Many years back when we were living in Victoria I got a phone call from Dad asking if I would go to a family reunion with him in Sale Victoria, I said this wasn’t really my cup of tea but as this seemed to disappoint him I relented and said yes.
The appointed time arrived and we all met up for the reunion, Dad and Ada arriving in their 3 year old Mercedes that I’d never seen before, I was suitably impressed by this and we all had a great day.
When it came time to leave Sale Dad asked me if I would drive them home, thinking he meant back to my sister Merles house where they had been staying, I said sure and asked if he was feeling ill or something.
“No Son I’m OK” he said, “but I meant back to
It didn’t seem too much of a stretch to go for a trip to
We set out for Queensland a few days later, one of the best features of the diesel powered Mercedes soon became apparent, it was a very economical car, we got to Dubbo in central New South Wales before needing fuel.
When I mentioned the need to fill up with fuel Dad asked if I thought we could coax another 100 kilometers out of it as fuel was cheaper up the road.
I said no, that I doubted we would get that far, so he said OK pull in and get $10 worth that will get us there.
We completed this exercise and found that fuel was in fact cheaper up the road by 2 cents a litre, this amounted to a saving of about 90 cents.
I had trouble then, and I still do, in understanding a man who has just given away a $40,000 car and then quibbles over 90 cents worth of fuel, no matter which way you cut it though, Dad was a very generous man.
He had already given Merle a car, and when she lost her husband Dad rang me one day and asked if I thought Merle would move if he bought her a house.
I offered to find out and when I asked Merle how she felt about this she was delighted as the house she was living in when Harold died was needing lots of attention, so once again Dad came good with a very nice house of her choosing.
The replacement of the Mercedes he gave me was an experience, we approached the dealership with Dad pretty sure he didn’t need another Mercedes, but we got involved with a very good salesman who outlined a deal and assured Dad that a Mercedes would hold it’s resale value very well.
“That’s good” said Dad “because I’ve got one to trade in,” he had bought a second hand one when he found he couldn’t get a new replacement for “mine” for a few months.
He insisted that the salesman speak to his bank manager about his ability to pay for this car should he decide to buy it, this wasn’t something the salesman wanted to do but Dad insisted.
We left the showroom to get some lunch and Dad made a beeline for his bank where he primed the manager to tell the salesman that he should be very wary about selling him a car as he was a bit of a credit risk.
The bank manager was a bit taken back by this and told Dad it would be more than his job was worth to do this, upon being asked if it was more than his account was worth, not to do it, he reconsidered his position.
Dad and I had lunch, chuckling away at the trick that was about to be unfolded.
We returned to the showroom to be met by the salesman with a story that the bank manager had done his best to uphold his bargain with Dad but had finally suggested if Merve wants 2 Mercedes let him have them, this satisfied Dad and he was prepared to continue the battle of buying a car.
There came an embarrassing confession that on checking the stock sheet of the car we were looking at, it was found to have electric windows and was worth an extra $2000.
“That’s OK” said Dad in a flash, “my trade in has electric windows as well so we’ll just do a swap,” no further mention was made of the extra $2000.
We still hadn’t been for a test drive so set out to try the new car out, it was a bit glary and our salesman was most proud of the “centre sun visor” which fitted around the rear view mirror, “don’t get carried away with that,” said Dad “I’ve got my own Son advisor in the back, you’ll have to convince him about the car.”
Just about then it started to rain, our salesman was again delighted with the opportunity to show off the new Mercedes feature of a single wiper that cleaned the whole windscreen in one go, when he asked Dad what he thought of that, Dad said, “for $80,000 I thought I’d get 2 bloody windscreen wipers.”
We finally put him out of his misery and signed up for a new Mercedes, “do you want us to organize insurance for you or will you transfer the policy on your old car” he asked, “neither one of them will be insured, I don’t believe in it” Dad said.
We felt pretty sure that salesman would dine out for quite a while on the story of this guy who bought a new Mercedes from me.
Not long after this episode Julie and I moved to
Imagine my amazement when one day Dads car screeched onto the forecourt closely followed by another car, Dad and the other driver, in great agitation were yelling curses and threats at one another.
Not quite knowing what to do in this unexpected situation I puffed myself up to my most imposing image, strode over and asked them what the hell they thought they were doing bringing their troubles onto my service station.
I had slipped Dad a wink but made no other sign of recognition, after a bit more pompous indignation from me, and thankfully silence from Dad, the other driver left.
It seems that Dad had turned out in front of the other car and what ensued was an early case of road rage, fortunately it was close to the service station and Dad had instinctively headed there, perhaps he was looking for brother Roy?
We had a good chuckle over the incident later but Dad assured me he could have, sorted that bugger out, who knows he may have too, he certainly talked the talk, and maybe he was also able to walk the walk.
His progression into better motor cars was the catalyst for a couple more tales, he had bought a Ford Landau, which impressed my kids no end as the headlights were hidden away in the mudguards and used to pop out magically when turned on.
He was taking my youngest boy Bruce for a ride up to Toowoomba where he wanted to see a man about a horse, not an uncommon event in Dads life.
As they were climbing up the Toowoomba range, which is a pretty good climb by the way, Dad told my budding rev head son to hang on and he’d show him how much power the Landau had.
T o Bruce’s delight and Dads amazement when he gave the big V8 it’s head the car did a perfectly executed 360 degree turn then bolted up the hill as though the hounds of hell were after it.
On yet another trip to Toowoomba with a different son and a different car Dad got his first and only speeding ticket while demonstrating the prowess of his new Mercedes.
Over the years Dad got to know a lot of people from all walks of life he was an easy man to get to know with absolutely no put on airs or graces.
Dad used to describe a lot of his acquaintances as, “a real good mate of mine” I used to wonder about how they had earned the distinction of being, a real good mate, until one day Dad told me that a chap he had just introduced in this way wasn’t really as good a mate as he thought he was.
But Dad reasoned that it didn’t cost him anything to introduce him as a real good mate and he said most people seemed flattered by this description, Dads generosity again.
Mealtimes brought forth some more of Dads gems like, “thank God for that snack, plenty of poor buggers would call that a feed” this usually followed a very generous meal.
After letting go with a belch, “’Scuse a pig, he’s got to grunt.”
Some of his graces left a bit to be desired, “Backs to the wall boys, belly to the table, tuck right in, eat all that you’re able.”
Being a great lover of sweets getting diabetes seemed a cruel fate to Dad and occasionally he would break out and get into the sweets regardless.
On one occasion when he thought he was doing this he loaded up his apple pie and
ice-cream with huge dollops of cream as well, only to find he had covered his dessert with Mayonnaise.
One of my cousins was a great support act for Dad when he wanted to have a sweets fix, they would all but empty the ice-cream container, not wash up their plates, but still be so surprised when Ada knew they’d been playing up.
A trick that fortunately dropped out of his repertoire over his later years was the stirring of his tea and then jabbing the hot spoon onto someone’s arm.
Whether you liked his humor at mealtimes or not, most meals with my Dad were not boring.
Dad was always very appreciative of whatever was done for him, he seldom missed out on saying, “thank you my darling, that was a lovely meal,” to