Bernie Howard turns 85 this year. Elsie, or Cubby to her friends, is 84. Bernie was born in Quirindi at Florence Cottage, maternity hospital. Bernie's father was Raphie Howard. Bernie had 8 other siblings.
His eldest sister was Marie, who died at 24 years of age from polio. Then Bernie was next, followed by Clair, Ken, who died of luekemia in 1960, Les, Veronica, Francis, Phonsie and Rita.
Bernie attended Willow Tree public school. He remembers his
first headmaster as being Jim Jordan. Then it was Stan Bates. There were only 2 classrooms in those days, and about 60 kids taught by 2 teachers.
Bernie remembers one day when his dad Raphie called into school and took Bernie out for the day. Bernie
was just 9 years old. Raphie had bogged a truck in Chilcotts Creek. Raphie had walked all the way back to town, got Bernie and another truck, and they both went back, and with 9 year old Bernie driving the other truck, they pulled the bogged truck out of the
Another funny story was when Bernie was at 12 years of age, occasionally doing the mail run for Raphie in the mail truck. Bernie was caught by the local policeman, Authur Allan and was given a stern talking to for driving under age.
At 14 years of age, Bernie started work on 'Rathcown', now 'Talawanta' taking Phil Mitchel's job, as Phil Mitchel was called up to go to war. Phil Mitchel lived near the Merriwa road at the time, in a small A.A.Co. cottage on land now owned by Neil Barwick
and family, 'Yarrabah'. Interestingly, Bernie and Raphie a few years later helped move that cottage to near the 'Yarrabah' homestead where it became Yarrabah's woolshed.
When Bernie was 15, he got a special car licence, so he could legally do the
mail run. The war meant that workers were hard to come by. Bernie had a special high seat made up, sitting him higher, so he could see better.