Jack Brown - Words of Wisdom
This week I caught up with the very knowledgeable, man of many talents- Jack Brown.
Where were you born? Byng Street in East Orange.
What are the most important lessons you've learned in life? Be honest for a start, I’ve always been truthful, even if it was going to get me into trouble.
What big world events were the most memorable while you were growing up? I was 20 years old when I joined the army and went to war. I could share many stories from the war.
My mate and I were driving down a slippery road and as the car slipped, one front wheel went over the embankment. He said, ‘get out and see how far I’ve gone over’, I got out to have a look and I saw it sitting over a Yankee bomb!! When I told him, he got up and he ran away, I said, “Come back here, don’t be a squib! We can’t go anywhere without the Jeep!’ he said, ‘It’s going to blow up’ and I said, ‘It’s not going to blow up it’s been here for quite some time.’ I eventually coaxed him back and we ended up lifting the Jeep up where it was over the bomb. I said ‘are ya right?’ And he said, ‘Ya mad Browny!’ I said, ‘don’t be frightened, if your frightened you’re going to be in a lot of trouble.’ I was never, ever frightened when I was in the army, they always told me I was mad.
Before I was in charge of maintenance of the ducks (a steel boat with four wheels on it, with a propeller out the back, driven with the propeller in the water), I knew of a fella drowning, the other three blokes on it who walked around for three weeks like their arms were sacks, they had no skin after being in the water for 30 hours and the only things they had to hold on to were biscuit tins. It chaffed all the front of their bodies.
I then took over the maintenance, if something went wrong, I had to rectify it no matter where it was. We used to take food up to the fellas on the front line and we dropped the food off and about half way back I said I can’t see the other duck, (it was a pretty rough day for us in the ocean, they weren’t made to be in the ocean they were made for rivers).
One duck was broken and he was stuck in giant waves, he was in real trouble. I made the bloke driving the duck I was on get as close as he could to it before I jumped onto the other one, he said, Ya mad Browny, you can’t do that! Well I did it, and we got to shore… he was the only bloke to pat me on the back for it too.
I was given many jobs, even electrical jobs, (I wasn’t an electrical man) I was given the job of fixing a Japanese alternator. The Sargent said to me, Browny give it away you’ll never get that going, I said you never say that, there’s always a chance, I’ve got enough knowledge to understand what I’ve got to do - I got it going.
Describe yourself in three words. I was the magic man, I was never ever sent to do a job that I couldn’t do, and that’s a lot to say. Whatever it was I could repair it and get it going, they used to say that I could fix anything with just a little bit of wire. *laughs*
What is your favourite childhood memory? Some of the jobs in the army I can remember more than anything.
What life advice would you pass along to your grandchildren? To be honest and whatever they do, learn it well and carry it through.
What was your first job? In a printing place, we used to print a free paper each week like what you can get now. [That’s us!] I had many jobs over the years, I just enjoyed work.
What are you most proud of? Being a good Father, the things I brought for my kids, I brought boats and took them water skiing, I’ve had swimming pools in the backyard for them, all sorts of things- motorcars! There was no end. *laughs*
What did you get up to when you were young? I used to love flying a kite, no matter what was going in Orange, we had a paddock alongside the house, and we started mini golf in there and then after that we had a ten-pin bowling alley there. *laughs* The people that used to walk past from the woollen mills used to stand there for hours watching us play.
Who is the person who influenced your life the most? Why? My wife Lorraine, she was lovely. When I came out of the army and there were shortages of men. The lady who used to organise the dances, would find partners for the ladies, and I got organised to go with Lorraine’s sister, I danced with her at the old Australia Theatre and at the end of the night, I thought to myself, the decent thing is to walk her home, Lorraine joined us, I got introduced to her, she was more my age and that was that.