A Bicycle Tale
…… written and kindly supplied by Rob Jaentch.
Dedicated to Ken Ramplin
Here’s a bicycle story
First told at an OMNI meet
It’s at Ken’s unrelenting insistence
That I’ve been forced to repeat …
Few sounds are more disturbing to me than metal scraping on metal. When I heard it from the front brake of my bicycle it told me it was time for new brake shoes.
That’s when the dilemma began. Once there were three bicycle shops in Eltham, now there are none. Strange that. The next closest bike shop would have been Walkers Wheels that used to be in Were Street, Montmorency. But even that’s moved now. And so I found myself making my way to his new premises in Para Road.
I always found Walker an obliging fellow. When I stepped into his new premises opposite Montmorency Secondary College he was in his workshop. He was dressed according to the unofficial national summer dress code of baggy khaki shorts and a tee shirt. Being a skilled professional he knows how to repair bicycles without getting covered in oil and grease the way I do. The machine he was working on was on a stand with the rear wheel gear cluster at a comfortable height. Nearby at about eye level was an I-Pad on which I could see what looked like a newspaper article he had been scanning as he worked.
After the customary words of greeting I said to him, “What are you looking at?” He answered with a single word, “Trove.” Well I just happen to be a great fan of Trove. If you’re not in the know, Trove is the website of the Australian National Library in Canberra and they are digitising every Australian newspaper so they are accessible on the Internet. It is a wonderful source of historical and genealogical information.
Walker was able to tell me the older part of the building he now occupied was built in 1942, that it was added to in 1953 and he had the name of that builder. He filled me in on how the surrounding roads had changed names over the years. There seemed to be nothing he didn’t know about the area in which he had been born and now had his business. All retrieved from Trove.
Then he informed me he was a member of the Greensborough Historical Society and out came the old black and white photographs of Greensborough over the years. A steam locomotive standing beside the station platform before it had any buildings on it. Shots of the main street with just a scattering of timber buildings surrounded by trees. Talk about a trip back in time.
I‘ve always enjoyed such encounters. I came away with not only new brake shoes for the bike but with new insights into the development of the area in which I live. It reminded me that it’s the little things you were not expecting to happen, the small surprises in life, that are what makes it interesting. Without that knowledge a man could go to his grave without ever having really lived at all.