Memories of Howard Perkins, from Daughter in Law June Perkins
15th February 2021
The very first time I met Howard Perkins, after visiting the Perkins’s house after a teaching service trip with his son David, he said, ‘You know he’s a good catch,’ about David, with David standing there and blushing, much to his embarrassment. His Dad was keen for him to be married and figured I might be the one.
At the time David and I were friends, only having just met, but a few days later David knew we would be married. His Dad had picked it before he did though.
We lived with Helen and Howard for two years in Melbourne about one year after we married having moved from Tasmania my childhood home. During which time several other people lived with them also including their daughter, Tahirih. Howard opened their home to anyone in need beyond just his biological family. Both Howard and Helen loved their children dearly and wanted to see them spiritually happy and well educated and they were devoted Baha’is. David suffered some major health issues in the years before I met him and his family had thought they were going to lose him. Thankfully he survived and thrived.
Although Howard, never had a degree himself, and used to joke, ‘I could ride through a uni with a thermometer and measure the degrees’, he had an university level knowledge of coins. And it was through coins that he found out about the Baha’i Faith through his friend Alan Burnell, also a coin dealer. Howard was the only family member other than David able to attend my university graduation from Melbourne University and it was special to have him share that day with David and I. Later he would proudly attend David’s PhD graduation.
There are so many legendary stories about Howard that David likes to tell to the children and me, and youth groups and close friends which in time they will hopefully all be recorded, but there were also many special moments just for family.
We visited Helen and Howard a number of times in Melbourne over the years, but it became more challenging as we moved farther and farther away. Following in Howard and Helen’s inspiring footsteps we decided to home front pioneer, first to Armidale and later for nearly a decade to Far North Queensland. Howard and Helen spent many years in Tonga, and stories of this time are also legendary to the Perkins family.
A special time was just after Sandon was born, Poppy and the whole Perkins family (David’s brother sister their kids and friend who became like family Eva) came to visit us in Tuross Head. All the more special because such total family gatherings would become rarer and rarer over the years.
One of the most special times was a visit Poppy Perkins made on his own to see his grand kids when we lived in Feluga, just outside of Tully. He played cricket and went fishing and on bush walks with the family. He said he had been a bit busy to do some of these things with David when he was a small boy and in a way was making up for lost time in childhood.
We also made it to Howard and Helen’s surprise 50th wedding anniversary celebration in Melbourne, which was a super special time for the whole family and none of us will ever forget the look on their faces when they arrived to a hall full of friends and family to celebrate their accomplishment.
By the time we lived closer to Melbourne relatively speaking (Brisbane), Poppy was no longer well enough to travel very far, so we made one family visit in the last three years, and also David and his grandson Ben were able to make a special visit about a year ago.
Although physically distant, Poppy made sure to ring, and was keen to sometimes help us out when we didn’t have much in the way of finances whilst we were studying and raising our young family. And this was the way of Howard Perkins, he helped everyone, and gave much of what he had away.
Poppy Perkins, also was a very caring in law, who in many instances assisted my parents when they needed it. My Mum said she will never ever forget his kind and accepting nature to always see the potential for the best in everyone, a quality she also shares. My Dad also had immense respect for him as well.
Time to write more memories – here are daily reflections. We are the midst of world wide pandemic, but also poverty continues, and strange events happen like people obsessed with doughnuts and disappearances in rivers…
It is interesting to visit an Exhibition with artists. Both Sheridan my daughter, and Sally, who are both artists were such an inspiration to visit the space with.
Sheridan shared about volunteering for the Brisbane Street Art Festival.
I especially loved the images of Indigenous people with a predominance of the colour orange in them.
I always think of Sally and her hideaway studio tucked away near the rainforest, surrounded by creative friends and mentoring young artists and basket makers.
We would sometimes meet for lunch, especially with friends, like Christine, Pam, Kay and Marcia. I sent greetings to them all via Sally.
Some friends you just always have deep conversations with about, the world, time, people, art and more. And Sally is a treasure. She spent the day helping us clean our home when we were about to move from Murray Upper to Brisbane.
Some friends stand the test of time, and we look forward to catching up with Sally in person when we can.
Writing and photography are the two things I am most comfortable with when it comes to art and creative expression. But recently I realised it’s really time to continue to hone my video making skills and move out of the comfort zone.
To help me on my quest I called Suzie Cray, the new Cairns based ABC Open producer, who eagerly agreed to come and assist.
In preparation I wrote three short scripts, charged up my camera batteries, and packed it along with my tripod and some water.
Although I’ve made videos before, I am keen to learn from people further along in the process and Suzie has tonnes of experience she loves to share with others.
When I met with her, up at our local store (featured in the video) we selected the best shoot in a day script and listed some shots we could take to help tell the story and off we went.
I had hoped to have the whole family involved but as is usual with family, the best laid plans don’t always come to fruition and it was David, my hubby, who was inspired to tag along and play a cameo role in the resulting video although our children had fun watching me grapple with editing later.
One of the things I learnt from Suzie was to be flexible with the script and go with the flow of events when collecting my shots.
We found a bee on a flower, and later I spotted a butterfly, a tourist taking photographs of the falls, and some lovely ripples in the water.
These found their way into the video postcard.
Suzie did some camera coaching, encouraging me to play with the focus and do some hand held work changing my depth of field. The tripod proved to be a challenge throughout the day and I realised it was just too stiff for some kinds of shots. I worked on some fruitful hand-held panning.
By the end of the day me and my tripod were better buddies and now we can attempt more together!
Suzie, David and I had a lunch break and then we edited my script and Suzie coached me on editing my video. I recorded the narration of the script onto our tablet. Suzie, who had been such a big inspiration throughout the day, had to return to Cairns, and I continued editing, with a short break for dinner.
I didn’t finish the video that day, but went out to collect more interesting shots over the next few days, and worked on polishing the edit of the postcard. I created a subtle soundscape, and had to combine two of the video programs I have access to at home to do what I wanted to, but I was so happy when it was finished. I re-recorded my script.
The first person to see this postcard was Suzie, who spotted a couple of things I missed in my edits, which I’ve hopefully fixed!
Me and my tripod although friends, might need another buddy, and future video projects beckon. I’m about to assist a dancer create some short videos for her new website, and am looking forward to putting my old skills and new skills from the day with Suzie to work.
First published ABC Open, August 2013. Many of the links to ABC Open within these posts may well be lost over time, and any referring to ABC Open additional links will not work after June 30th. I have saved my favourite contributions to ABC Open now and you should find most on this blog. However some vimeo links to ABC Open may also soon be lost as well, unless they are my personal vimeo. Those ones are still around for now.