VALE: Brian “Jacko” Jackson, Australian board-building pioneer, died at 85

FRANK MORRIS

BRIAN “JACKO” JACKSON, ONE OF THE “MOST ICONIC” BOARDBUILDERS AND PIONEERS OF SURFING, HAS DIED. HE WAS 85. HIS SUDDEN DEMISE HAS SHAKEN THE INDUSTRY.

BRIAN WAS RENOWNED AS AN “ABSOLUTE GENTLEMAN”. HE LIVED AT SOUTH CRONULLA AND CRESCENT HEAD  AND “FITTINGLY, HIS FINAL RESTING PLACE WAS UNDER A FRAGIPANI TREE AT THE PLACE HE LOVED”, SAID JOHN VEAGE, OF THE LEADER NEWSPAPER.

HE BUILT HIS FIRST SURFBOARD IN THE LATE 1950s AND HE AND HIS BRAND-NAME, SYNONYMOUS WITH PERFORMANCE AND QUALITY, HAVE NEVER LOOKED BACK. JACKSON WENT ON TO BECOME ONE THE MOST ICONIC BRANDNAMES IN CUSTOM BOARDS FOR OVER 50 YEARS.

HE WENT INTO TO PARTNERSHIP WITH RON CANSDELL IN 1962. THE COMBINATION ENDED IN 1964. IN 1974, HE SOLD THE BUSINESS TO JIM PARKINSON AND DAVE MATTISON WHO WORKED WITH JACKSON.
THE JACKSON BRAND BECAME KNOWN ALL OVER AUSTRALIA.

A SPOKEPERSON FOR THE JACKSON FAMILY SAID, “HE HAS ALWAYS BEEN SUCH A MASSIVE PART OF OUR LIVES AND WILL LEAVE A WHOLE A HUGE HOLE IN OUR HEARTS”.

VALE REST IN PEACE, BRIAN JACKSON.

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Film Greats: The Kid Stakes, 1926 – Old Sydney lives again as Fatty Finn brings back hilarious moments of the goat-cart race!  

ROBIN ORDELL AS FATTY FINN.

FATTY FINN GETS A DRESSING-DOWN FROM ‘BRUISER’ MURPHY.

FATTY FINN BEING BACK IN SYDNEY IN THIS ‘EPIC’ OF THE 1920s WITH ITS RAGGED URCHINS, THE BRAWLING, FREE-FISTED WATERFRONT LARRIKINS AND THE FAMOUS DERBY!

ERIC READE     ADAPTED BY FRANK MORRIS

INIMITABLE FATTY FINN, AUSTRALIA’S FAVOURITE SON, HAS BROUGHT THAT ZANY, TUG-O-WAR BILLY GOAT DERBY, TO NEAR PERFECTION – THE KID STAKES. THE CARTOON STRIP OF FATTY FINN WAS CREATED BY SYD NICHOLLS IN 1923.

RIGHT IN THE THICK OF COMEDY, THE RIVALRY BETWEEN TWO GANGS OF KIDS: FATTY AND BRUISER MURPHY. BRUISER WAS ‘KING’ OF ALL THE BIG KIDS. BUT FATTY, CHIEF KID-STAKER AND WILY TO BOOT, REALISES HE HAS TO TRUIMPH OVER THEM BY STRATEGY.

THE CLIMAX OF THE FILM IS THE PICTURERQUE RUNNING OF THE HILARIOUS BILLY GOAT DERBY. HOWEVER, JUST PRIOR TO THE BIG EVENT, SOMEONE HAD SET FATTY’S GOAT HECTOR FREE.

THE BILLY GOAT HECTOR WAS FOUND, HE WAS FLOWN TO THE RACE THAT BRUISER HAD TRIED TO RIG.

OVER THE POND IN CENTENNIAL PARK, THE PLANE DOES A LOOP AND POOR HECTOR FALLS INTO THE WATER. MADE IN THE WOOLLOOMLOO-POTTS POINT AREA -- AROUND THE McELHONE STAIRS, JUDGE ST, COWPER WHARF ROADWAY AND THE OLD FIRST MARKET – WITH SCENES PHOTOGRAPHED IN MOORE PARK AND MASCOT AIRFIELD.

NATURALLY, SOME OF THE HEAVYWEIGHTS WORKED ON THE FILM. FROM FATTY FINN TO THE CAMERMAN, EVERY PERSON PULLED THEIR WEIGHT.

HOWEVER, THE BILLY GOAT DERBY WAS SHOT IN ROCKHAMPTON, QUEENSLAND, WHEN 60 GOATS PLUS AN AUDIENCE OF 6000 ODD PEOPLE TURNED UP. THE CROWD LET OUT A VICTORY ROAR. GOOD OLD HECTOR HAD WON THE DERBY. THE RACING OF THE GOATS MAKES THIS A LAUGHABLE AFFAIR.

TAL ORDELL, WHO APPEARED AS THE RADIO ANNOUNCER IN THE FILM, WAS THERE TO DESCRIBE THE GOAT CART RACE AND DOES IT WITH GLEE.

MAIN CAST

FATTY FINN (ROBIN ORDELL, SON OF TAL ORDELL), JIMMY KELLY AS “BRUISER” (RAY SALMON) AND SWEETHEART MADELINE TWIRT (EILEEN ALEXANDER). DIRECTED BY COYLE; TAL ORDELL, SCRIPT AND PRODUCER; CAMERMAN, ARTHUR HIGGINS.

THE OLD FILM HAD BEEN LOST FOR MANY YEARS UNTIL A SYDNEY NEWSREEL THEATRE OPERATOR DISCOVERED IT AND CUT THE ORIGINAL DOWN TO A 20-MINUTE VERSION. A SYDNEY UNIVERSITY TEAM OBTAINED THE FILM AND ALL THE LEFT-OVER PIECES WERE USED TO RECONSTRUCT THE ORIGINAL FILM.

FILM GREATS: Comment …

PUBLISHED IN THE SUNDAY NEWS IN 1923 UNDER THE TITLE ‘FAT AND HIS FRIENDS”, ON AUGUST 10, 1924, THE STRIP TITLE WAS CHANGED TO ‘FATTY FINN AND HIS GANG’. SYD NICHOLLS SET UP THE FATTY FINN WEEKLY. IT SOLD FOR A PENNY AND WAS CALLED THE FIRST ‘LOCAL’ AUSTRALIAN COMIC. IN 1951, FATTY REAPPEARED IN THE SUN-HERALD AFTER AN 18 YEAR LAPSE. IT STAYED WITH THE NEWSPAPER UNTIL 1977, THE YEAR WHEN NICHOLLS DIED. ‘FATTY FINN’, WAS REMADE AND APPEARED IN 1984. ITS CAST WAS TOPLINE. BEN OXENBOULD, IN HIS FIRST FILM, PLAYED FATTY FINN. IN AN INTERVIEW IS 1980, THE ARTIST MONTY WEDD TOLD ME THAT NICHOLLS “WAS A DINKY DI AUSTRALIAN.

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Clipper Ship: Sir Lancelot has a ‘yacht-feel’ that’s pleasing to the eye

Sir Lancelot’s regular routes were to China and the India-Mauritius trading market. She was launched in 1865.

She held in the record in China tea trade for 89 days from Hong Kong.

She was built from wooden planking on iron frames. She was planked with elm below the bilge and teak above that. She carried 100 tons of permanent iron ballast. There is some discussion as to whether Sir Lancelot was an exact sister ship of Ariel.

This is felt unlikely, as the two ships were built for different owners, and Sir Lancelot did not display the tenderness aft that Ariel displayed. But the two ships were remarkable similar.

Sir Lancelot was typical of all of Robert Steele's ships: These ships celebrated for their beauty of shapes, perfection of build, and superb finish.

They were often said to have a "yacht-like" feel; they had lines that please the eye; and plenty of teak and mahogany used for woodwork both on deck and below.

In the poem By the Old Pagoda Anchorage, she is referred to as "Sir Lancelot of a hundred famous fights with wind and wave".

She foundered off the mouth of the Hooghly River in 1895.

COMING: THE 100TH ANNIVERARY OF THE ARCHIBALD PRIZE.

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RUTH’S REMINISCENCES: FINAL. AUSTRALIA WAS TOLD “IT’S WAR”

IT’S WAR: THE ARGUS, MELBOURNE, IS ONE OF THE NEWSPAPERS TO PROCLAIM THE SAD NEWS. ON SEPTEMBER 3, 1939. AT THE SAME TIME, THE PRIME MINISTER SAID THAT AUSTRALIA WOULD ALSO BE AT WAR.

JACK WAS A COMMUNIST ORGANISER, BUT HE WASN’T A COMMUNIST!

FRANK MORRIS

“It was a time of growing action”, Ruth said. “We had to make people aware of the increasing danger of fascism.” Meetings were held in “alternating townships” along the south coast of NSW, from Wollongong to Scarborough.

Ruth continues:

At all times vigilance was needed against brutal attacks on speakers and audience. The World Peace Movement was also organising activities concerned with the attacks of the fascists on the elected government of Spain.

The Spanish Relief Committee was set up. Later, in Lidcombe, a public meeting was held to raise funds for Australian nurses going to Spain.

Ruth and Jack returned to Sydney, living for a short time in Paddington. They became a familiar couple in the Domain where they “met many fine comrades at meeting, rallies, and various other Peace activities.

Jack was lucky to score a temporary job at CSR. They rented a house at Lidcombe and Ruth managed to get domestic work in a confectionery and tea shop.

She earned 15 shillings a week and by the time they paid their rent they had 2 shillings for gas and electricity.

Ruth continues:

We managed, though times were hard. Then the authorities claimed that Jack was defrauding the government by taking the dole. They alleged he was earning 30 shillings a week as a communist organiser on the South Coast. He was not even a member of the Communist Party!

He was later accused of wrongly filling in the “32 Questionnaire” because he had not stated that I was earning 30 shillings a fortnight. This questionnaire was issued to the unemployed, who had to answer all 32 questions.

And they were allowed to earn 40 shillings a fortnight (if they could!) over the dole, but Jack had not stipulated his earnings. However, because I was earning, he was put on a single man’s rate and so was only entitled to one day a fortnight working for the dole.

TWO DAYS LATER, WE PULLED ‘STRINGS’ THAT WOULD GET JACK A JOB. JACK WAS KNOWN FOR HIS ABILITY AS A UNION OFFICAL.

We found it hard to pay the rent and exist. For a time, we were able to pay only half the rent. Then towards Christmas, in 1933, the Federal Government appealed to employers to take back their former employees for a few weeks.

Jack worked for six weeks.

While we were able to pay all the back rent, it soon mounted up again, we were one of the (hundreds of) families threatened with eviction. The following year there were many court cases and evictions. We were granted the maximum time to pay up. But it was impossible. It wasn’t long before we and our possessions – what little we had – were put on the street.

One sympathiser gave Jack a room and I went and stayed with another friend. Two days later “strings” were pulled to get us a home and a job for Jack. Jack was known for his ability as a union official.

The house was substandard but Jack had a job. I eventually found an empty house, which we rented from 1934 to 1951. Jack’s “job for life” as it was called, lasted eight weeks. There were frequent spells of unemployment, broken by intervals of work.

During this period, we joined the Labor Party.

Ruth and Jack continued to fight for a better deal for the unemployed. Relief work under Council supervision – road building and labouring work on swimming pools and sports ovals – was provided.

AUSTRALIA WAS DRAWN INEXORABLY INTO A MAELSTROM OF CURRENT AFFAIRS. AND AT 3 PM, THE PRIME MINISTER GAVE A BROADCAST THAT WOULD ROCK THE NATION.

Depending on the size of the families, men could be lucky and get three weeks employment in five. According to Ruth, some of the “most militant” men were omitted from the roster.

In their book, Australia 1939, Johnson and Nation write: “Much of the confidence and optimism engendered during the ‘roaring twenties’ had disappeared by the mid-thirties, mainly due to the shock of the Depression.

“On an individual level the immense personal hardships resulting from long-term unemployment left a legacy of bitterness and resentment in the minds of many men and women.”

Australia was drawn inexorably into the maelstrom of “the swift moving current of world affairs.” At 3.15pm on September 3, 1939, the Prime Minister Robert Menzies broadcast to the nation that Australia was at war.

Ruth concludes:

“There was only intermittent work until the beginning of the 1939-1945 war. Isn’t it odd that there’s plenty of work when the war is imminent. And yet, the general attitude (at the time) seemed to be “why worry.”

<< Ruth’s Reminiscences. Australian Book Collector, October 2000.

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Razzle Dazzle Olympics: Baton dropped – this cost Australia a Gold Medal!

SPRINTER WINSOME CRIPPS, LEFT, DROPS THE BATON IN THE 400 YARDS RELAY.

FRANK MORRIS

Many athletes have embraced the ideal of the Olympics founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin, and that was, “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.”

At the fateful moment in the women’s 4 x l00 yards relay final at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, Marjorie Jackson dropped the baton after taking it from Winsome Cripps, robbing Australia of a certain gold medal.

According to a reporter, “Unhappily, Winsome Cripps’ name will always be remembered for an awful mistake.”

That was part of winning, and part of struggling; one had to pay the price.

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Oooops!

MORE GINGER MEGGS COMING UP.

THE NEXT GRAND YEARS WILL APPEAR ON AUGUST 13.

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 29 July 21

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