Demolition Of Luke Farleys Dunny
At US motors there were two workshops. On at Belgrave that handled all the private cars and trucks. Upper Ferntree Gully had the bus workshop. But for some strange reason, US Belgrave did all punctures and new tyre fitting on all the buses. Because of this, all new tyres and tubes were delivered to Belgrave. They were stored in a huge lockable room under the workshops. Access to this room was via a very steep driveway between the back of the workshop and the Puffing Billy line. The tyres were always ordered in large quantities so good discounts were obtained. 80 to 100 tyres at a time was not unusual. A large truck delivered the tyres to the workshop and then two of the younger crew were given the job of rolling the 825x20 12 ply or 900x20 12 ply tyres down the steep slope to the tyre room. This was terrible job because the tyres were very heavy and the steep slope was very daunting.
This day Kevin Beament and I got the job. One tyre each we had to roll them down the hill slowly. If we let them go they could have ended up way down the bottom of the hill in the creek or worst still, lost. This was something I did not want to think about. Each tyre was worth about 3 months wages for us. After about an hour we had only put away about 20 tyres. This is going to take all day. I had a great idea. How about one of us stands at the bottom of the hill with a tyre held crossways? Then the one at the top of the hill carefully let a tyre go aiming for the centre of the road. The person at the bottom of the hill could move the tyre so they collided and so stopping the rolling tyre. Now this worked great. The next 20 tyres were put away in record time. We were on a roll (sorry about that). We swapped places a few times and the job was getting done beautifully.
Kevin was at the top of the hill when a good looking girl walked by. Kevin never missed an opportunity to let any girl know he was around. A bit of waving and wolf whistling soon got her attention. Kevin started up a conversation but unfortunately he could not do two jobs at the one time. He let go a tyre not watching exactly where it was going. The tyre started down slowly wobbling all over the place. I moved across the road and then back again trying to anticipate where it was going. I yelled out to Kevin but he was smoothly conning the girl. The tyre gathered pace and too my horror headed straight over the edge of the cutting. Then 40 feet down to the Puffing Billy line. The tyre bounced a few times then took off down the track towards where is the now Puffing Billy station. It came out of the cutting doing about 100 mph. I could only stand at the top of the cutting and watch. I was soon joined by Kevin who had suddenly realised the tyre had disappeared. We were hoping it would not roll all the way down to the creek, a long, long way away. The tyre was now flying. It hit the corner of a big sleeper and made a sharp right hand turn. There were three houses in a row with their backs onto the rail line. This is now where the tyre was heading. Thank goodness for that. The wire fence would stop it. But not so, the tyre seemingly had a mind of its own. It hit something in the undergrowth and took off. It leaped the fence with ease and headed straight for Luke Farleys dunny standing proudly in the middle of the backyard. The tyre bounced again and hit the dunny right in the middle of the back about four feet off the ground.
Most of the old dunnies were made from a wooden frame with a corrugated iron roof and cement sheet sides with a wooden door and Luke’s was no different from all the others. Now if we had planted a couple of sticks of gelignite under Luke’s dunny it could not have done more damage than the tyre did. It simply blew up with a very loud explosion. The cement sheet blew to pieces, none bigger than about 6 inches square. The corrugated iron roof lifted off as if it was taking off on a flight then collapsed into the back yard. The wooden frame was flattened completely and littered all over the back yard complete with the cement sheet. The door was hit fair in the middle from the inside and that took the energy from the tyre which fell over. The door was laid out on the grass in front of what could only be described as a big disaster. The only thing recognisable was the pan and seat untouched amongst the debris.
The noise brought everyone out of the workshop to see what was going on. A huge cloud of dust and cement sheet particles showed them all where the action was. Everyone had stunned looks on their faces as Kevin and I walked up to meet them. Vic Jones, the manager of the workshop did not look too happy. I think he was about to tear some strips off Kevin and I. When Alf Lowry, one the mechanics, walked out and looked at the still billowing clouds of dust. Oh wow, it sure is lucky old Luke was not mounted on the throne, wasn’t it. That broke the stunned silence and everyone except Kevin and I burst out laughing. Vic was laughing so much he could hardly talk. You better get our tyre Robin; he choked and walked back to his office.
Today is Thursday I thought, so Vic won’t be here tomorrow. He always goes to Melbourne buying stock, so we would not have to worry about him tomorrow. We put our heads down and very carefully spent the rest of the day putting the tyres away. Everyone went out of their way to rib us. All the workshop, bus drivers, office staff, taxi drivers and shop keepers. They all had a hearty laugh and joke at our expense. It was very embarrassing and worrying. Would we have to pay for a new dunny? That would be expensive, wouldn’t it?
Next morning, we were both summoned to Jeff Mountjoys office. Kevin was white as a sheet and I felt the same. We walked down a long passageway and filed into Jeff’s office. He was looking very serious. Now what are we going to do with you two he growled frowning. But something was wrong. His face was quivering. He put his elbows on the desk, then his head in his hands and burst out laughing. Between peels of laughter he said that US motors would pay for a new dunny. It was only an accident, but if we could try not to do it too often. He waved his hand for us to leave. As we walked down the passage peels of laughter followed us. Luke got his new dunny. The workshop crew soon tired of ribbing us but the shop keepers kept at it for about two weeks. Just one glimpse of Kevin or me and they went into hysterical laughter.
On the Thursday night, two weeks after the demolition, I had taken some clothes into the dry cleaners. The work section in the dry cleaners was cut off by a large curtain. Kathy was the only one there I could see. She wrote out my docket and then leaned over the counter and was batting her eyes at me and smiling.
“Could I ask you a favour Rob?” She said sweetly.
My mind was racing. Wow, this girl is keen on me I reckon. She was a good looking girl and I puffed up a bit.
“Sure thing.” I said. “What would you like?”
“Do you think that the next time you put away those big tyres, could you invite me over to watch?”
Then suddenly the curtain was pushed aside and everybody was lined up killing themselves laughing. Those Belgrave shopkeepers were a heartless lot.
Belgrave was a quite small town and I suppose the dunny demolition was big event so they all wanted to make the most of it but this was not good for my self esteem. The next night I was walking home feeling a bit depressed when a thought popped into my mind. Luke Farley had been our bread delivery man many years ago when we lived in Upwey. I used to follow his horse and cart hoping Luke might give this poor starving little boy a loaf of bread or even just a crispy crust or two. But Luke was as tough as nails, he completely ignored me. Maybe the demolition of his dunny was divine retribution for his callous attitude to this poor hungry boy. Yes, that was it; I could picture Luke in the middle of a group of angels. The angels are all pointing their fingers at him saying shame, shame on you. But hang on, Luke did better than anyone else of all this, he got a new dunny for nothing. So divine retribution could not be right. Ah well, it did make me feel better for about 30 seconds.