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Memmories as a kid
by Brian Baldwin
(Coburg, Melbourne, australia)
In 1974 I was only 5 years old and my sister Alice was only 4. We were living in alice Springs and were both born and bred there. My father Dave Baldwin was a very well known taxi driver in Alice springs and was one of only a couple drivers that would go out to aboriginal settlements out of Alice Springs and would go out of a night time.
Christmas Eve 1974 dad picked up a couple wild aboriginals that wanted to go out to Papunya which was about 400kmsa north-west of Alice springs and dad wanted to take us kids out for the trip as we did quite a lot on dads bush trips.
Both alice and I got on well with all aboriginals and they use to say to dad hey Tabe, you have 2 beautiful kids and we were always laughing. They use to tell us stories about their lives and always had a good joke with us.
Well we had got out to Papunya and dad dropped the fare off and was heading out of the mission when he got flagged down by another who wanted to go into Alice Springs so that he could catch a flight to Adelaide. So dad pcked him up.
It was a stinkin hot night and was around 42 degrees when we were heading back to Alice. At the time Cyclone Tracey had hit darwin dad and this aboriginal had sensed that there was something wrong and the temperature had dropped from 42 to around 15 degrees and dad turned the heater on to full blast.
In the early hours of the morning dad got news that Cyclone Tracey had hit Darwin. Well when cars were starting to come in Alice Springs Dad took Alice and I to just North of Alice Springs and we got out of the car to watch them arrive in Alice Springs.
There were people holdings out cardboard signs in big letters PLEASE HELP US. Both Alice and I were crying as we knew that a lot of these people had relations that were blown out to sea and had lost everything. I remember it so well.
There was one particular car that had a family of four in it and dad waved the family down to stop and said we would like to invite you into our home and make you feel welcome.
Both Alice and I were very excited as the kids were around the same age as us. The daughter was a couple years older than me and the son was a year younget than me the same age as Alice.
They followed us around to our house and straight away alice and I gave all our presents to the kids and invited them into our rooms to play. Dad talked to the parents and wanted them to be welcome into our home until they had found some sort of accommodation.
Both Alice and I gave up our beds and dad had arranged the bedding for the parents.
They were with us for a while and there was plenty of food to go around as dad was earning huge money in the taxi ansd his other 2 jobs. We celebrated Christmas and New Years and we gave them everything they needed and more.
This family had lost a couple of relatives so dad made sure that funeral arrangements were made and gave them the respect they needed. Even though this family had lost everything they were so happy that a family would take them in and make them feel as part of the family.
Dad was also good enough to get the both parents jobs. The father got a job as a taxi driver and as a bus driver casual and the mother dad found her a job working in a motel working as a cleaner.
We had formed such a close relationship with this family that we were very close friends. Within a short time Dad had got them accommodation until the got a housing commission house just around tyhe corner from us.
After the christmas holidays and when were were ready to go back to school dad had helped this family with the purchase of new school uniforms and school books. Dad made sure they were taken care of.
We were their closest friends and were friends for many years until we had a tragedy in our family and Alice and I were hit by two cars on the airport road in 1979. They helped dad as much as they could. We were there for them and they wer there for us in return. What goes around comes around.
I do know a lot of other families in Alice Springs had helped some of these people back on their feet and I hope this story inspires people who were living in Alice Springs at that time who helped some of these people to write about their experiences. I will certainly never forget ours and I still cry about it today as it brings back so many memmories.