Defying stereotypes: the blacksmith who wrote poetry

Blacksmiths used to be very important members of local towns, making tools, shoeing horses and repairing farm equipment.

Anthony Brookman was 94 when I interviewed him in 2008.  He could remember travelling as a boy from his family’s property, Burbrook, in the Adelaide Hills to the nearby town of Meadows where he visited the blacksmith.

…we had a trolley, four-wheeled trolley. It was quite a sturdy vehicle, and that would have two horses harnessed one on each side of the main shaft. And as a great favour I was allowed to go into Meadows on the trip, sitting up (laughs) next to the driver, and the object of the trip in was to pick up a fresh lot of groceries from Stan Ellis [who ran the general store] at the top of the village and also…to have the horses shod so that they could return to Burbrook fully-shod…

My mother was always interested to know whether I’d met Mr Smith [the suitably named blacksmith] because she always admired his poetry, and I think she must have been the only person in the district who ever received poetry from (laughs) Mr Smith. But she used to enjoy it and reckoned he was a pretty good poet.

The blacksmith's shop in the main street of Meadows, with the black smith and two other men standing outside.

Sam Smith’s blacksmith’s shop in the main street of Meadows, c1895 (no longer standing). Tom Harvey and Sam Smith stand either side of the wheel, whilst Alf Moore holds an axe.  Photo courtesy of Mt Barker Local History Centre (PH_V3_0003)

Defying stereotypes

We probably don’t expect someone who does such a hard physical job to be interested in a quiet activity like writing poetry.  But this story just proves that we shouldn’t pigeon hole people and make assumptions.

Quotes from oral history interview with Anthony Brookman AM, courtesy of the State Library of South Australia (OH 829-11).

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