Bert Jackson must be the best neighbourhood recruiter in our club. He has recruited friends and neighbors who have never played bowls before, but he has the knack of talking them into joining and staying. He has recruited Brian and Irene Garrett, Carl Giardina, Peter Letos, Chris Strobel, and lately Trisha O’Connor.

So when I suggested to Peter Letos that I could do a small article on Bert, Peter said, “Oh he’s more interesting than that,”  and Peter was correct. As Bert says himself, “I’ve done it all,” and yes he has done many things in his life.

Question:   You have a very positive outlook on life and of getting things done. Where does this come from?

Answer:    I have always known and liked hard work both as a youngster and in business. As a child during WW2 I was evacuated up to Kerrie which is  north of Melbourne to live with my cousins. We chopped wood and dug potatoes. When  I returned we lived in Brunswick, I attended North Brunswick and then Brunswick Boys where I reached my Merit Certificate and then left school.

Question:     Tell me about the Fruit and Vege. shop.

Answer:    Well my Dad owned an empty block of land on the corner of Percy St.  and Victoria  St. in West Brunswick. I had the idea of a shop, so I collected scrap wood and built it, Dad helped. It was like a shed with a hinge and prop window. Mum and my sister served in it. We sold wood and fruit and vegetables and bought all of the produce from the Vic. Market. My older brother had his car license but now I needed mine also. I could already drive so I drove myself into the Exibition Buildings to get it……and this is what happened. The cop comes out and says, ” Who drove you in?” ” No one ” says I . So with that I had to drive home alone to get my brother who then came back with me, and that’s how I got my license at 17!

Question :      You were on two wheels long before four. How did you become interested in amateur bike racing?

Answer:      Kids had bikes in those days and there was a dirt track near us where my mates rode. That was the Brunswick track. Then there was the North Essendon board track too, which was the main racing track for Victoria. You could hear the noise the riders made from streets  away. The riding surface was wooden boards which ran up and down. This track was built in 1938 and demolished in the 1960’s but I think it was a training track for the Melbourne Olympics. This is where I really got my taste for bike riding. I knew Sid Patterson and Russell Mockridge.

There were many combinations of racing, there were foot races along with the bike races and not too far away was the dog track. There were lots of spectators, it was like a footy match. I won a State Title and received money and a sash…..and I won Judy my wife at the track!!,  she was there watching her brother ride. I  also won “The Melbourne Cup on Wheels” , which was a handicap race of seven laps . There was road racing too, so with my mates I travelled away to Easter competitions at Bendigo, and to other competitions at Shepparton, Echuca, Swan Hill, Ararat and Ballarat. Even though I rode as an amateur there were book makers and betting going on.

Question:     What was the next part of your life?

Answer:      I was married at 19, Judy was 17 and we have been married for 67 years. The next 50 years were in the poultry industry. I went from a salesman to The Managing Director.

I was employed by the shareholders and had 200 employees under me. I actually started as a 14 year old with Clark/ King who were in the feed industry. We built the first automated poultry house. It was in Bacchus Marsh and had air conditioning and a controlled environment. I went all over the world looking at equipment. We were able to raise the production from 25.000 to 275.000. Chook food has to be quality and consists of wheat, sorghum, maize, oats, barley and vitamins. Good food equals good flesh and good eggs. There was also a hatchery which  produced eggs and chickens for meat.

We lived in Sydney for 12 years. Eventually Clarke/ King bought me out under a Scheme of Arrangement .

Upon retirement we moved to Emerald where we grew raspberries for sale. We wanted to get to know people and to do something together. That was the time both Judy and myself played for the Packenham Bowls Club. One year the team which I was in was a Section winner. We also have had several caravans and have travelled extensively, quite often being away for five months at a time.

Now we are here in East Doncaster,  in a street along with seven other members of DBC, three of whom I have recruited. They are; Peter Letos our Executive Chairman, Chris Strobel and Trisha O’Connor who are on committees , there is  also another couple, Italo and Maria Moro, and  last but not least my wife  Judy who is a social member,  and me…..I bet this is a record for one short street.

Why did I join Doncaster?  Why?? Because it has by far the best bar and now lots of good friends.