Easter Sunday: A reflection

Easter Sunday

 

Appropriately, it all began in a church.  The Sacred Heart Catholic Church of Erica was a beaten down affair, badly in need of a new paint job. The squeaks and creaks you could hear could have been either the old pews about to give way or the myriad of mice rattling around in the ceiling.  There are worse places to be inducted into a life of irrational belief.

 

For the first ten years of my life we moved around a lot. Dad had left his job at Telecom in Melbourne and, young family in tow, moved us to the Latrobe Valley to work on the construction of the Thompson Dam. There is something germanely Catholic about the promise that all the struggle will one day be worth it. That there is something noble in suffering and toiling for something transcendent. Looking back at these formative years, I see now I could have only ever barracked for Fitzroy.

 

One of my daily rituals as a four-year-old was to sprawl on the floor of the lounge room with my vegemite-on-toast and listen to records. I’m as retrospectively amazed as any of you at the precocious giftedness of a pre-schooler operating a record player without any adult supervision.  The LP collection was modest. Mum had a bunch of things – Chicago, The Village People, Nancy Sinatra, ABBA and the like. Dad only had one, a compilation record called ‘Supercharged Hits.’ It had a close-up picture of sports car’s front wheel. I guess this was so blokey blokes like my Dad could feel ok about owning something as questionable as a record. Despite the butch cover, the hits that I remember most clearly from that collection were the Broadway cast of Hair singing ‘Aquarius’ and Bang-Shang-A-Lang Together by ‘The Archies.’ For those reading who are only familiar with Archie and the gang through the hipster chic lens of Netflix’s ‘Riverdale,’ this link is worth a click.

 

 

 

 

The deep down in your bones fear of scratching a record with the needle is hard to explain to the music streaming generation. I was only ever allowed to start a record and then let it run to its completion. So those 33 and a 1/3 RPM sized albums were a big listening commitment. One would have to endure a lot of disco on whichever compilation it was just to hear Joe Dolce’s ‘Shaddap You Face.’ I hadn’t started school yet, but I already knew that ‘shut-up’ was the worst swear word that existed. I remember one of the neighbourhood kids saying it one day. Most of us were stunned but my next-door neighbour had the presence of mind to admonish him in the only way we knew how – “You’re dobbed on, you said the ‘S’ word.” So I got myself addicted to the two smaller records in the collection. You had to flick the switch the 45RPM but they only had one song on each side. We had one called “Farewell Aunty Jack” which was a bit special because there was actually a picture on the record – a bloke in black and white striped tights and a babies bib standing next to another stockier man  in a big blue grandma style dress. I tended to give that one a wide berth most of the time, because a verse or two in to the song someone – who I assume was Aunty Jack – promised to come around to my house and rip my bloody arms off… The other vinyl single we had the word “fable” written in big white letters across the label. Red circles as the background and in smaller print underneath, the words – “UP THERE CAZALY” by the “TWO-MAN BAND.”

 

 

 

There are quite a few reasons why that one hypnotised me as a young lad. There were timpani rolls, Mike Brady’s gravelly but melodious timbre, there was the noise of the crowd literally stopped the acoustic finger picking of the guitar as a herald to the chorus and the classic harmonic choice of modulating up a tone for the final chorus when you want your ballad to sound just that bit more epic. Celine Dion, I hope your ears are burning as you read this.

 

There was that incredible film clip. Bearded blokes getting off trams and walking into the mighty MCG. Some fella in a Salvation Army hat drinking a cup of tea, right in the middle of traffic, from the exact same mugs we had in our kitchen. It harnessed something in me. There was also footage of footballers, who looked just like our dads with their scruffy hair and sideburns soaring into the sky like Superman and taking spectacular marks. There is a short image of Hawthorn captain Don Scott crossing the white line onto the oval and holding up a Sherrin above his head like something sacramental. I’m sure, that particular Easter, all that theological sermoning that I’d been hearing about someone “rising” from the dead, started to make a bit more tangible sense to me as I was watching Royce Hart, Trevor Barker and Alex Jesaulenko taking flight.

 

Click this link and watch it, if you don’t come back to finish reading my little story, I completely understand. Hell, I may not return to finish writing it:

 

 

 

 

The story of me as a toddler that Easter Sunday morning in Erica is trotted out regularly as part of Reid family folklore. Dad would sit us up the front at Sunday Mass for the same reason that we would sit on the fence at the footy – closer to the action. I don’t remember this bit, but there is enough complementary detail in both Mum and Dad’s retelling that it must be true. Apparently, when the priest appeared at the back of the church and gave a gentle nod to the organist at the front – her name was probably Joan or Gwen, I decided to wander to the front of the altar. The congregation rose as one, but before they had a chance to sing together as a faithful flock, I decided to use my vantage point – visible to everyone – to launch into the only song my four-year-old brain had committed to memory…

 

Well you work to earn a living,

But on weekends comes the time,

You can do whatever turns you on,

Get out and clear your mind…

 

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About Shane Reid

Loving life as a husband, dad and teacher. I'm trying to develop enough skill as a writer so that one day Doc Wheildon's Newborough, Bernie Quinlan's Traralgon and Mick Conlon's 86 Eliminatiuon final goal will be considered contemporaneous with Twain's Mississippi, Hemingway's Cuba, Beethoven's 9th and Coltrane's Love Supreme.

Comments

  1. JASON ANDREW TOPPIN says

    GREAT ARTICLE SHANE
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  2. Mark Duffett says

    That’s fantastic. Truly a transcendent moment.

    And yes, I literally got chills watching that last video.

  3. Fantastic Shane. I shared your terror at scratching a record whether it was one of Mum and Dad’s or mine. And once the damage was done, there was no return. The song was forever tainted. No amount of rubbing with a record-cleaning cloth (anti-static properties too, whatever that meant) could repair it. I can think of nothing from my childhood that required more care when handling than a record.

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Love it Shane, great ending!

    My Mum never, ever let me touch the record player. Reckon she wouldn’t now either. She always was the only one allowed to handle the delicate vinyl.

    The Riverdale crew a long way removed from The Archies of old!

  5. Now that’s a story Shane! Taking over Easter mass to sing the hymn of all hymns. The Archies are another in pop music tradition of creating groups. Many have given us great sons, including The Archies (with some top notch song writers). Thanks for a good laugh this morning. And a reminder to dust off the vinyl!

  6. DBalassone says

    Cracking yarn Shane. Very funny.

    This is pure coincidence but, for the first time in years I’ve spend most of the weekend, listening to Mike Brady. His melodies just soar. Great, great songwriter. Not just the classics ‘Cazaly’ and ‘September’ but also tracks from his brilliant footy album “Songs of Football’s Greatest Sons” which are on youtube. Songs like Bobby Dazzler, Hudson number 26, Barassi you’re the captain and Heart of the Lion, just give you goosebumps, listen after listen.

  7. Peter David Stirk says

    Thanks Shane for giving me the best belly laugh I have had in years. My (footy) faith has been tested in recent times but watching those 70s clips just reminds me why footy is so good and so important to society!! And as for my (Catholic) faith, well, it never really could match up but nice to have an Easter Sunday reminder!

  8. Ian Hauser says

    Loved this, Shane! I’d like to know what happened next.

    We Christians aren’t particularly well known for having a sense of humour although many (most?) of us do. I also really liked Leek’s cartoon in this weekend’s Weekend Australian with the police cautioning Jesus against going out as he emerges from the tomb – a scream!

    Also loved the vintage highlights. Whatever happened to that version of the footy?

  9. Frank Taylor says

    Loved it Shane.
    Yep, Erica is the back-blocks that’s for sure. Particularly the 70’s. My memories of the Thompson River dam is riding trail bikes and camping with my mates in the bottom of the valley as they were building the wall. Mixing it with the haul trucks – you couldn’t do it now…..
    Great music recollections too. Gee
    Thanks

  10. Shane Reid says

    Thanks everyone and I’m, enjoying the time to do some reading and writing. Missing the footy though.I remember we were the last family in primary school to get a VCR and the CD player came years later. Happy Easter all!

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