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Our visit from Dick Smith

I was in the shop,  doing some paperwork when Dick Smith came in for a look.  He said that he was looking around the district.  I asked him for a photo which he agreed to take with me.

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Elvis – A Blast from the Past

A few years ago when my wife and I were looking after the shop,  a train load of Elvis fans got off the train while on their way to Parks.  They cam to the shop and we had fun.

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1975 – 1976 Richmond Auction


My Grandfather, Frank started an Auction house in Richmond, In the far western suburb in the  Sydney Basin. Thus John and Monica ran the Auction rooms in Orange during this time. However when an auction was being held in Richmond the hole family would be in Richmond to run the auction and the same would happen when there was an auction in Orange.

Below is a picture of my grandfather, Frank with me in his hands. If you are from Richmond you will most likly recognize the tower in the background.

From memory some one of the stories that Frank told me is that when he bought the property, the solicitor did not do their searches correctly and did not inform Frank that the driveway is a common driveway, for the Telecommunications company to enter the property to get access to the tower. So because this was not stated in the contract or any paperwork that Frank had when purchasing the property, he locked did not permit any Telecommunications company using the driveway without compensation, thus locking them out. when it was proven that this was a registered right-of-way, he then sued his own solicitor for not doing the searches correctly and won. Thus getting compensation for buying a property that had an egress on it, that he would not have bought if he knew that there was one.

About 2 years ago I went back to look at this place and found that the gates and the lights that Frank put up are still there. So now down the driveway is an Organic Green Grosser and in the shed where we once ran auctions is now a yoga business.

I recall two clear memories, even though I was so young. One is that the Aircraft from the Richmond Military Air Base making such loud noise when taking off. Frank told me that he had to stop the auction every time the Aircraft’s were either landing or taking off. The other memory is of being sick. I was told I had measles, I recall that Frank covered up the windows and ceiling light so that it would not damage my eye sight.

Frank eventually closed the business down and sold the property when he learnt that My Father, John and My Mother, Monica had considerable breakdown in their relationship. Frank then moved back to Orange and continued to run the auction with the remaining members of the family. As I understand it when John left us he went and lived in this property for a short time till it was sold. That’s him in the picture above embracing me sitting on his knee.

I had no idea that I still had so much animosity towards John till I found out that he had died. I was so pissed off that he did not even try to contact me or my brother. I was told that he did not come back because of fear of my grandfather. But I am in the mind that that is not an excuse to see your own kids. Well I am sure I talked about this in a previous post.

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 Kinross wolaroi school, KWS, Auction, C/. 1975

Kinross wolaroi school, KWS, Auction, C/. 1975

My Grandfather, Frank did Many Fundraising auctions for schools and Charities. These are pictures from a Fundraising auction for Kinross wolaroi school back in the mid 1970s.

I believe that Mr Petherbridge was the Headmaster at the time Or it could have been Mr Loader. Frank talked about haveing the Queen Mother’s car for auction at one of these auctions that she used when driving around on one her visits to Australia.

Frank wanted student involvement at these auctions so he would train them up and let them be auctioneer for about 20 lots. then prizes would be given to the best auctioneer.

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Auction 1973

Auction 1973

Frank found his calling being an auctioneer. Starting small and modestly he began the auctions house in the very she he built with the help of his son-in-law John and is soon became a place to go for a night out. He altered the times and days when the auctions were to take place till it was settled to be on a Friday night starting at 7:30pm for the small items and then Saturday starting at 1:30pm for the Furniture and larger items.

As you can see he always had the slogan “Money is the measure of service you give to others” He always lived by this motto, The better the service you give the more money you can make. Bad service is sequel to deserving bad wages. Before too lone the business grew where people would travel for hours to come to the auctions and there were many times that there was standing room only. He always helped charities out, and as I posted in previous postings, He would have charities come to hold raffles and feed the customers.

Auction 1973Auction 1973 Auction 1973 Auction 1973  Auction 1973 Auction 1973

I thing that the lady in the front of the last picture is Mrs Crisp.

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1971 – 1975 Early Auctions

When my father and Grand father worked together with my mother the business grew fast. They got the contract to work for the Public Trustees and also sold goods for the police that were the process to crime. It was a hard slog though. having to relocate all the items to the auction room and do all the paperwork without a computer… This brings me to an event that happend about 10 years ago, I went to an auction where they had a power outage… there were only 2 of us in at the auction that knew how to run the auction without a computer.

Monica used to type out all the vendors documentation on her manual typewriter.

SO here the first picture is a picture of my Father and my Grandfather, by the looks they both just came back from or going to play Lawn-bowls. in the second picture is my brother Martin. He was born when I was 2 years old. The shed under construction behind Monica, Frank and Martin is the shed next door. Here is some thing interesting, that shed was passed by counsel for the purpose of a covered car port… It was not used for that.. but that was then is has been redeveloped yet again.

Here is a picture of me. Judging by the jumper I must have been going to kindergarten. I know this was mothers-day.

The small building behind me, just by the door of the auction room is the canteen that was used by charities to feed the auction goers. at first it was the Blind Society, then latter it was the Lions Club, then the APEX, and when I was running auctions the Freemasons ran the canteen.

I look back thinking that some of the stuff that we once sold would have been worth a fortune now. Like Brass Beds. My grandfather, Frank told me that he would sell them as lattes work for the garden, because it was impossible to sell them otherwise. It is funny that now a Brass bed is so hard to find, well there may be one in your garden rotting away.


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1971 The Building of the Business

1971 The Building of the Business

1971 The Building of the Business

I look over these pictures and think ‘how on earth would he get away with this today in this over regulated society’ .. Using 44 gallon drums and planks as scaffolding.

Well here it is … 137 to 139 Peisley ST.

My Grandfather pulled down the 2 chook sheds and built what we now use as a second hand business.

I still look at the scaffolding and smile… This is what you did when scaffolding was not an option, not affordable for the average worker trying to get ahead. He did all the work himself and had pride in what he did.

Love this… No big machinery and lots of hard work… The Good old days where there was lots of employment, because there were no big machinery.

In this picture above, you can see a bed wire propped up by a stick.. Best sand sieve ever. shovel the sand onto the bed base and all the lumps do not go through … Haha …

The sign you see there is still on the building that is on our shop. It was on lease for a long time and in 1998 we asked the company if we could buy it from Owner.

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2015 Elvis Festival

2015 Elvis Festival

Parks has a large Elvis Festival every year in 2015 some of the Pelvises came to our shop. We had a ball.

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1967 Back to Austria

Frank Smolle was diegnosed with some disease in 1966. So he sold up everything exsept for his house, with the idea of moving back to Austria. In 1967 he did go back to Austria. Monica 19 years old at that time where she worked for an insurance agency as a typist. Because she could speak, read and write fluent English and German she was needed in the office. Monica often told me that she had a great time in those days.

In he first picture she is dancing with a man called Tomoshizs. Though he only had one arm, he built his own house. He designed a strap that he hung a shovel on and used his able arm to do the work. Frank told me that that the two of them built a wall. However they used the wrong spirit level, ie a bottle of home made alcohol. and the wall had to be knocked down due to how the wall having more waves in it that the bird bath.

Monica, My Mother, spoke perfect German and with the Korinthian dialect. Well one time in Austria she was on a train and traveling through Austria. She knew the language but did not know the geography of Europe, she asked another passenger “when will we be getting to Austria?” when the train was in Austria. the fellow passenger thought that she was joking around and would not believe her when she said that she was not from Austria. Monica had to prove to the other person by showing him her passport. This other passenger was astounded that Monica could speak so well but not come from there. Funny thing, the same thing happened to me when I was in Sydney, I asked someone where Pit St was when I was standing on Pit st…. They just looked at me as if I was nuts. So much for the fundamental attribution error being played out.

Monica one evening went to a gathering where the local singing, Dancing and musical clubs demonstrated their talents. She looked across the crowd and she locked eyes on to what would be my Father. Monica asked her father, Frank, how is that person? Well Mum did not leave Austria until she was 8 the first time, but now 11 years later she was told that that boy went to school with Monica and would through his bag into the drains before school and tell the teacher that he had lost his bags. Later that evening Monica went to talk to that boy, John Strugger. John then worked in a factory as a fitter and turner and also was a sky instructor. That’s a picture of John sitting beneath the cross and the only male in the picture on the right. John from what I understand was a man that never liked confrontation and did not fight for him self. He left the my mum when I was 5 years old and I never saw him again. well I could never miss what I never had, but it still makes me bitter that he had no guts to come back, even when he would have been welcomed with open arms. well that’s for another post.

In the picture with all the flowers you see my Grandmother “Oma Mimmy” and my Grandfather Tinne (aka Martin). Before my father had left us I recall Oma Mimmy coming to Australia to us for a holiday. All I recall is her with a dish cloth wrapped around her head and crying a lot. I was told that after Oma Mimmy left to go back to Austria, John’s home sickness became stronger and stronger. I wonder some times, what foolishness did Oma Mimmy put in his head. the relationship between John and Monica grew further and further apart. One day Monica asked John that if he would like to leave the family he can. John just said yes and went to his bedroom. soon after Monica followed expecting him to be upset. However this was not the case, he was sitting on the bed reading a book. That’s John Strugger Patting the dog in the last picture.

I have heard many stories about John and his character from others in Orange that knew him then. Trust me, Non of those stories I care on repeating. When I was in my early Teenage years we were told that he had drowned at see and never found.

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History – 1 Tynan ST, Orange, 1950 – 1955


Here you can see my Grandfather laying the first corner stone on the foundations of his home. When first coming to Australia from Austria he was placed with his family in camp waiting for the paperwork to be completed. Because he came to Australia under an immigration scheme he had to work where the Government told him to work and he had to live in the town the Government told him to live. Along with the contract that he is to assimilate and only speak English when in public. So he was told to live in Orange and work at Email, a white goods factory that later became Electrolux. He often told the stories of how he tried to get fired from the job because he did not want to be a factory worker. He broke broom handles just to see how much paperwork and time it would take to get it replaced. He refused to put his hands into the sheet metal presses, he stuffed up jobs often so he could get out of the factory. He often stated that if you settle for a job you will be stuck in a job you don’t like and muddling, which he said was not a life he would settle for.

When he finaly got fired from Email, he went to Cowra to pick Asparagus. So while the other workers spent their money at the end of the week on smokes and grog. Frank sent his pay pack home to his wife to save up for a block of land. Once he had his block of land he came back to Orange and worked for Barrett’s Milk bottlers and Ice cream factory. Here he worked till the house and garage was finished.

Building the house he made each brick 2 at a time.





In this garage he built a pit, where he could access the cars and Utes from the bottom. Now mechanics use hoists to get under the cars. This garage was the first time Frank had ever worked full time for him self. He worked so hard he told us that he started to become scarred of the pit that he would work under the cars in. He saw it as a grave. He also talked about how proud he was when a car would come into the shop “coughing and spluttering” and it would drive out “purring like a kitten”. He became well known in town and with the farmers that he was always working and put on 2 other workers to help him. At one time a Diesel Train broke down in Orange and he was called early in the morning to fix it.

Frank gave up smoking for this time of his life to save money. he swore to him self that when he finishes the roof on his home he will have a smoke. Well he finished the roof and as he put the last nail into the roof his mate handed him a smoke. Well you can imagine what happened. He vomited like mad, because he had not had a smoke for such a long time. But My Grandfather being the stubborn fella that he was said that he was going to have a smoke.. Well he continued to smoke for the rest of his days.

The Blue Metal Stones that he used for the foundation and the front fence, he was very proud of. He told me that it was quite an effort to source and move the stones into place.

Looking at all this … and thinking back on the stories that Frank Snr told me, I heard so many people say to him “What are you winging about, You have never worked a day in your life.” Often stated in Jealousy or anger.