Taffy Watkins, and life in Mary Kathleen

The Mary Kathleen care and maintenance crew consisted of about thirty workers, most of whom had families.  Managing the work was Taffy Watkins, a crusty gentleman who knew what he wanted.  I found him to be a cordial, affable man who included our team in all the town’s activities.

Taffy was an avid lawn bowler, and made sure that they maintained the Mary Kathleen bowling green in top condition.  Most nights you’d find him down at the green, playing lawn bowls with whomever wanted to play.  They did it right: they all had white straw hats, white shirts and trousers, just as you’d see at any well-conducted bowling club in Australia.

The social building (i.e., open-air bar and lounge) was next to the bowling green and was the only social gathering place in Mary Kathleen.  The building consisted of a refrigerated room to keep the beer cold, a bar, and a roof.  The building was open on three sides: no walls.  On most evenings we stopped in after mealtime.

One evening I was talking to someone over a beer, when the Silly Dog walked in.  Spotting me, he trotted over and sat down next to where we were standing.

We started talking about the Silly Dog, and my friend commented that the dog never barked.

I replied, “No, he is usually quiet, but will acknowledge me with one bark when I speak to him.  I turned to the dog and said, “Isn’t that right, Silly Dog?”

The Silly Dog replied, “Arf!”

One evening, during lawn bowls, the Silly Dog ran onto the bowling green.  Taffy, sitting beside me, shouted, “Hi! Get off that grass you mutt!”

I got up, walked over to where the Silly Dog was sitting, and explained to him in some detail that he could run around either side, everywhere, but not down onto the green itself.

From that moment on, the Silly Dog ran everywhere around the area, but avoided the green.  To my knowledge he never ran onto the green again.

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One Response to Taffy Watkins, and life in Mary Kathleen

  1. Saltmer says:

    Wow, thank you for the memories. I spent the best years of my childhood at Mary Kathleen during the years 1975-1983 during the mine’s 2nd ‘life’ before production ceased and everything was auctioned. Our house was #11 on 11th Street. You’ll remember that the streets had no names. Yes, the bowls club was the place to be, and also the pool and cinema. My sister was the projectionist for a while.
    I remember the houses very well. In 1983 they were put up for tender and my dad bought ours. The verandah was sawn off, secured flat against the side of the building, then the house was removed off the stumps and placed on a flat bed trailer. Our house went to Mount Isa where dad had bought a block to resite the house.

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