EVERYONE on Phillip Island knew him as Percy. His full name was Percival Drawbridge and he lived on Lovers Walk, Cowes. A happy fellow, he was a particular friend to children, cats and dogs.
Percy was different – he was born a dwarf. Abandoned by his family at an early age, he eventually found work in a travelling circus and in 1917 came as a yardman to “Broadwater”, a well-known Cowes guest house. The owners provided Percy with a home until his death and in turn he scrubbed pots in the kitchen, stoked the fire and tended the garden.
“Broadwater” was set in a picturesque garden near the foreshore of Lovers Walk. It was surrounded by well-kept lawns that quickly browned in the heat of the summer sun.
The foreshore then was a setting of natural beauty – tall banksias, thick coastal ti-tree and native plants. It was a place of tranquillity and peace.
Each afternoon about 4 o’clock, his chores completed, Percy would make his way along Lovers Walk to the local hotel, the Isle of Wight, for his daily pint. (I was told he was always shouted his drink.) His attire was always the same – khaki trousers held up by braces and a collarless shirt topped by a navy waistcoat. He carried a small sack over his shoulder and a battered grey hat sat cheekily on the back of his head.
Percy resembled a story-book character as he trotted briskly along the narrow, sandy track. Often he broke into a little skip and his whistling seemed to be the signal for numerous dogs to appear. Some delighted in playfully snapping at Percy’s highly polished black shoes, while others were content just to trot along beside him.
Children also often joined the happy procession. They would laugh as Percy pretended to admonish them, swinging his sack in their direction. Sometimes he produced his water pistol and gave them a friendly squirt.
This procession of Percy, dogs and children continued for many years until a fall in the late 1960s resulted in Percy breaking his hip. This accident considerably slowed down his activities in his later years.
Percy died on his birthday, June 12, 1974. His grave, with its inscribed head-stone, sits on a hill in the Phillip Island Cemetery.