I have always regreted that my kids never got to meet my brave Grandpa Gunn, he died when I was only 17. He impacted me greatly as a child I remember his strength and Aussie Mateship mentality, respected his wisdom and loved his character…….he was an Aussie true and true, an ex-Serviceman and a real mate.
One thing that ALWAYS stuck in my memory was his incredible shed, I used to stare in wonder as a child at his stash of unused wood, shelves piled with haphazard stacks of wood, in different hues, shapes and colours. The various benches were cluttered with curious woodworking and carving tools that longed to be touched and used (but I never would dare). There were shavings and sawdust everywhere, but the shed always looked neat and tidy, like an old and familiar shoe. I used to love looking at the projects he was working on, watching Grandpa working in his old clothes was fun and interesting……I remember the smell, sawdust and pipe tobacco……how I love that smell! It casts me back 30 years sitting and watching my dear Grandpa work and whistle, he always used to work and whistle!!!
As a Homeschooler now I value the input close family has over me and my children, one of my favourite memories was traveling to the Flinders with my dad Malcolm, allowing him to put on his geography teacher hat once again and explain how the majestic Flinders Ranges were eroded and carved through time……
I had a ball (probably more than the kids and James) but seeing how erosion and overgrazing has carved canyons in our precious land touched me, seeing ruins of extensive sheep and cattle stations now empty stirs my soul, allowing my dad to teach my six kids LIVING GEOGRAPHY was a bonus. We saw how the land was folded, eroded and exposed, how the mighty peaks rose and the valleys formed…to me and the kids it was fascinating. To me it was a privilege to be taught by my dad.
In the same way I regreted that Grandpa had gone before my children saw the skill and ingenuity of Grandpa as a carpenter and carver; my parent’s house is littered with testimony of his skill, cupboards, built in wardrobes, mirrors carved and stained, tapestries and screens framed with frames he had hand carved and built. My children all spent their first 4 months in a magnificent cradle that he made for me originally 40 years prior to their birth. This man was worthy to be remembered.
During the first Gunn family reunion in 2005, we first saw the skill of Jim Gunn, I was amazed that his skill was so much like Grandpa’s and I WAS HOOKED……..I had to get my kids into this man’s life!! We began to visit him at his home that he shared with his daughter (my dear cousin a few removed ?) Kath. Oh what days we had!!! We began to go every month, and every month my kids came out with some magnificant creation……kites, motorboats, pencilcases, cradles, draughtboards, JUST TO NAME A FEW……
It was like coming home to Grandpa for me…….the shed was almost the same as Grandpa Gunn’s with piles of wood and spiderwebs that never seem to freak men out!! The haphazard piles in differing hues, shapes sizes and lengths….It was just the same! The smell of sawdust, Uncle Jim in work clothes, no pipe tobacco but close enough for me!
My children except for the baby Esther learnt such amazing skills, and learnt to use all of those interesting but untouchable tools that I saw on Grandpa’s bench. They learnt to use a hammer properly, they learnt to measure and drill, they learnt how to use a Bench Drill and a Jigsaw……things that I would never have been able to teach them. They sanded, planed, cut, glued and hammered, all under the careful and gentle eye of Uncle Jim as they now affectionately called him. The relationship spilled into the house with Kath doing cooking and games with the rest of the children…..sometimes they even let me go shopping whilst the bigger children worked. What a joy!