COLOURFUL LOCAL CHARACTERS
I suppose that most districts have some colourful local characters, and ours is no different, as we have had Sam and Len. They were certainly different, and were two bachelors living together, and obviously felt no need to move with the times, as my story will reveal, and thought that maybe I should record it, as I may be the last one to remember it.
My first memory of them was in my early school days. As I walked up the last hill to school, Sam and Len would invariably, on Fridays, chug past in their old Dodge buckboard, sitting very correctly in’ their best suits, (rather dated) with their ties on, taking their weekly trip to Adelaide for supplies and whatever else had to be done. I used to imagine the interest that they would cause walking up Rundle Street together, with their rather countrified look. As I grew a little older, I helped Dad with our tax returns, and as our surname started with a V, and Sam and Len’s started with a W, they were usually both there when we came out of the tax agent’s office after preparing our returns, as they were the next appointment to see him. Then they were then dressed in their second best suit, complete with ties, but usually with a few days growth on their chins, and I found them quite unusual, but interesting.
They always said that as candles were good enough for Mum and Dad, they considered them enough for them and resisted any move to have electricity connected to their house, but as they milked cows and sold the milk to the local factory, the time came, when to retain their milk license, they had to install refrigeration, so that meant that they had to have the electricity connected to the milking shed. My neighbour, Norm Schoell, told me that when he visited them one evening, both Sam and Len were sitting out in the shed, with their military surplus army great coats on watching T. V. ( It was a cold evening. )
Also maybe, their Dad had seen the collapse of some bank in his early days, and had passed this knowledge on to his sons, because Sam and Len never trusted banks. Story was they always put their savings in kerosene tins and buried them down at the bottom of the garden. I can believe this because in the forties they bought a second hand tractor from a farmer that I knew up in the Mallee country, and he told me that they paid him with pound notes, (pre-decimal currency). He was concerned because some of the notes were so old that they were printed in Queen Victoria’s time, and he wondered if they were still legal tender and had to take them to a bank for checking before he thought it wise to accept them as payment.
I had visited them on odd occasions, but was never invited inside. The back verandah was enough to see anyway as everything, and I mean everything, seemed to be there, and there were cats running everywhere too. Anyway, time moved ever onward, and the time came when brother Len died. Now the previously mentioned, Norm Schoell, their closest neighbour visited them fairly regularly, and he told me the following. He said, that being bachelors, they adopted the practice of using only one plate each for meals, and as each meal was finished, each wiped and I suppose washed their plate and returned it to it’s place at the table upside down. Twelve months after Len had died, he said he visited Sam, and Len’s plate was still in it’s place upside down on the table. A little different you must agree, but maybe that that is real brotherly love, I do not know?
Anyway, to finish the story on a final note, eventually Sam also died. As he lived on his own, and had very few visitors, it was some weeks before he was found, and sadly for him and I guess, us all, the many cats had become very hungry. I need not say anymore, but the whole thing was such a mess that the person to whom the property was left, just hired a bulldozer, dug a large whole beside the house and pushed it and everything into the hole and covered it all with soil.
End of story and our colourful characters, but now it has been recorded.
by Kelvyn Vickers