I was lucky enough to find a copy of the book “Mates – The friendship That Sustained Henry Lawson” by Bryon Gregory. The author hadn’t received his copy yet. I was aware that a book was being written about my great grandfather James Gordon (Jim Graham).You can imagine my surprise though to see it on the shelf front and centre at Target. You see, the “mate” was my droving, bush poet Great Grandfather, James Gordon (nom de plume Jim Graham).
Our family has some beautiful poetry written by James. He sensitively reveals his the love, hopes, dreams, fears, and heartache he had for his family. Verses speak about various members of my family. James Gordon’s daughter was Bonnie, my great Aunt, who served as my grandmother after the tragic loss of my father’s mother when he was three). Gordon writes about his son James, my Great Uncle Jimmy, killed in the Japanese death marches at the end of WW2. He writes lovingly about his stoic wife, the drover’s wife and nurse. Nana as I knew her, who cared for her own family, and the Leeton community. She was dedicated to the health of the indigenous “reserve” on the outskirts of Leeton.
Through his writing, our family has a rich history. We are also able to step back into the lives of James Gordon and Henry Lawson’s.
This friendship, whilst known in our family, has only really been an addon when discussing Lawson publically. This friendship was an anchor for Lawson. Lawsom would come to the farm and detox, fish, write and get his head together. The book, “Mates”, is a dual biography of Lawson and Gordon (aka Graham)is based on historical facts and family letters. The volume reveals the depth and reality of this lifelong friendship. There is also previously unpublished stories of their meandering trek from Bourke to Hungerford in the early stages of their friendship. This trek which features in both the men’s writing.
I’m still reading the book, so won’t write about the content, except to say a huge “thank you” to the author Gregory Byron, for this wonderful gift to our family.