside Sim Bros’.
And that’s the photo, the place, the face I want to see again . . .
So it’s down to the pictures and up past the Doch n Doris and Comerford’s, around by the two churches and the Marist Brothers, up beyond le Club Physique, the Ko Wah Cafe and Macca’s barber shop, then Waltons, the Post Office and the old Water Board . . . and it’s all coming back to me dear reader, dear friends.
And I can’t stop now; so it’s straight ahead like I always did, like we always did, and into the mall, into the High Street I glided.
Not far now, and there’s Ken Lane’s and Mr Richard Fellows in the darkness, in the cold, waiting, smiling, waving . . .
And there are great places and grand people in this town – and I had arrived at them both when I walked toward that wonderful old shop and that man.
We shake hands and he motions me to come over into the light, to the front of the shop where the little horse ride, ‘Harry’s Boy’ would stand and wait for a kid and a coin – and there, from an ordinary bag, comes an extraordinary photo . . . Sim Bros’ mechanics and NRMA, 1947.
From across all those years it comes, hitherto unknown to me, silent, waiting – it comes to me now.
And I’m transfixed and transported. I’m numb and joyous and so incredibly sad and happy to see these faces – to see him, young and alive, and he’s up there at the end of the street, just there . . .
And I reach down to touch his face instinctively, and I whisper, ‘that’s him, there’s dad.’
I scan the rows, the names; and I recognise so many of them, know their cousins, sons, grand-daughters – it’s like that here . . .
And they look happy and brilliant – and I love them all. Love their ties and overalls, their dresses and their hair, their eyes and unknown stories, their secrets . . .
On such a wickedly cold, dark night, their faces, their names, they light the street, they make me warm and hunt the bleakness from the sky. And it’s thank you to Richard, and into the car again.
I place the photo face-up on the dash and I drive as far up that beautiful street as I can; for tonight, they’re seeing the town again, they’ll ride with me and they can light my way.
So I drive and drive. And the street lights catch their faces as I take them down the High Street, to let them see the buildings, feel the town – the Town Hall, the Royal, Cappers and the Volunteer, the Bend. Then, finally, to St Andrews Street once more to sit awhile . . .
No bridge there now, no bowsers, no building, no voices, no more … But on Friday, and today, on the pages of our paper, there they are, here they are …
And so it still goes. Goodnight.
Who’s who in the photo
Back Row: R. Whittington, N. Beggs, N.Tranter,V.Wilcher, J.Vine,W. Prowse, N. Cracknell, R.Wyper, A. Jones, L. Moore.
Third row: H. Pilgrim, J.Yearby, P. Derwin, G. Buscombe,W. Hamilton, J. Modinger, J.Vincer, R. Mallon, A. Hodges, H. Holwell, B. Dwyer.
Second row: W.Taylor, M. Mead, L. Bamback, J. Anderson, D. Sim, R. Sim, G. Buffier, I. Lightfoot, B. Horn, J. Lethbridge, S. Flynn.
Front Row: G. Marquet, P. Ross, M. Hain, L. Moran. Inset: R. McInnes, A.Taylor,T. Armstrong, J. Ellis,T. Hemming.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.