Chapter 9
From Not Everyone Can Claim An Uncle Tom by Grace & Peter Ireland (2002)

Drawing of Uncle Tom and newspapers at the bus stop Christine as a baby

Newspapers were a cause of argument between Tom and my Mother.

Tom had an incredible general knowledge due to his reading anything he could lay his hands on. The newspapers were read from front to back, and he'd remember everything he'd read. Although he'd remember what he'd read, some of us will recollect that at times it would take him ten minutes to recall these facts.

At night he'd read in bed and the floor of his bedroom was strewn with newspapers, — some read, and others not. No one was allowed to touch his papers.

Every so often Mum would go into Tom's room and tidy up a little, and a heated argument usually followed.

One year Tom went on a bus trip to Western Australia. He was three weeks behind with his reading, so he bundled all his unread newspapers into a hessian sugar bag to take on the bus with him.

Tom spent the night before beginning his trip in Toowoomba with Aunty Ada Hawson, (who herself was a great character). She absolutely forbade him to take his sugar bag of papers with him on the bus.

We could imagine the floor of the bus at the end of each day looking just like the floor of his bedroom!!!!

When Christine was a baby, Uncle Tom said that he'd baby sit for us while Peter and I went to a ball. At this stage Mum was away working.

It was in the middle of winter and absolutely freezing. We showed Tom where to find extra blankets, and we had the wood heater all fired up. It was nice and warm inside.

When we got home from the ball Uncle Tom wouldn't answer the front doorbell, so Peter let himself in through the back door.

The heater was out of wood. Uncle Tom was sleeping soundly in a lounge chair, wrapped up like a cocoon in newspapers-(much warmer than a blanket according to him.)

His bed at "Carlyle" was always a subject of debate. Rather than put on extra blankets in the winter he preferred to put newspapers between the two rather thin blankets he had on his bed. As well, newspapers were put between the under sheet and mattress to keep him warm.

Newspapers didn't weigh half as much as blankets.

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