‘In the spirit of A. B. Facey’s A Fortunate Life, Jack Mercer’s Hard Times is the true story of the author’s amazing adventures. In 1911, growing up in an Ararat pub, he faces the terror of a violent stepfather and a mother who barely acknowledges his existence. But one thing keeps him sane: a plan to run. And once he starts running a page turning story begins. From early Werribee, Sydney, life aboard a Norwegian barque, Chile, Patagonia and Buenos Aires, to working as an elevator boy in New York and riding the trains as a tramp in Virginia, Jack Mercer’s hard times and wonderful times capture our every attention.’
Recently discovered and brought to light by his grandson, Brett Pierce, this gem of a book is true travel adventure, vivid history, and a poignant story that asserts the essential need to believe in oneself.
‘The book begins with an escape and gains momentum through pages that manifest the geographical scope and richness of Patrick Leigh Fermor and the wild energy of Jack Kerouac. The sad thing is there will be no more Jack Mercer books, but we should be thankful that Hard Times found its way into the light, one of the heretofore unplucked gems of Australian literature.’ Patrick Holland, author of The Mary Smokes Boys and Riding the Trains in Japan
Jack Mercer was born in 1896 in Archdale, Victoria as John Christopher Levy. He spent his early years in Archdale and Ararat. He fought in the First World War in the Canadian branch of the Royal Flying Corps, surviving two crashes. After the war he worked in a variety of roles in Canada, USA and Latin America before his appointment as manager of British American Bye-Products in Australia in 1934. He lived his working years in Prahran and retired to McCrae in Victoria, just near the lighthouse. He remained an occasional world traveller for most of his life. 1896-1976.
Afterword by Brett Pierce
Brett Pierce is a grandson of the author. He lives on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria and works in overseas aid and development. His work, and perhaps an inherited wanderlust, have taken him to around sixty countries