It’s hard to remember what happened before your very first memory in your life from the time you’re born until that very first collective memory. In my case, my very first collective memory was travelling to my grandparent’s farm in an old ‘T’ model ford Ute which was my Dads car. I had even cut my hand on glass pain of the front door but I have no recollection of ever doing this, but I do have a scar on my right hand from the incident.
Prior to the sleep out being added on to the State Housing Commission home that my parents rented in Wisbey Street Carey Park Bunbury, there was just a basic back door and wooden platform that I recall pedaling an old red pedal car along the platform.
Christmas time was very eventful with friends and family where once we had the roast chicken which had its head chopped off the day before, we would get into the Christmas pudding hoping to be a lucky recipient of a threepence a small coin that was used in Australia until 1964 when the decimal currency came in, and the practice of putting a coin in the Christmas pudding ceased.
Around 1964 my mother organised for a family portrait of her five children to be taken and dressed us ready for the photographer and lo and behold I had to go to the toilet and when I came back I had the braces which held my pants up on back to front and no one noticed but it was very evident in the family portrait of us five Hastie children.
Next door, Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR) bus driver Roy Cronin would also take us for a drive around the block in the bus that he was driving, and later when his son Brian grew up, they had racehorses stabled at the back of their house where my brother Trevor and I would try and do Cisco Kid tricks and jump onto the back of the horses, but never did manage to do a Cisco Kid as the horses invariably moved away from our jumping exploits from the woodheap over the picket fence and into the stables.
My dad would come home after a hard day’s work on the railways as a fitter’s assistant and later as a lifter where he repaired railway wagons, and chop wood for the metters number two wood stove. One day my mother asked me to go and get some chips, so I went all the way up to the Frankel Street Carey Park Fish and Chip shop and asked for chips. I had to go all the way back home and tell my mother that I couldn’t get any chips without money. “Oh I meant woodchips to light the fire,” my mother said laughing at my misunderstanding.
One day when I was about twelve or thirteen my father asked me to go and get some would from down the back yard that he had chopped up the night before, one of the many chores we had to do in the 1960’s 70’s and I didn’t really want to get the wood, and my father closed the back door and then opened it up as I was giving him the thumbs up, and I spent the next five minutes seething a sore backside for being insubordinate towards my father.
In the 1960’s and as me and my siblings were growing up, we were allowed to go wherever we wanted to, as long as told our parents where we were going. And after learning to ride a push bike, I would go fishing very early in the morning with my friend Ross, and ride our bikes to the end of the Bunbury jetty where would catch Tailor and other species and marvel at the size of the ships that were berthed at the jetty.
I remember also riding my bike along what used to be the “Old North Boyanup Road, now known as the extension of ‘South Western Highway,” which was a small gravel road in those days to Boyanup across to the Stratham Service Station and back home along Bussell Highway to home. Other riding exploits included riding out to Brunswick Junction where we would jump into the damned up Brunswick River, swim for a couple of house, pluck the leeches off us, turn them inside out on a stick and then make our way home.
At the age of thirteen Ross’s mother had been sent to hospital in Perth and Ross stayed with me and my family during his mother’s illness, and we decided to wag school, where we spent a bit of time smoking cigarettes at Forrest Park and then went to Ross’s house in Gibbs street, and made a cake, and a mess and tried to cook the cake in the wood heated Braemore Hot water system, in a saucepan.
The cake was burnt to a cinder, and we tossed the ruined saucepan in the long grass down the back of Ross’s yard. In the evening, Ross’s Sister Diane and her boyfriend Geoff turned up at our place and told my mother and father about the mess in the kitchen of Ross’s house. My father established that both Ross and I had wagged school for the day, and I was given a complete slap across the face for wagging school and Ross and I were confined to the bedroom for our deeds for the day. Ross was lucky; he just escaped with a good old telling off and didn’t receive the solid end of my Dad’s hand.
Basically I was a cheeky mischievous child but back then I would also do anything for anyone even spending my weekends with dad going out to a place called ‘Crooked Brook,” to collect firewood which would take quite some time albeit my dad had purchased a chain saw to help him in getting the firewood.
Scholastically I was somewhat inept according to the teachers, but in reality I was probably scholastically lazy as I would prefer to be outside playing “Combat,” after watching an American program of the same name starring Vic Morrow as Sergeant Saunders, and I would also want to be Sergeant Saunders as he had the ‘Tommy Gun.’
Other weekend activities would be visiting the Bunbury cemetery in Carey Park with my mother to place flowers on deceased relative’s graves, but I was always jealous on how some of the school children could take my teacher Mrs Rooney, flowers on a Monday morning and I was unable too.
So one Monday morning I left for school a little bit earlier making the excuse I was going over to my friend’s house first, but I went to the cemetery instead and grabbed some nice fresh flowers off a grave and gave them to Mrs Rooney who smelt them and thanked me for my generosity. I figured the people at the cemetery didn’t need them as they were all dead!
On the school holidays my mother would walk with us kids all the way to the back beach near Hungary Hollow, where we would play for hours on end before having to walk all the way back home. On one occasion when we got to where the fun park is nowadays at the bird park, I sat down on this huge log, and noticed a huge snake with its baby’s slithering, and I panicked and too off faster than a steam train, and my mother and my siblings hadn’t reached the log, and when I turned around after bolting off, they began to sit on the log and I had to go back and tell them that there was a snake there and my mother then made sure that we all moved on away from the snake and its offspring.
We were even fortunate enough and allowed to go with our father on a few occasions to where he worked amongst the huge steam locomotives and roundhouse along with the turntable where the locomotives would be turned to enable them to be taken out onto traffic for their next job.
There was no scaremongering about the dangers of children being amongst the locomotives and workers had no problem in lifting a child up into the cabin of one of the huge steam locomotives, as workers in those days were considered family, and everyone helped everyone else.
On the weekends my mother would sit on the front verandah and the all of the neighbour’s children would come down and play Wolf Wolf where there was a person in the middle who was the wolf, and sheep had to come home without being caught by the wolf, and if you were caught by the wolf, then you became the wolf and the game started all over again.
My eldest brother began playing football for South Bunbury, and I remember his very first game being held at the Recreation Ground which is now used by the Bunbury Runners Club, and in those days that ground was very muddy and slippery and wet, and it wasn’t long before my brother got caught up in that mess of a ground and came off.
Football wasn’t really my forte’ but I did play especially after the new Hay Park grounds were gazetted for sports and no longer used as the local aerodrome, which was later transferred out to the North Boyanup Road near to where the Bunbury Speedway is located these days.
Learning to swim was done at the Jetty Baths where there were two jetty’s spaced apart and used for swimming lessons and other swimming activities before there was a proper swimming pool in Bunbury.
Another very eventful time was the annual railway picnics which were held at Busselton where ice-cream and ginger beer would flow for the young ones, and competition races where first second and third would be rewarded with money, and as I never achieved any of these posts, one picnic event I took off from the line of people watching the other competitors and won the race and subsequently rewarded with a ticket to collect the first prize and I can’t recall how much it was, but it was the only race I have ever won.
My dad graduated from driving the ‘T’ model ford Ute to a black and white Chevrolet and a few years later a 1952 FX Holden which all of my us children learnt to drive in, and was later handed down to my eldest brother, whilst dad graduated to another Holden a 1965 HR Holden station wagon, which he had right up into his 70’s.
My eldest brother Malcolm was an avid reader of the Scrooge McDuck comics and if you wanted to read one of his comics he would insist on you paying a reading fee of sixpence, and later when the decimal currency came into vogue he insisted on a reader’s fee on five cents. Incensed with this scrooge attitude, he got the nick name of Scrooge at home, and it still sticks to this day.
One day my mother gave me an old teapot to play with and albeit dad had a shed for lawnmowers and other tools such as the lawnmower, there was no door attached, so I grabbed as many comics as I could of Malcolm’s and shoved them into a 44 gallon drum that Dad would use as an incinerator and put some petrol into the teapot and lit the comics in the 44 gallon drum and put petrol in the teapot and began pouring the petrol into the drum when everything exploded and my right arm was engulfed in flames, and I remembered what the first aid officer had told us, and that was to flop down and roll, which I did and the flames went out.
I rushed up to Mum who was in the kitchen and she told me to go and get Dad who was across the road building a new trailer. “If ya been fighting I don’t wanna know so go away,” as he had thought I had been in one of my usual fights with neighbour’s or my siblings, so I then ran up to the newly built Bunbury Regional Hospital where I met nurse Jackie Brown who took me down to the emergency department where my wounds were described as second degree burns and I spent the next month in hospital, where my arm blistered like a balloon and eventually burst, whereby the doctors began extracting the burnt skin from my right arm. When I go home from hospital there was a door on the fuel shed and a padlock.