One man’s view
about the things
that really matter….
Stories that may
be strange, yet true,
from the Chaplain’s Travel Log….
A Rather ‘Blue’ Story from the Chaplain!
Ah, well, not the sort of story that you might be imagining. Let me put you into the picture.
It was about 1953, and I was about 10 at the time when I first met ‘Bluey’ (everybody knew him as that and I don’t think that anyone knew what his real name was), Jones. I’ll call him jones just in case old Bluey still has some relatives who might be reading this!
Yep, Bluey Jones. A likeable, unusual, and totally different bloke who lived in Blayney NSW. Bluey could best be described as a ‘settled swagman’ – owned little, wanted little, cared little, (except that he did have a kind nature.) He’ d give you the shirt off his back if he thought that you needed it. Mind you, Bluey’s shirts rarely came off his back. He didn’t have much in the way of extra clothes and I think that once a shirt or pair of trousers ‘went on’, they stayed on till they fell apart. Bluey lived a simple life. He squatted in a little tumble-down, almost derelict cottage that was covered in vines and creepers which almost completely hid it from view, and which was right at the edge of town and just down the road from where my uncle’s property was. My relatives had first settled in Blayney in 1849 and so by 1953 (104 years later) the town had grown outwards and now there was a distinct break between where the few houses finished (on Bluey’s side of the street), and where the first of the rural properties began.
Well enough of the background. Let me share with you the first of three stories about ‘Bluey’ Jones.
Bluey goes to Dubbo
Bluey used to find some casual employment on the uncle’s property as a part time rouseabout, worker or at digging potatoes. His wages were good although he never cared much about money. The uncle paid him well and Bluey was a good worker. When it was time to ‘harvest’ the potatoes Bluey would start sometimes after he woke up (generally before daylight and keep going until it became too dark to work any longer. He was paid by the bag, so he actually earned good wages. But, as soon as the spuds were harvested Bluey would just ‘disappear’ for a few weeks. Not that he would go on a ‘bender’ as he was never known to be a drinker, but like most swagmen he would then just go away for a while. Nobody really knew where.
Bluey owned a very battered, and one would say almost completely worn out, old ‘Morris 8’ car around the 1934 vintage. It was never known to have an annual inspection and the number plates were almost unreadable. How he ever got it past the local constabulary no one will ever know. How it ever kept going no one knew either. The brakes were totally worn and didn’t work, the best they could do was make a fearful scaping and squealing noise when applied but did little else. It wasn’t driven much, for obvious reasons!
So it came as quite a surprise when one day Bluey said to my uncle (and you must read Bluey’s words in the way that he said them),
“Aww I won’t be comin’ inter work f’ th’ next coupla days Mr. Maarrsden, I’m goin ter Dubbo t’see me brother. ‘Is wife’s real crook n’ they think shez gunna die so I thrt th’t I’d go ‘n see ‘m.”
“How are going to get there Bluey, taking the Western Night Mail or the Central West Express?”
“Aww no. Thets too fancy, I’m gunna drive up t’ there.”
“Someone’s going to drive you?
“Na, I’m goin’ in the old Morris. It’ll get me there.”
“But the brakes. Bluey, you told me that the brakes don’t work….”
“She’ll be right Mr. Maarsd’n I’ll just take it easy.”
“But Bluey, there’s a couple of traffic lights in Orange, and you’ve got a few level crossings to negotiate and, and,”
But it was no use. Bluey was not going to be persuaded otherwise. He was “goin’ in th’ old Morris, and she’ll be right.”
“But Bluey it’s against the law… What if you’re caught?” My uncle Sam was a solid Christian and very law abiding as well.
“I got a good mirror ‘t see if the coppers r’ cummin’. Besides I ‘m goin at night’n they won’t see me.”
Bluey’s mind was made up and nothing was going to stop him. He went.
Now, the purpose of this CROSSTRAX article is this: Bluey was a good man in many ways. He was kind, caring, hard working (when he wanted to come to work), he loved children, helped older people, was never known to swear or get drunk – but he hated authority. He couldn’t stand the law or the ‘Coppers’ and he didn’t see why he should have to do what the law of the land required. So he lived his life always “in the shadows’ as it were. Thinking that if he could keep out of the all-seeing eye of the law he’d be right. When my uncle had tried to tell him about the mercy and love of God, he merely brushed it aside exclaiming that if he didn’t bother God, then God wouldn’t bother him.
“It’ll be right mate.” Was his favourite expression.
Some days later, Bluey turned up on Uncle Sam’s doorstep wanting to know “’f yer had ‘ny work t’day?”
“Did you go to Dubbo?” asked Uncle. “Yairs, ‘n back ag’n. Had a few problems b’t nuthin’ th’t couldn’t be fixed.”
“But your brakes man, how did you stop?”
“Arrr, no probl’ms” he said. “Before I left I adjusted the handbrake so th’ back wheels’d just about lock up ‘f I pulled it on. Did ‘ave one hold up though. Me tyres’r a bit worn and I split one ‘v th’ front ones ‘n got a puncture half way b’tween Wellington n‘ Dubbo. Fixed it orright though, but ‘t took a bit ‘a time.
Incredulously my uncle asked “How did you fix it?”
Aww it took a bita time. I had some canvas ‘n a tin a’ tar in the back so I took the tyre orf the rim ‘n made a patch out’ve a coupla pieces a’ canvas, made a fire t’ heat the tar , n’ when ‘I wuz hot enough poured it on th’ inside’ve th’ tyre ‘n glued the canvas on t’ it then I poured s’me more tar onter that ‘n put the next piece on, ‘n’ then”, he said with a look of triumph, “put a patch over the tube with tar n’ canvas n carefully put the tube back in and pumped some air inter it. Didn’t put too much in mind yer, just enuf ter let ‘t take shape ‘ntil it started t’ go cold ‘n harder , then put enuf air in ter get me home. Slow trip, b’t we did ‘t” he finished triumphantly.
My uncle could hardly believe the story, but taking pity on Bluey went inside, got his cheque book (no credit cards in them days!!!) then said, “C’mon Bluey, get into my car, we’re going down to the local garage and see if we can get a couple of new tyres. It’s on me” he concluded.
Now what do you do with a good- hearted fellow like Bluey? He was a ‘bush philosopher’ but was never able to understand why he would matter to God or how he could find new life.
So, until I give you the next part of this narrative, think about this: Bluey’s philosophy was that if I can keep out of God’s sight then I’ll be right. But what a miserable existence. Living what he thought was a good life and yet having no joy or real peace.
Next month: When the Blackberries tried to eat Bluey!