Story 2 - Monty's Cake

Acticle is the Nambucca Heads Local Newspaper
Submitted by Mrs Coral Shields, Nambucca Heads 

When Denis Hare, then of Macksville, was in Vietnam he had a mate who was to celebrate his 21st birthday there.

His name was Monty and that is all I know. His mother was dead and Denis was concerned that there would be nothing much coming from home. He mentioned it in a letter to his mother Nancy and father Bill, then an ambulance officer at Macksville, who in turn talked it over with me.

We decided to do something about it and I made a large fruit cake. Then having a marvellous time, we shopped for a party. We bought about eight of everything, enough for his tent mates.

There were kids’ party hats, balloons, tin whistles, serviettes, nuts, sweets, popcorn, tinned fruit and cream and more.

One tube of lollies looked like junket tablets, so we took the label off and replaced it with another saying "The Pill". My daughter, then a schoolgril, was most upset about that saying, "Mum – you can’t do that. He might be a Catholic".

At the time there was a beer strike but Bill Hare managed to come up with a few of the best at great personal sacrifice.

We couldn’t buy a key to go on the cake but when talking to Pearl Stubbs of the then Nambucca Hardware she produced one about eight inches long with a broken thermometer in the middle. We said that would do fine – he would think the thermometer broke during transit!

We added a note to the key to say it was magic and that whatever it opened was his.

Monty and the 21st Brithdat Key - Nui Dat 1968By the time we had finished it had become a huge carton and we were running out of time. We put a message on the outside explaining to the PMG the importance of hasty delivery and perhaps because of this message Monty received his birthday parcel on time.

Denis Hare was supposed to be there when it arrived to get some pictures but was on duty. When Denis finally caught up with his mate he was sitting on the floor of the tent with paper and parcel all around and exclaiming "Oh S…" each time he took something out.

Monty have a 21st Brithday Drink - Nui Dat 1968Monty wore that key on a piece twine around his neck until he was forced to take it off by threat of a charge.

As for Bill’s sacrifice – the boys had been saving their ration for weeks and already had dozens on hand for the big day.

We know they and Monty had a lot of fun out of it all, but it was nothing compared to the fun Nancy and I had being long-distance stand-in Mums for the day!


Footnote:  An example of the support we had from our family and friends.  Stan (Monty) Montefiore now lives and works in Pittsworth, Queensland with his family.  

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