Taking down the calendars.

The taking down of the calendars & Ziedel’s secret Carby’.

Dropped in to the workshop to pay my mechanic’s bill a while back..more than a year or so, in fact..anyway, it was on that day when Peter..the mechanic..was taking down several of those “girlie” calendars that are almost a fixture on the office walls of such tradie shops like Peter’s garage.

I like those old style mechanics garages..you know, those ones with an old busted engine block or gearbox covered in old oil and rags by the big doors..the loose chain block and tackle hanging from a cross-beam in the rafters..and the racks of stored bits and pieces of “will be useful one day” stuff against the wall..the welding gear, the drill-press and perhaps a metal lathe for turning down that impossible to find part but this one will be alright with a bit of tweaking…and the peg-board with the shadow marks of all the spanners that go just there..and still with the old “pit” in the floor.

It reminds me of the days of steam locomotives when I was a kid. I would like to walk close to the edge of the platform next to the huffing/puffing locomotive just to get a whiff of that rush of steam from the front wheel pistons…that moist steam that had that slight scent of lubricating oils..whoosh!..lovely memories…Christ ..they’ve taken all the fun out of a young boy’s life with the beigeing of things.

Which brings me back to old Peter taking down those calendars.

I stopped in the doorway of the garage office..a small cluttered room off the back corner of the workshop..Peter had his back to me as he examined one large poster of an attractive young woman clad erotically and holding a pneumatic implement…the poster was an advertisement for a well-known tool company.

I looked to the wall where this calendar, along with several others had hung for many years. The wall was now cleared.

“Hello, Peter..you doing a spring cleanout?”

“Wha!..oh..hello young fellah…no.. no..” and he seemed to reflect for a moment..” I’m just moving with the times.” And he rolled the calendar he had in front of him up..” Goodbye ‘Sadira’…” (the poster had scripted under the pinup ; “Sadira always uses a S….”and the brand name of the company).

“So what are the new ones?” I asked..”A Pirelli calendar?”

Peter sighed wistfully…

“No..no new ones..or at least none with women on them…perhaps one from the grocery store..with pictures of kittens or flowers or something..no more females…But I will miss ‘Sadira’…god..she was beautiful..as Vern would say ; more curves than a box full of Sidchromes!”

I offered to pay my account and he slumped wearily into the swivel chair behind his desk. He pulled out the ledger and flipped the pages open with the red ribbon. He sat silently staring at the empty wall..and he sighed and leaned back…a tad misty-eyed.

“ I never got married, you know..nearly!..but not quite..That first one fair took my heart..threw me for a while when she left and then I guess I never really got back the momentum to get serious with another girl until I suddenly woke one day and realised I was so much older..and I no longer had the hunger…or felt the need for marriage..here..what’s the damage on that docket?”

I paid the account and Peter rose and followed me out into the cool, darkened workshop..the brilliant Mallee sunlight outside razor-sharp in contrast. Peter and I gazed into the empty floor space.

“ But times change…’cause you see, back in the early days, the only people used to come in here were the farmers with their tractors or the other blokes in the district..rarely a woman, and then only grudgingly as the place has that smell of dirt and grease and oil…so it was just par for the course to get those calendars from the travelers and such..and I’d put them up on the wall there..one on top of the other as the years go by..just par for the course..But now women do so much more of their own business..arrange the repairs, discuss the mechanical problems, pay the bills..AND argue the toss on the cost of repairs!..and it don’t look good to have those calendars there any more..and besides, many of the companies themselves have stopped making those sort of calendars…they know as well…times change.”

I didn’t have much to add to his musings..so I just grunted a kind of affirmation..and he started to walk away…then he stopped and continued..

“… an’ I suppose a fellah gets too old to have such things on his wall…wouldn’t want it to get about that I was a dirty old man..women don’t like that sort of thing…but by jingo..I’m gonna miss that “Sadira”…just the sight of those lovely blue eyes at the start of the day was enough to kick me along..but hey, that picture is so old..I shouldn’t wonder if she isn’t a grandmother herself now!..ah…women..beautiful creatures…( and he shook his head)..more curves than a box full of Sidchromes…”

And he went over to fix a flat tyre.
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Ziedel’s secret carby’.

Was asking for a bit of background knowledge on a long deceased relative of mine from the local aged mechanic…Peter Pholl…He and his offsider ; Vern, run the only workshop in the district..have done for near on fifty or sixty years!…I don’t know…neither does anyone else…not even them!

“Name doesn’t ring any bells..” Peter frowned

“He was a very inventive sort of chap..in the line of mechanical things” ..I assisted.

“Ooo, there were a lot of them about in them days” Peter opined “A lot of them…There was Pastor Ziedel, for instance…Why..HE was a sort of genius…Do you know, he invented a carburetor that could halve petrol consumption in a motor..but the thing was, he was dammed clever how he done it.” and here Peter tapped the side of his nose.

“How so?” I asked.

“Well, you know he didn’t want anybody to find out how he done it, so he got those little jets and needles and seats and whatnot made in different places by different chaps so no-one person could put them all together…Ooo..he was cunning alright”

“So did you get to see how it looked?” I pushed on. Peter stopped, pulled up and looked at me in wide-eyed wonder.

“No!..of course not, it was a secret!…hell, he wouldn’t let anyone see how he done it…why, if he went to any motor event, he’d take that carburetor off and put the old one on so nobody could pinch his design..Ooo, he was cunning , ; old Pastor Ziedel.”

“But if no one saw it, how do you know it worked?”

There was a pause in the response, which told me that this cynical line of reasoning had never before been broached…then ;…

“Whhyy…of course it worked…you ask anybody who knew of it…he had it on his old Holden for years…of course it worked…and dammed good too!”

“Well, I imagine some one saw it after he passed away…was it in his estate when they went through his effects?”

“No..not that I ever heard..I suppose his son threw it out with a lot of other stuff.”

“What!” I exclaimed “I would have thought it would be a very valuable item.”

“Maybe…but because the old man was so secretive about it, I don’t suppose the sons would have know what it was if’n they came across it.”

And THAT is the wonderful way local history is created!

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