Everybody loves marching girls! Back in the 1960’s Marching Girls were all the rage and the girls of Gympie presented themselves faithfully each workday week for their whistle blowing circuits of the parade ground in the evening.
Our Marching Girls were resplendent in their colourful costumes and the Municipal Band gave the occasion an air of urgent appeal as it guided girls around the grounds to the encouraging shouts of the Marching Girl Major.
There was expectation constant drilling would result in the girls leading out in Gympie’s town celebrations, but as these were few and far between they cast about for appointments in distant cities so they could wow the locals with their fancy moves.
It was in that era those of us conscripted into National Army training and having completed intensives at boot camp near Brisbane would present ourselves after work evenings a few blocks away from town centre at the Army Transportation Corps training grounds. There was a marked difference between the two parade grounds. Men who’d not been conscripted avoided Army parade grounds.
There were no girls hanging over the fence to encourage as we played soldiers so we resigned ourselves to customary irritants as commanding officers put us through our paces. The only thing keeping us going was thought of our nightly pilgrimage to the girl’s parade grounds afterward. If all went according to plan, we could reach girl’s parade ground in a procession of speeding cars just as the girls were winding up for the evening.
Now the girl’s parade ground was quite different to our Army playground. Girl’s parade ground was the centre of town at that time of night and a vast milling crowd of young men surrounded the grounds sizing up possibilities and loudly proclaiming merits and demerits of the marching angels. The girls were quite well aware of their attracting power and would give beatific smiles and an eye flutter or two as they passed by each clump of appreciative spectators. There was electricity in the air and each of the spectators felt it.
Now most girls were spoken for and at the conclusion of their evening exercise chosen lucky lads would race to the side of their angel casting furtive glances around to see no formidable competition was on the horizon.
Girls would also be casting a furtive eye over the crowd checking to see if they’d selected the best of what was available. Occasionally there was a challenge and a scuffle, but most times men would steer their angel quickly away from potential danger of a challenge and they’d be off in a stream of vehicles heading for their favourite spot on the outskirts of town where a study of stars and planets could be better arranged.
But some of the girls were not taken and hordes of hospitable lads would rush around earnestly offering their services to escort the young ladies home. Their concern for the wellbeing and comfort of the ladies was charming to behold. Occasionally one of these hospitable lads would luck out, but most of the time remaining angels pointed to a parent standing in the dark watching the melee with folded arms and disapproving looks.
Eventually grounds cleared of Marching Girls. The remaining lads would resign themselves to the fact they’d been unsuccessful and stand around for a while discussing activities of the evening and exchanging jokes before departing in packs for the Green Door, a seedy hamburger joint near the Railway Station that distributed indigestible food at a reasonable price throughout the dark hours to night owls of the town.
But hope springs eternal. There at the Green Door they’d review events of the evening and make plans for another perhaps more successful assault on the Marching Girl parade ground next evening.
“© This story Copyright Ian Grice 2016, all rights reserved”