Former Shepparton resident Graham Jenks visited by his old home town last week, taking the chance to wander the streets and enjoy the ‘‘generally pleasant and safe place’’ he remembered.
Mr Jenks, 62, lives on a small farm at Decatur, Texas, and admitted life in the United States was a bit different from Shepparton.
‘‘I left Shepparton 40 years ago and pretty much only remember where the old post office was, I’m not even sure where my dad Ray had an electrical shop, but it was in the High St,’’ Mr Jenks said.
As he strolled through Maude St Mall, Mr Jenks noted nobody was carrying a gun.
‘‘They do in Texas,’’ he said.
Mr Jenks, who owns a Winchester rifle, said: ‘‘It’s obviously handy when despatching a wild pig, feral dog or rattlesnake.’’
Mr Jenks was back in town to catch up with his brother, Stuart, and a few old musician friends.
‘‘I remember playing at the GV Hotel in the late 60s. Rock music and jazz was thriving at the time.
‘‘Stuart and I played with legends like Glen and Trent Suratman, Steve Jeffery and Ian Mason.
‘‘I also lived in Bendigo, then Melbourne and I went to London in late ’72.’’
Mr Jenks got a job as a tour guide and, after the initial winter shock and a three-day week, had a great time. He reminisced about falling in love with a German woman, who was ‘‘slightly married’’, which eventually curbed her travel plans to Australia.
‘‘(When) I was back in Australia; Dad had divorced and moved to Seattle with his American-born wife, Sue.’’
Ray died five years ago, but Mr Jenks keeps in touch with Sue, who lives North Carolina.
‘‘In late ’79 I was in the US and walked into an English pub called the Canterbury Inn and it was there I met a local, Susan Schenk.
‘‘To cut a long story short, we married, and ended up in Boulder, Colorado. Our daughter, Kelly, was born in 1982.’’
Mr Jenks started a tree farm at Decatur in 2001, but the recession and successive droughts forced him to shut it down.
He works as a bar manager at a resort, part of the Hilton empire.
‘‘I’ve still got eight acres with a spring-fed creek and it’s a great place to live.
‘‘Susan and I divorced after 25 years, but she remains a soul mate, living in Keller.’’
His daughter Kelly has a Master’s degree in anthropology and teaches in Fort Worth, Texas.
‘‘Her research has included the early Pueblo Indians and the influence of the French and Spanish there,’’ Mr Jenks said.
The former Shepparton resident admitted he would like to move back to Australia, but would have to try to convince his daughter to move, too.
‘‘I’d (have) to convince Kelly to come here. Her husband, Ali, is an archaeologist.
‘‘But, I could easily buy a shack in somewhere like Maldon — a long way from Donald Trump.’’
And what of the US President and gun culture?
‘‘(Mr) Trump is all ego and an embarrassment. It’s nuts. I can see how he happened, but we can only hope he doesn’t stuff it up too badly. I think the Robert Mueller probe might put the brakes on him.
‘‘As far as guns — well, the core of it is that most Americans simply don’t trust the government. Any government. And they think by owning guns they’re safe. It defies logic, of course.’’