The day I visit Barry to interview him as our inaugural Senior of the month I ask him if my timing is ok, does he have a nanna nap in the afternoon? No nanna nap, he’s in bed at 10.00pm and up at 7.00am and today he is installing a new ceiling fan he has bought.
Barry is a much loved and respected resident in our street. He was born in November 1920 and raised in Canterbury. He married Mavis in 1949 and had 2 children and now has 4 grand children. He suspects a great grandchild might not be far off!
We touch on many different topics during our hour, it’s difficult to include everything so I’ll break these down into questions and answers.
Tell me about growing up especially during the depression.
The depression had a big impact on my life’. My father was out of work for 4 years and we managed to keep our house but it was very hard. It installed a life ethos of people are more important than anything else in life.
When did you move into our street and what was it like back then?
There were many blocks of land to choose in our street, but I choose this one and paid 150 pounds for it. I then took out a 15,000 pound bank loan. My father and I built the house, it took 2 years to build, when we moved in it was another 6 months before we could plaster it.
This street has always been special it has a soul about it.
Did you also help build the kinder at the end of our street?
Yes to supplement my day job as well as a sense of community and for fun I did some laboring at the kinder, a lot of locals did.
What was your job?
I was a technician and started at the State Electricity Commission in 1948. I was paid around 6 pounds a week back then.
Is it true that you built you own TV?
Yes! We couldn’t afford a TV so I built one myself from scratch in 1957. It was a 17-inch black and white. It cost be about 100 pounds to make and it lasted about 15 years. I tried to build a colour one when they came out but I couldn’t do it!
Has your electronics career followed you in life as a hobby?
Yes I still use HAM radio most days. Barry has a huge tower in his back yard to support this.
Tell me about your memories of the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956.
Mavis used to take the children on the train to Box Hill as there was an electrical store with a TV in the window. People used to stand outside the window to watch the Olympics on TV. After I built the TV some neighbours got a 21 inch TV so our kids preferred to go down there to watch their TV!.
What’s your greatest achievement?
Our 2 children with Mavis. Family is everything.
What’s the biggest change in society you have seen?
People don’t get married anymore, well not like they used to.
What was your favourite car?
I owned a 1953 FX Holden. I saved for 5 or 6 years for that and paid around 350 pounds. I wish I still had that now!
Your favourite sporting event?
I enjoy the football, my team is Geelong.
Do you have any regrets?
I wish I had gone to Uni. I won a scholarship which would have lead to Uni but I went straight to work instead, it was just the times.
What do you think has kept you in such good health for a 93 year old?
Genes, good worker doing manual work and keeping busy.
What’s next Barry?
Might do some more painting, there’s other bits and pieces that need doing around the house!
This doesn’t do justice to such a remarkable Senior that just gets on with it and keeps himself busy everyday. He still walks to the shops to get his groceries but says he’s getting puffed out when he returns home now. We are so lucky to have him in our street, he is able to tell each of us who lived in our houses before and even has a photo of our street proving it snowed in Blackburn in 1952. Keep up the great work Barry, you’re a legend and an inspiration to all of us.