Max Ricks Recollections
The Home for Incurables Group
One summers’ day in about 1960, a cousin, Ray Lewis, and I went to the Adelaide Oval and watched a day’s cricket of a test match between England and Australia.
As a school boy about 30 years before, Ray had polio, and was restricted to a wheelchair with little or no use of his legs and arms. To get Ray to the cricket, we used our 2-3 ton Bedford Truck, and rolled Ray’s wheel chair off the ramp at the home for Incurables where he lived, and secured him in his wheel chair to the back of the truck which was surrounded by strong frames.
During the course of the day while we were watching the cricket, Ray asked if it would be possible to take some more of his wheelchair mates who lived at the Home for Incurables, on some outings.
Fortunately, at about the same time, the group of young people who had formed into the Cherry Gang jumped at the chance to take a truck load of wheelchair people on outings. So it was arranged that on the last Sunday of each month we would pick up a truck load of patients in wheel chairs at about mid-morning, and spend the day at the National Park, or other spots, and sometimes in the summer we would go to the beach.
There was one girl called Milly who spent her time in a cot who was totally incapacitated, other boys were Ray, David, Ross, Ivan, Peter, Robert and Les. Some were victims of polio, others had Muscular Dystrophy, while Les was a road accident victim, paralysed from the waist down. All the people had various levels of ability, some were good at drawing and painting, but were all very intelligent people, full of wit, and great company.
When we went to the beach (usually to Glenelg) the lads from the Home arranged that we could have the use of the Glenelg Life Savers Club Rooms. Ray and David used to like to go into the water, and we would wheel them in their wheel chairs into the sea until the water was deep enough, then take them out of the wheel chairs and float them on their backs, just holding on to the back of their heads and there they would float. To unload the people from the truck where there was no ramp, we used wide planks which we carried in the truck and attached them to the tray of the truck and resting the other end on the ground. When anyone of the wheelchair patients had a birthday, we would repeat the process and Ray would arrange for an evening meal at a restaurant somewhere in the Suburbs.
At this time in the early 1960’s the authorities at the Home which was later called The Julia Farr Centre, gave us freedom to take the folks out at night, so long as we put them to bed when we got back.
These trips lasted 3 to 4 years and thoroughly enjoyed by all until we, at the Cherry Gang, eventually went our own separate ways.