Home Up Career & Family Memories Another Fishy Story

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I feel a bit awkward saying Dayle; remember he was born with a set of laughing gear that… so we called him "Lubra-Lips".  It was a tuff old school in 1961 at ATS.  No regrets, only terrific memories!  

The Geoff Geue photo was taken whilst picking apricots near Loxton, with Chris Gamlin and me during the 1963 Xmas holidays.  Chris lasted 2 days, but Geoff stuck with me (contemplating modulating the water mains!), while I picked furiously to pay for a new car.

I remember my first day at the ATS.  I started a bit later than some.  I was made to sit at the back of Harry Elliott’s room, (I had just spent 12 months at Radio Rentals), and now had to solder a matrix of 22 gauge TCW with a bloody big 90 watt soldering iron, but I had been thinking that I would be "put into a room and left alone to invent something"!.  

I remember Taylor whistling "Oh My Darling Clementine" through his teeth over and over again.  He was driving us crazy and we were going to kill him, but Harry saved him.  

I was quickly sorted out; Francou, a similarly well educated kid as myself from Adelaide High yelled out "Good-day Sid" and it’s stuck as my nick-name and has caused confusion ever since.  

Remember PT sessions on the front lawn?  Peter Ledgard, "smart bastard", I remember thinking "this fellow could, (if he wanted), stick his head between his legs and whisper to himself, (if he wanted)… ".  Now me, unlucky not to have been preselected for the Olympics (or was it The Man Magazine?) I was struggling in the back row with Kenny Roberts looking over my shoulder; "Come-on Muegge, put some effort into it" and just in front of me are "lily pink legged" Mr Gauss and Bob Gosling waving their arms around like royalty and they don’t even get a mention.  

I knew then that I must have let Kenny Roberts down somehow.  He threatened on three occasions to terminate my indentures.  

The first was during Harry Perry’s cold chisel lesson.  A tool I now appreciate, good for removing large amounts of metal.  We’d been given a large lump of cast iron (which the selected "goodies" had pre-cut on the powered hacksaw) on which we had scribed the matrix and were tapping away with our chisels and hammers when Harry Perry yelled, "not like that, like this" (Bang, Belt, Wallop).  OK OK!  So we dug some grooves in that would trip a horse... must have removed an inch of iron, but left a bit of a mess.  "Now you smart arses, file it flat and square again!"  

Now having obviously missed the reading of some elementary rules, I discovered an easy way to achieve this task, holding the file at either end I had it almost perfect when Kenny occasioned to notice the lad.  Well he marched me by the neck, into his office.  Draw filing; bad lad!  (Incidentally, had those crawling chippies created some master pieces in there?).  Mrs Armfield, (from her little window into the fitting shop, knew every thing as it happened at the ATS), consoled me.  She was my only friend!

Another time, it was thought that I’d been in some gang pack fight.  (Irwin and Taylor had refined the art of sharpening their standard issue pocket knife to the extent that they could sliver slivers of fag paper sideways).  Bored with shaving the hairs off their arms, Niven demonstrated to me his recollection of West Side Story and accidentally cut through my dust coat, my John Brown, my shirt and bloody half my arm.  I’m back in Kenny’s office, blood dripping out of my shirt sleeve cuff explaining how I caught my arm on a sharp piece of chain wire fencing, while "Ha" (Trevor Williams... he’d have to be going on 70 by now!) spends the rest of the afternoon trying to find the offending spike!  

The third occasion was in my 5th year when I challenged "Greeny", a boy genius who had graduated with multiple degrees and PhDs, and now was a Scientific Officer with a whole year's experience in the real world.  He threatened to have my indentures cancelled because I’d gone AWOL.  Back in Kenny’s office.  This time the "good guys", Doc Kildare and Harry were my advocates.  Not only did they win my case, I got my special class endorsement and worked in that Lab for the next five years.  

There were other occasions that would have excited Roberts and one came to mind not so long ago.  I had just staked a 10 berth houseboat on a submerged giant Murray River red gum stump.  As I gazed over the gunwale to contemplate the issue, I spotted a cast name plate on the aluminium pontoon that apportioned some credit to Bob Speight.  Good natured Bob never held a grudge, and I relate the following to demonstrate this.

The fitters were learning great skills, imparted to them by Gordon Speck and it was Bob Speight’s task to make a toolbox with radiused edges on the lid.  This required precise scribing, cutting and folding.  Having a perfect example, Bob took his lid to Wilf Bates’ welding class to have the corner seams welded.  Alas, the current welding class were radio apprentices, and Muegge was assigned to finish Bob’s lid off.  That I did!  I can still see the tears running down his cheeks, and perhaps it was my welding that inspired him, years later, to perfect this art for himself, but he never complained.  (I think his tongue must have caught up in his sinuses!).

Then there was the incident at Woomera.  I remember coming back from the "Jazza", and the lads with a fetish for the chrome hoop frame beds had been at it again.  

The Junior Staff Mess at Woomera; also known as "The Jazza"

Range E at Woomera (launching site for ELDO's "Blue Streak")

This time they had got Speighty’s bed and had it outside on the roof straddling the gable of the hut, complete with bedding.  No only that, young Hicksy was on it, entertaining the gathered throng with an impressive trampoline routine.  Suddenly, advance warning that Speighty was on his way back to his room… not one bastard in sight, only strained ears pressed against the inside of locked doors.  Unperturbed, Bob quickly establishes that his bed is on the roof (help from the RAAF grandstand I think).  He shimmies up the drain pipe, as silent but smirking bodies creep out to witness this aerial event.  In a show of awesome strength, he raises the bed and accessories with arms stretched out above his head, and walks back along the gable.  At a point directly above where Irwin and Muegge resided, Bob steps off the gable to dismount the roof.  Now Bob, having been was raised on irrigated mutton, weighs a pound or two, plus the bed, which proves too much for the asbestos roof.  First step off the gable and the sheeting caves in, Speighty disappears and the bed cascades off the roof intact.  Reconnaissance finds Speighty’s leg poking out through a two foot hole in the ceiling below…  

With the ceiling hole covered adequately with a Brigitte Bardot poster, we though that no-one would notice!… (Incidentally, before we sealed the hole, a four inch scorpion came out.  I caught it and kept it in a cardboard box and fed it with blowflies).  

Well, the cleaners sprung us.  Niven and I had appointments to visit the chief engineer, Bob Sexton.  Niven and Sexton were flabbergasted, and unable to understand how the hole in the roof and in the ceiling could possibly have got there.  "Call in Muegge"… "The cleaners have reported that you first wrecked the wardrobe to play cards on its door, you keep venomous stinging animals, paste naked ladies on the ceiling, and no doubt you can explain the holes in the roof on your side of the room?"…  "Hmm, …  No Sir!"

(To this day, the above may be the first and only recollection of this event!)

Wrong Peter!!!  And here is photographic evidence supplied from the John Mackenzie Archives!

Outside view of the hole.  

(Thank goodness for the Statute of Limitations!)

Inside view of the hole, framing Niven Irwin's grinning face.


2DEC2000:  comment received from Bob Speight:  

I see you put my info on the web site Dayle, thanks for that.  The story by Peter Muegge was true and I had a good laugh about it.  (The scar on my leg from falling through the asbestos roof is still visible today.  What he didn't say was that there were about six or more first-aid kits produced within minutes to treat the gash in my leg which was about 6 to 8mm deep.  I never did get it stitched up as it would have identified who fell through the roof.)


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