IF you were out Lowood way in the early 1950s, you might have seen a peculiar sight. A young man standing on the seat of a motorbike, careering through the fields.
That was clearly a man with spirit and a bit of the devil but behind the dashing exterior was a man ready to work hard for his family. And there was plenty of work for Clyde “Spud” Marschke in the fields of Patrick Estate. Luckily, he had a strong, willing partner in Fay.
The pair raised onions and garlic mostly – and for a while, spuds, of course – and it was hard. Fay remembers pushing her kids in a pram along the farrows as she tended onions, and they must have looked on in amazement as she baled hay.
These were days when self-reliance was vital, and Spud personified it. When he needed a tractor for his onion field, he simply built it. It was an amazing contraption made from bits and pieces, which did the job.
The same ability with his hands saw him make garden ornaments – windmills – when he moved to Lowood in 1991. He’d fashion the windmills, each of which did a fun trick, while Fay would paint them.
And in their lounge room, you can see his handiwork in a bookshelf and a low table that you’d believe were fashioned by a professional cabinetmaker.
And when Spud decided to play music, well, he taught himself to play a squeezebox and a mouth organ.
Then he and some mates took to the road, entertaining nursing homes.
On 9 December the couple will find themselves at the Lowood Bowls Club for a celebration of their 70th anniversary. It’s a familiar haunt. These days, Spud doesn’t drive, but back in the day he used to back the trailer into its shed after he’d had a few cold ones, and said Fay, he’d get it straight in. Try it sober and he’d need eight attempts.
Their lives had some tough moments too. Their first child passed after three weeks. In 1970 a serious car accident saw both hospitalised and relying on neighbours to keep their farm going. In 1974’s floods the pair were leaping off the back fence into a boat.
But as Fay reminisces about putting the kids to sleep under the seats at the dance hall so she and Spud could shake a tailfeather or about knitting by the creek, waiting to switch on the motor for the irrigation, she says it’s been a good 70 years. She has no regrets about marrying the spirited young fella who swept her off her feet way back then.