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Friday, November 12, 2010

An Intriguing Tale: my early love life [Epilogue]

[Read me last!]

After the dance where the meeting between Lorraine and Robyn seemed destined to occur, it was close to the end of the year (1962). You need to understand that, although it was an exciting and happy juvenile romance in its own way and it meant a lot to us both I am sure, the time Lorraine and I spent together was minimal. At Interval at the Diggers Arms dances, we would go next door to the café, and have a soft drink, and that would be the only chance we would have had to talk at all.

To our parents, we were, not unreasonably, nothing more to each other than kids growing past puberty and easing towards adult life. Had I stayed in Calliope as a farmer, and had she stayed in Targinnie taking some job there till she got married, it was quite possible that the attraction we shared might have developed into something more mature and serious when we were older – if the attraction itself had lasted. But at the age we were, unless we had been true Romeos and Juliets, our futures in other ways mattered much more. In the whole year or so, we had never written each other a letter or shared what might be called a meeting of minds.

Lorraine came to a few more dances and then stopped. Only later I discovered she had gone up to Rockhampton to train for some career and I don’t even know what it was. I would have been sad to know she was going away but as I have indicated, communications at that time and place were almost non-existent. For all either of us knew, she might have been back in Targinnie in weeks or months and things might have gone on as they had done, though I doubt it. 

We didn’t even get the opportunity to say goodbye because there was no sense of goodbye. There were simply no more dances and hugs to share. We had never kissed in the entire time we had known each other. To this day I have never seen her again, but I will always have a delightful memory of how she was.

I still went to the Trocadero dances of course, and this went on into my Senior year. Robyn and I would meet at the dance, we would walk up to the Californian Grill Bar at Interval, usually with friends like Merle and some of my mates, return to the  Dance, and make our way home. Sometimes if I were staying in town, we might go to the movies instead and kiss and hug in the back row. I would then walk her home and return either to Jan’s or wherever I might be staying that night. Occasionally there were parties but they were very innocent affairs, involving softdrinks and crisps and the new dance – the Twist. Robyn loved the Twist and I did it with her, but I liked the old-time dances much more.

One night I turned up at the Troc as usual, and after some time it was obvious that Robyn was not there. Merle was, so I asked her what had happened to Robyn. Merle looked embarrassed and evasive, and finally said, ‘She’s gone to the pictures.’ I was shocked, I must admit. It was like the world had shifted on its axis, and maybe it had. 

The fact was that Robyn had tired of the predictability of our romance, which wasn’t surprising as it was really going nowhere. After all, as with Lorraine, where was it to go? I was nearly 16 and she was about the same age. We had lives ahead of us that were already obviously going to go in different directions. I didn’t see it coming at all. She would have found some other boy, perhaps some time before, and was breaking the news to me in the clearest way possible. The one thing I knew for sure was that if she had made that decision, then there would be no turning back. It was over. Finito.

I mooched about for a few dances licking my wounded ego, and looked round the hall. Who was there? My eye alighted on Gay Ericson, who was also in my Senior class and had always looked kindly upon me. She was nice, taller and older than I, which I wasn’t too keen on but could get used to, and she was available.

I confess that after a few dances, we had established that I would walk her home that evening. Her best friend June, even taller than Gay, would walk with us until we reached Gay’s house and then go on home just a few doors away. June wasn’t especially happy with this sudden development and laughed at Gay, saying loud enough for me to hear, ‘What are you doing with that little pipsqueak?’ I was offended but Gay said, ‘I like him.’

That was enough for me, even though it was rather backhanded balm to my injured pride after being stood up by Robyn. I went to that dance expecting to canoodle under the lamplight at Barney Point with the sandflies and mosquitoes, and ended up instead walking arm in arm up Central Lane with Gay just a couple of blocks from the Troc. I immediately wished Jan and Ken had moved earlier that day from Barney Point to the centre of town, but you can’t have everything. The kissing and hugging wasn’t bad either. Different, but maybe I needed the freshness of a new relationship as much as Robyn did, only I had too much emotional inertia to accept it.

Gay and I had more in common in many ways than I had with either Lorraine or Robyn, being in the same class and sharing that day to day experience. June still scorned the romance but it persisted through the year. I had changed, as I said, from parallel monogamy to serial monogamy, and in the holidays, we wrote every day.

As you’ll see in another story from a much earlier era I have yet to write but is right there in my head, we always picked up the family mail from the Post Office. The Ws were collected in one box behind the counter, and the Postmaster there would deliberately put mine on the bottom of the pile when it came in – Gay had very neat, distinctive handwriting so it was easy for him to spot. I would ride the bike downtown to the Post Office each day as the mail was coming in from Gladstone by van, and have to wait till the sorting was complete. He would always tease by pretending there was no mail for me, and ‘discover’ the letter at the last moment. It was always a sad day when there actually WAS no letter.

After the Senior exam, Gay and I both were awarded Teacher’s Scholarships, though she was sent to Kedron Park TC in Brisbane and I was sent to Kelvin Grove. We continued our love affair, such as it was, for a couple of months in Brisbane, writing letters across campuses to make contact, but the truth was that as soon as we settled into our respective colleges, with all the novelty of a new life and new friends for us both, there was simply not enough to hold us together. We just went our separate ways.

What we had done, Lorraine, Robyn and I, was really go through our early and middle teen years in exactly the way we should. I suspect it is much harder in some ways now; much less innocent and probably less fun. Or, perhaps, it’s just that the challenges, attitudes and expectations are so totally different. Each has its charm: each has its price.


  1. I think you were very lucky to have such an innocent and painless early love life - just, as you said, 'the way we should'. It's lovely really, without all the influences and pressures kids have now and that were happening even a few years later when I went through all that. It IS a bit of a 'not with a bang but a whimper' ending though, do admit! VERY un-Mills and Boon, indeed, Treverley, or what ever your M&B name is!

  2. Treverley???? Tourmayne, please - have you no class?? :)

    I suspect any career with M&B by me is going to be brief and painfully unsuccessful!

    But ignoring my silly way of putting things sometimes and the hyperbole, there are interesting comparisons that do come out of such then-and-now scenarios. I seriously doubt that teenagers today could ever imagine what it was like to grow up in the 50s and 60s, especially in a tiny rural township, just as a teenager then would be totally overwhelmed with today’s teenage lifestyle.

    There’s not even much point in writing about it if the aim is to get through to a teenage audience, because already this form of writing on this sort of subject has no appeal for that audience.

    A pointer to why this is so is here:

    (This won’t stay on the SBS site long and if you have a fair download allowance you might like to see it, especially the part on Facebook.)

    Much more could be said on the subject, but not now, if ever.


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