analysis, social organization, classroom talk

Sunday, December 14, 2008

the summer of Clayton Stewart

I was talking to my mother on the phone recently and she happened to mention someone from the past who was ill. The conversation sent me spiralling back into 1968 and the summer I met Clayton Stewart. Now that name is a pseudonym used by the person in a column he wrote for the local rag about basketball games.

Now when I met Clayton (he asked me to go for a milkshake after a basketball game) I'd never known anyone before who had a pseudonym nor had I ever met anyone quite like Clayton Stewart. That summer -when I met and got to know Clayton Stewart - sticks in the mind as only a summer can when you are going on 17 and meet someone quite different in a small country town. He seemed a lot older then than me and my friends, and my sister, but was really just 22. Clayton Stewart had been to university (for a short stint), had lots of girl friends, and was into rock 'n' roll. He had records and talked a lot about Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. He was very good looking and funny and drove a mini minor. I remember seeing him drive down the road on the side of my house one day with his whippet and afghan hound on a leash running beside the car. Many weekends that summer we would be at the Coolamon pool and Clayton would arrive and sit with us. He would tease us, and listen to us, and swim in the pool, bobbing up like a crocodile to surprise one of us. Clayton Stewart was a girl's dream and we met and got to know him that summer - me, my sister and our friends (let's see if i can remember, Joy, Jean, Janice, Gail, Helen). The summer of '68 really was the summer of Clayton Stewart.

Last year I went back to Coolamon with my sister for the day. It was memorable to walk the main street although things had changed. We took a coffee break and sat outside the coffee shop and talked. Suddenly my sister said "There he is", and Clayton Stewart appeared. He said, "I'll just get a coffee" and did that. He came out to the table, sat down and said "Sorry I'm late". And there we had it, the delicious humour and presence of Clayton Stewart after almost forty years. Some people just have it, don't they.

So, when Mum said on the phone last week that Clayton was sick it hit me like a hammer. Can't be true, I thought because Clayton and that summer are as integral to my own presence in life as anything i know. I don't keep in contact, as you don't with a boy with a pseudonym that made a summer a glorious time so long ago, but i found myself wishing and hoping that Clayton Stewart will rise again.

Clayton loved a particular song tht belonged to his time in Sydney as a uni student and it went like this:
I walk along the city streets you used to walk along with me
and every step I take recalls how much in love we used to be
Well, how can I forget you girl?
When there is always something there to remind me,
always something there to remind me

great song, great summer ...