Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Nostalgia by the Sea

The esplanade - it was different in 1964

We’ve just returned from a week’s break at Caloundra.

Apart from being about the closest beach to home, for me it’s also a place with lots of fond memories.

Back in the mid-sixties, my dad was the principal of the Landsborough State School. Landsborough’s about 20kms Southwest of Caloundra. With the job came a house, although given that it was a three bedroom cottage, our brood of six created some hassles. It had a sleepout, and as I was the eldest, I drew the short straw.

Fortunately I was away at boarding school for the coldest part of the year, so sleeping outside wasn’t a major issue.

Because we didn’t own a home at the time, my parents decided to buy a beach house at Dickey Beach, Caloundra. This was great, as during the summer holidays, we’d spend all our time there. During the rest of the year, it doubled as a weekender.

Caloundra Surf Club - one of the few buildings that hasn't changed

At one stage, I held a holiday job of delivering mail at Caloundra. Back then, I’d cycle from Dickey Beach to Caloundra township, prepare my pile of mail for delivery, and have the job over by 10am. I’d then have time to cycle home, go bodysurfing in the middle of the day, and then ride back to town to repeat the exercise. In those days, there were two deliveries per day.

King's Beach

I must have been fit.

I was also stupid when it came to sun exposure, and I’m paying for it today.

When I started on the mail run I decided to use my own bike, as the Post Office machines were heavy and clunky. They did, however, have very good brakes. My steed, which I’d actually built myself out of bits, had a hand braking system I took off another bike which sort of worked in the dry. It was next to useless in the wet.

On my third day of the first week, it rained heavily. I found myself at the highest point of town, near the lighthouse, with a full load of mail in two saddle bags, one each side of the back wheel.

Spiky architecture and bikes ghosting by

I set off down the very sleep slope to begin my delivery run. Halfway down, I applied the brakes, as there was a busy intersection coming up. There was no perceptible decrease in velocity. Thinking quickly, I decided to abandon ship by jumping off and rolling on to the grass.

At least this was the intention. What actually happened was that the bike reared up (as a consequence of the heavy saddlebags) and sent me sprawling on my backside. It then hit a fence, looped over it, and sent the mail sailing down the street, all bundled up in rubber bands, one bundle for each street.

How did I survive in 1964 without these warnings?

I was lucky in two specifics. One was that very few people actually saw the incident, and the few who did took pity on me and helped collect the mail before it turned into papier mache as a consequence of the teeming rain.

That was the last time I used my own bike.

Caloundra has changed a bit since then.

So have I, but definitely for the better.

I'm not so sure about Caloundra.

1 comment:

Boy on a bike said...

Modern brakes aren't much better. I must have your old brakes on my bike.

Blog Archive