Almanac Life: A lesson from (Brother) Robo





While in an email exchange with Johno ‘Snowy’ Nugent’s to finalise his piece about John Coleman, he put together a few other tidbits. He mentioned an important character in his life: Robo.


Here’s what he sent me:


G’day John, as you know, I grew up in Fitzroy, in Brunswick Street, two good drop kicks from Fitzroy’s home ground. So, I saw many games there.


We had moved to Fitzroy from Essendon.


I went to St Bridgid’s run by the Sisters of Mercy. Grade 6 and Grade 7. They were certainly not full of Mercy. But, that’s another story.


After that, I went to St. George’s and met one of the great men I’ve had the privilege to meet. His name was Brother Robinson, but he was known as nothing else but Robo. He called everybody Brother.


In those day we used to get small bottles of milk at school. At morning break Robo had an endless supply of Milo that he would dish out to all us students.


And, on Fridays he would make mushroom soup again for us all. To many, it was the best meal of the week.


Now, let me tell you about how Robo helped me grow up and begin to be a young man.


By then, I lived on the seventeenth storey of the high-rise Carlton flats. There wasn’t a day or night that I didn’t look out of my window and marvel at the view. It was also the first time I had my own bedroom. Luxury! My best mate Gary lived in the four-storey flats.


Gary would always call in on the way to school so we would walk together to school. I was always late and this, of course, also made Gary late.


We’d get to school and Robo would give us a hard look and then say: “Brothers, go to your seats.”


However, this day was to be different. Robo told us to go outside and write one hundred times: “I must not be late for school.”


It was the middle of winter and our hands were frozen.


Thinking we had achieved our objective we walked back into the class room. I was a cocky young lad and thought I was too good for my own good. I was soon to find out differently.


Robo told us to wait in the alcove (our classroom was a beautiful old bluestone building that I think has now been classified on the heritage list.)


So back to the story. Robo called us over and proceeded to give us both six of the very best with the strap. He then told us to go back to the alcove and wait.


As our hands warmed up so did the pain.


I remember whimpering. “Keep the noise down brother,” Robo advised me.


At morning break I refused to take his usual offer of Milo with my milk. I was feeling sorry for myself and angry at my punishment.


A little later Robo took me aside and told me that Gary shouldn’t have received the same punishment as I did. His reason:  I’d got my mate into trouble and that is so very wrong. And further, he demanded that I never do that again. Not ever. He gave me my Milo and a pat on the back and told me that I had handled my punishment like a strong (but wrong) young man.


It actually did change my life. Me and Gary were never late for school again. I realised, and still do, the value of that experience.


The only thing wrong with Robo was that he barracked for bloody Richmond.


Living in Carlton we often went to Princes Park. I saw Robo there often. He was a passionate supporter, giving umpires advice in the most colourful way.


Then, on leaving the ground he would say to us: “Brothers you didn’t hear any of my advice to the umpires.”


I’m not a religious person but believe I am a spiritual one. So, I often say “Thank you, and God Bless You, Robo.”


If there is something after we shuffle off this mortal coil, I want to join Robo.


Thank you again for allowing me to share some small parts of my story.

My love and warmest Karma to you and all your family.

Cheers mate

Johno (Snowy).


Read Johno’s piece about John Coleman HERE



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