Chapter 13
From Not Everyone Can Claim An Uncle Tom by Grace & Peter Ireland (2002)

Drawing of women with telephone

Occasionally Tom had a day out in town-usually around Christmas time. If he wasn't home by 3 o'clock to get his cows in for milking we knew he was having a REAL day out.

On these days, about 4.30-5.00 o'clock the phone would ring and this voice would sing, "Comin'Through The Rye. "

We'd know then that Tom was on his way home and to expect him in a very happy mood.

Mum would be furious. "Not again. And he's not fit to drive. He's a law unto himself".

He wouldn't have been fit to drive either but these were the days before breath testing.

One thing was certain though — he would never have been caught speeding.

Uncle Tom's last ute was a "froggie green" coloured Holden — rather conspicuous. He always drove it down the middle of the road at no more than 30 kph.

Peter and Richard were harvesting out on "Avonlea" one day and I heard the following conversation on the CB. "It looks as if Uncle Tom is headed off to town".

Uncle Tom having his ears inspected by  his sister

"Yes" came the reply. "I hope he's packed a cut lunch. He'll need it before he reaches town at that pace".

Tom took my mother to Toowoomba one day.

On the way home in the "froggie green" ute, a policeman stopped them and asked them to pull over to the side as they were holding up the traffic. A police car piloting a large house then overtook them!!!!!

The Ireland children were the only ones of the family who couldn't claim fame for owning Uncle Tom's green ute. Firstly David owned it, then Ben, and then Daniel.

I think Daniel was embarrassed turning up to work at the accountant's office complete with collar and tie in the green ute. He was pleased when he could afford a better and less conspicuous car.

One year when Peter was away harvesting I repainted our bathroom.

I asked Uncle Tom if I could borrow his ute to collect a new set of drawers from Dalby.

I set out in his ute from "Carlyle" early in the morning, thinking I'd be back by lunchtime. (This was after I'd taken out all the fencing equipment from the back).

No such luck!

Just before reaching the Jimbour Creek Bridge, the ute boiled. I had to walk back to Jimbour where a kind man gave me three bottles of water, and then drove me back to the ute. Each time I went over about 30 kph it boiled again.

I think the shock of being driven down the road at a respectable speed was just far too much for the poor old ute!! It wasn't long after this that Tom bought the "froggie green" one.

Uncle Tom rarely came to town without dropping in. He'd usually bring something — eggs, milk, cream, vegetables or jam. He'd stayed a minute or two and always asked for a drink of water.

He'd have about a quarter of a very small glass — just two mouthfuls. If I began to put more in the glass than the two mouthfuls he'd yell "THAT'LL DO. THAT'LL DO."

The cream he dropped in was always made into butter, which was made into Yo Yo biscuits that I always took to the monthly Brownie Street Stalls.

I know Pam Rennick always took home a plate of Yo Yo's each month.

Every time Tom went out he had to front up to my mother for an ear inspection. Tom's theory was that if he couldn't see the dirt no one else could. More often than not, Mum would need to get a wet face washer and wash in and behind his ears.

We were all entertained by the horrible noises that came forth. Mum was never gentle. "Ouch!Ouch! .......Mair." Sometimes he even swore!!!!!!!

The dirt was so caked on that it needed a lot of elbow grease to get it off.

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