The Biggest Part


I arrived in Whyalla in late December 1968 and stared working for the BHP Whyalla Shipyard it was not a good start the old foreman asked if I could weld yes was the answer to this as I had learnt all it's forms when I was an apprentice. Oh good he said we need welders, so off we went to the welding bay. When there he said can you weld this, it was a steel flange attached to a copper pipe. No I said this cannot be done as it will cause electrolysis, rubbish he said we do it all the time. So I did it and did it well but he put me in some other section (will come back to this later in this chapter).

I was living in the signal men quarters and did not like it, so moved out to private renting with several other young men.

Still bored and nothing to do in the evenings I went to the local dancing school. Maybe I could do some teaching there. On the first night the owner asked me if I could dance, my answer was no. Ok he said then we will find a young lady to help you. Very soon a very good looking lady with a strange accent came and said let me show some basic step's. That would be nice I said, now the hard part, how can I look like a beginner, well I tried but with in three or four steps she said stop trying to kid me and dance properly. So we did, we soon had the whole floor to our selves and put on a show that the people of Whyalla had never seen before.

margymannyrossThis young lady was Margaret Elizabeth McLeod Sutherland. This was the start of life together which lasted thirty seven year's and only ended with her death at the end of 2004.

She had a four year old daughter Margaret and was engaged to another young local man, but the big city slicker sweep her of her feet and we got married about three months later in 1969. We decided to move to Sydney to live and meet my mother, later I was told how worried my mum was, “what has my little boy done now”. Well it all turned out very well at their first meeting my mum fell in love with her and little Margaret. It was like they had known each other for years.

I found work quickly and we moved in to our own flat, not far from mum's. And in 1970 we had another girl Kym. But Margaret missed her mum who was not well and her three sisters. So I managed to get my job back in the same department of the Whyalla Shipyard so the four of us moved back. The old foreman had retired and I got into the welding section the reason was that all the pipes that the old foreman said were alright had come back with corrosion like I told him and the job was very big.

Then in 1971 we had a son Alan William and again in 1973 another son Andrew Ross, so it became a very big family and I had to work hard just to keep food on the table and cloths on their backs as well pay for their schooling. After eight years the BHP decided to close the yard so a lot of very skilled tradesmen would have no work a big loss to the city. So I took my long service pay bought a caravan and took the family half way around Australia. This took about three months, then back to Whyalla and got a job at the steel-making department of BHP Long Products Division. I started in the yard gang just cleaning up, but not for long the boss could see that I was different to the other workers and very quickly I was in the production section. It was just the right time, it was changing from a do as I tell you set-up to how about thinking first. So with my trade background I fitted the bill just right and very soon I was doing all the different jobs in this section. And then became part of the new job training program. Around the same time I was elected by my work mates to represent them on the Safety Health and Welfare Committee.

When working in the Shipyard I took up coaching soccer and my young boys did really well, two even went on to get a place in the Australian World Cup squad, how very proud this made me feel, knowing it was me that gave them their start. It was also around this time I brought my first computer a Tandy TRS 80 level 2 with a whooping 16k of ram.

Mum got married again after fifteen years a widow, to Fred Ogdin a neighbour of many years who lived just up the top our street. He was a good man and looked after mum very well. He taught her how to drive, sixty and yes very happy. One time she even drove to visited us in Whyalla.

Well Fred got dementia and Mum had to look after him, a big job for an eighty year old lady. After Fred died mum had only her younger sister Ethel to talk with, but then Ethel passed away and mum became very lonely, the last of the Pivott's but battled on.

Our children did not do very well at school with exception of Alan, it was a breeze for him. And Andrew did not even finish high school, but he is happy doing what he has always loved that is working with horses.

Little Margaret found work and got married to Steven Raymond and had our first grandchild Luke. Then Kym was married to Brenton Clemens and after many years of trying along came Hayden and then Shaun and finally Ammie a granddaughter at last. All happy now and gran was very busy. But Popa just took it all in his stride.

Andrew and Alan could not get on, so Andrew moved away after finding a good job looking after horses. This has led him to many places all-over Australia and New Zealand, doing what he has loved since he was ten years old.

Around 1998 I was not feeling very well so went to see my doctor, after some tests and seeing a specialist I was told that I had asbestosis. Well it felt like a death sentence as knew quit a bit about it being involved with safety. The doctor said no working in hot or dusty places, making steel is a very hot and dusty thing. So the boss moved me in to the office, it was hard for me there as my hearing was bad also and I had never worked in an office before. I just spent most of my time doing menial task. Now and again the boss gave me some work that kept me interested.

Well the outcome of this is that I took voluntary retirement in 1999 and got on a disability pension.

Just before this I meet a man that used to work in the shipyard with me. I had been told that he had a heart operation, well he just looked so well and very happy. So I asked him was it true, yes he said no problem now though I'm back at work, good grief so soon, yes he said life goes on. Well this woke me up I was not going to die.

The 2000 Olympics would be held in Sydney, what a great opportunity to spend some time with Mum and take in the atmosphere. So we planned it well in advance and saved the money needed so we could have a good time.

Well things did go as planed Margaret had a heart attack, she was so lucky because there was a doctor living next door and he looked after her till the paramedics came and took her to the hospital.

In the hospital she had the best people working on her, I was told what the trouble was and that she needed a new drug to make her right. It was still only experimental but could fix her. The trouble was that the side affects could make things worse if they took hold, the doctor said it was up to me to say yes or no, I said yes and soon she was better. This was the second time I had make a decision about her health as she was unable too , the first being when Andrew was being born. The doctor told me there was some trouble with the birth and if the choose was mother or child I said mother first. Again things turned out for the best both came through OK.

And life carried on as normal for many years until.



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