Marion’s Intangible Heritage: Interview #1 with Rodney

Results of the City of Marion’s Intangible Heritage Project Workshop

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As part of a practicum with the City of Marion, I conducted interviews during a workshop in April about the intangible heritage of the area. Intangible heritage includes the expressions of heritage that are invisible, including the memories and feelings of place linked with the participants’ past in Marion. The results of conversations with a number of community members are briefly recounted here. The interviews (four in total) were a wonderful mixture of stories about objects, places and people of earlier times in Marion.

Intangible Heritage Project Workshop, 1st Conversation: Rodney Coombs

The first participant interviewed, Rodney Coombs, was born in 1944 and lived on Unley Road in a single bedroom with five relatives until his family was moved to Springbank Camp. At the camp they lived in a tin warehouse where hessian was erected to create ‘rooms’. It was here that Rodney, only four years old, was diagnosed with poliomyelitis (‘polio’).

Above: Rodney (1949), coming home for a day from hospital (courtesy of Rodney Coombs)

The image above is of Rodney returning home for a brief Sunday visit from hospital, tied to an iron frame in 1949. He had been transported on Bill Smith’s open buckboard (in the background). His mother (pictured right, above) had been told he would not survive.

Rodney described the memory of his illness as…‘traumatic for everybody concerned’. When he was around eight years old he was able to start walking again. The second picture (below) is Rodney’s first day of attendance (1952) in an opportunity class where he was placed to catch up on his education.

Left: Rodney’s first day of attendance in the opportunity class (1952) (courtesy of Rodney Coombs)

His right arm was placed in a sling which was later found to be detrimental to his rehabilitation.  Now left-handed, Rodney has limited movement in his right arm despite operations to restructure his muscles and tendons.  Rodney’s photographs and stories were captivating for the half an hour we had together. Thanks, Rodney.

Nessa Beasley

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