Yes, I do requests. Please

Yes, I do requests. Please excuse the inconsistance tense in the following piece that got confused between being written to Joanne and being written to you.

Dear Jo,

You know my memory of my life is poor. That's your job, to remember all the things that have gone before. The Citizen Club was a place from my memory but a place I have never been. Dad used to belong and I'm guessing it was akin to Rotary but with more beer. I have memories of him going there sometimes, maybe evenings, after work and such. Two clear memories - well one fuzzy one and one not so fuzzy - Guy Fawkes bonfire and a christmas picnic respectively.

It seemed to me that the bonfire was a pine tree. To my big eyes inside a small body, it seemed to take half the night to walk from one end of the bonfire to the other. The flames went up so high I don't even remember bothing to look up to see them against the pitch dark sky above Rotorua. I have a recollection the bonfire was out and across from the road to where the Gondalas are now. In that area, anyway, for what it's worth accuracy wise. I must have been old enough because I was mostly on my own that evening, but Wayne wasn't with me. I am thinking I was around 7 or 8 or so. In those days it was different - or so we thought. I spent a lot of my childhood doing things adults couldn't have been aware of - surely they would have intervened. Anyways... I don't remember having much in the way of fireworks and mostly watched others and theirs. The roar of the fire and the heat on my face. The night was really cold and I had a parka and gumboots on. Boys were throwing double happies and tom thumbs into the fire and the banging would give me a fright when it was too close. I remember sparklers being so very hard to light - you had to hold them in the flame of a candle for an eternity before they caught - a match didn't burn long enough to spark a sparkler. I couldn't light my sparklers from the bonfire because the fire was too hot for the time needed to ingnite it. The wire of sparklers'd get too hot to hold all the way til they were finished.

I only have one small memory of that one big bonfire. Unless it was the same every year and its all melded into one memory - but i suspect not. I think the christmas picnic memories might have melded into one though. The Citizen Club's Christmas picnic at Little Waihi.

Do you remember Nana and Grandad's bach (pronounced batch - beach cottage) at Little Waihi? the small settlement around the ways from Makatu in the curve of the Bay of Plenty. Uncle Graham (dad's younger brother) had a place in Makatu. This year was a bit different in that the Chalkers brought their tent over and camped in the campground at Little Waihi. So it was a big Park Family affair. I remember Uncle Tony in the tug of war, and Debbie Chalker, [cousin] in the warm concrete trough pool [gross thinking about it now] which used to turn our blonde hair green. The lolly scrambles of MacIntosh sweets and how I'd never get any lollies because I wasn't fast enough or pushy enough [times have changed somewhat]. I remember the roundabout thingie shaped like an inverted cone that used to make us sick and dizzy in turns. The small riverlet between the sea and the madflats was a nice place to swim because it got deep fast.. the waterway between Little Waihi and Pukahina. Someone yelled "shark" once and we all had to scramble out of the water but I'm pretty sure there was no shark.

Most of all of those [or that] picnic I remember Dad laughing. His eyes crinkled in the corner from skin that spent a lot of time outside in salty air...and singing.. I remember him singing.

When we went back to stay at with Maree Chalker [now Laury - dubious spelling, michelle] at Pukahina the last Christmas, we went down to the Beach there and lit a fire. Sitting on the cool pale sand, drinking beer, the scent of smokey beach wood transported me to all those years ago and I was suddenly struck by how many years had gone by since I'd been there with these people we'd been so very close to all our lives. My Aunty Kath and Uncle Tony.. to Debbie and Suzie and Chris and Brian.. such tiny little kids way back then, now full grown big burly men with children of their own. To Uncle Graham - and Terry, and Maree. And then I saw Wayne and he was happy. Truly happy. He seemed relaxed and smiling and crinkle eyed and he reminded me *so* much of Dad. Happy in the boat, fishing in the rough see and everyone noted how proud Dad would have been of him not puking in the rough dingy conditions. And how he sat up all night drinking beer by the light of an open fridge door with Brian and Chris Park. From what I remember of Dad, I'm sure he would have been doing the same thing given half a chance... laughing and talking shite.. the gift we all inherited so strongly.

You look like Dad, you know. You carry those Park traits, that dilute the loopy Lawlor ones so well. You're lucky that way *s*.

I love you.
Take care.
Write soon...
and I went to the park and i went to the park and I went to the park and i went to the park and I went to the park and i went to the park and I went to the park and i went to the park and I went to the park and i went to the park and I went to the park and i went to the park and I went to the park and i went to the park and I went to the park and i went to the park *laughs*