“You look like a man I knew,”…

…was how it all started.

An old man; walking through the High Street Mall in Fremantle, spots my uncle and his family having a meal in the café, between the book stores there.

He froze in his tracks he said; completely startled by the resemblance, and three passes on – up and down the mall – he builds up the courage to approach my uncle, and kick-off a conversation.

“I used to work in Broome” this fella continued, “at the Aerodrome there – long time ago now. This bloke’s name was (and I can’t tell you the name as my grandfather is long gone now – cultural thing), and you look exactly like him.”

My uncle smiled.

“That man was my father”, he replied.

My aunty reckoned that old man’s face just exploded in a smile. He was so genuinely happy to hear such a thing he just had to fill the moment gained, with the tellings of a time past. You all know the feeling; between a couple of complete stranger’s there’s an instant connection that blinkers out all of those surrounding you, and suddenly it’s only you and that person, in one very, very small room. The pressure comes on almost immediately. It’s like a rush of high pressure water through a four inch fire hose. Nothing you can do will stop the words gushing out of your mouth. You simply have to fill that void – the one triggered by such a coincidental meeting, the one that feel like it’s been vacant and waiting, all this time. The man couldn’t help himself – he simply fell into reminiscing.

“Broome” he said, “was an amazing place in the 1950’s”.

He spoke very highly of my grandfather, it would seem he had been close to him at the time and he spoke for a few minutes of the good times they’d had.

“But” he said, “I had always regretted one thing”.

In 1957 a Cyclone hit the town and did a lot of damage. It killed quite a few people. Two of whom he remembered especially well. They got themselves caught when a double story house collapsed close by him.

“A man and a woman” he told them. By the time he got through the rubble and wreckage, they had died.

“They died trying to protect each other” he recalled. The man was on top of the woman, and when he got in there amongst them, he found under the woman a little boy, and a baby girl – still alive. He got them out of there, and got them to safety, but he always regretted that he couldn’t save the couple who died.

He paused here, lost in the moment – and I wish I’d of been there because I would have been lost too – my aunty listened spell bound, and my uncle couldn’t take his eyes away from the man who had just joined them. That table could have been in the middle of a stool-wielding bar fight, and I doubt anyone could have moved, such was the intensity of the yarn being shared.

“I always wondered what happened to that baby girl – you know?”

He sighed.  “I hope she’s done alright”.

My uncle looked about the table, sort of passing the moment amongst his family some, and made a decision. My uncle then reached up to the man – touched his arm – and pointed with his chin and lips in that typical blackfella way in this country, looked over at his wife – my aunty – and said:

“You can ask her yourself. She’s right there.”

In 1957 my aunty and her brother, trapped under the bodies of their parents who had shielded them as the house collapsed, had been pulled out of the wreckage of their house by a man whom they never knew, and were unable to identify.

That man, took one look at my aunty, and started to cry.

This fateful meeting took place a couple of months ago now. My mother told me it this afternoon, as I swung off a shovel to shift dirt for a concrete pad, for my parent’s new veranda. I had to stop. The yarn climbed up and into my head, rattling it in a way I can’t even begin to describe to you. Even now – later in the evening as I type this – my eye’s struggle to stay dry. This yarn echoes around in my brain-box, bouncing poignantly about in there, scoring emotional hits I wasn’t even remotely ready for.

I know the story well. It’s often told in my family. I used to sneak looks at my aunty and uncle when I was younger, wondering why they were so special. When I came to realise the luck and sheer sadness in the moment they owed their lives to, it had always struck me as one of those special moments of awareness, of those who make up my family.

This now – thanks to that man – is another of them. A significant ‘yarn’ in our family, has turned and become complete. That man didn’t stick around for much longer. After a short time, he regained his composure. My aunty felt odd thanking him after all this time, she didn’t know what to say, but thanked him anyways. My uncle thanked him too, and the family said it’s goodbye’s to this stranger. He simply smiled again, thanked them for the specialness of the moment gained – and continued on his way.

I like to think that the great pause button in the sky – which had stopped all life bustling around them in that moment – was probably depressed once more – and I bet then’ the world simply just shuddered on; as it does best, and – well, I sure wish I’d been there!

Belongum – Out!


About Belongum

People bring 'things' to me. Not necessarily PHYSICAL things as such - mostly just the loose bits and pieces floating around in their 'brain-box'. Sometimes, they also bring themselves - and THAT isn't anywhere near as simple as it sounds. I come here to pass some of this 'brain-box business' on to the ether world, and to empty my head. Besides folks - I love a good yarn - so come and join me!
This entry was posted in 1957, aunty, Broome, coincidence, cyclone, fate, Fremantle, good samaritan, High Street Mall, Lucky, saving a life, tale, true story, uncle, whole, yarn. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to “You look like a man I knew,”…

  1. Ian says:

    Thanks, Belongum; what a riveting sequence of events… life truly has balance to it that’s hard to fathom.
    Best wishes,


  2. Simone says:

    Wow, goosebumps and moist eyes here!

    Last year I was just excited to meet someone who had been to Bidyadanga, can’t imagine what I’ll be like when I find someone who lived there when I did (or Nullagine). But your/your family’s story: wow, wow, wow!


  3. Paradise Driver says:

    Mahalo! I really appreciate your sharing of this unique encounter. Wonderful story!

    I have given it a link in today’s post.



  4. CW says:

    Lovely story, Belongum, thanks for sharing it! I think it’s wonderful that your aunt got to meet the man who rescued her, and that the guy got to see your aunt 🙂


  5. jl says:

    What a wonderful story, Belongum. It made me feel all warm and melty inside. Thank you.


  6. Aesthetic says:

    Ooh they both must have been doing some good stuff to get repaid with a moment like that. Amazing.


  7. The Daily Magnet says:

    Well Broome would have been a pretty small place in ’57 I reckon, but Perth is no small place now – chance?
    Not a chance.
    what a reminder, huh?


  8. nailpolishblues says:

    What a beautiful story. Very small world sometimes, isn’t it?


  9. Belongum says:

    Cheers Ian – it’s freaky this life business at times eh?!

    Simone – you’ve been to some interesting bits of the country mate, what did you do there???

    Yeah Wil – it’s was a spin out of a yarn… thanks for the link mate!

    Hey CW – I must stop for awhile over your way, and say Gudday! It’s been a busy time for me – some incredibly lucky people around eh?!

    JL – definitely need to stop by your way too – most remiss of me – Ta mate!!!!

    Yeah C – if you knew some of the rest of this particular families bit’s and pieces – you’d have to say that a bit of Good was definitely coming their way… good luck to that old fella too eh!

    DM – Broome would have been a REAL place then, not this touristical (new word!) farce it is now… it doesn’t even rate as a place to visit in my book anymore, it just doesn’r smack of the people and place it once used too… sod change some times – it leaches the good out of such places!

    Hey NPB – I thought you’d gone and shot through mate… nice to see you 😉 I’ll drop by sometime and say Gudday!sdalhri


  10. nailpolishblues says:

    Nah, I’m still kicking. Nice to see you are too 🙂


  11. George Mac says:

    Geez Ron, can I post this one at Skribblerz? Once in a lifetime moment, for sure.


  12. Belongum says:

    Go for it George – no worries mate!

    Hope alls well in the world of George eh?! 😉

    I’ll yarn more later over at Skribbz mate!



  13. Iris Flavia says:

    What an incredible story that is! I only don´t understand the man just walked on.


  14. George Mac says:

    Thanks Ron, this one will change a few lives . . . .

    Keep writing mate!


  15. Kim says:

    That is amazing!


  16. mummabare says:

    oooh u are good at spinnin a yarn 😉
    Your uncle and aunt are very special indeed. My dads family went through cyclone tracy in darwin…so devastating, but I cant imagine what it would be like to loose your mum and dad.

    My nan grew up around broome and roebourne…I wonder if your familes know each other! I havnt been to broome yet but Im itching to go…course that will have to be after fitzroy, and after another trip to uluru…hmm and then theres nsw…..geez I better start saving up lol!

    much love to you and your mob


  17. Pingback: Semantically driven: blogging about blogging, parenting and living in Australia. » Carnival of Australia 7 May 2008

  18. mylittledrummerboys says:

    what an amazing story I had tears in my eyes too … that is one special story.
    My father’s cousin was caught in Cyclone Tracy … just as he closed a door to bathroom half the house blew away or something to that effect.

    Nature and Fate… beyond us mere mortals as far as any real understanding goes eh mldb – both catch us up so easily and we can’t explain any of it! Cyclone Tracy – couldn’t begin to imagine that at all – but I know a few military types who were caught up in the clean-up and that sticks in their memories all too well!

    Cheers for dropping by – I hope I can return the favour… 😉


  19. imaginifitwasfree says:

    That is a wonderful story. Thanks so much for sharing that with us. The hairs on my arms stood up. Was great to find it in the Carnival of Australia and I hope you join us next fortnight too. I’ll be looking out for your post.

    Oops – my apologies Megan… I just realised I missed your comment! Thnkns very much for dropping by and having a say – Ta muchly for the compliment! I hope you drop by again… cheers 😉


  20. Shivers up & down my spine. Riveting storytelling Ron.


    • belongum says:

      Hey Tania… thanks for dropping in mate! Yep – it’s one of those stories that have you wondering about the bigger picture and our place in it eh! Great stuff – and both my aunty and uncle really deserve such things – given who they are! Hope all’s going well mate… cheers 😉


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