Monday, February 20, 2012

Connecting with the community

One of things that interests me about this project is contrast. Contrasts between rich and destitute, between satin pyjama clad city gals and sensible rural ladies in cotton shifts they'd sewn themselves, and most fascinating of all, between headlines and reality.

Albury was a town that became the dumping ground for a notorious murder, the mystery of which caused rifts and for some, damage to their family reputation. At the same time, it was an event about which little was said. Locals didn't want to take ownership of it, to be associated with a brutal murder.

Instead, it would rather be remembered for another significant local event--which also took place in 1934. The Uiver

*Not the Albury Uiver... This is a Dutch postcard advertising "Ovomaltine". Like eating crusts will grow hair on your chest, this malted milk drink must make you man enough to fly a plane.

Picture it... An iconic Dutch aircraft, flailing about in electrical storm, in need of an emergency landing.

The hero? The local community, who, responding to a radio broadcast, jumped in their cars and drove to the race course. Lining up their vehicles with the headlights on (in a way vaguely reminiscent of James Dean's chicky run in Rebel Without A Cause), they created a makeshift airstrip... and a safe landing for the Uiver.

You can listen to John Walker's excellent radio play thanks to the local ABC here.

The point though? Is that when communities come together, they can do wonderful things. I've started poking around, finding people to meet and speak to for this project. The people I've contacted have been receptive and helpful. The historical society even went to the trouble of deleting a section of their newsletter so they could include my call for stories!

I've also got another exciting lead to follow, but in the meantime, I'm sleuthing away, connecting links, and looking forward to beginning conversations.

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