Getting here had been an adventure with lots of fun times along the way, travel had included some overseas jaunts which Dad had enjoyed, but he stayed firm in the belief that nothing compared to
There was only one major trip in Australia this was across the Nullarbor Plains to Western Australia undertaken in an old Bedford panel van, the model with sliding doors, about as effective as a dust barrier as a screen door would be.
The trip was undertaken before the
After one particularly dusty section, their travelling companions headed for the pub for a cold beer to wash some dust down.
When Dad was asked what he would have he recalled a pleasant drink he’d had at a party, so asked for a Crème De Menthe, he was a little put out when it arrived in a shot glass, having expected a tall glass of nearly neat lemonade.
Toward the finish of this trip they were crossing the
True to form right in the centre of the bridge at peak hour the
and caused one irate motorist to below at Dad, as he tried in vain to get the motor going again, “80 days, you wouldn’t get around in 80 bloody years.”
At this time we were living in Victoria and a visit by “Big Pa” as my kids called him was really looked forward to, not the least reason being the traditional “Jelly Bean Scramble” that had become part of his visits.
The simple formula for these events was the upending of a couple of packets of Jelly Beans on the lounge room floor and a wild scramble to see how many the kids could retrieve.
Marcus says I demanded all the green ones so they weren’t worth collecting, I have no recollection of this!
Probably at the same time as he had learnt to play pool Dad also became pretty proficient at checkers, my oldest boy Alan practiced his game when there was a visit from
He also became pretty good at checkers and in one memorable game had Dad on toast, sensing defeat in the air Dad stood up suddenly and knocked the board flying, perhaps not one of his greatest moments.
During this time he also made a brief foray into gardening, Ada had always been a keen gardener, but Dad had never shown the slightest interest, Ada had a favourite shrub that was not thriving, in a moment of enlightenment Dad said, “give me a go with it Ada.”
He transplanted it into a nice sunny spot, by sheer good luck it was a plant that enjoyed full sun, watered it within a few drops of it’s life, fed it heaps of horse manure, the shrub thrived and “bingo” a gardening expert was born.
The water and horse manure treatment worked pretty well on most of the plants that Dad tried it on, so much so that in a matter of 12 months he became bored with gardening, “there’s nothing to this gardening, it’s just too simple” he’d say.
This period did lead to one interesting development, lawn mowers, the chosen method of cutting grass varied between, the small tractor and slasher, the ride-on mower, there were 2 of these to choose between, the hand pushed motor mower, another 2 for choice, and even a battery electric one for variety.
There always seemed to be a simple solution to problems with my Dad, during heavy rain the gutters on the house would overflow, while this didn’t cause any problems it obviously upset him.
So he simply climbed up and knocked the end sections out of all the gutters, no longer did they overflow, they simply sent out vast jets of water from each end of the house.
Dad really loved the market places in Singapore, he was in seventh heaven while bartering with the shopkeepers there, I would really like to know just how many Seiko watches he bought, every one he knew seemed to get one of these watches when he came home.
Dad collected tractors like some people collect match box cars, there was seldom a time that the shed didn’t have at least 2 tractors in it.
Part of the reasoning behind this was that he hated changing implements over so if he bought a new slasher he bought a tractor to go with it, another would have the weed spray pump set up on it, while yet another might have a carryall attached to feed his horses from.
The tractor collection finished with an 80 HP Zetor, this monstrosity defied Dads best efforts to use it, and there was the most complex system imaginable of levers to push and pull to engage any working parts.
With the aid of a workshop manual and 2 spare hours I managed to figure the system out one day.
I wrote Dad a simplified set of instructions on how to engage the various features, power take off, 3 point linkage, and hydraulics, I gave him strict instructions to leave these in the toolbox in the cabin.
Sure enough on my next visit I once again had to go through the whole procedure, as the list had mysteriously disappeared.
I attended a field day in Gympie years after Dad had bought the Zetor, there I met the man who had sold it to him, and, had been called on to service the air-conditioner about 4 times a year ever since.
Every time Dad managed to sort out the gears and controls he would find the
air-conditioner wouldn’t work, we had a good chuckle over this and he called his service man over to meet “Merve Holts Son.”
Another memorable visit was when Dad had decided to replace his fleet of vehicles this included 2 cars and a small truck, we set out bright and early one morning to harass the local car dealerships.
After giving them all the opportunity to quote on the whole fleet without much success Dad said we’d have to buy each vehicle individually.
The poor old Ford representative was near to tears having produced every option in his book without getting Dads signature on an order form.
Dad had to leave the room at one stage and this salesman pleaded with me to tell him what he had to do to sell Dad a vehicle, “simplest thing in the world, just give him the deal he wants” I said, the fleet that year did not include any Ford vehicles.
It was a good feeling at the end of about 4 days to have spent about $140,000 and not hurt my own bank balance.
The major expenditure was on a new Mercedes diesel car which leads nicely into a section about my Dads generosity.