Sunday, June 24, 2012

G is for Grandfather Gordon




1904
Mother & Son - Mary and Gordon Walker
I was 14 when my grandfather died, but I don't remember much about him.  I don't think he had much time for children and I was a little scared of him.  He brought up his 6 children with tough love, which was the opposite to Nanna.

When we stayed over at our grandparents house, my sister and I would wake early in the morning but stay still and quiet.  We would wait until we heard the outside toilet flush, which was the sign that Granddad had gone to work.  We would then quickly run and hop in Nanna & Granddad's bed.  Nanna would make us a drink of Milo and have colouring books for us to play with.  She always spoiled us and made everything fun.

Gordon Stanley Allen Walker was born at Havelock, a small mining community near Maryborough, in 1904.  

circa 1909
Brothers - Gordon & Frank Walker

Although my grandfather would have liked an education, his family did not have the money to put two children through education and this honour was reserved for Gordon's younger brother, Frank, who showed greater scholastic potential.

Gordon followed in his father's footsteps and commenced work at the mines in Maryborough, until he could obtain an apprenticeship as a wheel wright.  It was while completing his apprenticeship that he met my grandmother, Rita Jones and they married in 1925.

Very soon after, they moved to Yallourn in Gippsland, where Gordon worked initially as a wheel wright and then as a carpenter for the SEC (State Electricity Commission).

1925
Rita & Gordon Walker
In 1946, my grandfather and a colleague/friend were working in the fire tower.  At lunchtime they were watching the traffic and Gordon said to Wally Bennie, "there's the gateway to Gippsland.  We ought to get out of this and start a joinery business of our own."

The Country Leader newspaper reports;

"They were both over 40, with growing families and secure jobs, but they thought it over and decided the risks were worth it.
They bought the site in Moore Street, cleaned it up and set to work to build a factory. This took nearly every weekend for two years, while they continued in their jobs at Yallourn.
They bought plant piecemetal, a machine whenever they could, and in 1948 they resigned and went into business.
Mr Walker had been with the SEC for 23 years and so had earned long service leave.
The SEC was some years ahead of the law in providing for long service leave, but it had a rule that a man had to be 45 to collect.
Mr Walker wasn’t old enough officially but he talked the Commission into giving him his six months pay.
Mr Bennie had his deferred pay and a bonus from the Air Force and an insurance policy had matured when he was 40.
The site of the factory was swampy, so, if the partners were to lay the usual sunken railway track for the truck carrying timber from stack to kiln they would have to concrete it.
Since they couldn’t afford the concrete, Mr Walker designed a different kind of truck that could be used on rails laid above ground. This incorporates its own hydraulic jacking system and its own turn-table and has turned out better than the usual one".

1946
The start of a new business
My Grandfather is on the left

Gordon Walker and one of his shooting medals

My father says that Granddad was an excellent shot and he would often go to the shooting range on a Saturday afternoon.  Dad would sit behind the targets keeping his head down and be given a signal when he could come out and change the targets.  Dad would be paid a shilling to change the targets.

Fishing was also a passion.  My grandfather and uncle took two years, working weekends, to build the Vagabond; a 27ft motor cruiser.

The Latrobe Valley Advocate reported October 7th 1958;
"BUILDING THE VAGABOND"
Few men would have the courage to tackle the building of a 16 seater motor cruiser with no experience of the craft, but it is exactly the task that Gordon Walker and his son, set themselves two years ago, and on Saturday they realised an ambition when they sailed their beautiful boat along Manns Beach and then to 90 Miles Beach.  The behaviour of the boat? Perfect, was the opinion of the big party that sailed on this trip."


4th October 1958
Launching the Vagabond


Gordon Walker


Click on the picture for more posts

24 comments:

  1. What lovely family photos, especially the one your grandparents wedding day and the pics of him as a child. Your grandfather really had an success story -from working in the mines to eventually having his own business. Great post!

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    1. Thank you. Hard work breeds success. A motto that I follow and teach my kids today.

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  2. I read this first before seeing the Sepia post, and I'm so glad I did. What a wonderful story, especially considering you don't remember much about your grandfather. He had an interesting life. Such an accomplishment to start a business, build a boat, and leave an interesting legacy.

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    1. Thanks Wendy. I remember many enjoyable fishing trips on the "Vagabond". It is no longer owned by our family but the current owner takes great care of it and it is still used for fishing trips.

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  3. I just adore your photo collection, Sharon.

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    1. Thanks Fi. I have collected over 5000 now. Thank goodness for computers otherwise I'd need to build another room on the house just for photo albums and family history information.

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  4. They were sure "Gitter done" kind of guys. Very interesting.
    QMM

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    1. Thanks for dropping by. I haven't heard that saying before but yes they were.

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  5. This is so interesting, and I loved the pictures. Especially their wedding photo. At first I was feeling bad for your Grandpa because he was the one that didn't get to go to school, but look at all that he accomplished! Sorry to learn that he wasn't more affectionate and that he died when you were young.

    Kathy M.

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    1. Thanks Kathy. Dad always says that Granddad was very clever even though he didn't have much schooling. He could build anything he set his mind to and was a great problem solver.

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  6. What courage those two had and perseverance! To start their own business when most men would only be looking forward to retirement. Great story about your grandfather and grandmother too.
    Nancy

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    1. Thanks Nancy. My thought exactly. A huge risk starting a business at their ages. Nanna and Granddad had 6 children and two of them were pre school at the time. He worked hard but he had great support from Nanna.

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  7. I loved your photographs. They do so much to enhance the family story and bring the individuals "alive. I look forward to seeing more from your huge collection.

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    1. Thanks Susan. I love old photos. They can tell us so much about people and the past. I didn't remember that Granddad smoked but the photo with the fish tells me that he did!

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  8. After you started by saying you were scared of your grandfather, I was surprised that he had an interesting life.

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    1. I later thought I shouldn't have included that comment but that's how I felt as a child. He was an intimidating man and it probably didn't help that I was very shy.

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  9. What an amazing man. And interesting to learn what 2 hard workers can accomplish in two years worth of weekends. Enough to make you stop and think!

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    1. You are right. I will have to ask my Uncle and Aunties if they remember Grandad working weekends. He was definitely a hard worker but still made time for his fishing and shooting.

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  10. It is truly amazing what our ancestors achieved. So many of them had such dedication and determination. Thank you for this wonderful story of your grandfather.

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  11. Thanks for sharing! I know just what it's like to be shy and avoid a big, stern-looking man as a child. My uncle Jack was very much like that for me. I say was because he proved himself to be a rather funny guy, as it turns out. I remember one Thanksgiving he took a nap on my grandma's couch and blocked out the light with two plastic cupcake "lids" to the food toys. It was hilarious. Two bumpy pink domes with cherries on top where his pupils should have been. He always reminded me of Oscar the Grouch...the sarcastic humor and big bushy eyebrows (that's part of why I stopped being scared at him and favoured that particular muppet).

    Back to your post, I'm curious. I know young girls were married far earlier in past years, but I don't want to assume. It's a minor note only anyway, but I was surprised by the mother and son picture of your great grandmother with your grandfather. She looks only fourteen! I was only surprised because I was expecting a note about siblings. I should note, I've heard of young girls getting married and starting families early, I've never seen pictures illustrating it. Do you know how old she was in that picture?

    Again, thanks for sharing!

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  12. They are good memories to have.

    I agree. Mary looks like a little girl but she was 28 years old! I couldn't believe it either but I have the certificates to prove it. It is definitely Mary as I have other photos of her also. They didn't normally have their hair down like this. Maybe that is what makes her look young?

    On the other side of the family, another great grandmother looked like an old lady in a photo but she was only 45!

    Thank you for dropping by.

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  13. Hi Sharon I loved reading this about our Grandad I do remember him smoking all the time and especially him rolling his own tobacco I can remember when Paul and I used to stay there in school holidays getting packets of peanuts as a treat when he came back from the pub. I also love the photo of Nanna and Grandad at their own wedding I have seen a copy of this at my mums. This is all so interesting and a lot of work I am sure love Sue
    xx

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it Susan. I really enjoy putting them together.

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