Born to be a failed preacher
Couldn’t take it as a teacher
A rejected dud, a horrid creature
A man with no redeeming features
Son Of A Preacher. M.S 1993
When I was born I was given the name Reginald Wentworth, or to give you the name as it appears on my birth certificate, Reginald Brandon Campbell Wentworth III, but I assure you that name has not been used for many a year, so long in fact that I had to think hard about it before writing it down.
I was born in the city of Adelaide, to the parents, Mary Jane Wentworth and Reginald Francis Xavier Wentworth II. As you can probably guess my father’s father also had the name Reginald Wentworth, I never did know him but as far as leaving you with a lasting gift goes leaving a kid of the 70’s and 80’s with a name like Reginald Brandon Campbell Wentworth is a fair clanger of a gift.
My father was nothing short of a god fearing man, he’d grown up wanting to be a preacher at the local church, like his father. He’d grown up with his head stuck so deeply inside a bible that he probably didn’t see the sun rise or set for the most part of his childhood. The only reason he never followed in the family business, so to speak, was because at the age of eighteen he not only got himself drunk he also, as the story goes got a girl pregnant.
How everything happened that night was never told to me in any clear way I had to piece it together in my teenage years, at a time where I really had to wonder if the two adults I lived with were actually my parental units, but more on that later. What I was able to find out was that an eighteen year old Reginald Wentworth went to his first school dance at the end of his final year, he was late finishing school because he had to repeat several grades in his secondary years. He’d gone alone with the promise to his father that he would not partake of the devil’s wine or succumb to the whims of his fellow male students and chase any ‘tail’, as it was said to him but his father.
Reginald agreed knowing full well he was planning to ignore both requests, he was after all eighteen and despite not having any true friends was still easily lead by peer pressure. What happened between leaving home and midnight that night is sketchy but it appears once plied with several shots of scotch he was lead by the boys he thought were he friends around the back of the dance hall. Mitch Anderson then egged him on to have sex with Amanda Williams. In his drunk state Reginald believed, so he claimed when he sobered up the following day, that he was involved in some kind of group orgy and his mates were just letting him go first.
His big problem arose two days later when Amanda Williams could only remember Reginald being present and not any of his mates, it was further compounded a month later when she announced she was pregnant. Again what happened after that is a mix of conjecture, pieced together stories, and sworn statements by people I highly doubt told the truth. However the result was that Amanda lost the baby at three months, if there was one, even that didn’t seem to be a proven point.
What I do know as fact, because I found it in a note written by my Grandfather to his only son on his death bed, was that because of what happened, what the town knew and more so because of what God knew, was that Reginald I demanded Reginald II never serve god as a minister of any kind. For whatever reason, possibly because my father was such a god fearing soul he never did betray his father’s wishes. However that didn’t stop him attending church four times a week and at the age of twenty eight after several failed jobs in the private sector and a short stint as a religious teacher he started a Christian Book Shop in the suburbs of Adelaide.
I guess I should be some what thankful for those things, especially the book shop because it was in that bookshop that a twenty two year old Mary Jane Buckwood entered one December morning. She was six years his junior but there must have been an attraction there because within three months they were married and for her twenty third birthday Mary found out she was pregnant.
From what I was told, at various times by my mother before I was ten, married life was a challenge but a worthwhile challenge. She was expected to keep a spic and span house, expected to have dinner on the table not long after her husband walked in at the end of the day and she was expected to do it without argument.
I don’t know if my father ever hit her when things weren’t as he expected them to be but from an early age I knew never to be at the wrong end of his swinging fist so I may not be far from the truth suggesting he did. Don’t get me wrong I’m not suggesting what my father did was right or that my mother had a bad life, or even hated her life, many a housewife had a life like hers, just like many a father shaped his children’s lives with an open fist.
I felt for my mother in my early years, she was a loving mother who did what she could for her family under whatever conditions were put in front of her. But in my early teenage years I realised that there was more to my mother than just doing what she could with the cards she was dealt because she was also stacking the deck. Many of the views my father had she shared, many of the opinions he had, she had and perhaps the worst of all, the way he ruled with his iron fist was supported by her, especially when it came to me and the mistakes I made.
But despite all that they were my parents and I loved them for who they were.