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Author's note: 'Laughter and Tears' is a collection of tales and anecdotes to make you laugh and perhaps to shed a tear, even if one of laughter.
* Contents derived from the Rollingstone,Toobanna - Rollingstone area,Ingham area,Ingham - Cairns area,Queensland,:Jack O'Connor,1985 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
A tourist travelling through a country town meets a man reputed to have an amazing memory who asks him a simple question. Several years later the tourist is again passing through the town and encounters the man who, as if no time has elapsed, continues their conversation of years earlier.
Hank is renowned for being a big eater, so it is surprising that he wants to quit when he is ahead in an eating competition at a country fair. However, he reveals that the reason is his reluctance to incur his wife's wrath by missing dinner time.
The storyteller recalls three main things about cane-farmer, Ollie - that he was lazy, loved alcohol, and was a skilled marksman - and recounts the varied ways in which Ollie managed to indulge himself in these pursuits.
When Townsville was still just a small town, a local family by the name of Howell lived in the Aitkenvale area. They owned five very domesticated ponies that the children used for transport, and were mystified when the ponies went missing. When a man claimed to have found the ponies and offered to drive them back for ten shillings, the family gratefully agreed. However, when this recurred the next year, and the following, Mr Howell threatened to put the police onto the man.
An ageing man recounts his story of how a visit to the National War Museum in Canberra, where he sees a model of the World War II troop carrier, Westralia, triggers memories of his childhood escapades.
Young Dave and his siblings think it a funny thing to topple their 'thunderbox' into the creek, but do not realise it is occupied by their father. As Dad gives a moral lecture on the benefits of honesty, using George Washington as an example, Dave thinks it safe to admit guilt, but is mistaken.
Nobody in the little coastal town could understand how their beloved school, the repository of so many fond memories, could be razed to the ground. Nobody, that is, except the self-serving teacher and the philandering, debt-ridden father of two of her pupils.
The local pastor of a country town is perplexed by having met several women of his parish who are all expecting babies at the same time, and then meeting one woman whose baby is due two months after all the others. Her explanation sheds light on the social activities of the town.
Sam Thompson has little regard for anyone's welfare but his own, and happily exploits people's affections and trust to achieve his ends. Eventually he goes too far and the law catches up with him. However, luck is on his side and he is acquitted for lack of evidence, but this doesn't stop one of his long-suffering girlfriends from meting out justice with a whip.