PostHeaderIcon My Father's Passport


I was busy when the phone call came. ‘Yes?’ I enquired, ‘Can I help you?’

‘Is that you Doreen? We met years ago. You probably would not remember. But I was wondering if you could help you know who Harry Wendt is?’
‘He was my father!’ I exclaimed.
‘Well, we have his passport here in the bookshop!’
‘How did it come to be there?’ I naturally enquired. The woman did not know. She was tidying up the desk and it was in a small pile. I collected it that afternoon, the photo in the passport revealing my father aged fifty-nine and looking young for his years, which he always did. A tear almost fell. My Dad had died in 1989, aged 88, as a result of a car accident. He was always very dear to me. We were great mates, on the same wavelength.

The passport was dated 7th September 1960. Dad and Mum went on a Women’s Weekly World Tour in 1960, for three months. It was a big adventure for them indeed. They lived on the Strathmore for the entire trip around the world. My mother died in 1965, having just turned 63, a very sad time for the family.

But how did the passport come to be in the second-hand bookshop across the road? Surely it arrived in the pages of some book? But it had a hard cover and would have been noticed? My father had left a lot of books when he died, and it was my job to deal with them. They were mostly historical novels, biographies and the like.

A few years after my dad’s death, I was living at Carindale. I had been asked to take in as a boarder a young Canadian man who taught, voluntarily, origami to underprivileged children as part of an exchange system. I knew he had little resources. Each day he would go to the city, just for something to do, and loved to talk to the waitresses in a Greek café in Elizabeth Street. He was not an attractive man and these girls made much of him, making him feel valued. There was a bookstore across the road where you could sell unwanted books.

I struck a deal with Brian, as he was named. I had culled out the best (as I thought) of my Dad’s books, and had several boxes of unwanted volumes. If he would tote a bundle each day to the store and sell them for whatever he could get, he could have half the amount for himself. He eagerly grasped the agreement, and we were in business. Eventually, the boxes were empty and we both had a small sum for our trouble. Brian was very happy about this arrangement.

Had the passport been sold along with one of these books? I doubt it really, as it would have fallen out surely, or we would have noticed it.

I moved to Tamborine Mountain in 1993, taking all my possessions with me. I have never given any books to the bookstore across the road. I gave all my university notes to the local library, and several of Dad’s books to my daughter who lives locally. But the rest I have treasured, keeping them in my bookcase.

If only the passport could talk? What would it tell us?