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Hunger is the best sauce

Story by Beryl Bowden

Lloyd and his mates, schoolboys in the 1930’s, pretty much ran wild. He told the tale of what five of them planned to do when they left school. It was agreed they would all like to live on Sugar Loaf; a hill situated five miles out of town. One of the boys, Harry Peacock, was older than the others. It was decided that as he would be the first to leave school he’d go ahead and set up camp for the other boys. They had found an old rusted tin trunk in the town rubbish tip and thought it would be just the vehicle for Harry to use to row up Laman’s Creek to Sugar Loaf. When the other boys left school he could row down and ferry them back up one by one. The other boys in the scheme were his brothers John and Darcy (Skeeter), Allie Newton and Lloyd Bowden. The plan was; they would live by catching fish and trapping rabbits.

A working bee was called to plug up the holes in the trunk in order to make it seaworthy. The bank of a nearby dam provided beautiful red clay, which was considered ideal for their purpose. They labored all one day and feeling pleased with the result of their handy-work decided that it was time for the launching. Skeeter was the youngest and smallest so was elected captain for the maiden voyage. The craft … with Skeeter aboard … was then pushed into the middle of the dam. However, when the water softened the clay, Skeeter, and the trunk, sank slowly from sight!

As a means of transport, the trunk had been crucial to their scheme to relocate to Sugar Loaf. No substitute came readily to mind so the project was reluctantly, abandoned. It was a dejected band of boys, one very wet, who made their way home!

These boys spent a lot of their time wandering the bush. In this way they acquired a vast knowledge of the local animals and birds. Lloyd became quite an authority on birds. He could identify their calls and quote their nesting and feeding habits, whether they were migratory or territorial etc. Each boy owned a catapult and regrettably, became quite proficient at terrorizing the bird population.

As long as the boys were home for tea no one worried.

Our son Tony and his mates were also familiar with the Stroud countryside. Occasionally they camped out overnight. One such excursion took Tony and Danny Peacock to Max Gorton’s property at Washpool Bridge a couple of miles out of town. The basic necessities for sleeping rough and preventing starvation were stowed in the family Hillman and transported, with them, to the appointed site. Lloyd and I helped set them up and then drove off, leaving two very happy 12 year olds to their own devices. (They were both good swimmers so we had no worry in that regard.) Like their fathers before them they planned to survive by catching fish and trapping rabbits.

Next morning we went back to check on them. They were sitting over their campfire disconsolately attempting to eat a partly cooked rabbit with the blood running out of it! Finding it impossible to chew, they absolutely fell on the sandwiches I had made. Confident of their hunting and cooking skills they had anticipated living off the land so had eaten all their provisions the night before. They were starving and pronounced the sandwiches the ‘best they had ever eaten ‘. This proved the truth of a saying of my mother’s that ‘hunger is the best sauce.’

I don’t know how much sleep they got the night they camped out but I do know Tony was in bed very early the night they came home.

Two different generations of boys, with similar pursuits … and not a game-boy, iPod or mobile phone to be seen!



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2 Comments on “Hunger is the best sauce”

  1. Beryl Bowden April 14, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    They were a great pair, Val!!

  2. Val Newton April 13, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

    The things my Ally use to get up to, egged on by his ‘ older ” cousin Lloyd of course; not that he would have needed much.

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