IN EACH edition of the Rivertown Times, we are going to unlock a bit of the past by profiling a bygone resident in the area.
This edition we start the series with Athol Livingstone, who lived in the Codrington and Evans Head areas.
He was born in Coraki on August 11, 1911, to Allan and Alexandrina (nee Munro), cane and maize farmers from Codrington, and came from a large family of 10 children.
In his early days, Athol was secretary for Codrington Public School and when the school was closed due to lack of pupils in 1933, he petitioned the Department of Education three months later and had it reopened with him as the subsidised teacher and 17 students. He later became the school master.
He left his teaching position in 1937 and was presented with a gold-mounted fountain pen to take to his new job in Lismore as a clerk.
When war broke out, Athol joined the Royal Australian Air Force where he was a leading aircraftsman.
His father died (1933) before seeing his son marry Gertrude Amy Cribb in June 1941 at St John’s Anglican Church, Evans Head. The church was decorated by the Girls Friendly Society, of which Ms Cribb was a member, and society members and men from the Evans Head Bombing and Gunnery School formed a guard of honour.
The newly married couple moved to Amberley where Athol was stationed.
After the war, the Livingstones returned to the area and went into sales, running the general store at Evans Head for a couple of years.
In 1950 The Northern Star reported two men claiming to have seen flying saucers out near Swan Bay.
One of those men was Athol Livingstone, the other Austin Sullivan.
Their claims seemed to be taken seriously, especially as both were ex-servicemen and “trained observers”.
“It was just a shining object without shape, size or form,” Athol Livingstone was quoted as saying.
“It seemed to be hovering in the air about 20,000 feet up when it suddenly dropped and made off at terrific speed.”
The mystery of the flying object was never solved, despite the men seeing the strange light at least seven times, and other people claiming to have seen it as well. In his later years, Athol moved to Woodburn St, Evans Head. He died in 1983 and was survived by his wife and son Allan.
His ashes are at Evans Head cemetery.