Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Good News from my Home Town

I am starting this series because people want to know. I hope to share about why the people here are called 'my people' by me. I want to share about the migrant experience and the day to day.

It might help if I describe myself. I am a 'bitza.' You won't know it to look at me, but I have mixed ethnicity so that the census won't let me state accurately who I am. My ancestors include Aboriginal, Irish, Chinese, English, Scottish, Dutch, Russian and Catholic, Protestant and Jew. They were Rabbi, clergymen, woodworkers, undertakers, musicians, naval, soldiers, settlers and convicts.

My grandad owed money to the mob in the '40s because of gambling. He joined the army and fought in the Sudan with Roden Cutler's mob. He had been a bad husband and so when my grandma got an inheritance from the death of her dad, a musician who passed away in Johannesburg after attempting to collect their first orchestra, she took two of the children, abandoning the eldest, and built a kit home in Oyster Bay. My uncle, aged 14, came home to find school had finished for him and he became a highly respected, high achieving business man.

My dad became a teacher and met my mum who was also teaching at Condell Park. My mum was a Shying born to the Ryder clan, who had sired Jack Ryder, the king of Collingwood and the first test captain for Donald Bradman. She was born in Croydon Park, on Broad Street which the family used to own, down from Western Suburbs Rugby Union Club. My grandad who was blinded at Gallipolli drank himself silly at that club, and got his name on a wall there. My dad's dad had also fought at Gallipolli, but he would later say they never met and it was for 'different armies.' The Broad Street house was named Narellan, as they had sold a farm and bought Broad Street in 1901 for 10 pounds.

My dad had me when he was working in the US. He was the first educational evaluator of Sesame Street. I was born in a doctor's residence as my mum happened to be there when I came along. There was a tragedy in my family, one of my siblings, who never had good health, died at 13 of renal failure from kidney disease. Like many modern families my parents divorced soon after, acrimoniously, when I was 11. I was raised by my mum.

As a young man I left home and lived in around town. Liverpool Motel, Regents Park Amy Street, Ashfield, Redfern, Berala, Moorebank, Glenfield and Carramar. I delivered pizza, KFC, became a maths teacher and worked at numerous public high schools.

On a matter of conscience, I resigned and ran for government. And today, I begin this series.

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