Mark Twain, the American writer and humourist, wrote of an adventuresome life for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Fin on the Mississippi River and declared, "I am not one of those who in expressing opinions confine themselves to facts."
A sentiment Arthur Morris with a straight face and a twinkle in his eye has continued, to the befuddlement of authorities, when asked for his place of birth ... on the banks of the Leichhardt River.
Arthur (George) Morris was born in the sixth year in the life of Mount Isa Mine - 1930 - a timetable that gives him great delight in cheekily acknowledging that he is only six years younger than the mine itself and seven years younger than the city of Mount Isa.
And having achieved the grand age of 90 years young on 3 August, 2020, Arthur is chuffed in his belief that he may be the longest surviving resident born in the town albeit in the makeshift tent hospital or on the river bank.
His parents and their five children travelled by train to the mineral field in 1929 only months after the completion of the Duchess-Mount Isa railway extension of the Townsville rail line.
Following Arthur's birth in 1930, the family quickly grew to include another three babies taking the number of children born to Catherine Mary and Fredrick Harold Morris to nine.
It was the era of large families many of whom like Catherine and Fred had immigrated (to Australia) from Britain and Europe, following World War One, in search of a more stable environment in which to raise a family.
Arthur grew up in a time in Mount Isa's history when housing ranged from rough tree bough lean-tos, rustic tin scrap shanties, tents, and hessian and iron sheds to the newer high stilt housing purposely built by the mine for rental by mine employees, on the western side of the river and hills.
Horses and drays were the regular mode of transport in the early 1930s even though a small number of modern automobiles were driven along the stone strewn dirt streets which had been ruggedly graded following the mapping of the new township, by Cloncurry Shire Council.
Bush tracks still led to rudimentary camps along the Leichhardt River as bitumen streets were still 20 years away.
Bread from Kaesar's Bakery, in Miles Street, was delivered by a Mr Rosevear in wooden kerosene boxes so as not to crush the precious high-top loaves.
The wooden boxes initially held two tins of kerosene which were used for the said fuel lights in the bakery hence thus they were referred to as the 'wooden kero boxes'.
The Morris house was built in stages by Fred who flattened out old cyanide drums for the walls and nailed them to the felled tree structures which was topped with an old tin and canvas roof, and with a well swept dirt floor, it quickly became - home!
At the outbreak of World War Two the family returned to the east coast and settled in Tully.
Arthur was a young man when he returned to the outback and following a stint as a ringer on Nonda Station, he tried his hand at tin mining at Clarke River, before he decided to return to Mount Isa with the sure knowledge that he would get full-time employment at Mount Isa Mines.
His first job in the mine was underground as a timber man, then in haulage on 13th level, before being promoted to construction shift boss.
During the Shut Out of 1964-1965, Arthur drove back to Brisbane and secured work on the Wynnum Manly wharf only resigning when news arrived that the mine had reopened its gates and the miners were allowed back to work.
His life in Mount Isa pre and post the Shut Out was typical of hundreds of single men who chose to board at the mine's B.S.D. Barracks where he was often the instigator of practical jokes followed by a straight face and laughing eyes denial of being involved in the prank.
He proudly says it was his good looks and cooking skills that had the ladies fluttering around him, but it was the lovely Audrey whom he married in 1970, that won his heart; a marriage that sadly was cut short with her untimely death in 1975.
Arthur later married Anne Vardy herself a widow, and together they have forged a wonderful team both being dedicated to the community of Mount Isa through their many and varied voluntary works.
Anne lovingly refers to Arthur as her 'toy boy' being as he is 6 weeks younger than herself.
When offered early retirement form the mine in 1987, Arthur saw it as an opportunity to further support Anne in her charity commitments, while continuing to take pride in his garden and their extended family.
A lovable larrikan, who can whip up a scrumptious scone at the drop of a hat, Arthur is the master scone maker at Meals on Wheels, an organisation with which both he and Anne have dedicated a total of 75 years voluntary service.
A story-teller, prankster and scallywag in his youth, then ringer, miner, husband, family man, high school auxiliary groundsman, and community volunteer, Arthur has proudly grown alongside Mount Isa Mine and together they both look forward to celebrating Mount Isa's Centenary in 2023.
Roger Clements' comments on the North West Star story celebrating Arthur's 90th birthday best sums up the man himself ... All the best and a happy birthday Mr Arthur Morris you was my shift boss on 11 level south in 1970 and you are a true gentleman and a great Australian.
As Mark Twain also said ... if you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything ...which begs the question, Arthur George Morris ... WERE you really born on the banks of the Leichhardt River?
Researched and written by Kim-Maree Burton www.kimmareeburton.com
Photographs courtesy of Arthur and Anne Morris and Sonya McRoberts.
Information sourced from personal interviews with Arthur and Anne Morris, Anne Bigaton's memoirs, Sonya McRoberts, and the North West Star.