the last day, jack ‘ bluey ‘ mayes
One afternoon in 1997 a little blonde haired fellow came up quietly to me as I stood in the North Avalon carpark feeling the easterly freshen up a hot day. Sometimes you welcome an onshore with its purer origins, that wastrel wind. The beachcomber.
‘ If you want to see Jack you had better make it soon. ‘ he said.
I looked at Mick and read about the old boy’s shut down in his eyes. They had been friends for over 40 years. Good and bad.
‘ I’ve just come from the hospital, ‘ he went on, ‘ he hasn’t much time left.’
Room 912A. One window facing the southwest, the room unlit, the television flickering soundlessly. Nobody watching over him. The room cold like a crypt. Already.
And Jack in bed wheezing; wheezing in and wheezing out, labouring for breath, his forehead hot and damp, his gaping mouth mute at last and disfigured by his blackened teeth. His long white stringy hair wet with panic, one old hand curled up under his chin and tight with trauma, and every now and then Jack Mayes let out a soft whimper as his last caller roamed in closer. He was done, Jack, he was waiting.
Somebody had tacked up a picture of Brock Little dropping into a Waimea monster above his bed, and they had scrawled a message on it.
‘ See you out there old son. ‘
Thirty of us showed up to his funeral at Bondi Junction, the arterial blood of old Bondi together again. A thin stream even then. Farrelly in a centre pew. Never a foreigner. Pews of old fighters, old surfers. We all knew The Lords Prayer, though not too loudly.
Fifteen or so years ago now – life is a fleetfooted race of time is it not.
Jack Mayes was one of the earliest Australian board riders who took to the shorter balsa boards – He was also considered the best (toothpick) boardrider in Australia from the 40’s to the 50’s. He travelled widely along the NSW and Qld coast and left heartbreak and ruin for the length of the Pacific Highway. In his later years he soapboxed his opinions broadly and loudly on the Bondi beachfront and was generally understood to be a little hard to handle. He is rarely remembered now.
– and all that may be so – he was a friend of mine. We travelled the early roads.
magoo said bluey was the guy that sat out the back and waited for the big wednesday wave …. 25 Jan 2012 / Facebook / Debbie McGuigan