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Chapter Nine: Building a Foundation
Like a warrior, Mum fought asthma by not allowing me to give in. She insisted that I be given a chance to do something with my life. She wanted the best where her children were concerned and was prepared to make sacrifices if needed. Little did she know that she was preparing a foundation for the Call that included my toolbox!
‘Len, we should try and get Peter and Bruce some sort of training in a trade, don’t you think?’ Mum and Dad were sitting at the breakfast table during one a Dad’s all-to-brief home leaves during the war, when she posed the question.
‘I suppose you are right, but what? Where will we send them to get training?’ Dad had got by with our learning a trade and thought his sons could do the same.
‘Perhaps we could send them to Victor Harbour to learn a trade?’ Mum wanted more for boys than was on offer in Mount Compass as market gardeners and dairy-farmers.
‘Well, what do you boys want to do?’ Dad said turning to us. We both stopped eating and looked at our parents in surprise. We had supposed we would work on the land all our lives. That we could be anything other than what our parents and neighbours were hadn’t entered our minds.
‘Yes! I would like to learn carpentry.’ A carrot was being offered and I couldn’t resist.
I had often wished I could learn carpentering when odd-jobbing for a local builder. I had made toys and given them away as presents at the community Christmas tree. The toys were much appreciated and I felt great satisfaction both in the giving and the creating. I grew quire excited at the thought of learning a trade and my imagination took flight as Mum and Dad discussed the pros and cons.
‘What would you like to do, Pete?’ Mum turned to Pete.
‘I would like to learn how to shoe horses and do blacksmithing.’ Pete loved horses.
A few weeks later we were again sitting over breakfast without Dad when Mum said, ‘Bruce, I have enrolled you in the Adelaide School of Mines to do a carpentry course.’\’How am I going to get there? I had visions of staying up in Adelaide. Hope flared then died. I couldn’t leave home because someone had to help milk the cows and grow vegetable while Dad was at the war.
‘Do you think you could ride your bike to Willunga and catch the train to Adelaide for the day?’
Hope flared again, ‘Yes, I can ride to Willunga.’
My heart leapt. It was a nine-mile ride morning and night but I didn’t care. It wouldn’t have mattered if I’d had to walk to the moon, my dream was coming true.
‘I’ve been talking to Mrs Jacobs and she’s enrolled Don as well. You can both ride together,’ Mum continued.
‘Gee, thanks Mum,’ I felt like doing cartwheels.
‘You will do two lessons one day a week. Then catch the train back to Willunga and ride on home. It’ll be a big day but I think you can manage it.’Mum knew it was a big ask for a teen-age boy but she also knew it was the only way for her son to get any extra training that might help him to better himself in adulthood