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warren cornish – after the funeral

He sometimes came by Mrs Browns in the morning and stopped down at the bottom of the road early. Blat .. Blat on his car horn, his Holden station wagon. Warren was the only one with a station wagon and the blat blat was for get your arse to the Pass. Sometimes it was for Broken Head and he was always the first to know, and here’s me and Algae with an old rusted black VW to get there.

We never got a ride in Warren’s car, and not many got a ride in his life. He was a personal man.

A fellow named Pete Green told me that Warren had died yesterday, we were outside the Lennox paper shop and I’d just jibed him because he was my age and looking ok in a Jacobs Tshirt. So two old surfers got talking and he told me. Pete Green knew Warren well, they had worked together for many years.

Prostate C, that bastard cancer.

Later that afternoon I walked past another no-name old man watching Lennox sweeping by, and said to him  – ‘Can’t wait to get out there can you?’ –

That was Curtis, first name forgotten and we’d never met before today.

He was from Bondi. He used to live in the flat above Tshirt TerryF, and we got to talking. The names sped off the list, Cochran, Bluey, Scott, Magoo, Head – and here he said, ‘Who was Head’s best mate?

‘Did he surf?’

‘Yeah, I can’t think of his name.’

‘Gary Johnson ..!  Gary hey joe Johnson.’

Well that was him, and there were more. You don’t ask if anyone was still alive, comes the time in life when the answer is always melancholy. But we talked about Warren today.

When we left each other we didn’t just shake hands, we clasped them.

That’s where Warren Cornish came from, those early Bondi days when boys rode balsa.

frank and warren, never apart

After the funeral:

Somebody walked up to Bob McTavish and interrupted him as he was having a conversation with three people, he excused the interruption and took McTavish aside – said this to him:

‘I was told many years ago, Bob, that when you were young and extravagantly vain you were heard to say that nobody knew how good you really were because they couldn’t see what your feet were doing in the white-water.’

McTavish nearly blushed, and declaimed the quote as hardly being true. ‘Too bad mate,’ he was told, ‘you’ve been credited with it.’

A man cornered an old gent being wheeled away in his chair, a friend of Cornish – the old boy couldn’t speak but the lady assisting him said he could hear ok, and he was from Cronulla, and he was ok for a chat. So he was told of the Bulli tomato fight, and how it was a car full of Cronulla surfers who got hit instead of Maroubra. And that Cornish, aged 15, was one of the tomato tossers.

Then there was the Sydney girl, the one who told of Cornish wanting to drive a car so bad he changed the birth date on his birth certificate and got a licence at age 15. Then he bought the car. She was 14 at the time and she had the seat beside him. Today she was sitting beside me, and there was something familiar about her.

I mentioned gidget, and she smiled. Like women do.

Warren’s sister gave his eulogy, she said his faith was practiced in the Church of the Sky. She spoke of his hidden generosities, his good works. His steadfastness. She also read a few excerpts from one of his early diaries, where he showed the spirit of the times.

No shirt, no collar, no city. He would have none of them.

21 Comments Post a comment
  1. Reblogged this on Bondi Stories.

    December 3, 2013
  2. Myrtle Jones #

    OMG!!! The years gone faster enough without this… And how is Gary Johnson??? Say I said hello and think of all those years ago.. Myrtle ex 58 Campbell Pde…

    December 3, 2013
  3. see what I mean, south bondi had the best girls ..

    December 3, 2013
  4. Was speaking with Terry Martin (Hall St butcher) who said he phoned hey Joe and passed on details for Warren’s service. Last saw Gary at Bob Barretts funeral around this time last year and T Shirt was there too.

    December 4, 2013
  5. where’s the send off Ted?

    December 4, 2013
    • Thursday (tomorrow) 2.30 at South Tweed crematorium. I can’t make it.

      December 4, 2013
  6. Ron Silcock #

    Gary Johnson was living at Palm Beach Gold Coast I haven’t seen him for a couple of years.

    December 4, 2013
  7. thanks Ted, maybe murray evans might show up and pay me the five quid he borrowed in 1959 ..

    December 4, 2013
  8. Tshirt going to be there?

    December 4, 2013
  9. hart phil #

    Gary Johnson lives ay Myall lakes near Forster now and we exchange Christmas cards
    Phil Hart

    December 8, 2013
  10. make sure you tell him he’s been mentioned honourably phil ..

    December 8, 2013
  11. hart phil #

    I sent the card off before I read the comment.He did come eithdr 3rd or 4 th in the first Australian Champs that Nat won at Bondi

    December 10, 2013
  12. Terry Jenkings #

    Sad to read of Warren’s passing. Too many old Bondi Boys gone these days. I knew Warren well and was at school with him at Wellington Street and later Paul Street catholic schools. Gary Johnson was with us at Paul Street ( he was shifted from St. Annes – reason never disclosed !!!! ).
    Warren and I would often visit Scott Dillon’s garage in Wellington Lane and watch the old boards being made in the 1950’s. Barry Ross use to look out for me at the South end as he knew my father .
    RIP Warren and his good pal Frank.
    I hope Garry J is holding up OK. A funny guy – always loved a laugh .
    I’m 3rd generation Bondi raised and my son now lives and surfs there. Once Bondi is in your blood it stays forever.

    April 18, 2014
  13. Peter MacRae #

    Only just now reading about Warrens Passing. He made a Mal for me when I got back into surfing in 1982. I grew up at Bronte and was a foundation member of Bronte Surf Riders Club. I joined Byron Bay Boardriders Club in 1983, and got to surf against Ron Silcock in a few heats after that at The Malfunctions, along with a lot of other old blokes I hadn’t seen for years. I went to school with Murray Evans. Sat next to him. We started ‘surfing’ together in 6th class (1958). Murray had found half of an old ‘toothpick’ that was broken up on the rocks between Bronte and Tamarama on a BIG day. WE had it hidden at Tamarama Beach, and would ride it after school. WE took it in turns to catch a wave, but it would fill up with water quickly, so we would both lift it up to empty it, and swap riders. WE were poor kids.Great Days..! Oh.! and Yes I knew Gary Johnson well. He used to come around to Bronte often, with his mate ‘Specs’..!

    February 24, 2015
  14. Give us a Gary Johnson call Pete, see if you can remember his couple of catch-cries, I can’t be the only one who does.

    February 25, 2015
    • phil hart #

      Hey Joe >

      February 25, 2015
  15. Terry Jenkings #

    Peter Bowes – how could anyone forget …” Heeey Jooooe “. I hope Gaz is travelling well. A truly funny guy and a Bondi character.

    February 25, 2015
  16. That guy used to do a comic routine every night the sun went down on a weekend, Brennan and Evans right behind him adding to his chorus of inanity, Sillcock was brought up better and walked away, about a dozen of the rest of us drinking 4 bob bottles of beer in the shadows – and all the girls across the road, under the lights of the milk bar. And that lovely rumble from the beach as a background – lines of phosphoresence coming in from waaaaaay out the back.

    February 25, 2015
  17. Chris Cullens #

    Well Warren, I’m really sad we will never catch up. But know your free spirit in Byron Bay lives on waiting for the wind rustle in the trees and the tide to bring rlthe perfect wave at tlThe Pass. Chris Cullens Ex Sydney Sailboat Center / sailboards

    February 27, 2018
  18. Shane Fisher #

    Let me clarify, ‘about your time’ in that I mean, friends you where with. That, by default were in a sub culture, that brought you together, for better or worse.

    I had a dream last night and the night before and the night before about my mates. We are dissipated now, but I still dream about them. I put that down to the limited social circle, dot, that I live in now.

    Finished the bloody cleaning course, it was shit, the trainer we ended up having was legendary.
    Andrew Hume of Brisbane. I will carry on.

    February 28, 2018
  19. waltham4433 #

    39963197 I AM AT LAKE CATHIE

    April 19, 2019

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