Archive for April, 2012

Sparsely populated area.

Lots of vacant blocks.

Unkept, unmowed.

Long grass, dry in summer.

Sirens converging.

From block at the back,

Smoke billowing, lit orange by flames.

Grass fire.

Our hose reaches, flames increasing.

Fire brigade, fire hoses.

Flames flooded in seconds.

“It was an accident, Mum … honest.”



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Huge backroom, party room.

Table tennis, piano/organ.

Polished hardwood floors with

Footy socks! Perfect for slipping, sliding.

Around ping-pong table.

Roller Derby!!

It’s a “jam”, elbows flailing, gets rough.

Phil grabs a hand and … Whhhiiipp!! Flying slide.

Our own Ralphie Valladares.

Ralphie Valladeras - LA T-Birds (in white)

Who wins?

Tears, argument, or injury ends games prematurely.


* We lover Roller Derby. Unfortunately I could find any footage of the mercurial Ralphie Valladares – indeed, I could not find any of the men’s games. Weird because as I remember the sport was played in alternating periods of men & women on the track. Anyway here is a (band) recording of a T-Birds v Outlaws game, featuring Shirley Hardmann (she’s in black #17).

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Nana offers me a pick.

She loves a little play on the horses.

I scour over names,

Fascinating, colourful.

Nana, I pick this one.”

Pointing, unsure how to pronounce.

Uncle Frank applauds. Nana nods.

“Except the Sun, it’s the closest star.”

Ken Howard calls it:

Bet – ell – gurz.

Written: Betelgeuse.


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Around the corner, onto Station St

Past sandstone columns & facade of the club,

A few houses further along …

Our new home.

Sitting between

Miss Brown’s old brick home.

And our “footy” paddock.

Across the paddock, the Victorian house “Kentucky”.

"Kentucky" Station St. Taken sometime in the 80's - it was "across the paddock" from our home.

Showground & swimming pool, over the road.

Penrith Stadium – a footy field away.


This picture is of what was once our “footy paddock”.  “Kentucky” still exists and is in the background – though it is no longer a stately home. The paddock doubled as a parking field for the trots and the Penrith Panthers games – 20c a car. We also hit a few golf balls around the paddock occasionally. Here’s how it looks now. Taken from roughly where the back yard of our home was.

This was once the footy paddock.






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Pop magazine.


Every week published a Top 40’s Chart.

A collection to build.

We should collect every No 1 single.
It is a slice of

And so begins the next collection.

Great songs & trash, it doesn’t matter.

Just needs to be #1 and it’s in

The Cowan #1 Singles Collection.


* Here’s one of the number ones that was in the collection. This was the #1 single for 5 weeks in early March 1967.



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Back-room extension*.


One wall – all bookshelf.

Books in order –

Dewey method?



Old journal, leather spine & corners

The Books of Books looked something like this.

Board covers & edging, marbled.

Page 1: The bookshelf map,

Sectioned in topics, categories.

Book titles neatly hand-written.

My favourite book:

The heavy marbled hand-written catalogue that is:

“The Cowan Book of Books”.

Note & Extra:

* The “library” extension was at the 1 Guildford Rd home. It was a great room.

This song came out about at roughly the same time and was part of another project in collecting and cataloguing.

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Dark figure.

Hunched over, shuffling,

Perpetually pushing

Big-wheeled barrow.


by Raymond de Berquelle. from Powerhouse Museum Collection

Sparks curiosity

About biography, family,

Life, connections,



What is in the trolley he pushes?

Day after day,

Year following year,

For decades.

Raises fear,

Of shadows, difference, disconnection, anger.

Pricks conscience, awareness, empathy.

Without eulogy, he disappears.


* Charles Pickett has written two sensitive pieces on this enduring figure in Sydney street-life history. They are located in Powerhouse Museum’s blog, Inside the Collection. He was known as The Trolley Man, his name: Josef Cindric.

His first article is called The Trolley Man immortalised. Much of this article deals with the fascination held by Sydney artist Richard Goodwin. One of his works is The Inhabitant.

The second article is called The Trolley Man Part 2. This one holds the history of Josef Cindric.

The image of The Trolley Man is by Raymond de Berquelle and is in the Powerhouse Museum Collection

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Dragons run out:

Gasnier, Smith, Langlands, Raper, Walsh …

Stellar line-up, stellar team.

Now, the Panthers:

Moran, Fagan, Landers, Peckham, Workman …

Red V legends up-close excites locals.

Excitement intensifies as unexpected unfolds.

Final whistle.

Panthers victory!

Magical victory.

Field invaded.

Kids mob immortals**, pat their backs,

Get autographs,

Then pretend to be them.


* 23rd April 1967 – the date of perhaps the most famous (non-Grand Final) victory in the history of the Penrith Panthers. I don’t know if it is possible to adequately describe that victory here – no, it is not. The Panthers between the reigning premiers St George by 24-12. St George had been premiers for the previous 11 consecutive years, and they were the favourite team of many locals (especially before Penrith’s promotion).  Unfortunately, Reg “Puff the Magic Dragon” Gasnier – one of the original immortals – broke his leg early in the game. Apart from the moment it was an emotionally magical day. In backyard games it was no longer “I’m Reg Gasnier” it was now “I’m Grahame Moran” or “I’m Wayne Peckham.” That was an important shift.

* *Yes we mobbed the visiting legends in red and white but the real stars were the boys in brown and white – they attracted even more attention than their illustrious counterparts. Here is a picture of one of ,my favourites in action. I am not sure this is from the same game but it is a shot that characterises Wayne Peckham’s approach to defence. And for that reason it is one of my favourite images in the annals of RL.

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3rd Sunday in April, 45 years ago.

Official opening of Penrith Park.

The 1960’s mega-stars of RL

The great St George Dragons – 11 successive Premierships.

Playing in our own backyard.

Backyard is right …

Shifting sandy surface, brick block for a grandstand.

Early aerial image Penrith Park (later Stadium).

But it was still ours – Penrith’s.

We loved it then … and now!!


Here’s what the ground looked like in around August 1966 when improvement work was in full swing.

And here is how it look in about November 1966.

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Like Roger is not “Dad”,

His father is not “Grandpa”, “Pop”, or …

Anything, except his name:


Left leg with boot raised 6 inches.

Shuffling, dealing euchre hands,

Made difficult by

Hands gnarled and bent with arthritis.

Weakened, twisted body holding

An alert, agile mind.

Fools not suffered, none here anyway.

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