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Early Antipodean Recollections.

19 May

In the sub-antarctic climes of  Hobart, far removed from any sirocco breeze there was another history. A scant history of a young boy who could never have known what life had in store for him. Hobart was Australia's second settled city. Its early architecture is still very evident today.One only has to take a casual stroll around Battery Point to achieve a sense of  colonial history. Ostensibly not much has changed over a hundred years except for a careful gentrification of this inner city area.

Its not hard to imagine the young Errol frequenting this area especially when we consider that tall ships and clippers would tie up along the foreshores of Salamanca Place as more modern vessels do until this very day.Errol's love of the great wide oceans certainly must have been  imprinted at an early age and indeed he may have wondered what good wind lay in wait for him.

During the mid 1980's I was fortunate to make the acquaintance of two gentleman from Errol's youth.Don Norman and Alan Mansfield. Each were childhood friends with Errol and all three would attend boxing training together. Don was to tell me “Errol could hold his hands up, he had to, he was picked on for his looks” ! Whilst each fought in different weight divisions they certainly applied themselves to their training as both Errol and Alan were state champions in their respective divisions.Alan was divulge to me that it was very sentimental to him whenever he watched  'Gentleman Jim', “I felt that a part of me was in the ring with him”! “Errol could really box”!

Alan (Mansfield) and Errol had often walked to school together  and in his reminiscing he would  ask me to forgive an old mans tears. “After Errol left Hobart to attend school in Sydney , New South Wales, I never saw him again although I watched his career with great interest”. …”but I did meet up with him again during WW2 whilst on shore leave in SanFrancisco”. At this point in our conversation, Alan's demeanour  becomes light and animated. “There we were marching down a street in SanFrancisco and we passed an open air restaurant that was one story high. ..and then I heard a voice from my past, “Alan , Alan old sport” ! “I looked up and it was my old chum…he was my best friend when were kids”. Alan was to tell me that Errol was always on the lookout for any Australians . ” Come up here and have lunch with me” was Errols cry. Alan replied ” I'd like to but I've got about eighty mates here”. “Well bring them up with you then”.

Alan Mansfield had been reunited with his best mate from school and he an Errol and eighty other servicemen had the afternoon of their lives. I think its demonstrative of Errol's affection for Hobart and Tasmania and those early years . I think its wonderful that Rory has returned to Hobart in recent times. I know it will help her connect to the formative years and heritage of the man she knows as 'The Baron' .

…thats all for this blog entry……travel well everyone

— Chris Driscoll

 

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  1. Anonymous

    May 19, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Thanks for this story, Chris. It reminds me of the same affectionate portrayal of Flynn I received from his early mate, Charlie Burt. Obviously, Errol affected everyone he met along the way of his illustrious–and notorious–life.

     
  2. Anonymous

    May 20, 2009 at 3:53 am

    Chris! A great story! I wonder where this restaurant was? I have been to San Francisco several times and would probably recognise the area though its unlikely the restaurant still exists, I suppose!

     
  3. Anonymous

    May 22, 2009 at 12:07 am

    Great story. Thanks for sharing. Patti

     
  4. Anonymous

    June 1, 2009 at 5:27 am

    I really liked your story and reading comments from those that truly knew him is just great. Thanks.

     
  5. Anonymous

    June 3, 2009 at 8:17 am

    Thank so much Kathleen, Don Norman had a few other stories about 'EF' so keep an eye out because I'll post a few more recollections yet.regards, chris.

     
 
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