Old folk at lunch

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Abraham's bag factory and Gearco



My first job in Brisbane in 1964 was as a clerk at Abraham's bag factory out at Rocklea. I bought an old Army B.S.A. 500cc motorbike (for ten pounds) to get to and from work. I loved that bike: Manual advance/retard and all. It was a couple of months before I discovered that it had a fourth gear! Tram tracks are very dangerous to bikes and I once slipped on them and came off in the middle of Ipswich Rd. I was lucky not to be run over.

I eventually wrote the bike off in another accident in which I broke my leg. Where I came from that was almost a rite of passage for young men. I went back to my parents' home in 308 Mulgrave Rd in Cairns while I recuperated. It was then that I took the picture of Roxanne as a little girl that now hangs on my wall. She always was the good-looking one.



I stayed at the bag factory for only a few months but had some educational experiences there. I was a stock clerk so was sort-of half way between the office-workers and the factory workers, most of whom were female. I kept factory hours, however -- starting at 7am. The office workers started at 9am. It was my introduction to class distinctions and was all very new to me at the time. I was struck by how the factory girls seemed to live in a different mental world to me. I hardly understood them at all. My head at that time was full of writers from Thucydides to Ruskin and that would have been greeted with great derision had I mentioned it.

I was at one stage given the chance of driving the forklift but a veil of silence over that is probably best.

There were a couple of freemasons working in the factory and that was new to me too. The factory foreman -- a very important man named Henry Trenerry -- was a Mason and there was another guy too. The manager was a former salesman named Garlick. It was my introduction to the idea that salesman often become managers.

The factory made bags (paper sacks) for one of the sandminers on Stradbroke Island and Henry had to ring them up at times. I still remember their phone no.: "Dunwich 16".

I cannot remember why I left Abrahams but I imagine that I got bored with it.

I then went to work for Harry Beanham (usually resident in Sydney but he visited his interstate shops occasionally) at Gearco in the city. The job was to run a business selling second hand factory machinery and some new machinery: Mostly to do with lathes and other machine tools. I found it interesting.

Harry was in partnership with another bloke (Bob Naesmith) selling new and secondhand photographic gear. I ran my side of the shop and the other side of the shop was run by George Smith and Mrs Staer. I had for many years a SLR Pentax camera I acquired from the other side of the shop when it came in second-hand.

I made my mark in Harry's mind by being a very successful seller of diehead chasers. There was a complexity to them that interested me. He eventually sent his total stock of them up to Brisbane for me to sell. Don't ask what they are. You don't need to know. Mechanical engineers know already.

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