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Mont Bowden

A story by Beryl Bowden –

My father-in-law, Montague Roger Bowden was ninety-four when he died in 1977. He delighted in telling us about the witty sayings of some of the ‘characters’ who lived in the district. He was also a clever mimic and knew how to spin a good yarn.

He told us that Claude Tull (Beecham),everyone had a nickname, went to Dungog one day to trade in his truck and buy another one. The trade name of the car dealer he approached was Young and Green. Evidently Claude was not impressed with the amount he was offered as a trade – in, because he assured them that “they might be Young and Green” but they would be “old and grey, before he would do business with them!” In describing the intensity of the wind when driving home from Dungog he said, “it was so strong that he was sure he and his truck, would go into orbit!”

Teddie Miller from Booral was known to exaggerate. One day he was driving his sulky from Booral to Stroud when he was caught in a storm. He maintained that he raced the storm to Stroud without getting wet, but an empty kerosene-tin hanging on the back of the sulky was brim-full when he arrived! Another day while drilling holes in fence posts with a brace and bit he took his coat off and hung it on a post. He continued with his drilling and found that when it was time to knock off, it took him two days to walk back to where his coat was! Another day, he and a friend were using a crosscut – saw when lightning struck the saw. The other man was struck, but Teddy was so quick, he dropped his end before the lightning reached him!

We thought the funniest joke of the lot was a tale grandfather told against himself. Freddie Sheilds, a Booral identity who wore an old army overcoat summer and winter because “it kept the heat out as well as the cold”, maintained that none of the Bowdens were good bullock- drivers. He did concede that “although Monty was the best driver of the lot, he still couldn’t drive a caraway seed up an elephant’s backside with a frying pan!”

That’s as crude as it gets, I promise you!

One morning when Mont and his brother Bruce were riding to work, his stomach started rumbling loudly. After a time he became impatient and yelled. “I’ll stop the so and so!” Climbing down off his horse, he grabbed his tucker- bag, opened it, took out his lunch– and ate the lot!!! I’ll bet he was hungry when he arrived home that night!

When my husband Lloyd left school at 14 he went to work with his Dad, Mont, in the bush. He remembered that the first tree he chopped down was a pretty rough attempt but his father complimented him on his effort. One day he was riding his pony when they came to a log; he steered the pony round it rather than risk a ‘buster’. His father blamed the pony by saying ‘She didn’t want to jump it, did she mate?’ Lloyd suspected his father knew all along that it wasn’t the pony who didn’t want to jump it!

With the rationing of petrol during the war a need for charcoal as an alternative source of fuel for automobiles arose. Operations for the manufacture of commercial charcoal were opened at Nooroo and young Lloyd preferred working there. It was a much safer work-place for a teenager as lots of serious accidents happened when working in the bush.


Mont with Anne and Robert on their wedding day



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