My Old Guv memories started at trade school, Kintore Avenue, 1966, when I first ran into Warren “Abo” Pietsch and John “Rags” Elsdon.
I used to wear my hair a little long in those days, like many other “with it” guys, but a little longer than some. Whenever Abo saw me coming into school he would say “Here he is, Johnny!” or “Here comes Nick!” to which Rags would reply, in his piercing ladylike tone, ”Eh, why don’t ya get ya f . . . g hair cut!” Then they would both laugh at their taunt. I would let these taunts go and walk away fuming after being humiliated by these two .
In late 1972 I started at the Guv and worked on the jobbing floor in Frame 1, just behind Jack Flack and with Ivan Merrett lurking not too far away.
Directly behind me was a galley rack for all to use. I forget how many T-shirts I went through, because I would back into these galleys with many of them still having ink on the ends. My protestations to “Freckle Head” were never taken seriously, with a “Watch where you’re going then” reply.
From my frame I would see the West End truck turn up twice a week to off-load the pollies’ grog. I would also see type go south out the window on diss – “I’m not dissing that f . . . g Copperplate!” When you went to set in Copperplate, there was never a lot in the cases. It would also go into bins ready for smelting. There were some very lazy comps!
I remember when a young Lewis Murray arrived for his interview. He was immaculate, dressed in an iridescent suit, gleaming white teeth and filmstar looks – back then he was a handsome young man.
I remember Russell Wight coming through the jobbing floor resplendent in his army regalia. I remember Russian Michael taking the long drop in the lift. I remember no smoking one hour before knock-off.
I remember Abo going down to the machine room in the chase lift – very stupid, Warren.
I remember Ken Davis calling out “Baker” every arvo one hour before knock-off to mark the Baker Handicap horse-race at 3.42.
I remember the morning tea pranks, where a person’s tucker was placed on the floor, a galley precariously teetering with string attached, ready for the owner of said tucker to reach down to retrieve it before the string was pulled, flattening the kitchener bun or whatever was in the bag!
I remember Barry James going for an eye test and being asked to read the letters on the chart. He begun by reading “A. B. James, Government Printer, South Australia”. He had read the imprint on the bottom, informing the optician that A.B. was his Dad.
I remember Ann Grice getting electrocuted while using the water fountain behind the reading room. The wiring was, obviously, a little close to the water pipe. The “boot” sent her flying across the floor, her hand blackened.
I remember the machinists who would place an empty 20-litre plastic container behind the reading room, insert an air hose, tape the hole to prevent leakage, then wait for the explosion! They tried this one day, blowing a tile out of the very high ceiling.
On afternoon shift, for smokos and lunch breaks, we would sit outside on benches facing Marion Road. Many a strange sight was seen – car chases, police cars doing burnouts in the servo opposite, red light runners. We even saw a camel in a trailer!
Just before we were due to go back to work after a break one night, “Big Den” Grover said “I’m not going in till I see a 1951 Hillman Minx!” Bugger me, a few minutes later a Hillman passed – was it a Minx, dunno – but it was the catalyst for us all to go back to work, after much laughter.
I remember “Bags” Baker every night would relieve himself against a tree. Don Guscott would go ballistic. “Why don’t you use the toilet, ya filthy bastard!” Bags would just smile, it was done for Don’s benefit.
I remember after every SANFL grand final I would scale the ladder above the dark room and install the colours of the two teams represented in the final and tape them to the “chimney”.
I remember seeing the hills ablaze from the roof on Ash Wednesday, after scaling the ladder in the air-con plant – a very sad day.