Sunday Times 10 April 1910, page 4 – By Crosscut Wilson
This is distinctly over. the average – 15 or 16 shifts being generally sufficient to enable a man to get his dinner in peace and comfort. To wind up with, I only cut 12 to 14 shillings, worth of wood for the whole day. It’s about as much as I generally do cut, anyhow, but if it had not been Good Friday there’s no telling what sort of tally I might have put up.
I walked towards the main camp on Easter Sunday, -the shanties are at the main camp and while still some distance from it met an Italian walking along the line who appeared to be in a state of exaltation, I put it down to beer!!
“Saluta.” he said.
“Quite so,” I replied. “;
He said, ” Garryst has risen,”
“I haven’t seen him,” I answered, “”perhaps. he’s over ‘at the shanty’. He scowled darkly at me with the look I think Caesar must have cast at the stabbing Brutus, and turned and walked away, leaving me in doubt as to how I could have offended him.
Strains of sweet music, long drawn out streamed from the direction of the gilded and filter press cloth festooned temple of Baccus and, as I approached the doorway another wild eyed son of Southern Europe rushed forth and came at me waving a bottle eloquently in one hand and extending the other to me in hearty welcome.
“‘Bon Giorno,” he said,, ‘Garryst’ has got up! ”
“Well,” I’said, ”it’s time he did ; you know it’s getting on for nine o’clock!”‘
“Sacr-r-mento ! ! ! ” he hissed, and shot of in the direction of another shanty.
I was both interested and mystified, Italians, wood cutting ones at any rate I always understood to be early risers, and there seemed to be an excitement over somebody who had got up between nine and ten in the morning. An intelligent scion of the stock of Lombardy was approaching me, in whom I recognised as a friend, and one who could. ‘spika de inglis’ pretty good.
”Tony” I said, “do you know a man named ‘Garryst’ round about here? A look of ineffable, rapture spread over his parchment tinted dial.
“Si Si “he vociferated, ”He got up this morning, we kill a him last Friday, he go to sleep, e waken up today. Garryst has risen, plenty beer, plenty, wine, plenty weeskee plenty everything ‘ Garryst has risen”!
And then the light dawned on me- it was Easter Sunday, and the happy foreigners were celebrating it in their own manner.'” Not only did Tony give me the information concerning it, but ,he was anxious to acquire knowledge on the subject, from me.
“Garryst” he said, “always dies on Fridays in our country, what day you kill him in Australia?
” Well” I said, Good Friday mostly comes on a Friday, in our country.
“What day he gets up in Australia ? ”
‘Oh Sunday generally – except in leap year.”
Tony did not seem to think much of the system of altering days an leap year at all. I told him that the dates had been altered several times to suit the convenience of the Church and that Easter always came now on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the third Sunday of the Epiphany, or some, other saint’s day. He didn’t seem to consider it a fair deal at all, and got back to the original proposition, to which he clung like a limpet to a rock.
‘We always kill im on Friday in our country”he reiterated. But I was not going to let the credit of the British race suffer. “Oh, well, as far as that goes,” I said, “we crucify him every day in.” Australia, but we only own up, to it once a year, and then we’re so proud of it that we celebrate the occasion by eating buns with the sign of the cross marked on them to keep us in mind of it”
“Ah,” sighed Tony, ”we drinka the weeskee, the beer, the wine, sing de hymn, get a vara drunk. We vara glad in our country that Garryst got up again. ”
Just then a burst of sacred music floated through the open door, that stampeded the horses that were taking a Easter holiday, besides lifting two sheets of filter press cloth from the roof. Voices raised in paeans of praise half drowned the wailing of the sacred accordion. The devotees were evidently getting “vara glad” over the matter, and I moved towards the tabernacle with a feeling of elation, in my heart,
“This is the true Easter spirit finding expression on the tongues of these godly and childlike men,” I said “I will join them in their simple devotions. I found the beer ‘vara’ excellent !
Photos: Phil Bianchi