Meeting Uncle Ray

By Michael S Parer

A sensitive review of Ray Parer’s swashbuckling days at King Island, Point Cook during World War I and the England-Australian race coupled with his World War Two days with the US small marine crafts brought Ray to life and caused me to dig deep into my memory.

I acknowledge that I must be one of the few links to uncle Ray along with others such as Steve Griffin, Robert and Kevin Parer, Tim and Peter Owen, brother John the numbers who met uncle Ray must be fast diminishing

I have two memories of encounters with Ray. The first was when Steve Griffin and I hitchhiked with Steve’s uncle in his Rover model xxx to Sydney during school holidays of our leaving certificate 1949 and stayed at Stanford X-Ray’s Woolloomooloo factory in Forbes Street.

Ray was living by the wharf with Joe Shearman after his tortuous encounter with the Bonollo timber mill in New Guinea that dad, Stanislaus Parer, said he was lucky to have escaped jail term.

Ray was living in harbour with anchorage doing up a vessel which I remember was an about 54-foot diesel for the Divine Word mission for Father Otto Shelly. We know Ray was generous to Steve and myself and took us out in the boat sailing. I vividly remember still the as he ploughed out through the Sydney heads amid all the dips and rises of the ocean. I was terrified but Ray was in his element steering the boat into the wind safely back to harbour.

It was on this first encounter that he told me of the Oyster Bay Aboriginal conviction that he and his sister Josie would often talk about is the days at their King Island hotel bungalow. The old Parer Hotel reconstructed from them by Grand Uncle Michael.

Josie Parer on her wedding day 1950s.jpg

My next encounter with Ray was during Josie’s wedding. All her family Leo, Vin, Ray, Bob, Mary were there. It must have been 1950 because we were at North Road, Brighton, Melbourne. Auntie Jo came skipping in the lounge room singing and dancing: “I’m going to get married”. She was like a schoolgirl as she announced her proposal to Philip Lynch an engineer. My memory is they were married at the church Our Lady of Victories, Camberwell in the side altar probably because he was not Roman Catholic. I was one of the altar boys. This was corroborated by Adrian “Fr Ferdy” Parer in Mary Mennis’s Ferdie book of his time on Palm Island off Townsville.

It was during a visit to Karlai plantation on Wide Bay, New Britain with Cyril and Bernard that I first met Ray’s son Michael at Vunapope in the Sacred Heart Mission. We journeyed by copra boat to the mission around 1955.



One thought on “Meeting Uncle Ray

  1. Michael, I have some wonderful memories of Ray. He and I used to spend many hours ‘working’ on his diesel engine on his tug boat, moored in Balmain. It was more then once that we went on test runs, only to be towed back by kind sailors or by a dingy rowed by myself. Ray regaled me with stories from his life, some quite unbelievable. Some Sundays he would come to our one room flat at Rushcutters Bay, and would say, Charles, Gonza, let’s go for drive. A drive will do us better than going to church. He used to say, God wants us to be good to each other, be happy, as for going to church, I don’t think he cares too much. Our usual destination was Pittwater area. We, the three of us, would find the shady spot looking over the bay. Ray would then bring out obligatory ‘refreshment’, that is what he called it, rum and milk.

    The last time I saw Ray was at his ‘shack’ at Mt Nebo, I found him sitting in front of a large window with a view of the ocean. Hello Ray, how are you? I am well Charles, I am just mapping my passage to eternity. Ray will stay with me in my heart for as long as I live. I love him.


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