My Father’s study

1959.16 Manse from park

Situated to the right of the front door was my Father’s study. People could come and go into his study, for consultation with Dad, without disturbing the rest of the family. My Father was a minister and in a small country town that meant that he saw people not only on spiritual matters but was also a counsellor on all problems, large and small.

On entering the office the wall to the left, along the front porch, was a permanently fixed floor to ceiling book cases full of books and his stamp albums. His desk sat in front of that facing out to the porch you can see in the photo. Another bookcase filled with books was on the opposite wall but it was much smaller as it sat between the window and the front wall. Sandwiched in-between the desk and this bookcase was a three drawer oak wood filing cabinet.

We children rarely went in this room. It was my father’s sanctuary and his work place so we didn’t disturb him. The telephone was in there and on the rare occasion we would answer it. I can still remember the number – 86. We were still on an operator connect system. One day my brother answered the phone and said “Velly sorry. Me no speak a de English” and hung up. Of course the operator told our parents and my brother was given the rounds of the kitchen as a result.

I was around ten when my Father had to spend some time in Sydney training deaconesses or some such job. I knew I was this old because we had just got a television and at every available opportunity (when my Mum wasn’t around)  I was glued to it.  Sitting on the floor in the lounge-room one day I noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye. I wasn’t sure but I thought I had just seen a snake slide past me into my Father’s office. I yelled for Mum and my brother who came running. Anybody would have thought I was being murdered.

My mother had no idea what to do so she called the police, who came with sirens blaring. I don’t think a lot really happened in our town to excite them. With pistols drawn they searched the study.

“Well we can’t find it in there” they informed us.

“It must have gone behind the built-in bookcase.” Everyone stared at my brother.

“We can’t stay in the house if it’s in there. You have to do something” Mum said.

So the police officer pulled every book unceremoniously out of the bookcase and unscrewed the fasteners holding it to the wall. Slowly they pulled it out from the wall and there it was. Killing was the only thing that happened to snakes in those days ( thankfully we know better now) and the policeman took aim and shot it. Scooping it up on a broom handle he carried the snake to the fence which separated us from the park and hung it there.

“Don’t you kids touch it” the policeman warned “it can still bite you.”

We spent the rest of that day alternating between helping Mum try to get the books back on the bookshelf and staring at the snake.

1966.1 Snake killed  in study


About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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8 Responses to My Father’s study

  1. gabbie20132013 says:

    Reblogged this on Gabbie Blog.


  2. xbox2121 says:

    You have some fond memories of that time in your life. I am curious what the term, brother was given the rounds of the kitchen as a result. I am pretty sure it is not pleasant.


  3. fictionfitz says:

    Your father, his study, and a snake where it doesn’t belong, and the victim is…..Good story, except I hate sad endings. I don’t like snakes, but happy to hear where you are and I think where I am, people are kinder, gentler. For after all, snakes are snakes. We get one every once in a while and just watch it. Not in the house though.


  4. I agree. They have as much right to live as we do and although we have some nasty snakes in Australia most are happy just to be left alone. Most bites occur when people try to kill them – and can you then blame the snake?


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