11 May 1968
John Jones never had an easy path in life. Possibly triggered by a motorbike accident, he developed schizophrenia in his late teens and unfortunately had to live the rest of his life with the instability this disease causes. He attempted suicide a number of times and unfortunately was finally successful in 2002 when he jumped from the high block of flats in which he lived (Northcott at South Sydney).
John was an extremely talented artist but if any of his drawings or paintings have survived it is not known where they are.
He also did some writing, even self publishing a book called "We Wear Many Masks" in 2001. Whether any copy of this is still around is not known but a few of his writings later in his life are reproduced here.
In his last six or seven years he was involved with an outreach organisation in Redfern in Sydney and they apparently helped him gain some focus and it is believed that these writings were produced while he was involved with this group. The Cafe Cana mentioned in the articles is where John and others would meet to discuss their problems. Whether the articles are complete or there were others is not known.
They are in no particular order as dating them has not been possible.
This is a true story about how John Jones thought up his first character called Dutch Courage.
He was at a dance at the Marrickville Town Hall in 1954 when the hotels closed at 6 pm.
John Jones used to buy two bottles of wine and take the wine to the dance with him and hide the wine in the bushes outside the dance hall.
John did not have enough courage to ask a girl to have a dance with him.
John Jones was only seventeen at the time and very shy.
He walked into the Dance Hall and saw this girl sitting all alone.
What he did then was to go back outside the Dance Hall, drink half a bottle of wine, go back inside the Dance, walk up to the girl and ask her for a dance.
The girl said "ok". While they were dancing John Jones said, "My name is Dutch Courage, What's yours?"
The girl said , "My name is Self Pity."
This is a true story by John Jones.
Dutch Courage walked into the Cafe Cana and ordered some bacon and eggs with tomato, white toast and a cup of coffee. Well the coffee was cold. The toast was brown bread.
When the bacon and eggs arrived Dutch Courage went to put some salt on his egg and bacon.
The top of the salt shaker fell off and the whole shaker of salt went all over his bacon and eggs.
Dutch Courage paid his bill walked out of Cafe Cana still feeling hungry.
What do I know about love?
All I know about love is that if you don't love yourself
You can't love anybody else
Then again if you hate somebody
The person you hate does not know you hate them.
Therefore the only person you harm is yourself ...
A change is as good as a holiday
But you have to have change in your pocket,
to go on a holiday.
This story has been well typed and probably was done by someone at Cafe Cana. It is titled "John's Third Story / (Plus Original Version)" which implies that there are two previous stories by John which are not in the collection. Which is the original version is not known but because the second one flows much better and is more expressive it is suspected that it is the revision.
JOHN'S THIRD STORY / (PLUS ORIGINAL VERSION)
This story is about young Johnny when he was five years old. His father bought him a red and yellow pedal car. One day Johnny's father took him down to the railway station where there was a taxi rank. It was raining very hard and the rain and dirt was turning into thick mud.
Young Johnny said to his father, "Look at those hub caps on the taxi cabs, they're all muddy."
His father said, "Yes my son, we better head home because we're all wet through."
When they arrived home, young Johnny went down to his backyard to his pedal car and started to make some mud to put on his hub caps. He said to his father, "What do you think of that?" His father went to his tool shed and about half an hour later came back with a number plate for the pedal car. It read TAXI.1.
One year later young Johnny was six years old. Coming home from school one afternoon, he saw blue and yellow flames and white and grey smoke billowing up to the sky. When he arrived home the house was well alight. The roof was caved in and the walls had just about had it. Lucky for Johnny his pedal car was not in the house but down the backyard.
Johnny hopped into his car and drove to the next suburb which was about three miles away. Well all hell broke loose. The police were looking for him and where do you think they found him? At his grandmother's place, of course (????)
Johnny was now seven years old, his father made him a shoeshine box. He was a shoeshine boy outside the army barracks. The best customers were America soldiers. It was not money Johnny was after, it was American chewing gum.
Young Johnny was now eight years old and the name of the game was marbles. Playing marbles at school, he used to make five shillings (50 cents) a day. He used to charge a halfpenny (about ½ a cent and pronounced "haypenny") for each marble he won. It was very good money in those days, for you see, milkshakes were were only fourpence each and and it only used to cost sixpence to get into the picture show.
A warning to all ten year olds : don't ever take up smoking if you want to be a sportsman.
Young Johnny was in a gang of ten year olds. They used to meet down behind the back shed and smoke cigarettes. The first time he did the drawback, he swallowed the smoke into his stomach and was he sick! Then he learnt to do the drawback the right way, by taking the smoke into his lungs.
He used to do a trick with a glass of water, by taking the smoke into his lungs, then swallowing a mouthful of water then blowing the smoke out of his lungs.
This short story is about young Johnny, whom is about three feet high and weighs about three stone.(Approx 19 kg). His father is about forty-two years old, he is about five foot seven and weights about eight stone.(Approx 51 kg). To help you understand his father better, in the past he was a sailor on the eighteen footers on Sydney Harbour. He played banjo and Johnny's mother played piano. His mother's age was about thirty-two. She was a big woman; she weighed about fourteen stone. (Approx 89 kg). When Johnny was about five years old, his parents enrolled him in a violin class. The year was 1939 when the war started.
Also at the age of eight, young Johnny was on a ferry with his uncle and aunty coming back from Luna Park when all hell broke loose. The year was 1942. The Japanese midget subs were inside Sydney Harbour. The subs might have been midgets but the torpedoes were full size. The subs were not after the ferries, they were after the naval vessels at Garden Island. In those days they did not have radar or sonar. Outside of the Harbour was the mother ship. Most of the midget subs were sunk. The mother ship went away.
(The three midget subs attacked Sydney Harbour at sunset on Sunday 31 May, 1942. It is believed that all three were sunk although only two were recovered. The third was found in 2006)
John in the pedal car he drove to his grandmother's house.
Margaret, the elder of his two sisters, is with him
Well I am one year older now, I'm five years old. Well, when I was five years old I knew a lot more than a four year old boy. When I was five years old, the best present I got was a pedal car. One day my father took me to the railway station. And at the station was a cab rank, waiting to take the people off the train and onto the ferry, on their way to Manly.
As it happened it was raining that day.
The rain and dirt turned to mud.
The mud was so thick it caked the hub caps on the cab.
So then we went back home.
I took my pedal car down to the backyard and made some mud. I told my father, I put some mud on the hub caps to look like the cabs at the station.
So my father made me a little number plate for my pedal car cab.
It was 1940 when I was six years old. One afternoon I came home from school and I could see smoke billowing up towards the sky. The smoke was coming from the direction of my home. When I got there, the house was ablaze with flames. It did not take long for the house to burn down. All that was left was a pile of ashes around the brick chimney.
The reaon why the house was burnt down was because my father who was a carpenter, who liked to muck around with electricity, crossed the wires somehow and there was an electrical fault. That is how the house was burned down. (This is an interesting observation even from a six year old's memory because it is known that John's father, Roy, always blamed John's mother, Kathleen, for starting the fire, claiming she left the iron on.)
Luckily for me, my pedal car was not inside the house, it was down the backyard. You must remember, I was only six years old. So I got inside my pedal car and pedalled all the way to my grandmother's place, one suburb away.
So I pedalled from Lakemba to Wiley Park. Luckily there was not many cars on the road in those days. Well, the shit hit the fan. The police were searching for me and where do you think they found me? At my grandmother's place of course.
The year was 1941. I was seven years old.
I was a shoeshine boy outside the army barracks in Addison Road, Marrickville. My father made me a shoeshine box out of wood. The best customers were American negroes, for you see, it was not money I was after, it was American bubblegum.
None of the shops had any bubblegum, for you see, bubblegum was like gold.
You must know I was only seven years old at the time.
I am eight years old now. At this time and place, Marbles is the name of the game. Playing marbles at school, I used to make five shillings a day. I used to charge a halfpenny for one marble each. What you have to remember is, this is the way back in 1942. Milkshakes were only fourpence each. And the picture show was only sixpence to get in. So five shillings was a lot of money in those days.
I was in a gang of ten year olds. We used to meet down at the back of the shed and smoke cigarettes. The first time I did the drawback, I thought you had to swallow the smoke into your stomach - and was I sick! Then I learnt to do the drawback the right way, by taking the smoke into my lungs. We used to do a trick with the smoke. We used to take a drink from a glass of water and take the smoke into our lungs. Then by drinking the water and then blowing out the smoke from our lungs .... (sic)
Also when I was eight years old, in 1942, I was coming back from Luna Park on the ferry with my Uncle Jim. (As far as is known, John didn't actually have an Uncle Jim but he did have an Uncle Tim - the renown country and western entertainer Tim McNamara.) This was the night the midget submarines from Japan were in the harbour. Being only eight years old, I did not know what to do, so I hid under the seat. Well we got back to Circular Quay in one piece.
The year is 1943 when I was nine years old. In those days on cracker night, there used to be bonfires all over Australia. We used to save our pocket money to buy crackers for bonfire night. When all the crackers were used and the bonfires died down a bit, we used to get some potatoes and cook them in the dying embers of the fire. (PS There was also skyrockets).
(Bonfire Night was officially known as Empire Day and celebrated the existence of the British Empire. It was observed on the 24th May each year and was often also referred to as Cracker Night)
Updated : 2 Aug 2015
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