Monday, November 29, 2010

recollections about myself: meeting Sally

* a collection of stories and memories, in no particular order, from the life and times of John Clarke, who served as a policeman in the Australian Police Force, a great practical joker, he also had a great affinity with people and wildlife, was a champion swimmer, snooker player, loved golf, still loves fishing and is also an artist. I hope you enjoy his recollections - cheers, karin (his daughter)

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I was a member of Bondi Surfbathers Surf Club and spent a lot of time on the beach.  Several of us blokes were sitting on the beach one day in 1960 and I had a radio and it was playing "Barefoot Boy" by Noelene Batley - a big hit of the day, when thee cheeky nurses came up and sat with us on the beach to listen to the song.  One of these, was a cute little redhead called Sally Lynch who I fell for immediately!  I had sort've  noticed her on the beach for a while.

We began going out together.  I was a bit doubtful as to Sal's family, because I wasn't a  Catholic.  Sal's Dad, Ray, was a senior fireman and they lived on top of the Kings Cross Fire Station.  Sally was in her first year of nursing at Sydney Hospital.  Sally's brothers are Ray and Chris, sisters Karin, Ellen (now Genevieve) and Hilary. (see Sally's father Ray below the day he received a medal in his form Fireman's uniform in Sydney - John is far right at the back, Aunty Karin in pink mini dress, white hat is Betty Joan Clarke (John's mother) and green hat is Sally's mother Thelma (Ray's wife), the red head is Sally, lady in yellow is Colleen Lynch (sister in law) with their son Mark Lynch carried by Colleen, and her husband Ray (Sally's brother).  Karin is in the front in a green dress posing with Ray (her grandfather in formal Fireman attire)

Sally lived at home, but later had to board at the Hospital or at the sydney Eye Hospital in Woolloomooloo.  Sally used to get free tickets every now and then through the Hospital to go to the tivoli and we went and saw shows there quite often.  We used to go to the movies and have coffee in a little coffee shop at Kings Cross and to to the beach.  The Coffee Shop was called "The Mignon".  Sally's real name was Sylvia Anne Lynch and as her initials were S.A.L. everyone called her Sal.

I had use of Dad's car for a short period, an old Austin A40 convertible and one weekend I took Sal to Austinmer where Mum and Dad and Isabel were holidaying.  On the way back to Sydney at night on the Sunday, the car broke down in the deepest darkest portion of the National Park (no F3 freeway in those days).

Eventually, I got a car to stop and asked him to call the NRMA down when he got to Sutherland.  We waited for hours.  Big trouble as Sal's Dad would be pacing the floor waiting for his daughter.

While we were waiting, a car stopped to see if he could help and told us another car loaded with hoodlums had crashed further back down the road and that whey were suspicious characters.  The NRMA arrived about 3am and I asked him to call the depot and request them to advise Sutherland Police about the crash.  He did so.  Turned out the A40 had to be towed to Sutherland as it had a broken axle.  So we got a lift to Sutherland Police Station with the NRMA and arrived there about 6am!  I went into the Police Station to use the phone to ring Sal's Dad, who naturally got stuck right into me.  Then the Police Sergeant at Sutherland asked me if I was the bloke who had rung about the car crash.  He congratulated me, as it turned out the Police went down and caught a gang of car thieves they had been after for a long time.  I got a good mark on my Service Register for this, but was regarded with deep suspicion by Sal's Dad, Ray.

I got transferred to Parkes in 1961, but prior to being transferred, I had 14 weeks leave and with 3 other Police, including George Leighton, we went opal mining at Lightning Ridge in my 1952 blue Holden Sedan.  Had a wonderful time spotlight shooting 'roos at night for skins and mining in the day.  We cleaned out a deep old mine and chipped in with our picks where the old miners had stopped.  We found some opal which paid for our trip.  Sally's opal earrings were dug out during that trip.  I had a terrible accident in the car coming back to Lightning Ridge from Walgett with supplies.  I ran into the blade of a bulldozer who was grading the road at night and the blade was on the wrong side of the road.  It cut right into the car from front to back, just missing my knee!  Luckily the blade was turned away instead of in towards us, in which case, it would have dragged us right into the bulldozer.  We were flat out at 90mph at the time, very lucky!

After my transfer to Parkes in 1961, Sally and I wrote lots of letters and I visited Sydney when I could.  By this time, Mum and Dad had moved to Gordon.  I boarded at Parkes iwth Lila Davis.  Michael was her son who later married my sister Isabel.  He fell in love with a photo of Isable that i had on my dressing table.  Whilst at Parkes I used to reliee at Condobolin, Bogan Gate and Tullamore.  It was at Condobolin, that an aboriginal climbed a tree and got Cocky Clarke (a white cockatoo) out of a nest for me and I gave her to Mum and Dad on one of my trips to Sydney.  We had to fee her Weet-Bix on a spoon til she was old enough for seed.

I had a lot of interesting cases (police) at Parkes and attended some dreadful crashes.

The big day came on 19/6/64 when Sal and I were married at St Canices, Darlinghurst.  The same day The Beatles came to Sydney - traffic was really heavy.  We were married by Father Hazeler and had a lovely reception at the Australia Hotel.  Ian Park and Frank Clare were our best man and groomsman and our bridesmaids were Karin (Sal's sister) and Isabel (my sister).  We went on our honeymoon to Hayman Island, where we had a wondrful time.

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