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Old Film:: The Boys (1940s)

My father had two younger brothers and a tribe of older sisters. The photograph on this page is scanned from a 6cm x 9cm film negative made by my grandmother Elvie Ruth Bonner (1901-1986). From left to right is my Uncle Bill, my father and Uncle Nig. My father and Nig died only a short time apart in 2000. Both succumbed to emphysema from smoking cigarettes. My father had also worked a lifetime in heavy industry at Comalco, Bell Bay.

Bruce, Nig & Billy, 1940s

At this small size for the computer screen the photograph lacks a bit of punch because the snow bleeds most of the picture to white. But when it’s enlarged the Clark boys really do take over the frame with three very individual expressions and stances. The defiant Bill in shorts; the cocky Bruce; and the subdued Nig. It makes me wonder what circumstances directly preceded the photograph and whether they were pushed in front of the camera by their mother using gentle coercion on one and promised force on another. As mothers tend to do.

In some ways I’ve had a difficult relationship my whole life with these three men. In different contexts and at least in my own vision of the World. But then I’ve had that same difficult relationship with my older brother who told me a month after my parole from prison in 1998 – “Don’t come around for Christmas because we only want it to be family.” Mighty big hearted of him, too. So that first Christmas I spent my Christmas alone in a two bedroom unit five minutes walk away from their house.

But such is life and it probably absolved me of the effort to bother after that point.

As for this picture of my father and his brothers… for me it’s like looking into an unfathomable mystery. This photograph is a doorway through space and time to the West Coast of Tasmania in the late 1940s when their life was particularly hard. My father never liked to talk about his childhood. There are only these pictures.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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