I’ve mentioned our good Aussie friends, the Langer sisters, here and here and here and here. I first met older sister Wendy at a Boxing Day party in Perth on December 26, 1970 and then met her younger sisters Christina and Kathy at the Langer family home in Esperance, Western Australia, on December 31, 1970.
They’ve told me that their father, Johnny Langer, was well aware that life in a small town in Western Australia could be stifling, so he often brought home random foreign hitchhikers in an attempt to broaden his daughters’ horizons. I was one of those hitchhikers, but I now have the honor of having known them longer than any of those other long-forgotten bozos have.
Mom Vera Langer was convinced that my mom had to be worried sick about her little boy hitchhiking around the world. So unbeknownst to me, she secretly sent my mom a series of letters and captioned photos designed to alleviate her fears. For example, here are the photos and captions she sent when we — the Langers, me, several of their neighbors, and a few random hangers on — spent New Years Day 1971 on the beach at Cape LeGrande.
”Barbecue beach picnic at Cape Le Grande, 34 miles east of Esperance,” Vera wrote on the back of the photo she sent to my mom. “Jim got a bit sunburnt.” That’s little sister Kathy to the far right.
“Jim is still sheltering from the sun,” Vera noted on the back of another photo. “My husband Johnny is nearest Jim, on the tailgate of our Holden.”
“Jim with our two younger daughters, Christine aged 12 years and Kathryn aged 9 years,” Vera explained to my mom. What she didn’t mention was that this photo was shot in the front yard of the Langers’ home, right across the street from a beautiful, uncrowded, white sand beach.
Thanks again to all the Langers. Johnny took me in off the street, Vera made me feel at home, and Kathy and Tina made me feel like the big brother I had never been. And that kindness continues to this day as they now make Jamie feel like she’s one of the Langer sisters.