Monday, 21 November 2011

Mates in the City

 We had moved in with two other Australians from Brisbane : Lou Bickel and Bernie Campbell, renting an old Victorian free standing house in Filmore.This was an edgy suburb on the outskirts of the city, noted for its black population, riots and gunfire,not an address to bring back and park overnight any of the consular corps cars.The rent was cheap. Once Phil and I were coming home from work when gunfire broke out and we dived into one of those old terrace houses with stone steps that led down into a front garden below street level and a basement. Shaking so much we pissed ourselves and stayed well after the the coast was clear,sprinting home as if we had the Black Panthers up our arses.

Lou also worked with me at the consulate and Bernie was with the South Africans, Phil was still with the Kiwis. Bernie has since passed on.

Lou is now one of the "Movers & Shakers" in Brisbane owning night clubs, hotels and golf courses and still works eighteen hours a day, so he says.

Another Australian mate, John Campbell who came from Avalon, no relation to Bernie,  he would also become a "Mover & Shaker" in Californian lumber. John married Cindy Carpenter who he also met on the circuit at the same time when I met Lyn. Cindy's father, Ed Carpenter, was the president of the 'Pacific Lumber Company' started in 1863 and owned 300 square miles of redwoods and the largest ever Redwood Mill built. John started off with the company as a labourer in 1966 and worked his way through the ranks and by 1986 he was president, then, chairman in 2001, he passed on in 2008.

John looking sartorial on his wedding day

Cindy would invite us to stay at her parents retreat up in the Californian Redwoods at Scotia. The drive up into the redwoods was mind blowing as their retreat was way up in the mountains, we would drive through these mountain roads going up and up with the redwoods becoming older and taller as we got higher, the roads became narrower, which seemed to intensify the height of the trees. Then a clearing would appear, where there would be two or three substantial residences for management, in that log cabin chalet architectural style. As you got higher the more substantial they became, more chalet than log cabin, sort of in pecking order of management seniority. Eventually you arrived at the "Carpenters" which was the highest, as one would expect being "the Pres". Their place was like an eyrie, high in the mountains, more like a resort than a retreat. All you can see for miles and miles was mountains, redwood forest, and sky. Mr Carpenter claimed "We own as far as you see ".

John and Cindy taking off on their honeymoon

For entertainment we had contests "the Yanks" versus "the Aussies" - their were four games played; croquet, trap shooting, billiards and drinking, most of the time we lost all four.

John, Lou, Bernie and Phil were big fuckers, all of them over 6'3"and made up the bulk of the forward pack of the first XV SFRC, there was another mate who was an Irish guy - Paul Olin, aka 'the Irish Craft' who was the hooker and he was over 6.' He was an avid rugby player with a long association with rugby clubs around the world. He was captain of Blackrock College Rugby team in Dublin and played for London Irish, New York Rugby Club and was one of the original members of The San Francisco Rugby Club.

He was a well-known business executive in the computer industry both in the United States and Europe. He served in national leadership positions of corporate sales and marketing before starting his own corporation, PCO International Inc.
Paul loved Australians as we enjoyed him, as most Irish he was gifted 'with the gab'unfortunately 'the Irish craft'passed on aged 59 in '99. Through Paul we met many of the Irish/Americans in the Bay City, and like Paul they were all characters.

Another mate was Tony Morgan who arrived later and replaced Bernie, working for the South African Consulate, Tony hailed from Mosman, Sydney, from where we knew each other. One weekend we were driving  with our girl friends through the city in the Black Buick Electra with it's Consular Corps Plates. Stopped at traffic lights, a car full of young blacks pulled up next to the Buick and started abusing us for no apparent reason, maybe they thought we were young rich kids, they would have been right on two counts!! So we took off, and I hammered the car to get to safer quarters and they kept at us, when traffic lights turned red I kept going and so did they, eventually we drove through several sets of red lights before they gave up the chase.

Welcome to San Francisco, Tone!!

1 comment:

  1. I'm already dreaming of better results. Although it's most unlikely...anyway - a fabulously big wet kiss all the as me. Thank you.