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THE PADDO BOYS - A baby boomer’s journey through the Seventies 


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Follow the rollicking ride of a baby boomer growing up in the working class, inner-city Brisbane suburb of Paddington during the heady, flower-power days of the late sixties and early seventies.

Immerse yourself in the Paddington of those days where large extended families crowded into small workers’ cottages, trams ruled, houses were left unlocked and kids roamed free without the boundaries and restrictions of the present times.

Re-live the mischief, loud parties, rock ‘n’ roll, girls, fast cars, faster motorbikes and the sun, surf and sand of the Gold Coast. Ride with the Paddo Boys as they embark on a number of adventurous journeys including an epic road trip around the country in 1976 and 1977 and a year of wild times in an overcrowded share house in Perth, Western Australia. 

In Store Price: $29.95 
Online Price:   $28.95

 

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ISBN:978-0-9946271-5-5          
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 281
Genre: Non
Fiction

 

 


 


Author
-
Peter Coman
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published:  2017
Language: English


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DEDICATION 

 

For Patrice, without whose constant encouragement,

support and love this book would not have been, 

 

and

  

for that pack of old bastards who continue

to enrich my life – my brothers – the Paddo Boys.

 

  

Author Biography – Peter Coman 

 

Peter Coman was born in Toowoomba in Queensland but was raised in the inner Brisbane suburb of Paddington from an early age. He recalls his experiences growing up there in his first book The Paddo Boys – A baby boomer’s journey through the Seventies.  

He is a retired Quality Manager and apart from writing and reading, enjoys travelling, the beach, renovating his Queenslander house and spending time with family and friends. He is married to Patrice and has three adult children and two grandchildren. He still resides in the Red Hill/Paddington area.

 

The Road to Paddo - a sample of the book

 

‘The Long and Winding Road’ 

The Beatles 

 

I guess when you get right down to it I can’t really claim to be a Paddo boy – not from birth anyway. In spite of the fact that I have lived in the area for over fifty years, I was born in Toowoomba. There’s nothing wrong with that; Toowoomba is a great town, but given that I left there when I was four, I don’t really have a strong affinity with the place.

Mum and Dad had moved to Toowoomba from Brisbane after the war, in 1950, when they were first married. They had been lured there partly by my grandfather, Dad’s father Jack, who had said he could arrange somewhere to live and get Dad a job. Jobs were not so hard to get but accommodation was still in short supply following the war. It sounded like an improvement on the one room in a shared house in Spring Hill that they’d had since they married the year before. So they packed up all their possessions into a couple of suitcases and took the rail-motor to Toowoomba. My grandfather had obviously forgotten to tell the landlady that they also had a six-month-old baby, my oldest sister, Elizabeth, with them. She took one look and turned them away! Apparently she said that no one had mentioned a baby. Maybe Jack had conveniently overlooked that minor detail to improve the chances of getting a place for them.

After a shaky start they found somewhere to stay, with relatives at first, as Dad was born in Toowoomba and had heaps of relatives there, and Mum grew to love the place. They stayed for ten years and had my other sister Janet in 1953 and me in 1956. Jack had come to live with us by then and we lived in a big old Queenslander with a horse paddock at the back fence, all within walking distance of Ruthven Street, the main drag in town. Mum hadn’t been too keen to go there in the first place but then, in 1960, when Dad decided there were better opportunities for him in taxis and us kids for the future back in Brisbane, she didn’t want to leave. Looking back, you’d have to say it probably wasn’t a bad decision.

Mum said that Dad had been pretty keen on moving us down to Sandgate on Moreton Bay. He’d spent a year of his life when he was young down at Southport on the Gold Coast and I think he thought being near the water would be good for us kids. I don’t know what happened to the plan but somewhere along the line we ended up moving to Paddington! It probably had something to do with the fact that most of Mum’s family were still there.

There were two small worker’s cottages, the mirror image of each other, side by side in Bowler Street where Mum had lived, off and on, with her family of nine siblings before she got married. Her parents had both died relatively young and the job of raising her younger brothers and sisters had fallen to her older sister, my Aunty Dorrie. By the time we moved into Bowler Street, Aunty Dorrie was married and had her own two kids, my cousins Dennis and Rodney, and was living in one of the cottages. We moved into the other one.

The houses were so close together that you could pass things between them through the windows. They were really just four rooms, two bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room with verandahs on the front and back on three-foot stumps. There was an outside dunny in the backyard and the only inside plumbing was a cold tap above the kitchen sink, one over the laundry tub and another over the bathtub at one end of the back verandah, which had corrugated iron walls around it to make a room. We had a washing machine that used to heat water so we’d fill it up, wait for the water to heat up and then pump it into the tub for a warm bath. I don’t really remember whether as the youngest I got to go first or last on the bath queue but those sorts of things don’t really matter too much when you’re four years old.

Bowler Street in Paddington is around two kilometres from the Brisbane City Hall as the crow flies and yet, when we lived there in the early sixties, we still had gravel shoulders on the road with just a strip of bitumen down the centre, a little wider than one car.

Mum and Dad slept in the front bedroom and the girls slept in the back bedroom. I slept on the front verandah with Uncle Monty who lived with us. He was one of Mum’s six brothers, who had been in the army and had served in Borneo and New Guinea with Dad in the war, and who was kind of responsible for getting Mum and Dad together in the first place, but that’s another story.

Monty slept up one end of the verandah in our place, outside the lounge room, and I slept down the other end outside Mum and Dad’s bedroom. Sometimes at night if Monty had been on the drink and was in the horrors in his sleep (still fighting the Japs), he’d bellow out a bit and I’d get woken up. It wasn’t the greatest place for a young kid to be getting back to sleep. You could see out into the night sky between the old green slat timber blinds that made up the top half of the walls on the verandah. Needless to say there were quite a few nights when I’d just stand up in bed and slide straight through the window into the sanctuary of Mum and Dad’s bed. One night, as I was making my way through the window, Dad woke up and thought it was someone breaking in. He grabbed me with one hand and had the other arm cocked ready to punch me out until Mum intervened and saved me.

It might sound like I’m having a whinge about Bowler Street but that’s not the case. At the time, it was a great place to be. Between our two houses, there must have been a dozen or more people so there was always someone to talk to and something going on. On top of that, just about every other house in Bowler Street had a tribe of kids, so there was no chance of being bored or lonely. There were the McGills on the corner, the Clancys, the Harbottles, the Geoghans, the Lunneys who had a fruit shop on Padd Road, and around the corner in Great George Street there were the Grices and the Bryants. And further up Bowler Street on the other side of Great George Street were the Funnells. Geoff Funnell was the first of a number of people from Paddington who became a lifelong friend. We went to school together for twelve years.

Residing in the two houses was our family of five, Aunty Dorrie and Uncle Stan, their boys Rodney and Dennis, and then some of Mum’s single brothers, Monty, Billy, Richard and Mickey (Butch). There were also Ron and Brian but they had married by then. Ron and his wife Val lived a couple of places up on Given Terrace (Padd Road) and Brian and his wife Joyce lived for a while in Bowler Street, just across Great George Street from us.

All six of the boys were real dinky-di Aussie wags, likeable larrikins, full of mischief and very funny. They liked a drink and they liked to sing. Maybe it had something to do with our Irish heritage. The four bachelors stayed that way and boarded with Aunty Dorrie and us all their lives. They worked as trammies and wharfies and in the wool stores and as builders’ labourers and they were well known, the Owens boys, around Paddo in the 40s, 50s and 60s, particularly at the Padd Pub.

They had their own language, my uncles. It was a mixture of rhyming slang and colloquial expressions that were common among the working class. Uncle Billy was the master and his sentences were always peppered with it. If he was going ‘up Padd Road’ it was ‘up the frog and toad’ to have a ‘butcher’s hook’ or a ‘Captain Cook’ at something. If someone turned up in a ‘bag of fruit’ (a suit) he’d be labelled a ‘mug lair’ (a show-off) and probably not worth a ‘brass razoo’ (little value). Kids were ‘billy lids’ and if someone was a bit short of sanity they were ‘Yarra’ or ‘as silly as a two-bob watch’. If people were crook, they may have ‘the scours’ (loose bowels) or ‘the barcoo rot’ (skin rashes). He was often ‘tired as a big brown dog’ or ‘full as a state school hat rack’. And if something unusual happened, he’d say, ‘Strike me pink’ or ‘Strike me lucky.’ If he wasn’t sure about someone’s motive, he’d ask, ‘What’s the key to him?’ He was fond of a drink and his favourite friend was an ‘Aristotle’ (bottle of beer).

One of Mum’s younger brothers, Ron, was married and had had my cousin Mark by the time we came back to Brisbane from Toowoomba. They lived up on Padd Road in a few different rented places. Ron’s wife Val was ahead of her time a bit because she worked after starting her family and she was committed to buying their own house rather than renting forever as was the norm in Mum’s family. At the time, Val was running a tight ship with the family budget and only allowed the occasional treat, like going to the Padd Pictures on a Saturday night, which was about as cheap a night out as you could get anywhere.

One night they were at the pictures and at interval Ron asked Val for some money to get a Violet Crumble bar but Val said the budget didn’t stretch that far. Ron was obviously very disappointed with the decision and said at the top of his voice, ‘Well, if a man can’t have a bloody Violet Crumble bar he might as well be dead.’ Apparently the whole picture theatre thought that was hilarious. We often used that phrase afterwards when anyone got knocked back for anything they really wanted and couldn’t get. To Val’s credit she and Ron went on to save enough deposit for a house at Southport where they lived the rest of their married life. They were the first ones on Mum’s side of the family to own a house, which was seen as quite an achievement.

~~~


 

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