A Catholic that was different.
My very first date was almost a disaster, I think the details will best be told in memoirs of sorts, they are indelibly impressed upon my mind and memory but these posts are not about that they are about “Religion My Mother and Me’ and so far you haven’t had much about anything except me!
For some reason unknown to me Joan Hunter was as attracted to me a I was to her; it was not until many painfully sad years later that I woke up to the why, whether in this series I’ll get to that I don’t know somehow at this stage I doubt it.
After our first date which I had every expectation of being my first, one and only, Joan told me that she would like to keep going out with me. I cannot express the eurphoria that overtook me.
Though I didn’t notice at the time nor care going dancing never came into consideration, up until my fist date with Joan every Saturday night I’d go dancing with my mate Doyley at either the Orama in Brookvale or Leggetts in Pahran for ‘Barn dancing’.
My mother thought that I’d been out with my mate that night and had no idea ’til I got home that I’d actually for the first time in my life gone out with a real life girl. She’d waited up as was usual but I will not go into the abuse and vitriol that was thrown my way on my arrival home that night/morning.
From now on my life, my mind thoughts and whole being revolved around Joan I could think of nothing and nobody but her.
Each Saturday night I would get spruced up and go off to meet/pick her up in my car if it was mobile and we would go to the movies. We had found a lovely little late night cafe/restaurant where we’d go after the movie and we would sit and talk, we’d have a light snack a toasted sandwich or some delightful cake and coffee. We were regulars there every Saturday night we had our own table and Gus!
Gus was our own special waiter, he was huge; big and fat and gentle and used to treat us as his favourite customers. he was a big gentle giant of a man and he loved us dearly he knew what we were becoming to each other. A Saturday without Gus was unthinkable.
The ‘Top End’ of Collins Street, Melbourne was and is probably the most elegant spot in Australia, and Gus was slap bang in the middle of it; there was never any attempt or push to hurry anyone along no matter how late the hour and Joan and I would sit there talking and Gus would keep filling our cups with delightful coffee that instead of making us sleepy just made us more alert and aware of each other. And we had much to talk about.
Naturally the talk was personal in every way and Joan slowly revealed her story, she was a Catholic and though she never said so it was evident that she no longer followed or practiced that religion. We did not discuss religion (I was now somewhat ambivilant when it came to the religion, still at this stage leaning more to being a believer than a non-believer) except to discuss her education which was drummed into her by the nuns; of which she was eternally grateful.
Joan was born on the 4th September 1938, exactly one year, 365 days, later as we know WWII started, it wasn’t long before her father John Henry (Jack) was called up to serve King and country and he went into the army. And in the mid 1940’s when the Americans came into the war her mother started doing her bit for the war effort by entertaining giving solace and comfort to the GI’s et al who were on R & R in Melbourne; for monetary consideration of course.
The memories Joan had of her mother was placing her outside their bedroom door (they were in a bed-sit) telling her to sit still and be quiet whilst Uncle Joe was resting then she would disappear into the bedroom with the American uncle, Joan was 5, 6 and 7 whilst this went on and it naturally left it’s mark on her.
Then her mother disappeared; perhaps to NSW and Sydney, that’s where the action was and Joan found herself in the care of her great aunt Claire, (Kay) she was fortunate in this as she well knew. When I did get to meet Aunt Kay in 1955 she was in her either late 70’s or early 80’s I can’t quite be sure, I do know she was the oldest person I’d ever met and she was not only as deaf as a post she had Parkinsons disease.
Great Aunt Kay was part of the old fashioned Hunter line, (more will be explained later if you’re lucky) and arranged for and paid for Joan’s education by the nuns at the ‘Presentation Ladies College, Windsor’. There she was taught music (she was a fine pianist) and also had the strict English grammar and elocution lessons which set her apart from any other young lady, for that is what she was, or girl that I had ever met.
Kay also paid for her training as a stenographer, this is mid 1950’s and that was a good thing for a young lady to be proficient in, and Joan was; she could take shorthand quicker than you could speak and her touch typing was at an incredible speed, no wonder she became a private secretary to an Insurance company manager at age 16.
Truly an amazing young lady, and for some unaccountable reason she found herself attracted to me. I didn’t know why then I do now and it causes me nothing but sorrow.