“One moment, this Year.” Whoa! This is beyond me!
“A love letter to travel.” Impossible! How could I write a love letter to travel?
Both topics belonged in the “too hard basket”.
Then I read that we could write about one place in the world that is special to us. A saviour! Then Bev suggested to me that Benalla might fit the bill and she was so right. Benalla is my adopted home town and I love it.
Instead of writing a love letter, could I write a narrative of what Benalla has done for me?
Benalla became home to me when, as a seventeen year old school leaver, I started my first job.
Initially I spent five years boarding in George Street with Frank and Eileen Elliot. They were a kind and generous couple who gave me a home. In fact, in 1953 when I turned 21, they gave me a surprise 21st birthday party and invited all my friends.
I settled into work and became acquainted with many people, including in particular the girls working on the telephone exchange.
My first friend was Don Smith, another teenager, who worked on the railways. Don and I regularly went to the Saturday night dances, and occasionally went fishing.
At the Elliots’ home I befriended another boarder by the name of Bill Keenan. Bill, like me, was a clerk and we had a lot in common. Bill’s girlfriend, Margaret Hernan, had a brother Kevin with whom I also became friendly. Each week-end I would go out with both of them to the Hernan’s farm. Their mother, Mrs. Francy Hernan, was a special person and made me feel as though I was one of the family. My relationship with the Hernans has lasted a lifetime.
I was asked to propose the toast to all the Hernan siblings on their 21st birthdays. Until I married I used to act as Santa Claus at the Hernan Christmas lunch. I was a family member, and now, at 88 years of age, I still have a wonderful relationship with the surviving members of that family.
I transferred in my job for a period of eight years until I returned in 1963. Over that period I was still in regular contact with the Hernans.
On returning to Benalla I renewed acquaintance with my debutante partner’s sister, Bernadette, and married her in 1967.
I tired of my job with the stock agency company and transferred to a chartered Accountancy practice. For six years I studied by correspondence and qualified as a Chartered Accountant. I became a partner/principal in the firm until my retirement in the year 2000. My experience in this situation was very fulfilling.
Outside of my business activities I became a member of the River Gums Estate Syndicate and developed 150 building blocks on the corner of Samaria and Kilfeera Roads.
I joined the Benalla Bowls Club in 1963 and am now a “life member”.
I joined the Rotary Club in 1985 and am now a “honorary” member.
My wife and I employed a local builder to build our residence in 1967 and we still live there.
In the early 1970’s I was deeply involved with the erection of the Ballandella Centre and over the years have held executive positions in somewhat like 30 different non-business organisations. For this involvement I have been awarded an Order of Australia Medal, OAM, “for service to the community of Benalla”.
Bernadette and I have raised a family of four children in Benalla. They have all been educated at Ride Avenue Kindergarten; St. Joseph’s Primary School and FCJ College, then to Galen College in Wangaratta.
Since retirement I have been a regular member of U3A and Probus and have continued to enjoy my life in Benalla.
Benalla has been good to me, and I proudly say it is a place that is “special” to me.
And so, I have avoided the “Too Hard Basket” topic, but have I cheated?
28 February 2021