Guy Prior – A Young Boy’s Hero (6)

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One morning while it was still dark I was putting the bridle on Whinny to ride out and bring the cows in when I heard a particular song coming from the radio in the house. The radio was only played for the evening news – when any children had to keep very quiet, particularly during the war – and the hillbilly songs in the morning. The radio was the only electric powered device on the farm and I think the battery was sent in on the cream boat in the morning and returned charged on the afternoon run when its power had run down. I don’t recall where it was charged; perhaps it was done at the milk factory. The song I heard that morning made a great impact on me as it was the first song I had ever heard which I could relate to. It was a so-called hillbilly song, which sang of flooding, cattle, a drover and gum trees. It was the song that was the nucleus of a long lasting career for a young man by the name of David Gordon Kirkpartick, later better known to the world as Slim Dusty. The song was: When the Rain Tumbles Down in July.

My family and I arrived at the Cundle Plains farm one weekend to hear of an incident that had occurred during the week. Guy had taken Whinny and visited the Nicholsons who lived across and up the highway a short distance. Before he hopped onto Whinny to return home they gave him some prickly cucumbers to take. The cucumbers were in a sugar bag (every thing that could fit into a sugar bag was carried in that ubiquitous hessian sack in those days) and Guy had a lot of trouble swinging onto Whinny’s back, as she kept shying away from the bag. He finally mounted, but found that when the rough cucumbers touched the side of the usually quiet mare her behaviour worsened. Finally, he threw the bag back to his neighbour and said, ‘Here keep you bloody cowcumbers!’ Cowcumbers was Guy’s usual term for cucumbers.

Guy Prior outside the farm house. It was said the Guy looked similar to the film star Spencer Tracy.

Another neighbour visited him one day and asked to borrow Guy’s roller, a heavy round log that was used to roll the ground flat by being drawn by a draught horse. For some reason Guy did not want to lend this implement and said so. A few days later he saw the same chap trying to hitch up the roller behind his horse. Guy was dressing in the bedroom at the time and yelled out and ran across the paddock without his pants on, but the fellow got safely away with his horse. A week or so later Guy saw this unfortunate man while he and Dot were shopping in Cundle and went up and knocked him to the ground. That was Guy. I was later to liken him to a D’Arcy Niland-type character from the book, The Shiralee. Guy was obviously a good fighter and believed in fighting to maintain what he believed in.

In about 2012 I discovered that Guy had once been found guilty of assault in the Branxton Police Court. The Singleton Argus of Wednesday the 12th of February 1930 reported that Guy Prior, a farmer of Dalwood, was found guilty of assaulting a lorry driver by the name of Oliver Wheeler. Guy was fined 5 pounds for the assault, 8 shillings for court costs, 2 pounds and 5 shillings for witness expenses, plus 10 shillings and 6 pence for medical costs.

Everyone who knew Guy said how much he looked like the well-known Hollywood actor, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn’s friend and fellow thespian. Photographs within these pages will confirm that likeness.

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