I wanted to share a little about my grandfather on my dad’s side (Poppy Tom.)
This one’s for you Michelle.
Unfortunately, my father was killed when I was 5 at the age of 29 years old. He was a mechanic and used to work on earth moving equipment while he was working in the mining industry in Western Australia. Apparently one day he was working under the truck and the driver didn’t realise and drove off killing him instantly. I was so traumatised by this I have no recollection of my father even to this day and my mum hated me for it. (Apparently I had fought with my dad the morning he left for work.) I can only go on hearsay.
My grandfather Thomas
Poppy Tom, as he was know by all the grand kids, was a typical Aussie Battler. He and his wife Ada lived in Leeton, a country town in New South Wales known for its fruit. It was a two-horse town. We had a canning factory called Letona that was there and it closed in 1994. A town where everyone knew everyone else. (not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing lol) A town where I was actually born, I’m a country boy at heart.
He still worked, I think as a welder, a heavy set man (more big boned), wore a hat and drove a bright orange V8 Valiant ute. Similar to the photo below.
As a race of people, Aussies are light hearted, love a beer, a fight, poke fun at each other and a wicked sense of humor and passionate. We bet on almost anything even two cockroaches climbing up a wall in a pub, cane toads, or how long an egg takes to cook on a bitumen road.
On school holidays we would get to stay with my grandparents. Nan had haberdashery shop and would mend clothes a few days a week. The house had the old wood stove with a kettle on top. Nan always spoiled us. Always made banana custard ( pre-keto my favorite dessert.) At night I would sit with Tom as he watched the wrestling on the black and white television.
Tom also had his workshop (to me Aladdin’s cave) with so many goodies. I remember as a kid he showed me a periscope with a naked woman. And told me with a grin, for god’s sake don’t tell Ada (nan). He also gave me my very first watch. It was a gold digital watch. I was going to be one of the cool kids. I had never seen a digital watch before.
He also had a massive open garage. I remember one time Tom had a bear trap. I don’t know how he acquired it but I asked what it’s for so he set it up, got a piece of timber and set it off, almost taking off his finger in the process ..bloody idiot ..(This is a term of endearment in Australia.)
We would be sitting at the table for dinner, Tom at one end, my sister and I in the middle and nan on the other end. Dinner would be steak, or sausages, salad, some tinned corn, tinned beetroot, and boiled eggs. He’d yell over the table, “Ada can you pass me the can’t ?” and again, “Ada can you pass me the can’t.?”
I don’t understand Poppy Tom. “What’s the can’t?” “Well son, you can’t beet a root.” As he grabbed the tin of beetroot with a big smile on his face, Ada slapped him on the wrist.
So he was a joker and a prankster. He could go up to anyone he didn’t know and within 5 minutes had made a friend. They would sit talking laughing. Really an incredible genuine great bloke. He also made whips. I remember him teaching me.
So my poppy Tom story.
Tom had my father’s rifle and wanted to teach me to shoot and also grabbed the chainsaw so we could get some fire wood along the way. So one afternoon off we go With the timber cut down and thrown in the back of the ute he gave me some lessons. We practiced shooting some cans. We had been doing this for maybe 1/2 an hour when he yells out F**! , picks me up, throws me in the ute, grabs the gun and places it behind us, chainsaw in the back and high tails it back into Leeton.
We are doing 160 k/h down a dirt road. Something’s really upset him. He’s flying, gets towards home, slams on the brakes and hand brake, grabs me and hurries me into the house.. “What’s wrong?” I asked him. “Son, we almost missed dinner!”
This is a true story and that is one of many reasons Poppy Tom is my hero ..
Reading this brings back so many memories like it was yesterday. I remember saying about betting. Down the end of the road was a race track and Friday night was the race night. So we would go with poppy Tom, us kids would collect the soft drink cans and get 5c a can refund. Some nights we made good money. I do remember Poppy Tom asking me to pick a horse and it actually won.
To me this guy was my hero. A man’s man. He was honest, do anything for anyone. I never saw him be rude, nasty or belittle anybody ever. I never even saw him lose his temper. Even with the bear trap.
At a guess I would say he was no older then 70 when he died. I said previously diabetes was the culprit more so those bloody ginger biscuits. Poppy Tom Loved and adored by many .
I miss you Tom xx