The Bliss Family by Peter Bliss
Living in North Shore as a kid was great - Mum and Dad (Nell and Jack), three brothers: Tony Bernie, John and our sister Barbara.
Dad’s name was Harold but everyone knew him as Jack.
As kids we swam, fished, ferretted and played football and cricket in the paddocks.
Where the Shell is now built there were just open paddocks.
I went to St Mary’s Technical School and most of my friends lived in West Geelong and every weekend they would come to our place to play, as they said, “in the country”. We would ride the bikes to the You Yangs armed with a packet of 3 3s, Craven As or First Lords.
Ronnie Evans was first to own a motor vehicle (a 1927 Chevrolet ute) which was great for fishing and shooting trips. The beach at North Shore, known as Oyster Cove, was a saucer-shaped beach with a sloping sand and shell bank. A friend who worked at Colville’s mill in Norlane made us a set of water skis which we used to be towed by the ute along the edge of the beach – great fun. If you fell off, the water wasn’t very deep and there were spills aplenty. In the winter time the ute was used to tow a sheet of tin around the paddock which we sat on and s---- ourselves.
We attended North Shore Boys’ Club to play all sports and boxing. I played football for North Shore Football Club on the Phosphate Oval and then the club moved to Windsor Park. Tony was the best footballer of all the boys, playing with Geelong Cats 2nd Eighteen and then he moved on to coach in several country towns. John was rapt in greyhounds and took up training. Bernie was a good fisherman. (Anglers said that Bernie could catch a fish in a bath.) John and Bernie are now deceased.
The Presbyterian Church was on the edge of a grassy paddock. During Sunday night service all the North Shore kids would hide in the long grass and we would throw a stone onto the tin roof. Mr Steele (elder of the church) would open the door and look out into the dark and see nothing, but I think the people in the church knew who the culprits were (those bloody North Shore Catholic kids)!
Ferreting was one of our favourite pastimes. I lost one in unfortunate circumstances because Barb was petrified by them. One day she was in the outhouse (toilet) and I opened the door and threw in a ferret. All hell broke loose: Barb screaming as loud as she could, me standing there laughing. Dad rushed past me, whacked me behind the ear and a little while later as I was getting to my feet I looked over at the old man cutting the head off my favourite ferret at the wood heap.
Tony, Barb and I are now retired. Tony lives in East Geelong, Barbara in Ballarat and I live in Belmont with my wife Lorraine and with two canaries, five budgies, one cocky (which had been owned by John), two dogs and two cats – but no ferrets!