Chapter 5
From Not Everyone Can Claim An Uncle Tom by Grace & Peter Ireland (2002)

Uncle Tom sewing

Quite often Mum would refuse to patch Tom's trousers any more, so he'd sit out on the steps mending the trousers and darning the socks himself. He had his very own sewing kit complete with a hooped shaped needle.

His old coat for winter was really a disgrace- it resembled a retread, on a retread.

Peter owned a sports coat that had been eaten by silverfish. We took it out to "Carlyle" one year and exchanged it for Tom's very old one, taking the old coat to the dump.

No mention was ever made of the swap.

As young girls, Ruth and I would tease Uncle Tom by asking him to tell us about his girl friends.

He always gave the same answer "Only had two girl friends- "Theresa Green and Betty Bosom."

John shared a bedroom with Uncle Tom.

The "teacher's" room was the one next door to this.

We boarded only the female teachers and when we had a male teacher at Bushgrove School, Ruth and I moved into the "teacher's" room — for what reasons I am not sure.

Frequently, and usually at night, Uncle Tom suffered badly from heartburn, and when he was in pain, we all knew it. He would moan and groan at the top of his voice.

I awoke one night to hear this dreadful moaning and groaning. It seemed worse than usual.

I went into Mum's room on the other side of the house and woke her to tell her that I thought Uncle Tom was dying. "Don't worry, " she said. "When he's dying he won't be making an awful noise like that!"

She immediately rolled over and went back to sleep. Also at times in the middle of the night we'd hear "Aw Gee. Dam and blast it! My b...... water."

Tom would then get out of bed and thump down the hall to the back door where he'd go outside and turn off the hose.

For such a small man he had a very heavy foot. He could never do anything quietly.

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