Stinker’s History: The Asquith clan (part four)

Charlie Asquith.

Sir James Kirby and the sunglasses

LOCAL fisherman Charlie Asquith was sitting on Shoal Bay Beach, sometime in the early 1950s, looking for mullet with his brother Bobby and three or four others, when Sir James Kirby’s huge luxury cruiser sailed through the heads and anchored in front of them.

“The skipper would sail up from Sydney and Sir James and his wife would drive up in their limo and then join the big boat when it was moored,” Charlie said.

On this occasion Sir James and his skipper rowed in on a dinghy and were headed over to the Country Club for a few beers.

When they hit the beach, kids would run from everywhere, particularly in holiday time.

Sir James would shower them with loose change out of his pocket.

This particular day it was very glary with the sun on the water.

“How do you sit here like this and look into the sun for mullet all day?,” James asked Charlie.

“Why don’t you buy a pair of sunglasses?”

“You can’t buy glasses here, no one sells them,” Charlie answered.

“I’ll have a pair of sunglasses here for you tomorrow afternoon,” promised the tycoon.

The next afternoon Mr Kirby came in and went down to the Club.

On his way back he came over to me and made a formal presentation to Charlie.

“Mr Asquith, I would like to present you with these sunglasses,” Mr Kirby said.

Charlie takes up the story from here.

“All the others stared at me as I put the glasses on.

“It was as if night had fallen.

“I had never had sun glasses on before, no one I knew ever had.

“I think I was the first fisherman in Port Stephens to wear sunnies.

“We had no sun cream or anything in those days, I suppose we are lucky to be alive.”

Jam and cream

Charlie Asquith and his brother Bob were known to cause a bit of a stir.

Here is one tale from their youth.

“Billy Dart and his father Jack had the bakehouse and they would make these big, beautiful sponge jam rolls about four foot long and six inches through,” Charlie said.

“There was a ball on in the hall in Stockton Street across the road from the bakery.

“We kept all our grog in the bakehouse so we would wander over between dances and have a drink.

“Anyway it ended up that brother Bob and I spent more time in the bakery than we did at the dance and I woke up in the morning on the floor of the bakery, in my good navy suit, covered in flour.

“I’d slept there and used a jam roll for a pillow!

“I arrived home next morning at about 9 o’clock and Janice’s uncle was there and he walked down and stared at me.

“Charlie, what’s happened?” he questioned.

“I was covered in jam and flour and looked like a snowman.”

Bob’s memory of how the night unfolded is a little more explicit.

“I played football for the Nelson Bay rugby league team and the night in question was the Footballers Ball.

“Everything was going along real good.

“All the women were inside and the men gathered around the keg outside.

“Charlie and I and a few others had a few drinks and we wandered over to Dart’s bakery on the other side of the road where we had a few more beers hidden away.

“Charlie was dressed in his new suit, his only suit, and he sat down on the edge of a big flour bin in the bakery to have a drink.

“Well I gave him a bit of a shove and his legs went up in the air and he fell backwards into the flour – foof!

“There was a huge cloud of white flour came up and there was Charlie, legs and arms spread, white as a ghost, apart from his eyes, laying in the bottom of the bin.

“We got him out and Darty reckoned that Charlie looked like a jam roll so he started flicking him with spoonfuls of raspberry jam.”

After this commotion it was time for the boys to return to the dance.

By John ‘Stinker’ CLARKE

Charlie’s brother Bob. Together they caused a stir.

Leave a Reply