born 8th of 10 children (see family
tree) on a 420 acre farm about 100 miles from
growing up experience was normative for that period and place,
but very different from today's city kids. It was a 4 mile trek
to the one room school house. Sometimes a bicycle was used
but mostly he rode a horse to school. He tells of how they had
to catch the horse first. One in particular wasn't always
farm consisted of cows, sheep, turkeys, chickens, and pigs, also
the usual dogs that helped out. The crops it produced are
barley, oats, alfalfa and other grains and turnips, to mention
only a few. Every week a sheep was slaughtered to feed the
family. But that wasn't enough for such a large family. It had
to be supplemented with turkeys, ducks, fish, etc. By the age of 11
Colin had acquired a gun and would help hunt food. He would also
hunt kangaroos, not to eat, but as sport because they are
a very pesky animal to have around. The family also sold cream
produced by the milk cows.
Johnstone family had a couple of buildings housing machines
which were used to fix anything that needed fixing, and for anybody. It was an additional source of income
for them as out in that rural farming community someone always
needed something fixed. Anyway, it was in these buildings that
Colin was able to learn how to use lathes and other machines. He
didn't like farming at all. But the machines were a favorite
place to spend time and learn and build things and make things.
By the time he was 13 he had replaced his first car engine!
he had a fascination with lights. He used to make spotlights for
hunting, including underwater lights for fishing. By the time he
was 16 he had a business making and supplying customers with
these lights. He used to pack them up in a suitcase and
hitchhike to Melbourne. As soon as he sold one, he had the guy
let him out so some one else would pick him up. He did this
until they were all sold and had orders for more, then hitchhike
back home again.
was able to get cars by buying crashed cars and cutting them in
half and putting the good halves together. He learned how to do
it very well. So he always had a fairly decent car that way!
is told that his dad used to go out behind the bushes and pray
two or three times a day. The family was raised in Christianity.
there was hardship on the farm as the first house the family
owned burned to the ground. So his father set about to build
again, which he did. This time he put a lot of metal in the home
to make it more fire-proof. This house Colin remembers was a 3
bedroom house. A bedroom for the boys, one for the girls, and
one for his parents.
encountered heartache when Colin's baby brother right behind him
couldn't seem to overcome an illness and died at 9 months. Colin
was just two years old then. When Colin was 15 years old, his
oldest brother (30 years old) died from Meningitis. This was
quite a loss and a blow to Colin and to the rest of the family.
later went on to work for a hydraulics plant and then for
Commonwealth Aircraft as a design engineer in Melbourne before coming to the
United States in 1965.