Saturday, March 11, 2006

Wrong place, wrong time

Toward the end of 1974, on a warm Friday night, a couple of mates and I decided to drive to Geelong for some hamburgers. We'd just been dancing, ballroom style, and needed to work off excess energy. A 45 mile drive from Melbourne to Geelong was just the ticket.

An hour later we were there, hungry for burgers. There was only one problem. The place was occupied by skinheads.

I dined tonight with Frank, who grew up in the US; when I asked him if that term had ever been in usage in the states he responded that they were known there as 'White Supremacists'. I don't particularly remember skinheads being White Supremacists in Australia but then again, I didn't associate with em. Not at all my kind of people! However, the Australian headquarters of the Nazi Party was located less than a mile from where I lived in St Albans. *shrug*

Now it might not have mattered walking into a burger joint filled with skinheads had we been dressed differently. But remember, I'm talking 1974. I had on my purple suit, apricot shirt and canary yellow tie that was about 6 inches wide at it's widest. Oh, and let's not forget the shoes. Purple leather and enough heel to add about 5 inches to my height. Only time I've ever felt more than 6 feet tall!

Uh huh. You don't need to say it; I can hear it from here! :-) My mates were just as badly dressed.

I bought that suit in 1973 at Myers. There's a generation gap for you! People my age call the major department store in Melbourne 'Myers'. The younger generation, brought up on an ad campaign that desperately tried to drop that trailing s know it as Myer. One of Heino's daughters once corrected me when I called it Myers.

On the plane from Los Angeles to Singapore last week I did a quick check of what movies and TV they had scheduled for this month. Not a lot that interested me but they had a documentary from the Australian ABC about Sidney Myer, the founder of Myers. Fascinating stuff. Footage of traffic in Bourke Street and a panning shot of trams making the turn from Alexander Parade into St Kilda road just south of Flinders Street Station. Judging by the cars the footage dated from the 1930's. Made no matter; this was my hometown and I enjoyed it immensely.

So into the hamburger bar we walked. The skinheads took one look at us and that was enough for us. We retreated very hastily. Only time I've ever been thankful the car was left unlocked. As I started the engine they were hammering on the windows with their fists.

In 1994 my second wife, Peta, threw the suit out. You understand I was never ever going to wear it again but I was still mightily annoyed that she threw it out. There went a piece of my history!

We went burgerless.

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