John was born on 5 May, 1936 in Croydon. He was the last of five children (Olga, Dorothy, Bill and Frank). His father was Head Bird Keeper at the Adelaide Zoo and the family lived in a small cottage in the zoo grounds.
Because he was born in South Australia’s Centenary Year he was given a bank book and two shillings and six pence, that money is still in a sock hiding underneath his bed.
His first school was St. Cyprians in North Adelaide and after one year he moved to Christ Church Primary School. He spent two years at Adelaide Tech and at the age of 15 was apprenticed as a hand compositor at the Old Guv.
He was nicknamed “Dingo” by Frank Lock. John spent a number of some years on the Comp floor working with people like Fred Hardwicke, Ron Hammence and Jack Wells.
After he finished his apprenticeship he earned a reputation as a bit of a “tightarse.”
He pursued apprentice Kevin “Dago” Stack-Neale for years for a penny change that he claimed that Dago owed him from the 1950s.
Kevin repaid that penny plus a halfpenny (interest) at the OGL Luncheon on 24 February.
Living at the zoo was a great life and he was never short of friends. He helped his Dad with the bird collection and when a bird died his dad’s taxidermist friend would stuff them and then John would box them up and send them to the Bremen Museum in Germany. The Museum rewarded him with a free Leica camera. He keeps that under his bed as well.
The family were often non paying guests of Wirth’s Circus who pitched their big top near the Morphett Street Bridge.
On one occasion the family were having their evening meal when Lola the Chimpanzee walked in. John’s dad calmly rose from the table and took Lola by the hand back to her enclosure.
Cricket was his favourite sport. He played a few games with Adelaide C grade whose coach at the time was test bowler Clarrie Grimmett. He also studied at the Adelaide College of Music and was chosen to perform solo in a concert at the Adelaide Town Hall.
During the performance a side door was opened and the music blew off the stand but John finished without a mistake.
John with good friend Don “The Flash” Woolman frequently met at the 50/50 dances at the Bay Town Hall where Frank Buller’s big band was playing. He travelled by tram to the dance and Don would drive him back to the Zoo in his tiny Austin 7.
At the age of 27, John left the Old Guv and entered the newsagency business. He spent 42 years in the industry.
John’s first newsagency was at North Adelaide which he started in 1963 and then in 1976 moved to McLaren Vale where he built three shops.
In 1967 he met Antonia (Toni) an Italian lady who owed him a whole 20 cents for newspapers.
However, knowing that he would never give up asking for the 20 cents she paid the debt. This gave John the opportunity to ask her for a date.
They were engaged in December and married n 1968. Marrying a Sydney girl was a big plus for the Dingo as it meant holidays in Sydney and not having to pay for accommodation.
He joined Rotary and after completing 25 years was made an honorary life member. He served as President of his Parish Council and as President of the Cardijn College Parents and Friends group.
At the age of 78 while out walking John who was a mad golfer fell resulting in a severe shoulder injury so he joined the Willunga Bowling Club with wife Antonia.
Together they now enjoy cruising around Australia and the South Pacific . They have been to the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Sicily where Antonia visited the graves of some of her ancestors.
On the occasion of Dingo’s 80th birthday, daughter Josephine and the entire family spent a memorable weekend at Bungaree Station.
John Dingo Manfield, you are a true Old Guv Legend.
The Photograph above shows a wise middle-aged gentleman with his young protege basking in the sun and lolling around on the grass near the Old Guv.
The people in the photo are Harry Kinder, a polite well dressed Englishman and excellent Compositor. Sitting close by is Alex Riley, a young toffy nosed lad and child of rich parents who claimed links to the British Royal Family.
Alex thought he was superior to other comp. apprentices and refused to clean the comp room toilets. This made him very unpopular with older apprentice Brian Hartshorne and the victim of many practical jokes.
Harry Kinder who had done much to befriend the boy eventually became sadly disillusioned with his young protege and his horrible anti-social ways and so gave him the ‘arse’.
We now fast forward 50 years and discover that Harry Kinder has passed away and Alex Riley is now an grumpy old tight arsed bastard who has retired to the Hills of Bridgewater, near Adelaide.
Here Alex has become known as the ‘possum whisperer’ and Old Man Yeti, a shrunken old man carrying a magic wooden walking stick with a love for possums.
This is a photo of Possum No. 9, one of the possum friends that Alex feeds apples and grapes to each night. This is one cute possum.
Has our Alex changed? I think he has at least with the Possums.