Jack’s Story a wonderful book launch

A crowd of 80 gathered at Balmain Town Hall Meeting Room for the launch of Jacks’ Story

The outcome of a Local History Grant from the former Leichhardt Council.

A well received publication on Jack’s story growing up in Balmain. With the assistance

of Rural Writer, Journalist and Author Asa Walquist, Jack has become a local star over night.

The book has been the top seller at Brays book four weeks in a row.

You can buy the book from Balmain Library or Brays Books rrp $15.00

Over the past four weeks, the book that’s been Bray’s Bookshop’s best seller has been a home-grown autobiographical memoir authored and privately published in paperback by a local octogenarian, John ‘Jack’ Thomson, whose entire life’s been spent in and around Birchgrove.

The book’s titled ‘Jack’s Story: Growing Up in Balmain’ and it’s on sale for $15:00 from Bray’s, with surplus proceeds from the sale going to the Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

Of Scots descent through both parents, Jack’s initial connections were with Campbell Street Presbyterian Church.

He married a local girl at St John’s in Arthur Rix’s last years as rector.

Having had some help with editing and design, Jack’s book is a fluid and engaging read.

Its narrative reminded me of Dickens’s novel, ‘Hard Times’, though the prose is in contemporary language – and Jack’s story is actual and unfolds in the antipodes.

While the hardship that Jack experienced in childhood would seem implausible to the minds of today’s younger generation, it was all too common during the Balmain peninsula’s harsh interwar years, when the local population exploded to some 31,000 plus people, of whom most were squashed into overcrowded tenement housing.

(As head-lice abounded when bathrooms were primitive, meningitis killed innumerable children – as did tetanus, diphtheria, and tuberculosis.)

Jack’s father was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when Jack was aged four.

He was committed to Callan Park Hospital for the Insane, where he stayed for the rest of his life and, according to Jack, very well looked after.

Jack’s working mother (on two thirds of a male wage) contracted tuberculosis and died when Jack turned nine.

Jack – effectively an orphan – was reared by a neighbouring family who’d taken him in (and that kind of neighbourly action was by no means isolated at that time).

His life progressively improved and he wrote his autobiography primarily for his grandchildren’s benefit but it’s been absolutely extraordinary the extent to which his book has captured the attention of a wide and diverse audience of readers.

One of the misspellings that has persisted into a reprint is that of Wally Pinerua, who operated a Darling Street pharmacy – at least until the late 1950s.

What made this pharmacy unusual was the huge red neon illuminated sign over the footpath awning.

Pinerua’s predecessor had bought Bayer’s patent for a prescription drug, heroin hydrochloride, which was highly effective in managing intractable pain in terminal cancer patients and patients who’d suffered severe trauma through injury or surgery.

As the addictive properties of the drug were well known at the time, dispensaries kept it under lock-and-key.

As the R & R boys on leave from the war in Vietnam used the drug recreationally, heroin thus became a prohibited narcotic.

Another misspelling is the name of the nearby general store, Gourlies.

John Williams.

History Week at the Balmain Watch House

 

History Week at the Watch House

Neighbours Exhibition

Evans Street Free School Mothers Club 1938

Join us for the opening this Saturday at 2:00pm

Saturday 3 September 2016  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neighbours Exhibition

Come and read the stories of individuals, families and communities living near one another and their connections to the churches, local sporting groups,schools and most importantly parks.

Add your story or special memory of an event to the number already there whether you have lived in Balmain, worked in Balmain, played sport in Balmain, swam in Dawn Fraser Pool or simply visited Balmain.

Join us for the opening this Saturday at 2:00pm with wine and nibbles

The exhibition will continue on Saturdays 10,17 and 24 September 11:00am to 4:00pm and Tuesdays 6,13 and 20 September 11:00am to 1:00pm

Meet the author of Jack’s Story

John Thomson, known to his many friends as Jack, has spent all his life in Balmain. Born in 1927 Jack remembers the days of the Depression, when kind greengrocers put aside “specs”, fruit which had spots on it that they gave to hungry children.As well Jack’s childhood had it trials.

 

Jack will be attending the Watch House at the Exhibition Opening and will sign any sale of Jack’s Story from 2:00pm Saturday 3 September.

 

History Week Jack’s Story – Don’t miss out on the book launch

Book Here

History Week 2016 – Neighbours

Download Brochure

Join Us for History Week 2016, come and explore the historic collections of our neighbors in a colorful Exhibition. Explore the History of Annandale at the Tetch Gallery, or take a walk down memory lane on one of the walking tours.