Eulogy by Lindsey Crane (Lindsey’s grandson)
Lindsay White – that is a name you would want to be careful mentioning in a church, a police station or to the Commissioner of Taxation.
He was born Lindsay Ernest John White at Kellerberrin Hospital on 11th January 1932 at 2am; a fact he always pointed out with significant smugness. People might wonder why he constantly told them he was born at 2am; I think it was because this made him different
He went to Yoting Primary School and started school at the age of three because his mother, such a saintly woman, lied about his age. The school only needed one more child to keep running and his mother wanted an education for all her children. And this is proof that Lindz learnt to embrace, “extension of the truth” from a young age.
The first High School he went to in WA was New Norcia Marist Brothers’ School. It was a race to see if he could convince his mother that her little darling didn’t need to stay, before the Brothers could expel him– either way, they would soon be free of each other.
There were many reasons why the Brothers might not have taken to an upstart like Lindz: but the main reason being they had probably never met a kid so single bloody minded like himself. Also, it could be that he probably tried their patience a tad. For example, might they have got upset at Lindz making sure their morning milk was contaminated with just the right amount of cow urine? And maybe the final straw was when he was caught leaving love letters to his girlfriend under the Head Brother’s grave, who built the school!! Only Lindz would have thought of something so romantic?
Now, Linz was not about to be outdone by the Brothers. There were many pleading letters to his mother begging that he be able to leave and come home. At one stage he even suggested a week and week about arrangement. Alas, none of them moved her iron fist, and so he stayed and stayed and stayed.
Then came mistake number one.
In a moment of brilliance, he wrote to this mother and told her if she didn’t get him out of New Norcia he was going to convert to Catholicism.
Within two weeks, during the middle of the War, when all trains were allocated for military personnel, Grandma White had taken him from the school and transported him over 2,000 miles to his elder sister, Margaret, and her unsuspecting husband, Ted, in Whyalla.
Lindz was promptly put to work at his second High school – Whyalla High School. He and Uncle Ted did very well at Whyalla: as joint effort, they both got 7 A Levels.
Then came big mistake number two.
Once again related to another moment of brilliance – also known as armed robbery.
Lindz ended up being expelled from Whyalla High School because he was convicted of armed robbery at the age of 15.
He, and two of his mates from school, were walking down the street with air rifles after going out to shoot rabbits for dinner.
Mind you, when they were walking down the street, it was incredibly strange how some of the lights also started to magically spark and flare just in line with the air rifles.
But to get back to the reason for expulsion, they walked into a deli where they happened to spy an entire full crate of yummy lush plump currants – this was a delicacy not to be ignored. There was a really quick meeting where it was decided Lindz was needed, as the other two were far too scrawny and Lindz was the only one strong enough to pick up 100-pound crate of currants, and the whole crate suddenly found its way into Lindz’s hands and his legs took off.
The three boys, their air rifles and their ill-gotten gains went up to the top of their hill, where the rifles and box of currants were stored away.
Feeling very chuffed with themselves, and with the full belief no-one could touch them, they were feeling very smug.
If only they had gone home and done their homework.
Instead they went to a milk bar.
It was here two policemen sat across from them and watched them drink their milkshakes. The three boys left, and unbeknown to them, the police followed them. As the boys picked up their air rifles and Lindz picked up the crate of ill-gotten currants, they got pinched by the long arm of the law.
It took Uncle Ted a whole two days before he went to pay bail.
As Lindz and Uncle Ted were leaving, Linz spotted one of the policemen that pinched them and asked him why they followed them? The policeman replied with as you were drinking your milk shake, you just looked like trouble!
High School Number three and four: Guildford Grammar in Western Australia.
It was a real shame Uncle Ted did not come back to WA with him as Linz did not do as well at this school. He only got 5 B Levels, but got two A levels in ‘Rowing’ and ‘Girls’.
Lindz always said he was a depression baby. This was something he always basked in whenever he wanted to impress the value of money upon me, and was usually accompanied with stories which began with “When I had to walk 10 miles to school without any shoes….” or “We didn’t get oranges…” or “I didn’t have a bed, I slept on a wheat bag…”.
So, this little Depression Baby was at Guildford Grammar without pocket money – only the pastoralists’ sons got pocket money! This meant he had to earn his own. He did this by doing “tricks”.
Two “tricks” were often bragged about. The first was where he swallowed a pint of week-old congealed milk for 5 shillings (in today’s money that is worth about $215 and kept him in lollies for about 2 months).
However, the second was the third mistake of his partially misspent youth.
And, yet again, following another moment of brilliance which, I might add, caused another expulsion.
Lindz wanted to earn some serious money all at once, so he didn’t have to swallow too much congealed milk. He then hit on a brilliant idea which was worth a whole 10 shillings per person.
This was going to be pay day! In fact, maybe it was here that he began his liking of fish and chips.
Somehow Lindz broke into the Headmaster’s office, surrounded by boys willing to pay him a whole 10 shillings each, and he promptly swallowed the Principal’s goldfish alive and it wriggled all the way the way down!
Unfortunately, the boys did not get out of the office in time and the Principal witnessed his precious goldfish become a huge amount of lollies.
This resulted in another expulsion. One can only wonder at what he told his mother this time and what was actually going through his mind when he thought this was a good idea.
However, shortly after, the Principal realised it was mid-rowing season and he had just expelled the best rower. Guildford needed to win the Head of the River. So Lindz was brought back in and even negotiated that he could sit at the front of the boat where it was easier to row, but more importantly it meant that all the girls would see him first and ignore the others!
One can only imagine at the Principal’s feelings of having to sacrifice his goldfish for this young upstart to be given the honour of rowing for Guildford.
A good memory of Lindz was when we went camping up north and he decided he was going to show me how to “properly” make a fire.
From the time we were north of Carnarvon Lindz would actively seek out any space where he could do a “Lindz fire”. He never stopped looking.
One night we camped on Robe River, but there was not enough wood and far too many river stones.
Another night we camped near Exmouth but there were just too many people around, particularly Rangers who would not have been at all impressed with any cooking fire Lindz might light.
After several false starts he finally found what he was looking for.
We were near Millstream. Mum was driving and he told her to turn left – it didn’t matter that there was no road! So, after we turned the GPS off, which was constantly telling us to do a U’y, we headed inland. We meandered between many stakes and stumps, without any sign of life, and we stopped many miles from the road.
Lindz had found the one and only standing snake wood tree. It would have been 15 meters high with an outreach of about the same. He told mum to park away from it. We didn’t know why, all we knew was that it was 40+ degrees in the shade and Lindz got out of the car, unpacked all and took the axe, shovel and the petrol.
He then sat on his esky, gave me the shovel and told me to dig a hole about this deep and about 6 foot wide around the base of the standing tree. By this stage I was sweating. But this did not seem to faze him, as he then told mum, Samantha and I to go out and find dead wood.
He watched and waited and complained bitterly about our meagre efforts. We were not doing things at the pace he wanted nor with the quantity he desired. After all, we had only brought back the equivalent of about 1 and ½ trees.
Finally, he could not contain himself any more – he got up and brought back about 4 individual trees. And then he complained about the heat as we were still 40+ degrees in the shade.
He then gave me the axe and directed how he wanted all his precious dead wood to be arranged. It just happened to be very artfully, and concisely, arranged around the base of the only standing tree.
By this time it was twilight and the cool had started to seep in.
Lindz had judged this time as opportune.
The entire 20 litre jerry can of petrol was emptied on the wood. Then, with an extreme look of satisfaction, he struck two matches together and threw them toward the fumes.
To his amazement, he became a bit bald in the face as the flames singed his eyebrows!!!
But increased the grin.
Lindz was satisfied. This is what he called a forty-mile fire. His one regret was that there was not enough moisture to give him a cloud!
A short time later we were forced to move the eskies and tents 20 feet at least back as they were staring to melt.
Early the following morning, well after the standing tree was standing no more, we worked out that we had been camping about one mile away from the Ranger’s shack. As we looked around a bit more, we found that not only were we right next to the Ranger’s shack, we were on a water reserve which was a $50,000 fine per person for trespassing. Just to add to our consternation, we then realised that the reason our camping area was so flat and with very little rocks or stumps was because we had camped on the Royal Flying Doctor service runway!
Thinking quick absence was the better part of valour, we high tailed it out of there with Lindz gazing fondly in the rear-view mirror.
This was the last real fire he had and he never forgot it.
Mind you, I don’t know if he remembers it because it was a great fire, or, just maybe he remembered it because, once again, he was being Lindz himself and flouting all authority other than his own.
To wrap this up, every Saturday Lindz would come over for a roast – and due to his vegetarian nature and love of all that “green crap”, he would start with the roast and finish with white bread and gravy and only then, if he was still hungry would he bypass those vegies, and venture towards dessert.
During these times Linz told me all these stories, and more, and we have memories we have created together as family.
I love my grandfather because he has helped me a lot.
He agreed with me a lot and then laughed at me.
He would listen to me and then disagree with me just for his own entertainment, and then he would laugh with me.
And he taught me about how to be appropriate and when to say other things and then he would still laugh at me.
And I really love him a lot because he taught me how to extend the truth, get out of tight situations and make sure mum doesn’t kill me too much!
He taught me the true value of family and how they can make us all feel included.
LASTING IMPRESSIONS OF LINDSEY WHITE
Lindsey White was every parents’ worst nightmare. He stood for, promoted and encouraged his take on everything that parents endeavour to guide their children in – obedience to parents, healthy diet and life style, censured television and limited screen time etc.
A typical evening at the Whites would be.
Arrive at 6.30. Drinks all round, including Pepsi for the children. A whole can each (something never permitted at home). A slab of Gaye’s lovely homemade pizza. This was followed by any variety of ice cream and topping – as much as the bowl could hold. Seconds – well of course there was, you are not at home now.
And then it was into the lounge room with a large bag of Minties and Jelly Babies, for some serious screen time. The computer games were already charged up and ready to go. (One son insisted I mention this today) His favourite games were Pac Man and Donkey Kong. The videos were also lined up, starting with one from the “Mad Max” trilogy and at least one episode of the Spaghetti Westerns, “They Call Me Trinity”. The children were frequently joined on the lounge by Lindsey, just to share some time with them and add to the peels of laughter and maybe to have his own comedy fix.
Sometime after midnight and the adults had finished the discussions and debates on whatever was current, the children would be bundled up and loaded into the car with Lindsey standing at the front door of his house counting them out and at the car door counting them in. None of them wanted to leave, but Lindsey needed his sleep too.
Two of the children were lucky enough to score a ride to Perth with Lindsey – 4 large bottles of Pepsi, 2 for the front and 2 for the back. Plus 2 large bags of Minties and Jelly Babies, shared the same. A Perth trip had never been so good.
Thank you Lindsey for the interest you showed in our children, you’re mentoring and for guiding them in the important things in life, your hospitality and your entertainment. The impression you have made has been lasting as all this information has come directly from their fond memories of you.
The “Whites” arrived in Tenindewa in the season of 74/75 and it has to be said except for the loud bang or the lack there-of, to the folk of Tenindewa it was very much like what was befell those poor souls in Hiroshima…..life was never to be the same again.
In as much as today is about Lindsey it is sometimes difficult to not talk about both Lindsey and Gaye as a unit but I will do my best for Lindsey.
Lindsey’s and Gaye’s natural love was for each other of course but it has to be said their secret love was agriculture. In fact it was also their sport, their religion, their hobby and of course their occupation.
But with Lindsey it was a preoccupation as he played the game of agriculture in a fiercely competitive way.
• He loved the Ag. Dept but spent much of his life trying to prove them wrong
• He loved his neighbours but spent much of his time trying to outperform them
• And he loved nature but god help any poor animal that dared take just a little nip out of his precious wheat crop.
The “Whites” had hates too. They hated the “status quo” and thought of anything that stood still as dead but the raw truth is they were enormous in progressing Agriculture and not only locally but regionally. They (Gaye and Lindsey) left no stone unturned in discovering “the future” and I know we (farmers) are still benefitting to this day as a consequence of their dedication and persistence.
As the threads of the today’s verbal tribures emerge about Lindsey, I’m sure, people will understand when I say, “Lindsey was different” I mean different with a “capital D”.
To highlight this it can be summed up in one line.
Lindsey was naturally suspicious of anyone who immediately liked him. That just was not the plan as far as he was concerned and it would not do
Added to this
• Lindsey loved to confuse people
• Lindsey loved to test people
• Lindsey loved to annoy people
But most of all he loved to make people laugh and God knows he would have done that for most of his life one expects.
But what I have just said I think was a ploy by Lindsey to distract people because behind the confusing charade was a man that was very, very successful and to be brief in explanation, that was borne out by the fact that in his time and in his terms he really did grow “a shit load” of wheat.
But Lindsey had hates too and none fared worse than the Tax Dept followed by Public Authorities and Politicians and even God was on the receiving end on occasions.
To that end he was sort of fiercely agnostic but actually naturally Christian. He couldn’t help it. He was a kind man.
My vivid memories of Lindsey that will remain are
• his constant attire of green shirts with the entire sleeves cut out, black footy shorts regaled with underpants on occasions but much of the time without………….. and of course thongs….and I mean always thongs
• his never grow old attitude
• and his devotion to wife and family. He adored them.
And may I say lastly that in as much as Lindsey was not big on heroics I will never forget his courage on that extremely sad occasion in the year 2000 when he stood at a podium such as I am standing now and amazingly managed to deliver that wonderful and almost blemish free eulogy to his darling wife and soulmate in Gaye.
By Joan Blackburn – (Lindsay’s sister)
Lin’s education was rather broken because the small local school had closed down. Mum decided New Norcia might suit this country boy, and it did. The Brothers made religion so interesting that in the end Lin decided he would like to turn Catholic! For personal reasons Mum was very anti Catholic, so Lin was promptly removed and sent to South Australia to stay with Marg (his older sister) and her husband Ted. There under Ted’s eagle eye his grades improved and in Lin’s words” Ted and I passed our Junior”
On returning west he was now booked into Guildford Grammar School and had a great time among the boys – probably being the class clown. He discovered the boys in the rowing team got the best food so decided to join the team. What he may have lacked in skill he had in strength and determination, so they took him on. Much to his joy they won the “Head of the River” for the first in many years.
Apart from good food they had a lot of physical training, which included boxing. This was to stand him in good stead a couple of years later when the town bully picked on him at the local dance. Lin came home with a black eye, but his friends claimed the other guy looked far worse!
Incidentally Lin did not pass his leaving exam, but Mum said “thank goodness he got English”
Nita Johnson – Lindsay’s niece.
The Tibbar story
My children stayed with Lindsay and Gay in Tenindewa for the mid-year holidays over many years. They had a wonderful time and learnt many things;
• how to steer the ute in first gear,
• Coke is better than water,
• the freezer never runs out of icecream,
• don’t ride your bike over the double gee patch, and
• no matter how many times you said – “up Sam” the dog would jump into the back of the ute!
They also learnt a lot of language – some not so good – but one of the funnier words I remember was tibbar.
The story goes:
When hurtling along the fence line track Lindsay would periodically call out – “Tibbar, Tibbar”.
My boys asked him the obvious – “What is tibbar?”
To which Lindsay replied – “It’s rabbit spelt backwards. If I say rabbit no matter how fast the ute is going the dog will jump off the back!”
Bruce Butcher (Lindsey’s Nephew)
Lindsey Ernest John White
Oh pity the poor cowboy, all bloody and red
For the bronco fell on him and bashed in his head
There was blood in the saddle and blood all round
And a great big puddle of blood on the ground
The White kids, Tim, Thea and Tony were shockers. Lindsey Earnest John White had set an appalling example. An example he took great pride in and continued throughout his 85 years
Few here today would be unaware of how out of control, how devoid of discipline and how lacking in a decent role model Tim, Thea and Tony were. And frankly still are!
But what chance did they have? The apple never falls far from the tree.
Gaye tried valiantly. She failed miserably. Lindsey’s genes were far too strong. So much so that the next generation of Whites is likely to be as bad. I mean look at them. You would think that we are in the front row at a Rocky Horror show, not in the sombre surroundings to pay respects to a man who prided himself in his lack of respect for pretty much everything.
But that is not entirely true, for Lindsey did respect a number of things;
1. Coca Cola and cigarettes
2. A fashionable wardrobe
3. His father Tim’s work ethic
4. His mother Bea’s anti-Catholic religious beliefs
5. His wife Gaye’s valiant, albeit unsuccessful attempts to bring up three kids
6. But best of all, a wheat crop that stood this high, ran as far as the eye could see and went 15 bags to the acre.
Lindsey’s love for farming and really BIG machinery is well known. That Gaye would NOT allow him to park the header and the D9 outside the unit at Cottesloe after they sold the farm and retired to Perth really pissed Lindsey off. He always found Gay SO unreasonable.
I mentioned Lindsey’s father Tim’s work ethic. Last year Lindsey and I drove to Quairading to visit the old White farm at Yoting. Seventy years after the event Lindsey was still in awe of the hundreds and hundreds of acres of massive trees that his father Tim had cleared by hand-using only an axe. On one lot of school holidays, Lindsey offered to help his father with the clearing. Lindsey suggested they get a couple of bulldozers with a chain between them and rip through all the trees. Father Tim just shook his head and handed Lindsey the axe. Lindsey went straight back to school and to hell with holidays!
For his sins, Lindsey was sent to boarding school in New Norcia in 1944. Although New Norcia today carries a certain infamy, it was never more infamous than when Lindsey attended as a boarder. According to Lindsey, he was always running away from New Norcia. He hated discipline. Surprise surprise. But he would only get as far as the hunger pains would permit, before returning cap in hand for dinner.
I have read some of Lindsey’s letters to his mother and father written during his time at New Norcia.
The following are extracts from three, all on New Norcia letterhead and are quite amusing.
New Norcia Letters
We have heard this morning from young Lindsey that Lindsey spent most of his time at New Norcia planning his escape. He came up with a most brilliant idea. He knew his mother “Bea” had strong views on religion and was very negative towards Catholics. So Lindsey, ever the opportunist, contacts his mother and tells her they are about to convert to him to Catholicism.
Well didn’t that instill a treat? Within days Lindsey was out of there and on a troop train to Whyalla in South Australia to live with his sister Margaret and her husband Ted. Quite how Grandma White got Lindsey on a troop train in the middle of world war two remains a mystery? Lindsey not becoming a Catholic must have been clearly an important matter to the nation’s security?
Next thing we know, Lindsey and some of his new-found ne’er-do-well mates in Whyalla have broken into a shop to knock of some currents. Yes a large tray of currents. Go figure! Lindsey had a small gun (probably nothing more than an air rifle) so he shoots out the street light so no one can see them break into the store. So next thigh, Dearly departed here [Lindsey] is up on an armed robbery charge.
Luckily, Uncle Ted rose to the occasion and managed to smooth things over so that Lindsey just got of with a kick in the bum and all was well
So Lindsey gets run out of South Australia. He returns to Western Australia and completes his education at Guilford Grammar. He excels at rowing, looking dashing and in taking a keen interest in the fairer sex. But mainly looking dashing.
From 1949 to 1952 Lindsey returned to Yoting. He played at farming and worked at football and life was good.
My one abiding memory of the farm at Northampton that Lindsey and Gaye owned with younger brother Ken was walking into the house when Lindsey and Ken (who should have been out in the paddocks working) to be ambushed by these two crazed terrorists brandishing dishwashing detergent bottles filled with water, water pistols and buckets overflowing and then being chased all over the house with soapsuds and water everywhere!!
I thought well, if that’s farming is all about I’m in.
Evidently Gaye had gone to town to do the weekly shopping and left with clear instructions for Lindsey and Ken to clean the house. Gay’s instructions were always carried out to the letter and with great enthusiasm!
There came a time more recently when Lindsey’s fitness level began to flag. He was now living alone in Cottesloe with no Gaye, no header and no bulldozer. So he employs a personal trainer. Lindsey would take great delight in emailing around phots of him climbing walls, swinging off monkey bars, charging here and there, and generally looking ridiculous.
Unhappily, Lindsey’s quest of appearing on Survivor or one of those he-man/she woman television programs came to an abrupt end with the untimely death of his personal trainer. Lindsey being Lindsey, claimed full credit for that; “Well if he had been fitter and hadn’t tried to keep up with me etc”
To believe that Lindsey was as bad, as funny, as mischievous and as irreverent as we remember him, and that he drove us nuts, is actually well documented by at least three celebrate authors; His siblings in Ken White, Pat Heal and Joan Blackburn
In my mothers book “The Late Miss White” she writes
My mother was lucky she had three little mothers to help bring up Lindsey. At a very early age he became the family show pony. He wasn’t spoilt so much as he was important. Our cousins were close neighbors and about our age (ie the Lionel Whites) and they also chipped in with Lindsey’s upbringing.
We spent our holidays in Glen Iris at Rockingham; a one room cottage with five Lionel White kids and six of us….when “Lins” was not performing for us he was performing at the ice-cream shop -a free lick in return for a song or a nursery rhyme
A little later on Page 149 of her book she writes
I was away from home when Lin was eight but I will never forget him at a circus. He was funnier that the clowns and it finished up with the clowns laughing at him, tears streaming down there cheeks and Lin totally oblivious to the rest of the audience. Dad loved going to the circus but he loved it even better when going with Lindsey.
I have a dozen copies of Joan’s “The Story of my Life”. At page 5 Joan describes the quintessential outside Australian dunny.
“City toilets were always built at the back of the block and had a trap door at the back so the “nightman” with the night-cart could remove the used pan and replace it with a clean one–I remember once when we were on holidays at the coast, I must have been nine, I was taking little brother Lin down one of the back lanes at the back of some houses on the way home from the beach and he lifted up a trapdoor behind the toilet seat and in his big voice said, “look in here Joan” I had just dragged him away when a man looked out of the outhouse. I was so embarrassed I could have killed Lin. He was really the worst brother a girl could have”
The last few weeks have been typical Lindsey. He wanted to go to Harvey to see his sister Joan and brother in law John. Nita and I drove him there and back and we had a splendid day. Within a few days of getting back however, and I don’t know if it was Nita’s and my fault, it seems Lindsey suffered his second stroke in 10 days and wound up in Hollywood Hospital. Although much of his body had gone the same way as his personal trainer, Lindsey was mentally alert, bright, funny, mischievous and irascible as ever.
How are you Lindsey? “I’m dying”. But you’ve said that for the past 12 months. “I lied” “But this time I’m really dying”.
Lindsey demanded to be taken home to die. He had Thea sort out a hospital bed and 24/7 carers. Tony flew from Kununurra and the unit in Cottesloe became a refuge for the homeless. Mattresses, sheets, blankets, food drinks and people all over the place 24 hours a day. It was a White thing. A Lindsey thing and it was wonderful. We laughed we reminisced and all the while Lindsey remained alert, talkative, engaging and a real show-off until the end.
Lindsey has touched our lives. He only ever taught me one thing and it has stayed with me and has proved invaluable.
When I was young, my mother, who must have been on drugs at the time , entrusted me to Lindsey’s care as I needed a strong, responsible male figure and role model in my life. As there was none available I ended up with Lindsey who, evidently, took this task very seriously and would sit me down at the table, with my feet up on the table, to teach me to talk.
When Lindsey was laying in his hospital bed some weeks ago I asked him about this and whether he remembered being my tutor? His face lit up, he broke out into a huge smile and then laughed and laughed. He then in a deep voice spoke the only two words he ever taught me: “Hello Honey”. A somewhat limited vocabulary at the time but granted, right on the money proving that Lindsey taught me a thing or two
According to Lindsey and John Blackburn confirms it was Joan who always had the last word. So I will close by reading from Joan’s book as it captures Lindsey White to a tee.
I January (1932) Lindsey Earnest John White was born and true to his impressive name he became a show stealer. My nose was very much out of joint although I was still “daddy’s baby girl” – I found this little brother very irritating. He could capture attention in all sorts of ways. He was as bright as a button and could recite little poems and sing little songs almost as soon as he could talk. He loved an audience and he did not have a shy bone in his body. Come to think of it he never ever changed.
There is blood on the saddle and blood all around
And a great big puddle of blood on the ground
A cowboy lay in it, all covered with gore
And he never will ride any broncos no more
The thongs became permanent