Out here in the Mallee there are a lot of sad cases that have “washed up” on lonely shores of the region. In the days of the soldier settler, some would say that the existence of the local hotel was what kept many of them sane…if not sober..
I recall a woman telling me of her uncle who was a soldier settler..
“He was a bachelor, you see.
He was a soldier-settler
Out in the mallee scrub…
And he died…
Father went through his things
But he couldn’t throw these out…”
She “thumbed” out the pockets of her breeks.
“They have his army number on them, see!
He was a lovely old man, my Uncle Bill.”
But I have seen a few “Uncle Bills”,
Spurned or turned from a woman’s embrace.
Uncertain and clumsy in affection
Toward sisters or brothers children…
“The breeks were army issue,
Part of the “deal” for soldier-settlers…
God only knows how he struggled out there.”
A soldier-settler alone in the mallee.
“God only knows.”
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Thanks to Joseph Carli for sharing this story on the AIM Network.