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Some Things About Colin McKenzie Dyster

by H. C. Wight, 1995

Colin and I were, in 1917, fellow students at the Flinders Street (Adelaide) Primary Public School, and began a friendship which has endured, with no downs, to this day — one little hiccup, perhaps. We do not view with the same degree of appreciation the Australian Hymn Book.

The Dyster family, Mother (Margaret), boys Tom, Colin, Ken and Ian, lived in Hutt Street, near to Carrington Street where I lived.

They had formerly lived at Broken Hill. Father was “at the war”. It was my sad experience to be nearby when the School Headmaster, Mr Llewellyn, told Colin that his Father had died in camp in England.

Mother was left to bring up her four boys, which she did in a wonderful way. They were all well educated, and pursued honourable careers.

Even in those early days, Colin must have had some thoughts of speaking up in public. One of our joint projects was the creation of a Theatre. Drawings of stage on cardboard, coloured, cut out, folded, glued. Drawings of the actors (did you know that Colin was an artist?) coloured, given bases to stand on and to be pushed about the stage as the action demanded. The speaking parts were all taken by Colin. The Play we presented — of course, Macbeth.

The exam for entrance to a High School — the “Qualifying Certificate” was to be held in November, 1918. But on the appointed day, news came of the end of the “Great War” and nobody went to school that day. Instead all the children joined the thousands of people in the main streets, celebrating. The exam was on the next day.

Six of us gained the “Quali”, Colin and I and four others. Colin received a prize — a book on elocution.

About this time, the Dyster family moved to what I thought was a beautiful address — Aberfeldy, Kildalton Avenue, Evandale — which meant that, while I went to Adelaide High School, Colin went to the Norwood High, and became a Norwood football supporter.

Elocution studies continued under teacher Thelma Baulderstone. And of course, every student entered the “Adelaide Competitions”, held in the Y.M.C.A. Hall. Before the days of amplifiers, a speaker had to make himself heard. Colin's method, no doubt inspired by Thelma, was to speak to, and be heard by, his Mother, who was always there, sitting at the back of the Hall. It worked.

Colin was involved in the early days of “Wireless Broadcasting”. The predecessor of the A.B.C. had a studio, first in Franklin Street, then in the Grosvenor Hotel on North Terrace. The “call signs” were 5AB and 5CL.

It used to be said, jokingly, that in those days, the programme was apt to be —

  1. Recitation, Colin Dyster, “Gunga Din”;

  2. Song, Sylvia Thomas, “The Blind Ploughman”;

    and while the above were getting their breaths for their next contribution,

  3. A piece of music played on the “Gulbransen Registering Piano”.

You weren't allowed to say “Pianola”, that was a registered trade name. My humble contribution to all this was to open and close the microphone switch, as required.

After leaving Norwood High, Colin began working with Dalgetys, in Currie Street, where I often visited him.

At the end of 1924 we decided to go on a three day bike trip, to see some of the country south of Adelaide. It was an enjoyable experience, visiting Strathalbyn, Victor Harbour and McLaren Vale, where I met a young lady who has been my wife for 59 years.

Then, Colin went to Sydney, and our contacts became largely by letter.

I heard about the growing involvement with the Presbyterian Church, about Theological Hall, about a visit to U.S.A. to obtain a few more degrees, about Edith. Marriage. Children. Moderator. Retirement. Which brings us to February, 1995.

Thanks Colin for everything. I have valued your friendship for 78 years.

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