Our May senior is Kevin, aged 86. Kevin lives in the outer east of Melbourne and is fondly known to his family and friends as Pa, which I am introduced to him as, so I’ll call him that here!
Apart from Pa’s interesting background and history what struck me most about his story is his loving and supportive family. Jumping ahead Pa has 2 children and a year ago his daughter bought the house next door to them so Pa could be closer to their family yet retain a sense of independence. His daughter Michele has 4 children so Pa’s grandchildren are a huge part of his life, the older two able to drive him to appointments and the younger two able to have sleep overs at his house and he is very involved in his daughter and grandchildren’s lives. He has dinner with them every night and it is beautiful and special to see the bonds and love they all share for one another. Pa’s doctor says his family have added another 10 years to his life moving him next door and you can see how happy, settled and content he is.
Pa was born in 1928 in Bellingen, New South Wales. He was the youngest of 5 children with 2 brothers and 2 sisters. Pa left Bellingen at 18 and joined the Army in 1946. In 1950 as part of the British Occupational Forces Pa was posted to Japan for 5 years service and stationed just outside Hiroshima. During this time he was also sent to Korea for 12 months. PA worked in communications and was sent here to assist Japan to get back on it’s feet after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. I asked Pa about where he first heard of the news of the bombing. Pa said he was working at the post office at the time and heard the news on the wireless. No one had heard of an atomic bomb before and everyone was shocked. When Pa was sent to Hiroshima he said the people really took to the armed forces and it was difficult to see what they had lost.
In 1955 when Pa was now back home and living in Canberra he met Beryl also in the army as a warrant officer and they married. They went on to have 2 children Michele and Bruce.
In 1969 PA and his family were sent to England on the SS Canberra to be stationed in the UK until 1972. The journey on the ship took 11 weeks from Canberra to the UK. In 1967 Pa went to serve in Vietnam for 12 months working on signals.
After Vietnam Pa and his family moved initially to Box hill from 1969-1972. Pa was able to secure a war service loan and paid $25,000 for their first house. The family then moved to Mt Waverley and when Pa and Beryl retired they moved to Palm Beach on the Gold Coast in 1988. After 3 years they returned because of the arrival of grandchildren. Pa’s beloved Beryl passed away in 2005.
What do you wish you’d know about back then, that you know about now?
Buying land and just how much it could appreciate!
What do you think the biggest change in society is?
The crime nowadays, the everyday stabbings and shootings.
What’s a strong memory you hold?
The birth of my son, my wife had a difficult time and I had to stay home and wait by the phone as you did in those days.
What’s your football team and any hobbies?
St.Kilda and I still like to potter around the garden and sometimes make pickles and jams.
Any advice for the younger generation?
Keep out of trouble and don’t drink too much!
It was a delight to speak to such an interesting and charming gentleman. His family keeps him young and out of trouble.