A unique gathering of retired motor trades workers, farmers and retail sector proprietors took place at a Yarrawonga property recently.
The day encompassed those motor trades workers employed from the 1940s to the 1980s and, given agriculture influence on the motor and machinery trades, farmers represented each district.
Likewise the retail sector was included for its importance on the town’s growth of the time. Around 200 people attended for a viewing of local automotive, farming and retail displays, along with a formal presentation overviewing the history of all the sectors.
Local vehicle dealers headlined the presentation with Ford Dealer Ross Lloyd speaking of his and his father Charles’ combined 40-plus years selling the Ford product.
Ross spoke of his fond memories of selling the classic Ford Falcons which included the XY and XA models and the influence of motorsport on vehicle sales and the challenges faced by the current Australian car industry.
In addition, Bruce and Geoff Pigdon spoke of their family business and time selling a variety of farm machinery and passenger cars which now dates back to 1918.
Bruce spoke of the importance of farm equipment sales and servicing for the first 75 years of the business, highlighting the role of the Massey Ferguson product and how selective herbicides increased the efficiency and overall viability of the farming model, largely due to the role of Alan Foster.
Geoff spoke of his love of the AP5 Chrysler Valiant saying that “seeing one for the first time had him hooked on the model from first sight”.
Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy also spoke and highlighted the importance of small business and agriculture in rural towns. He also spoke of his own first car and the memories associated with it.
A sample of Australia’s accomplished motorsport identities also added a special interest to the presentation.
These identities included multiple Bathurst and championship winning engine builder Ray Lester, Bathurst winning team member and current Holden Special Vehicles Chief Operating Officer John Di Berardino and former Formula One, Indycar mechanic and V8 Supercar team owner Al D’Alberto.
Conversation revolved around the best drivers seen in the sport including the likes of Craig Lowndes for Ray Lester, Peter Brock for Al D’Alberto and Mark Skaife for John Di Berardino.
Motor trade workers mentioned for their longevity were Alan Foster Spare Parts; Pigdons, Des Miller Panel Beater; Des Miller Panels and Stirling Jones Mechanic; Haebich and Cavanagh.
Other mentions went to Arthur Crofts for his skill adaptability in being a panel beater, self-taught mechanic and spare parts interpreter.
Brian Williamson was applauded for his generosity to charity, while Wayne Smith who was unable to attend was praised in his reliable and honest service to the motorist.
Also absent for the day was former International Harvester dealer Peter Hicks, whose email to organizers told of his gratitude to his customers and staff alike.
Attention was also drawn to the Clarke family for being third generational motor trades with Bernie; self-taught mechanic, son Marty panel beater and Terry; current day mechanic. Popular mechanic of the past Geoff ‘Cheese’ Cooper was greeted with loud applause when presented with a framed overview and photographs of his fine mechanical career for his contribution in the education and nurture of young tradesman at all four establishments in which he worked.
The achievement was presented by the daughter of mechanical and engineering prodigy Neil Cameron, Heather Kelly.
There were three unveilings of newly restored artefacts on the day, these included a Golden Fleece Salesmaker fuel bowser from John Reeve’s Tyre and Windscreen, a 1970s coin-operated drink fridge from Crothers Cordials and the original milk bar counter from Jack McFarlane’s store.
The Crothers family were on hand for the unveiling of the fridge; with Joe speaking of the glory days of 1960s to the 1990s selling cordials, whereas Bill jokingly said his highlight was the day that he retired.
Additionally, Joe carried out a special rebottling of cordial for the day, all was consumed very swiftly.
Former Miss Victoria Bev Long (nee McFarlane) was present for the unveiling of her father’s Milk Bar counter.
Bev said that her father would have been extremely thrilled with its restoration and its resumption of a working item, its popularity during afternoon tea was validated with over 40 milkshakes consumed.
The organisers would like to thank in-kind support from Crothers Cordials, Ultimate Party Hire and the Quinn Brothers.
Gold coin donations from the gathering went to Yarrawonga Wildlife Shelter Moah’s Ark and topped approximately $300.
The organisers would also like to thank several financial backers which did not wish to be named.