The Small country town of Trangie NSW, Australia.
TRANGIE is where my dad was born and raised. It is still a tiny town and 50 years ago it was probably less than half the size. My dad, Phil is the eldest, and has 5 other siblings: four brothers and a sister.
Way back then, there was a family friend affectionately named Old Jack, who lived alone far out of town and used to make the trip into town only monthly or so, in an old horse drawn cart. He was in his 70s and when times got tough on his own, he would come to stay with my father’s family.
One such time was when there was a drought, and the rainwater in the old man’s water tank had run out. He ended up staying at my father’s house for weeks, waiting for enough rain to fill his tank, so he could move back out there. Then, within the space of two days, enough rain fell to cause the river to flood, drown sheep and wash roads away. They weren’t sure if there’d be enough water in the tank for the old man though, so my father’s parents asked if he and his brother Norman, would go out to check the water level in the tank.
They rode out there on a horse, and as the roads were very muddy and chewed from cars and lorries, the going was slow. They had left around lunchtime and had played around on the way, stopping to climb trees, chase rabbits and throw mud at each other. So it was late afternoon (around 5pm) before they arrived at the front gate. Seeing that the sun would soon set, they thought they should check the tank and get moving. They would be home by 9 or 10pm if they didn’t fart about anymore.
The tank was high on a stand, and the ladder was rusted to bits, unclimbable. Phil had to stand on Norman’s shoulders to get a grip on the top of the tank and pull himself up. From the ground, Norman looked up and asked how full the tank was. Phil was peering into the tank, with his head inside, while his eyes adjusted to the darkness. Suddenly Phil recoiled, almost falling from the tank and half jumped, half fell down and shouted to his brother, “LET’S GO! LET’S GO NOW!” His eyes were wide with terror and his face, powdery white. Norman didn’t want to leave until he had seen what was in the tank too, but Phil was terrified and ran to get the horse.
Norman found a way onto the tank from the roof of the house, and after looking inside, he also half fell off the tank in his mad scramble to get away.
They arrived home that night at around 9 streaked with tears and mud, two little boys haunted by something that they would never forget as long as they lived. But never, even to this day, have they told anyone what was in the water tank.