The Carrier's licencees were a likeable couple, Kevin and Iris Howell. They were welcoming to me, and I became a lodger.
In the 1950s the law prescribed '6 o'clock closing' for hotel trading. However, this was a farce. The bar would stop operating at 6 pm, but, on closing, the patrons would transfer from the bar to the 'cupboard' which was open to the saloon where they continued to serve lodgers and their guests until approximately 11 pm.
I soon discovered that the Carriers' was the 'watering hole' for members of the Wodonga Bowling Club, and so became friendly with many bowlers and the club's hierarchy. It was only a matter of time before I was encouraged to become a 'lawn bowler'.
On joining the club in September, I found the coaches to be very welcoming and conscientious in teaching me to bowl.
To my surprise (I had never been known to have any sporting prowess), we discovered that I had a talent for lawn bowls. And so, when the pennant season commenced, I was occasionally selected to play in the club's A1 team in the Ovens and Murray Association.
One of the Club's top skippers took me under his wing, and with two other A1 players, we would travel the countryside of a Sunday and enter the regular week-end tournaments, winning our fair share of them.
After the completion of the day's games, all three game winners would play off in a final series.
One day, at the small country town of Gerogerie, which had no overhead lights, we reached the final series and ultimately the grand final.
As the whole competition had then taken a number of hours play, it became quite dark and difficult to see the bowls in the 'head'. It became necessary for the skippers to light a match to show the team members where the 'kitty' was resting. And so we had to bowl to the flame of the lighted match.
We won the tournament! It was quite an interesting experience.
Outside of playing bowls, I was soon inducted as assistant secretary of the club. This continued until 1961 when I was again transferred in my employment.
In the longer term I returned to Benalla and naturally joined the bowls club. I played in the Benalla 'Whites' A1 team, also in the Ovens and Murray Association, for more than twenty years. As years have gone by, I have played in the lower grades and finally retired from Pennant in the early 2000's. I have played more than 700 pennant games in my lifetime.
Over the period I have been active in club administration, having held positions such as Deputy Chairman of Directors, Finance Director, Club Secretary and secretary of the finance committee.
I am now a 'life member', but my bowling days are over.
18 February 2023