01 May 2011

Then and now

My first full day back in Adelaide led to an interesting discovery! Mum and I busying ourselves with some tidying at Grandad’s house.. I was up on a ladder, awkwardly attempting to vacuum the top of some high reaching cupboards when I came across some papers and pamphlets circa who-knows-when. In amongst them, covered in dust, was this little gem.
The dangerous years? How intriguing! Produced by Applied Journalism at the South Australian Suite and edited by Dick Wordly, The Gap was printed in 1959, during a time when teenagers were apparently running riot in the streets of Adelaide and the term Widgie was used to describe local delinquents. Through a variety of first hand recollections and stories, with a little bit of gently handed advice thrown in, community leaders address current problems dealing with the youth of the era.

Allow me to paraphrase a little bit. The book was produced with the aim to ‘help protect the dignity and integrity of the South Australian home and family’. It is essentially a helpful guide and conversation starter for parents with teenage children, offering anecdotes from priests to lawyers to local sporting star Fos Williams and even a librarian weighs in suggesting ‘without a love of good books, even the richest man is poor’.

Here are some of my favourite parts.
While I’m certain there is a plethora of books out now addressing all the same issues of teenage mob culture in today’s age, I’m pretty sure none of them end with a song on their back page. Gold!

Gather your Family ‘round you
Without them the sunshine ends
Trouble can never ground you
When you and your folk are friends


Silver and gold can hound you
Oh listen to one who’s known
Gather your family ‘round you
All men are poor when alone

The world can take your riches
And the world can make you cry
The world can tear your heart out
But your folk won’t pass you by


Then when your own have found you
They’ll be there beyond your tears
Gather your family ‘round you
And ever blessed your years


What a timely discovery this little book is. I’m so thankful to be blessed with a great family and after being away for five years, I’m ready to regather ‘round them all! Now.. if only my oldest brother would answer my text and confirm our dinner date. It’s not 1959 Ben.

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