Where It All Began – Photos from my Shoebox

Colin’s spindly left leg swinging naturally on the stone fence shows a time before unkindness and stress took over. 

“Do you mean like this?” he posed.

“I can’t see you. However you want is fine. Ah there you are. What’s that dog doing?”

The dog was sitting on one of the raised stone posts, in a begging pose, while Colin was perched on the lower part of the stone fence run, looking quite natural. White singlet, Bombay shorts and a ‘are-you-taking-the-photo-now’ look. Colin’s captured face was perfect and seemingly unaffected by war, Depression or a begging dog.

15 Kalgoorlie St, Belmont

The solid house in the background was showing off its Besser Brick construction – probably sourced from Midland Brick. They specialised in Bessers. The much closer H. L. Brisbane & Wunderlich Ltd specialised in terracotta products such as roof tiles and septic piping.

15 Kalgoorlie St, Belmont, circa 1945

Too much of the drink

Colin’s dad Clifford ‘Cliff’ Christie Brown had been working hard since his decommission from WW1 and the Depression. He was about to give up drinking as Colin entered his teens because the daily two long necks (more on Saturdays) were messing with his sensible horse betting and appropriate talk with Nanna Rose. 

The drinking didn’t stop forever as he fell off the wagon in his fifties and fell in a sandy ditch in Meltham, disorientated and later punished. Punishment was a 25 pound fine and licence suspended for three months.

Clifford Christie Brown

Son Colin was always a teetotaller, awkwardly holding anything that might have resembled an alcoholic glass at parties and celebrations, for photos only. Once snapped, it was back onto the lemonade. His whole life was lemonade really, flat lemonade.

I blame his mother.

That’s her in the background in the first photo waiting for the frivolity to finish and the tasks to start. Anybody that has a drinking husband, who is forced to give it up, then later hits it again, is a dragon.

Colin Brown(R) and Valma Veryard(second from right) engagement party, circa 1953

Any child that has sworn off the drink must have been scarred at some stage. Who by?

“I hope I wasn’t in the photo. Was I?”, called out Rose. An of course she was.

Actually, Nan looks quite kind in the photo and almost domestic. Everyone was domestic in the 1940’s – career building wasn’t a universal female goal.

“Dinner will be at 5.30.” 

It’s hot in Perth

The evening is just about the hottest part of the Perth summer day. Predictably dinner will be a hot meal. Typically of boiled vegetables and reheated roast beef from the Sunday lunch before. Not likely to have any gravy, though. Can’t reheat that.

Colin is brown – Nan was always inexplicably brown, Cliff was olive, actually. The Queensland tan left Colin in later life, but this photo is full of healthy skin highlights.

Dad got a lot of help from Colin as he built the house. So Colin absorbed the need to make everything solid, impassible, defining. The solid house structure was hand-built. It stood firm and forever. It was a sign of the times that if it was worth doing it was worth doing properly.

Horse Racing

At the end of the street was Ascot Racecourse where Colin got a one second glimpse of horses running past in the Perth Cup each New Years Day, if he could be bothered. The horses or anything about that culture didn’t interest Colin. That was very much part of Cliff’s and Rose’s life. All their talk was referencing racetrack characters like JD, the Crawler, Bugs, and Jockey Joe. The air was stinking of horse manure and clopping of hooves from nearby stables. But Colin was always working on numbers and figures. The ledger he wanted to work on was a General Ledger. His career goal was to be an accountant.

All grown up

Colin, at some stage, lost his immaturity and became quite the adult before he had to.  There always seemed to be some seething determination to move away from whatever was happening at 15 Kalgoorlie St, Ascot, the Besser brick home, and into a world that he controlled. 

Colin Brown, on his way to work, or school???

Good luck with that one.