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Fathers of HillView: Ellis the Inventor
29 August 2019
To celebrate Father’s Day this year, we invited families to write stories about growing up with their dads. This is Tracy’s story about her dad Ellis.
How can I possibly sum up in a few sentences just how lucky I am to have gone about this funny old journey called life with the man I am fortunate enough to call Dad? I guess to best describe why this man shines such a beacon of light, hope and love in my adult years is the incredible hands on, present, and secure foundations he laid for his two daughters Tracy and Tina in childhood. He ever so carefully gave us the initiative, resilience and life skills to believe in the people we are; a strength not really respected in the early years, but what a powerful gift to give in our mature years.
Dad has always been smart, a thinking man, a man who brings out a smile to pretty much all that have anything to do with him. He sees great potential in all things. A man that could make, fix and design anything, and as a kid, that alone was pure magic. This man made my first stuffed bunny talk (this is going back over half a century, so be impressed), I’m not talking ventriloquist, I’m talking engineering, electronics and microphone! It did rattle me a little initially apparently when a previously docile creature started demanding things but wow, just an indicator of how way ahead of his time he was.
Growing up on a property in a little Valley called Jilliby on the NSW Central Coast, we were fortunate enough to be raised with an unlimited amount of space and freedom, Dad knew just when to let kids be kids and problem solve for themselves, but also when to jump in when needed. I remember our flying fox; Dad saw my sister and I trying to tie a chair up to a rope (may have been our bush clothes line from memory, no prize for guessing this was not really successful) – until Dad came along with a little help and design skills. We then had the longest zippiest steel cable model known in the valley. It went from gum tree to gum tree and required much concentration and ability to vacate the ride before the tree at the bottom cleaned you up (and it did, often, only adding to spectator appeal). We were the valley kids weekend house of choice with that feature, as well as our tractor if it was out. Always a joy ride or 2 there, and possibly not as work place health and safety approved as it should have been, but where was the fun if there was no risk involved?
Then there was the day we decided we liked the idea of a tandem bike – “voila”, next minute there are sparks a flying as a welder gets to work joining a couple of old dragsters. Dad did good, the bike was fun and saw many kids (and adults) using a hill as a launch pad into a duo of adventure, all be it with whining from the front seat on occasions for the back seat driver slacking off.
Dad managed to get us television stations to watch in a rural valley that had no reception; he danced around the roof with a 20 ft antenna performing many interpretive dance manoeuvres, with us all standing in front of the TV yelling out to him “YES, NO, A LITTLE BIT THE OTHER WAY, NO, GO BACK… AHHH ALMOST, CAN YOU GO HIGHER?” The frustration must have been ridiculous, but they were the levels of going the extra mile he was willing to go to all in the name of love (and Bewitched and Skippy).
There was no end of broken toys, dolls , equipment, electrical devices and body parts, or animals that dad could not fix and I’m sure he was the first to use superglue to seal up any clean wound that needed stitches, because that’s what he used when he accidentally sliced his own wrist on a pane of broken glass! No time for fussing, just apply pressure and superglue. Once we found an injured kookaburra with his beak all cracked and dysfunctional. No dramas, nothing a little re-modelling with a fibre glass type approach can’t fix. That bird went on to not only be fine but become a regular visitor to dine on mince. Dad was an animal wrangler as well, he bravely took on a rogue rooster that used to bail us up at the door and hang him upside down on the clothes line until the cranky thing calmed down. Hero status right there. He had a kangaroo called Sooky that adored him, like I mean LOVED him, and didn’t mind sharing the odd pear or stick of liquorice with him (he has since renamed liquorice ROOCRICE). Gosh that man was a soft touch for a menagerie; dogs, magpies, chooks, rabbits , guinea pigs, angora goats, horses, ducks, geese, bantams, axolotls… you name it we had it.
So many stories, such a blessed childhood. Obviously Dad’s role changed and morphed as my sister and I pushed the boundaries of adolescence and then took our positions as responsible adults, and our needs changed, but the one constant was the support and love given at every stage of life. This man was, and still is, always there, listening , advising, caring , worrying and loving not just us but his 4 grand children and 3 great grandchildren as well. This man is fatherhood at its best.
Do you have a story about your family you would like to share? Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org