Thursday, June 29, 2006

REX Thompson would like to make contact with Gayle (nee) Ferrier of R'ton, whom he met on a cruise March 86. Ph 08 8277 4249, 0408 454 292.
This ad appeared in the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin on October 20, 2001.

THE phone rang in Rex Thompson’s home in the Adelaide suburb of Clovelly Park at 6.50pm on Wednesday, October 31.
Rex works as an "instant lawn" salesman.
He was away on work commitments when his mum answered the phone that night.
He had waited years for the call and he is sadly disappointed at missing it.
"The caller said her name was Gayle but she didn’t leave her number," Rex said.
"I have waited a few weeks now but she hasn’t called back.
"Perhaps I’ll see if Telstra can find me the number.
"Can they give you a number of someone who called?"
Rex believes the caller was an old friend he has lost touch with and that the call came from central Queensland.
He desperately wants to renew the friendship.
"She is such a lovely caring person," he said. "We just clicked."
Rex’s hopes of getting in touch with Gayle have risen in the past few weeks since he met a Rockhampton couple, he knows as Mr and Mrs Croswell, when they were visiting their daughter Nicole in Melbourne.
Nicole’s flatmate, Marcia, is an old friend of Rex, who was on holiday from Adelaide.
"We got talking, I told them about Gayle and they said they would put an ad in the paper for me," he said.
The ad said Rex Thompson would like to make contact with Gayle (nee) Ferrier of Rockhampton, whom he met on a cruise in March 86.
Rex said he later came north to stay with Gayle for a while but returned to work with the Taxation Departrment, then had trouble getting leave.
They lost contact over the years but he drove to Rockhampton about four years ago to try to find her.
"She had left work at the hospital and moved home," he said.
"Her mother was no longer at the address she had before.
"I went to the electoral rolls.
"Gayle was in them until 1997.
"She may have got married."
"She was a nurse at Rockhampton Hospital. I am a different sort of person.
"I have a physical disability, osteogenesisimperfecta.
It means I have brittle bones. There are 800 of us in Australia.
"I was born with eight fractures and I am 4ft 1in in height.
"I wear calipers and need walking sticks. I have a pretty good life.
"I have no complaints. I drive a car. I drove to Rockhampton twice to see her and stay."
Rex said he had benefited greatly from having four elder brothers and two sisters who helped provide family support for him .
"It must have been better than being an only child," he said.
"Now people that are my friends respect me immensely. "They value my opinions and will come to me to ask me about aspects of their life
"I meet a lot of people all the time but not all have an effect.
"I cared for and loved Gayle from day one. I don’t want to lose her friendship."

Saturday, June 24, 2006

This column appeared yesterday in the Redland Times, which serves a lively community on Moreton Bay at the front door of Australia's rising economic star, south-east Queensland.

Stan Thorogood, of Ormiston, is keen to clinch a sale through our Free Winter Classifieds Clearance.
Stan, who turns 86 this month, is a devotee of local papers.
He has spent his life hungrily devouring every detail from any printed material.
We certainly want to clinch sales for loyal readers like Mr Thorogood.
"It's terribly important to get information," he says.
"I have been around the world and to lots of places.
"I am interested in what's going on and what people are thinking. I am interested in the readers' letters and the police reports."
Mr Thorogood's free ad offered jarrah bench seats at $25 each.
The seats, which are oiled and in pristine condition, came with a setting but the vendor needs only the table.
The small seats perhaps would suit a balcony, he says.
Mr Thorogood brought his love of information when he migrated to Australia in 1956.
He had started work as a sea cargo officer with P&O but, before the war, joined Imperial Airways at Croydon Airport.
During World War Two, he served with the Army Service Corps in the Middle East, Greece, Italy, Belgium and Germany, rising to corporal.
He then returned to cargo administration with British Airways and took charge of export cargo at London Airport.
He is still bitter his cargo management expertise did not find a better use with Qantas in Australia.
"I ended up as a passenger reservations control adviser," he says.
"Before the big computer systems, all the organisation was done manually.
"We were extracting information from five-letter signals over the phone system. That's why it was called the salt mine."
Mr Thorogood "retired officially" in 1980.
All of which is many years from those jarrah bench seats.
"I have moved nine times in 25 years in New South Wales and Queensland but hopefully I have settled down now," he says.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Thought for the day:
Timber is propping up technology in homes and offices around the world. Look at what holds your computer boxes. Whatever happens in the world of technology we apparently cannot do without wood.
(The picture shows a sculpture in silky oak, Father and Child, by Jenny Rumney. ).
More about wood and technology at

CASES of woodworkers with damaged lungs are a continuing worry in the community of classified advertising.
Classie Corner must warn woodworkers to use the recommended breath protection. And we’re not talking about Colgate, Macleans and Listerine.
Use the right masks in the right way and maintain the filters.
Turners seem to suffer badly from lung damage after repeatedly inhaling the fine dust.
The column, below, includes a reference to the problem. In this instance the sufferer says he turned for about a decade before he woke up to the damage he was doing.
Another 10 years on, he can no longer work on the lathes. That must be heart breaking for anyone who loves wood.
Camphor laurel, rosewood and rose mahogany were his specialties. He took the trade to a high level by opening a woodturners’ gallery in a suburban business district.
I turned for about six months in 2000 and believe it affected my lungs, even though I wore a rubber mask with renewable filter.
All woodturners complain that masks don’t seem to work properly. They are awkward and hard to seal around the face.
Mine seemed to seal. It left lines around my cheekbones for quite a while after removal.
X-rays have failed to detect any damage that could be blamed specifically on the dust but I continue to worry, having another lung-dusted turner in the family.
I still come across turners who believe they can beat the dust by controlling their breathing as they work.
The technique seems to involve holding your breath while you work and moving out of the perceived dust zone to inhale or breathing very shallowly.
Evidence suggests it is a dangerous practice.

AN early skirmish in the winter war on clutter ended with cheers from a Redlands woman who says she was "blown away" by the power of classified advertising.
A replaced laundry sink that took space in Mary Belz’s Birkdale home was among the first trophies from the front line of hagglers, thanks to our June special offer.
Mary was looking this week for more items under $100 to list in a free for-sale notice after the sink and metal cabinet sold for $30 on Saturday to the first of four callers.
"We haven’t advertised like this before and we were quite blown away by the response," Mary said.
"The lady who bought it read the paper only about 9 or 10 on Friday night and was very keen on Saturday."
Mary and husband Mervyn are enjoying their return to the Redlands after living at Toowoomba for about 40 years.
"I grew up here and we moved back about four years ago to be closer to the family," she said.
Mary advertised the sink in another paper but failed to get a call.
SOUTH at Victoria Point, retired fitter and turner and woodworker Kevin Tersteeg still had the mini bar fridge he listed last Friday for $80.
Kevin has been a devotee of classified advertising for much of the half century since he migrated from the Netherlands in 1956, just in time to see the Olympic rowing at Ballarat.
"I have always sold everything I have advertised," he said.
"I think I have sold five caravans and campers over the last 20 years or so."
Kevin and wife Cecelie enjoy camping, mainly at seaside parks between Yamba and Coolum.
The mini fridge suited a camper trailer they have replaced.
Many Redlanders know Kevin from the woodturning gallery he formerly had in Bloomfield Street, Cleveland.
Kevin says his trade in metal work paid the bills for many years and he became the foreman of a Capalaba workshop after moving to Queensland in 1974.
Then wood won his heart. Much of his work was in camphor laurel, rosewood and rose mahogany.
"It was much more rewarding working with wood and for myself," he said.
"I have given it up now because it affected my lungs."
Fishing is now among his favourite pastimes and he gleefully tells about a mate hooking a 69cm flathead in Canaipa Passage.
Kevin’s mini fridge drew three callers and two inspections but was just a tad small for their needs. Like Mary Belz, he received no calls from a notice in another paper.
This column has appeared in the Redland Times, which serves a lively community on Moreton Bay at the gateway to Australia’s rising economic star, south-east Queensland.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

ONE five-letter word always gets people talking in the marvellous community of classified advertising, especially on the north coast, which has a heritage in the highly prized timber, cedar.
The word "cedar" had drawn about a dozen calls by mid-week in Troy Barrett’s campaign to sell slabs from which he had planned to build a classy bed.
Troy must have inherited his love of wood from his dad, who works as a builder in Gladstone, where Troy grew up.
Now living at Lennox Head with his wife Janette, Troy has made a few boxes for the markets and turns up bowls on his lathe.
When Troy, 29, found the cedar at a garage sale he grabbed it for the bed project.
But he hasn’t found the time to build a bed, so he listed the seasoned Australian red cedar, in 5cm slabs, in the Checkout Classifieds.
He wanted $700 for about 0.8cu m of the timber, which he believed had been cut about five years ago.
Troy said the inquiries kept coming.
"They are mainly retired people who make a bit of furniture,’’ he said.
"But I want to sell it in one lot.
"There are a few splits; it’s not the highest quality."
Timber has been playing a major role in Troy’s life since he moved up from Sydney for the lifestyle change.
He has been driving trucks for Byron Bay Secondhand Building Supplies for the past five months.
Troy says he is picking more knowledge about timber from his work.
"I am getting there," he said.
(This column first appeared in the Northern Star, Lismore New South Wales, Australia in 2001)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My humble apologies to readers waiting for the promised stories about cedar. But here we go, The Classie Corner Archives are open again. Here’s a cedar lovers’ saliva-drenched column from the Lismore district a few years ago. The picture shows a panel from an old courthouse cabinet which receives a mention.
A CEDAR table for $26. It sounds like the bargain of a lifetime.
But in the 1960s Ian Bennetts thought the price of the "dirty old table" was "a bit rich".
"At the time I thought I was being ripped off," he said.
Ian has just moved from Lismore to Goonellabah, high on a ridge on the Alstonville plateau, so has had cedar on his mind.
His house has a northerly aspect toward the border and he speculates that the cedar in the table came from the "thick dense rainforest" of the plateau.
"That’s where the big cedars used to grow," he said.
All those years ago, Ian found an intriguing stamp on the old cedar table.
It included the letters "HN" and "VR", a crown and a date, July 1881.
"The ‘HN’ would have been the initals of the person who made the table," he said.
"There were only two or three making these sorts of tables at the time.
"The ‘VR’? Victoria Regina, and you can guess who that was."
Ian, his wife Beverley and their three teenagers have been using the table in their family/breakfast room.
They have decided to part with it because their new home does not have the space for such a grand piece.
Ian has a special feeling for history from the last century. He says Banjo Paterson wrote in The Man From Ironbark about his Victorian home town.
Ian’s grandfather was a miner in the Victorian goldfields near Bendigo.
Ian and Beverley came to the district from Hong Kong about 20 years ago.
They started the Thrifty car rental outlet in 1993.
Back to the table. Ian has identified it as "ex-Colonial Govt office".
The proud owner of some cedar from a dismantled cabinet that came from an old Blue Mountains courthouse, I can admire this grand timber for hours.
Ian says the couple has six chairs that can go with the table. They’re possibly tassie oak.
He advertised the table at $1850, which makes the $26 sound pretty good, even if it was a week’s good pay more than 30 years ago.

Friday, June 09, 2006

For all the late starters, a quick recap on what’s happening here.
Classified advertising has lived next to the heart and soul of publishing, for centuries on paper, now also on the web.
News gatherers feed the news and feature mills with story leads from classified advertising but usually fail to acknowledge the source of their inspiration. I have written at length about this elsewhere on this blog.
During my sentence in chains at the coalface of mainstream and traditional publishing, I tried to get an editor or two to make a policy to use the tag, "The lead for this story came from our classified advertising."
Readers would be amazed at how often such a credit would appear. The suggestion drew those sickly smiles that say "next subject". That’s how many journalists react to any suggestion their profession owes a debt to "the Classies".
Now, it’s off the hobby horse and on to today’s post from the Classie Corner archives, giving an insight into the lives of the rich and famous on the Gold Coast.
This column appeared in the Tweed Daily News about five years ago but I don’t expect things have changed much.
GEE, it would be nice to be some people. Like certain cashed-up buyers of modern canalfront homes.
Wouldn’t it be nice to walk into a home for which you’ve just paid a bigger sum than the standard first division lotto prize and say, "Rip the guts out of it – replace the lot – kitchen, bathroom, windows, doors"?
Envious types like me can always take consolation by hopping on to the end of the chain for a flow-on benefit by buying top quality secondhand building materials.
Hinterland Salvage proprietor David Martin has seen luxury homes just five years old receive total update after "the lady says ‘I don’t like it’.’’
"Renovation is a really big thing in this area," says David, who took over the Nerang business about two and a half years ago.
David keeps Daily News readers up to date with the lifestyle of the rich but not always famous prestige property owners through his regular "specials" in the Checkout Classifieds.
The view we get may often be of the things the rich do not like (any more) but beauty is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to recycled materials.
One of the hottest items David put on the market has been a white powder-coated aluminium gazebo that came from the canal front.
Jaws dropped when David and his four-member team put the gazebo on show at the firm’s Brendan Drive yard.
"I could have sold it 15 times," he says.
Flashy garden goods aside, Hinterland Salvage has a big range of many materials waiting to cycle into a new life.
The list includes coloured glass for leadlighting, hundreds of windows, whole kitchens (sometimes, solid tassie oak), rangehoods, old hoop pine, plywood and chipboard sheets, roofing iron and guttering, security screens … add anything to do with building.
David, a commercial pilot, does not regret his move from the Riverina where he had a business dusting rice crops for about 12 years.
"I wanted a change of pace and it’s good here," he says. "I meet a lot of interesting people."
David says that because the Coast was a quiet spot basically until the 60s a lot of the locally recycled product is fairly recent.
But the firm runs two trucks, which often head for Brisbane to get some of the older materials. He also has storage on acreage so if the yard cannot meet a buyer’s needs he may already have the right item elsewhere.
One of my first questions was, "Do you ever get any cedar?"
David: "I haven’t got much at the moment but it’s surprising with things like that; you might get a run on it for two months or so.
"It comes and goes."
I’ll keep watching David’s ads for the latest news on secondhand timber including my pet species, the one that started the Aussie timber industry when my ancestors had those funny arrows on their shirts.
You can watch for an insight into what the rich, sometimes for mysterious reasons, do not like.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

This column appeared on Friday in the Redland Times, which serves a lively community on Moreton Bay at the gateway to Australia's new economic star, south-east Queensland.

LET’S have another chat around the fireside with the people who keep the Redlands warm.
Steve Radtke, of Steve’s Firewood, says not only householders but also some notable business names are warming up with wood in the countdown to winter.
Steve counts the Lighthouse Restaurant at Cleveland among his blue-chip clients.
He is pleased to see the charm of an open fire in such an upmarket eatery.
In another serving of the fire-food equation, Steve admits developing a liking for pizzas from wood ovens after he began supplying the Tomato Brothers Gourmet Pizza Restaurant at Ormiston this year.
"I don’t think it’s entirely the wood but the pizzas come up beautifully," Steve says.
"You can buy one from a normal oven but it doesn’t have the same flavour."
Steve worships wood after growing up in the Gympie district and later doing a lot of work with a portable mill on properties around Bundaberg.
He is in partnership with Mal Kruger in Steve’s Firewood.
The pair first worked together in the early 1990s for Steve’s uncle, Max Radtke, in a firewood business that has had a long heritage in keeping Redlanders warm and cosy.
The new partnership formed about three years ago.
Steve, of Cornubia, went fishing on the Logan River and hooked up with his old mate.
"Mal lives on the Logan and after we saw each other we got talking and ended up going into business together," Steve says.
Last week this column touted the qualities of ironbark as the ideal burning timber but Steve says the spotted and blue gums must also rate among the best burners.
Steve’s Firewood gets most of its supplies from properties in the Jimboomba and Beaudesert districts.
However, some supplies come from south-east Queensland developers who drop truckloads of trees at the partners’ depot near Jacobs Well.
Steve and Mal do all the splitting at the depot, where they stack the timber and age it when necessary.
Most of the supply is fireplace-ready, the legacy of ringbarking by property owners decades ago.
The partners certainly can save on gym fees, thanks to their work.
"There’s a lot of double and triple handling and worse, from the cutting and loading on the properties to the unloading, splitting, stacking and then the loading and unloading of deliveries," Steve says.
THANKS for joining me to meet the people in the marvellous community of classified advertising. More stories on Feedback to

Saturday, June 03, 2006

An old wood robe that was a bargain at a garage sale is today’s VIP guest in Classie Corner. Garage sales and classified advertising go together like Araldite part A and B, reaching maximum strength every Saturday morning in the pages of local papers everywhere. My creative spirit tried to make a similar bond between wood and technology. These inspired ramblings make their public debut here …

HIGH-tech irony may be a four-year-old computer on shelves in an 80-year-old piece of bedroom furniture, an old silky oak all-rounder with a wardrobe on one side and a dressing table on the other. Especially if the octogenerian hybrid has a slat of century-old cedar serving as an extension for the IBM keyboard.
The words spring from a half-century-old brain. The computer and the operator both carry the stigma that comes near obsolete. The wood is timeless. Technology changes. Thought processes change. Wood stays much the same inside even though the exterior shows the scars of time. Things are a little different with the computer, which seems virtually timeless on the outside while embracing change on the inside.
The old furniture may have served in the bedroom of a single gent or lady’s small flat. Its space-saving design indicates such a purpose. The first owners may have used the mirror to groom themselves before they went for a night out in 1920s Australia; men with oily hair plasted down and reeking of california poppy, women with curly waves and perhaps a small gold inlay on a smile like a silent-film star. All the layers of paint indicated that my hybrid unit had probably three owners with vastly different tastes.
The original finish was a brown stain. It must have been magnificent on the beautiful grain when the piece was new. Maybe it stood beside a silky bed in a room with little decorative touches like lace on the bedspread and window dressings and little cotton baubles on cute window shades. However, the wood finish may either have lost its lustre or found distaste with the culprit who applied a coat of bright yellow paint. Change brings reactions and more change. It seems to have a mindset to affect everything in its path but it stops just short of the heart.
The yellow was a nasty shock as we scraped off the warm off-white that the robe featured when we bought it for $5 at a garage sale. Inside the robe, the original brown carries a memento of a mother and daughter battle. "I hate mum" is scrawled in lipstick on an inside wall.
Flecks of the colours peep at me as I type. The yellow seems to give a flashback to a boldness of the 1950s or 60s. My sister, an interior decorator at the time, practised her designing on my bedroom with a colour scheme that always seemed to me to underscore a scorning of the subdued and restful shades of the homes of the post-war era. Her scheme for me centred on a red feature wall. The other walls were grey; the ceiling was olive green. Every other such surface in the house was duck-egg blue or another pastel.
We became the sort of family that would grasp the nettle and cover the perceived dullness of the old-fashioned timber with shades so bright we may have needed sunglasses when combing our hair. In my mind I can see my mum with a paintbrush in her hand and curlers in her hair. She gave up smoking when I was a young child but in this vision she still has a cigarette. A bakelite radio plays from the shelf above the scared marble benchtop between the sink and the stove. A Jobim tune with lush strings fills the country kitchen, the walls of which are a warm and bright yellow, above a black and white checked vinyl. At least I think it was a Jobim tune. One called Surfboard to be exact. I have it on an LP record dated 1965 so it’s about the right era. The first time I heard it as an adult it took me back to the 60s.
My sister also us to a product I think was called Fablon, which left us with fake plastic woodgrain over paint that covered up real grain. We all dressed up to go to church each Sunday, even though I could not bring myself to believe that a small slice of bread became the body of Christ but tentatively accepted that Jesus Christ was God’s Son who was Born after a so-called Immaculate Conception.
A pale yellow refrigerator with a small pressed-metal brandplate saying "Silent Knight" was next to a worn pine table opposite the brick fireplace in our old kitchen. The old fridge, which just a few years before my birth replaced a made way for a shiny new white unit with a "Kelvinator" plate in plastic; the radio became a square wooden box framing an aluminium speaker housing and modern plastic nobs in two shades of grey; the fireplace almost went cold as we eased our reliance on the wood supply and complained about the fumes from a kerosene heater.
That’s just a bit of one era of all this robe-dresser has seen. Pale memories of wood valued for itself, then treated with coats of paint to suit ephemeral needs for aesthetic satisfaction, then again valued for itself but with plastic and silicon filling its guts.
The same sorts of changes must have been going on in other people’s lives.
The tall part of the unit, with the dowel rail still across the top, stands before me like a grotesque upright coffin as I sit typing on the keyboard, the roll-out chipboard shelf rattling and setting up sympathetic vibrations through another chipboard shelf that supports the monitor.
Yes, the cupboard appears to have a place in a new order. It looks the same as it did before technology tried to take over every little space within it. Disks in one drawer; cables and disused bits of hardware in another; user manuals and technology in another; a disgusting collection of broken pens and all sorts of bits and pieces in the fourth.
Under the keyboard shelf, right in front of my feet, two cardboard boxes contain relics from my life’s work in paper publishing.
Above them, the monitor shows my explorations into a new universe about as far from the world of wood and paper as the furthest piece of matter orbiting the furthest star, maybe even further. It’s also a long way from the country kitchen with the bakelite radio.
The old robe now has a brain inside a plastic and steel box that sits above the monitor and connects with my brain and the world.
The design provided a top shelf to hold a printer but my latest "three-in-one" unit won’t fit. Just like any computer product, the "next generation" came quickly and was surprisingly difficult to integrate into the set-up with the robe.
The new print-scan-copy device provides its own contrast on an old 1800s cedar desktop that a family member gave to us.
Wonderful wood is propping up technology at least around our place.
FOOTNOTE: The robe served its sentence in hard labour and has gone into semi-retirement in storage awaiting yet another application.
I have also updated my hardware, software and internet connection but the performance has not improved as much as I hoped.
My new secondhand desk has a woodgrain laminex top.
STILL to come in the Classie Corner wood series: The way Australian pioneers felled the cedar forests, a new look at the camphor laurel pest and lots more.