Radio helps Ed Adamson reunite with friend who saved him from drowning over 60 years ago
Ed Adamson was only about 11 years old when a fleeting moment nearly ended his young life.
While floating in a small boat around the dam on his family’s farm in Victoria’s High Country, he fell into the water and nearly drowned.
“I had heavy boots on, gumboots and jodhpurs I think. It was probably cold if I remember rightly,” Mr Adamson told ABC Radio’s Alan Brough.
“I wasn’t intending to swim but I ended up sinking instead of swimming.
“I can remember looking down the long dark tunnel, with the tiny speck of light at the end of the tunnel. I think it was a near-death experience.”
Lucky for him, he wasn’t alone that day.
Another young boy called Arthur Franks jumped in to save him.
More than six decades later the pair had lost touch, until Mr Adamson put the call out on ABC Radio to find him.
“My mum thought I needed company for the school holidays and so she used to invite Arthur and sometimes another friend of his to come from St John’s Boys Home,” he said.
“He was one of those English kids who came out for a better life in Australia … and ended up in a boys home.
“We had him up there for a holiday, which we did a number of times. They spent a couple of Christmases with us, I can’t remember how many, but I’d love to be in touch with him again.”
The dam on Edwin Adamson’s family farm near Mt Buller where he almost drowned. (Supplied: Edwin Adamson)
It took less than 24 hours before Mr Franks phoned in and the pair were reunited on air.
It was apparent that the standout memories they each had from that summer were incredibly different.
Here’s how it went down:
Mr Franks: “Hello Ed, what a surprise. I was flabbergasted to hear about this yesterday because I could not recall or remember it, it was that long ago.”
Mr Adamson: “Well, it was a big moment in my life and I wouldn’t have had one if it hadn’t been for you.”
Mr Franks: “That’s amazing, and the strange thing is I was rescued by a taxi driver in London when I fell in the canal when I was a little bit younger than you. It happened to me too. It’s amazing.”
Mr Franks said a friend who’d heard the story on the radio called him that night but it took him a while to connect the dots.
Arthur Franks was reunited with the childhood friend he saved from drowning when he was a boy.
“At first I had no idea who Ed was,” Mr Franks said.
“But when I rang the ABC and the woman mentioned … that it was the foot of Mt Buller, I thought, ‘Right, that must be Edwin Adamson’. It rang a bell.”
While Mr Franks did not remember his friend’s near drowning — it has been close to 70 years after all — there was something else that happened on his visit to the farm that summer which did leave a lasting impression.
“I have such great memories of your father because he gave me my first watercolour box with paints,” Mr Franks said.
“I continued my interest in art and I became an art teacher.”
Mr Adamson’s father was a well-known photographer in Melbourne which also influenced the career choice of the boy he invited to share Christmas with his family.
Arthur Franks was visiting the Adamsons over the Christmas holidays. (Supplied: Arthur Franks)
“I finished up teaching photography at the TAFE, so I have such respect and admiration and appreciation for your father and the time I spent with you,” Mr Franks said.
“It’s so long ago. I have a couple of memories of it and they’re the outstanding ones.”
The pair have agreed to meet in person so they can share more tales from their eventful childhood summers.
They’re both grateful to the power of the airwaves for reconnecting them.
“I’m really amazed at the whole thing,” Mr Franks said.