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61 • embarrassed The EK Holden first appeared on the Australian car scene—on the road—in 1961. In essence, it was a rehashed FB Holden with less silver trim. Both the FB and EK looked like sea beasts that had emerged from the great oceans that hem Australia in and hold it in place. It is said that the tail fins and the lines of these models were a nod to fifties America, but looking back, I think they were really an expression of the tension between inland and coastal Australia. I don’t really know how to express this, but along with whales and sharks, the design of these cars brought to mind dead kangaroos on the side of the road, in all their traumatic and hideous beauty. Many have described the body shape of the FB and EK models as soothing and relaxing, but from an early age I found them a contradiction. They didn’t fit anywhere in the world as I wanted it to be, and I didn’t fit the world they came out of. When I was twelve years old, our EK was fourteen years old. And though it had been kept in pristine condition, and though nowadays it would be a collector’s item worth a mint, it Dowerin region 62 j o h n k i n s e l l a was, back then in the mid-seventies, a sign of consumer failure to the kids at school, a reason for shame. It was plain “old.” Not to replace old items, especially cars, was a sign of being “poor.” What the rest of my family affectionately called “Old Jenny”— including my siblings, which I thought anomalous and weird— my schoolyard peers called “that old bomb.” Without going into the gory details, I will say bluntly that I was embarrassed to be seen riding in Old Jenny, by my enemies and mates alike. If Mum drove past the school in Old Jenny, I would shrink down on the bench seat—bench seats in an age when bucket seats in the front were becoming standard—shrink right down below the window. I took to walking to school in blasting rain or searing heat, even when my brothers and sisters got a lift. Mum just smiled and said, It’s up to you, dear. Thirty years later I know what that smile meant. School life is about being a new kid, or about how you react to new kids coming into your school. I’ve both experiences in my life story, but this particular story is about a new kid arriving on my block. Not really my block, as he moved into the wealthy enclave of town, whereas we lived “on the other side of the railroad tracks,” quite literally. It was—it is—a smallish rural town a couple of hours’ drive from the city. It’s mainly a farming center, but there is also a quarry, and back then a small open-cut ore operation was running some distance away as well.And companies were constantly exploring for new deposits of whatever. Among those living in town, the wealthy tended to be retirees from the big farms that had been handed on to first sons, owners of the main-street businesses, the bank manager and family, the doctor and family, shire president and family, and the hierarchy of the mining operations. The new kid’s father was a geologist from America!What’s more, his parents had imported their fancy mile-long station wagon with false wood-grain paneling and tail fins (not, to be truthful, dissimilar in shape to Old Jenny’s tail fins—just bigger and better). 63 e m b a r r a s s e d We couldn’t believe this new kid’s name was Hank Jr.He told us the “Jr.” was because his father was also Hank—Hank Sr. We would have hated him there and then had he not been the possessor of the latest yo-yo . . . and the newest pogo stick . . . and a space hopper . . . and fads and games that hadn’t even arrived in Australia yet. Everybody wanted to be his friend, despite the fact he had ginger hair, which in our school was worth at least a regular corked leg or thump in the arm. I was unsure of him in the beginning—or from the beginning? The latter suggests a setup, a payoff that might not really come. But...


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MARC Record
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