Good old days of summer

I went for a short drive yesterday around the Rosebud neighbourhood. Where I’m actually staying is Rosebud West which, as I’ve commented on, has a fair bogan content. Yesterday I went to Rosebud proper, which is where the major shopping strip is, and the area I remember from when I was a kid.

Right now Rosebud is pretty quiet, though getting busier as the Christmas holiday season approaching, and with schoolies week (I have a bunch of them staying next door). Give it another 4-6 weeks and the population of the area will likely triple. The shops will teem with activity, and there’ll hardly be a square metre of the foreshore without a tent or caravan planted on it. That’s what I remember.

I was down Rosebud shops yesterday and a lot of it came back to me. I was quite young when we would stay at Rosebud, and for the most part the memories are dim and fragmented. It wasn’t long before we spent our holiday’s further around the bay – we must have had 4-5 holidays in a row at Blairgowrie. Still, many memories are generic. For example, hopping on a bike and riding down to the local shops. I’d spend a lot of time in the newsagent looking at magazines and occasionally buying a cheap paperback for my holiday read -my faves were Sven Hassel and Adam Hall.

I recalled that yesterday as I wandered into Rosebud newsagency. It’s a large shop capable of handling the large influx of customers Christmas will bring. There were about a dozen in the shop yesterday. Come a Saturday morning at the peak of holiday season there will be 40-50, or even more. It will be all a bustle with people in shorts dashing in to buy a pile of the Saturday papers to be read at leisure at beach or home, and others browsing the rows of magazines. Who isn’t familiar with that? For me it’s very much a summer memory.

I walked up towards Rosebud Hotel, which is unrecognisable from when I was a kid. As I did I crossed a street that terminated in some stairs zig-zagging up a rise. I recognised it, or thought I did. Once, many years ago, we had a place up there, the first on the right. It’s one of the memories from that era most vivid to me.

I remember the property itself, an upstairs living area above, I think, a carport. It had a wrap-around balcony and glass doors. It was a groovy kind of place and I remember the sun streaming in through the wall of glass and the heat of that long ago summer.

What I remember best was one of those things  that tends to stick in your mind. Back in those days – this would have been about 1975 – the Australian Open was played straight after the new year. I was a keen tennis fan back then, as was most of the family. I remember the tennis final that year, which was both epic and famous.

John Newcombe, everyone’s favourite Aussie, was playing the brash Jimmy Connors. It was a hot day. We sat in the living room of the rented place transfixed by the action occurring a 100 kilometres odd down the road at Kooyong. I can see  it, the TV set in the corner nearby the  kitchen bench, the glass windows behind us and the bright sunshine of the day. Why I remember it I think is because of a was a famous moment that had people cheering and laughing at the time, but which marked the turning point.

It was about the third set I think, and Connors was looking more likely. Newcombe played a shot that was ruled out. In his genial way he disputed it. Connors seemed to agree as, while the call stood, Connors served a deliberate double-fault to even it up. In hindsight that was a big mistake. Newcombe broke his serve, took the set, and ultimately went on to take the match. That was his last Grand slam title I think.

It wouldn’t surprise me if I got things mixed up – memory does that to you – but the gist of it is true. I felt so excited watching what was a classic game of tennis, rooting hard for Newk, who at that time was a national icon known as much for his work with Cinzano (“chin, chin”), and his famous mo, as he was for his tennis.

Would you believe that’s just about 40 years ago?


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