Mad World.

Mad World.

A Story by phjasmine

a biographical narrative i had to do for English. i got an A on it. its written about my (grand)dad Jon and his life growing up. the task brief was to interview and then write about someone in your li

The priest and nuns had already taken their seats by the time he had decided to sneak in. Like usual he wasn't sure what movie they were showing, but he knew that if the priest said it was unsuitable for the Catholics to view then he would never get another chance to see it. He walked casually past the old greying man that had wrinkles like old used leather who was working behind the kiosk, if he were to get treats for this movie then his game would be up and he would be caught. A strained smile was on his face and his movements would remind anyone of a small stiff action figure as he was nervous, though it was mostly from the excitement. He pushed the large glass doors open gingerly, they opened easier then he thought they would for such heavy doors, he took a step inside and he could feel the royal red carpet that lined the floors although he could not see it. He heard a noise up ahead near the stairs that lead to the floor above, a nun perhaps? But they never came down stairs during a viewing; if he were caught he would surely get a hiding from his father. For that second it felt as if time had slowed, his heart raced and he was frozen on the spot but he couldn't make his limbs move to turn and run, he also couldn't stop the glass door that had been swinging shut from closing onto his feet. As fast as it had slowed time speed up again, he let out a cry as the door was crushing his feet. He didn't care if he were caught now all he really wanted was to be out from under this large glass door. 

Being born into a small country town where everyone knows everyone may sound like a lot of fun, but it makes it impossible for anyone, mainly teenagers to get away with anything. Although in the town of Griffith where Jon Hartley was born there was no real need for anyone to sneak about for anything, not for major things anyway. This was because Griffith was the kind of town that the teens could drag race down the main street without fear of being chased by the police and then arrested, mainly because the police were racing right alongside them. It was a small enough town that these types of things could happen yet it was large enough to warrant its own picture theatre, two schools and a steady flow of tourists. It was a typical Australian county town of the 1940/50's, there was a milk bar down on the corner of the main street for the rebellious teens and a disco held every Friday night for anyone under the age of 20, it was laid back, isolated and it was easy, life was easy. It was in this town in 1949 that Jon Hartley was born to a Eunice and Spencer Hartley, he was their second child. Like his older brother, Dave, Jon would start working in the family toy shop as soon as he was able, 'Hartley Toys' was the only toy shop in town and every day it had to be set up and then taken down as it was set in an ally next to the picture theatre on the main street. Spencer was a strict father with a hand for discipline and was a firm believer in the saying 'tough love' "Dad would give me a hiding for anything, any reason at all, he just didn't care."

It was because of this that at the young age of 10 Jon started to explore the Australian bush that isolated there little town from the rest of the world on his own. He would use it as an escape from his day to day life and chores; he would pack some lunch, water and a Swiss army knife in a bag and set off on a bush walk for the day, he felt a sense of freedom whilst amongst the rough foliage of the Australian bush and getting lost and then finding his way back again gave him a feeling of achievement. It was in the hills on the scenic drive that Jon stuck up a little business to make himself some extra money from the tourist. Everybody in town knew about the Hermit that had lived up in the cave on the hill and most of them knew where to find that cave, if you didn't know where it was you would just get lost and never find it or you would walk right on by it without even knowing it was there, Jon knew where it was and how to find it and he saw lots of tourist that didn't know. For 10 bob Jon would take the tourist up the hill to see where the hermit had lived, the Hermit had his own chapel, garden, living quarters and more hidden amongst the rocks and foliage of the hill. While showing them he would tell them of the man who had come to Griffith and because he felt like an outcast he would spend his time up on the hill making a comfortable refuge for himself. By exploring the surrounding bush land Jon found a love of exploring that seemed to grow up with him "I love exploring; It's why I still travel."

Although not all of Jon's time was spent exploring the outskirts of the town, since he was only a child he was still in school and being brought up in a tight catholic town meant he went to a all boys catholic school, it also meant that he went to church on the weekends with his family. Although Jon didn't just go to church on the weekends but also on weekdays as Jon was an altar boy and he wasn't just any altar boy but the head of the altar boys. Being an altar boy meant it was Jon's job to help the priest during communions and mass, he was to go to church every day of the week and twice on Sundays, he did this for a time and then started to go to a friends house instead claiming to have woken up to himself and realized what he was doing he says that it also provided the perfect cover for most of his wrong doings as who would ever suspect the head altar boy. Jon's school was just like any other it had its buildings and an oval and just like most schools the boys would bring lunch to school, the only thing that was any different from other schools was that the lunch that most of the boys brought included a drink called grappa, a home made Italian wine. As most of the boys at his school were Italian it makes sense for them to bring it as since the town was practically run by the Marist Brothers and they believed everyone was entitled to their heritage and the Italians heritage was for grappa to be drunk with every meal. Jon would later claim that he befriended the Italian boys for the simple fact that he liked his grappa and they brought some each day for lunch.

It was other little things that also made this town home for Jon, sneaking to the back of the grave yard to smoke, rebuilding a vintage car with his brother and even being shot by his brother. But if these things didn't go wrong then it wouldn't be life. He was caught smoking in the graveyard and still isn't sure how as he was hiding behind a large tombstone, once they rebuilt the car the they got drunk in celebration and decided to see whether the car would float or not, it did not and the reason he was shot by his brother was that he wasn't moving fast enough when it came time for unpacking the shop and it was a only a cap gun so there was no damage done, yet the thought of being shot by your brother, not to mention the memory is kind of haunting. Jon and his brother Dave never really got along as children, they were brothers and they had there own friends to hang out with, there was no real need to hang out outside of the family. Jon has said that he has no real memories of his brother in his childhood and up in till a certain point in time it was as if he wasn't there, yet later in life they were to become partners in the truck driving business and spend most of their time together on adventures around Australia. Jon had also told of the odd little things he remembers of his father, besides the beatings, he says that late at night when certain programs were on that he wanted to see he would try to sneak down the hall to put the TV on mute to watch them, he would get as far as his fathers door when a pillow would come hurling out and hit him, he claimed his father must have had super hearing as he was certain he never made a sound.

It was at the age of 14 that Jon left Griffith, he spent most of his time after that ether in the out skirts of Sydney or in the city it's self. He would ride the trains just for the sake of riding trains and also so he could watch the scenery goes by. It wasn't in till years later when both his parents had passed away and he had had a family of his own that he returned to the small little town. He hadn't kept contact with anyone from his past besides his brother and mother so there was no one who he could catch up with to reminisce with about the old days. When he did return to Griffith he didn't go alone, he had his grand daughter with him as she was curious about his home town. She could see that driving around the town and seeing how it had changed was tough for him and it would only be the second time that she had seen him cry. Jon told her more stories to add to the ones she already had, although these were more sentimental, about where he and his mates had gone to jump into the cannel or where the local swimming pool had been. They even went to the old milk bar and sat in the estimated spot as to were Jon had sat so many years before, he had been really looking forward to showing her the old cinema as he knew out of the things he had told her that that was her favourite story from his childhood but it was currently under renovation so it couldn't be done. One of the hardest points in there little trip was when Jon was trying to locate his childhood home, when he realized that the empty block that was to have a new apartment block built on it was where his childhood home had stood he couldn't keep the tears from his eyes. His grand daughter couldn't understand his pain at that time, his childhood home was gone. A place he had called home for 14 years was gone, he was still able to explain the house in great detail, they way the floor lent to one side in his room and the way the paint had been peeling off in little blue chips. Yet that wasn't the same as seeing it again.

I his grand daughter, Paula, still cant relate to what he felt, I have never really lost a place from my childhood as he did, the whole experience of returning to the town was a sad but also happy event. It got me thinking of how short life is and I know I sound cliché by saying so but what do we really leave in this world? My grand dad is happy though, he has his family to show for his life and when he looks back he knows he has done more then a lot of people ever get the chance too. It used to make me sad thinking about how someone's past can just be gone, just like that, but looking at my grand dad I see how far he has come and I know that no matter what life throws my way I will be able to brave it. He is my rock, he keeps me grounded in this wild world where anything can be taken from you, he keeps me safe.

© 2014 phjasmine

Author's Note

i wrote this a few years ago, i got an A in class but i was like 17 so the standard wasn't that high and my style has changed since. i just thought i would update my account cause ive written so much in the past few years.

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Added on June 20, 2014
Last Updated on June 20, 2014
Tags: biographical, narrative, English, assignment, dad, granddad, catholic, theatre, priest, nun, griffith, small town, jon, smoking, Australian, Australia, Aussie, bush, travel, story, exploring, child



Perth, Australia

hey, dont really know what to say, i like writting, reading, music and art, i'm always looking to expand my writting abbilitys, i'm working on my spelling and grammer, really i am. I get most my ideas.. more..