Vol 1, Issue 5. December 8, 2020
The Power behind the President
Pam Gray is our friendly face at many Bearbrass events. So what’s she all about, deep down? First off, she’s not only raised the Grays’ two kids but worked as a nurse as second breadwinner.
Pam grew up in Moorabbin and left home at 17 to do three years’ training in general nursing at the Alfred, living in the nurses’ quarters. “It was a tough life for nurses in those days,” we remarked to Pam, but Pam shot back, “ No we had a wonderful time, heaps of fun. My parents would never normally have allowed me to leave home unsupervised, but with nursing I was liberated.”
She enjoyed swimming competitively at the Oakleigh Swimming Club and a tall handsome and mainly naked youth caught her eye in the next lane. That was the embryo of our President Mel, whom she married when she was 20 and he was 22. They come up for their Golden Anniversary in 2023. 
They soon got dressed and left for work in Canberra but missed family and friends and came back after 12 months. Pam began stints at the Mercy, East Melbourne and got her midwifery ticket after a year. “How many babies did you deliver?” we asked. “Only about 50. After several months of deliveries we decided to do the famous backpacking to Europe.”
They rented a Bedford van and in three months, drove and camped around France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Spain and UK.
President's letter, December
Dear Fellow Members
With Christmas fast approaching and those “green shoots of normal life” that I mentioned last month sprouting everywhere, I thought it appropriate to reflect on how far the Club has come this year.
In terms of numbers, we have grown from 25 members at foundation back in February, to 54 members in early December, which is nearly 120% growth. In terms of actions, we have consistently been one of the leading Probus clubs by enthusiastically conducting online meetings and activities which have enabled members to get to know each other well, despite the social distancing limitations in place over most of the last 10 months.
Now that the restrictions on group assembly have been lessened, we are well positioned to transition from an “online club” to the more traditional “face to face”  model, involving one general meeting a month with a quality speaker and numerous activities/event during the month. 
All the groups operating to date including the Book, Film, Wine Appreciation, Golf, Lunch, Cycling and Coffee groups will continue in a “face to face” mode, but to be a truly “member-driven group” as our Vision Statement suggests, we need more ideas for activities and events from the membership. Please contact me or any other member of the Management Committee, with your ideas, so we can work together to make it happen. 
I would also like to wish all members and your families best wishes for a happy and peaceful Christmas and a wonderful 2021, as we boot 2020 into history!
Best Regards – President Mel.
PS When reading our stories in this bulletin, don't overlook the "read more" link at the bottom of an item, there's often a lot of content spilled over.
Mike Porter's peacenik escapades
New member Professor Mike Porter in his early 20s in 1966 lived an economist’s version of the Californian “sex, drugs and rock and roll” revolution. (Pic at left: Mike and wife Sue holidaying in Iceland). While a student at Stanford, south of San Francisco, Mike travelled regularly for antiwar rallies on the Bay. The rallies were staged at places ranging from a napalm factory in Menlo Park to University of California, Berkeley. That’s where “Peace Radio KPFA” once announced the imminent “busting” by police of Uncle Ho’s Victory Garden. This garden was a secret marihuana plot in a mini-park right outside the UC Berkeley’s President’s office. “Come and get your plant before the cops come!” said the radio.
Cultivating pot
Mike continues, “So we did! My student flatmate raced up in his Nash Rambler and grabbed one of hundreds of plants, a six-incher. We replanted it secretly in our Texan neighbour’s garden and watered it over the back fence. We harvested it at over six feet, and briefly travelled the world with pot stuffed in my tennis balls. 
“I then moved to a black and Chicano part of Palo Alto – the ‘wrong’ side of Highway 101 from Stanford. I was with my imported 19-year-old Adelaide girlfriend and later wife Sue. I paid for her US visit by putting my $500 life savings into a 99% geared speculation on long term bonds, in a Stanford syndicate of students and informed professors. 
Armed cops arrive
“We had a big back yard, and delightful young black kids formed a social club meeting in our shed. Sue had furnished it a bit and later gave them a lock. One day the Menlo Park cops surrounded the house and shed with guns drawn. It turned out the brothers of two of the boys had escaped the local penitentiary and moved into our shed accommodation! Months later our shed and rear land was somehow burnt down by a rival group. 
Down to the sea in ships
Member John Bone’s been President for 17 years of the Victoria branch of the World Ship Society. “It’s been the love of my life,” he says. The branch has about 120 members and he knows them all. At long last someone else has volunteered for the post, so the responsibility is off his shoulders soon. 
John’s now 82. “My Geelong childhood was in one of those households where Mum never had a paid job in her life and Dad would bring home his pay envelope unopened for her. And their own parents lived just six doors down the street on the opposite side.”
When he was about 10 someone gave him a wooden model of the Flotta Lauro migrant ship Roma and this inspired his lifelong love of ships. As a Geelong kid he would bike to the Port every day to check out the ships, their tonnage and routes. 
Seamen would often invite him aboard. A highlight was when crew of a bulk wheat ship Glen Park, by arrangement with his parents, invited him to overnight aboard before it sailed across the bay at 6am. He slept in an officer’s bunk while the officer slept on the settee. He got a huge thrill next morning to watch the big pistons start to turn the propellor shaft(s), before enjoying the officers’ English breakfast in the dining room. He had his bike on board and got to school on time, with a story few kids could match.
The branch has monthly meetings about ships and show-and-tells about special interests, which include container ships, warships, liners and sailing ships. One lady member kept attending up to age 97. 
He's lost count of his 20-plus cruise-ship trips with his late wife Judy. The biggest was across the Pacific and through the Panama to Italy. They also did an Atlantic crossing on the QE2. “The QE2’s finished up as a floating 13-deck hotel in Dubai,” he says. “Cruise ships are now being brought to Australia to sail in local waters here. My forecast is close to a boom in home-waters cruising within a year.”
John’s been a Freemason for 52 years, starting with the Athenaeum Teachers Lodge and including the Athenaeum University Lodge and Francis Ormond University Lodge. He’s now with the University Lodge No 171.
Brophy puts a smile on the dial
There are four wonderful things in the life of Bearbrass Treasurer Mike Brophy: bridge, golf, his 1780 grandfather clock and his wife Ingrid, our fellow-member. The clock is a long-case version by William Pike of Totnes, Devon, and is 7ft tall. Mike’s had it for 40 years and two overhauls. He bought it from a Mt Waverley antique shop. It had belonged to an English medico who had probably passed away. It still has its original hand-painted dial and pine case, and the chain was hand-made by Pike’s apprentice out of some wire.
Mike has to re-wind it a lot, i.e. lift up the 20lb lead weight, and it takes 30 hours to run down. “Sadly I just run it occasionally because the chiming clangs are so loud they’d wake the dead. In Pike’s day servants needed to hear the chimes out in the house yards,” he says.
In bridge, he’s still ranked as a bridge “novice” but plays seriously two mornings weekly. “You can learn bridge in five hours but you need five years to become a reasonable player. I have a book, ‘25 Conventions Every Bridge Player Must Know’ but I’ve mastered only half a dozen. You have to get in tune with your partner, know how to interpret whatever he/she’s playing. You can get really wrung out after a three-hour game.”
The world’s best professional player, by the way, used to be the handsome film star Omar Sharif.
Mike grew up in Essendon and left St Bernard’s with Leaving certificate. His first job in 1962 was clerking with Colonial Mutual in the Collins and Elizabeth St tower, then the tallest in Melbourne. He “didn’t last long there” (he refuses to elaborate) and joined Flexible Drives, run then at Ascot Vale by ex-Collingwood ruckman Jock McHale Jr. It produced instrument panels for Holdens and Falcons in what was then the great era of car tariff protection.
Next Tuesday's speaker, Dec 15, Air Vice Marshall Alan Reed (Rtd)
Our speaker for 10am Thursday December 15 is retired Air Vice Marshall Alan Reed. His talk is titled “Invited to a war”. He was serving in the US teaching USAF pilots how to fly Phantom fighters. He wanted to fly in Vietnam but couldn’t be ordered there by the US. The only way he could get there was for the USAF to “invite” him, so that’s how he was “invited to a war”.
We’ll learn about his amazing RAAF career flying the Canberra bombers, the famous FIII low-level bomber, and other state of the art warplanes. He finished with a Queen’s Medal, a Distinguished Flying Cross  with Oak Leaf Cluster, and an Officer in the Order of Australia.
Alan will be interviewed to bring out the marvellous details of his career, a great way to end our Bearbrass year. It's a warts and all account with some anecdotes that will explode your heads!
Pic Left: MAJ Jim Melton USAF Navigator (l) and Squadron Leader Al Reed (r).Note the aircraft name "Carolina Kangaroo" "Have Camera, Will Travel" stencilled on their RF-4C Phantom. Major Melton hailed from North Carolina hence the aircraft name.
Cliff and Judy: pure genii
Winning the fortnightly Rotary Central Melbourne  trivia quiz is like getting a Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize and Brownlow Medal in one hit. Yet this feat was pulled off last evening by our Bearbrass pair Cliff and Judy S., who had never used the Kahoot quiz app before. Moreover, the app software failed to award the dynamic duo points on three correct answers, much like the US voting machines had it in for the sitting President. Yet Cliff and Judy won all the same. We asked the power couple who was the more brainy one and without hesitation Cliff named Judy, mentioning that she reads the Encyclopedia Britannica over the breakfast table.
Second place was Rotary Central Melbourne’s John I, who for some reasons calls himself “The Ghost Who Walks” and in third, Tony and Marg T, who for the purposes of this report will count as Bearbrass despite Tony’s 20-year history with RCM.
Cliff and Judy will run the next Trivia Night using Kahoot but all our brains were too fatigued to decide when this will be. Watch this space.
(They are pictured after having solved the mysteries of Stonehenge).
Movie Group news for December
Once again, our fortnightly Zoom between 10 keen Bearbrass Film Buffs, saw another great discussion!
This week we discussed two versions of the same Film - “Rebecca” – a romantic psychological thriller, produced 80 years apart & based on the novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier. 
The original 1940s version in black & white was directed by Alfred Hitchcock, a master of thriller movies & starred Jane Fontaine as Mrs de Winter, Laurence Olivier as Maxim de Winter & Judith Anderson as Mrs Danvers. 
It won two awards at the 13th Academy Awards that year …Best Picture & Best Cinematography. 
In 2018 the original 1940 film was selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”
We compared & contrasted this 1940s version with a new colour version of “Rebecca”, released in 2020.
Opinions varied, but it was generally agreed we preferred the original 1940 version of Rebecca, noting that the two versions portrayed a number of aspects in the film differently, but consistent with cultural norms of the time.
Thanks Mel for recommending this film. A great suggestion! .... Anne Fairhall, Convenor
Book Group's Delvings
Cate Thompson's book group is thriving, with eight members and a cap of ten. If the cap's exceeded, Cate's happy to help anyone get a second book group launched in 2021.
The controversial choice for November was Neville Shute's A Town Like Alice, taking readers back to an era of (among other things) Australian casual racism. "The language Shute used about Aboriginals, and the way he pictured them, was appalling. But that was Australia 70 years ago, and it's pointless getting indignant about the past and trying to ban such books now."
December's book chosen by members in rotation is Scrubland, by Chris Hammer,  and January's is The Dictionary of Lost Words, by Pip Williams. 
Bike group gets under way
The Bearbrass Bike Group is getting under way, with four males and three females signed on. Greg Jeffrey (left, clean shaven) and Cliff Stinson led a try-out of  the two-hour route from Victorian Museum to the old Boot Factory Café at Pentridge Gaol along Merri Creek on November 29, a 25km round trip. “Scenic but misty on the day” was Greg’s verdict. There were few others riders cluttering the route, and the Boot Factory coffee was good albeit after a slow queue due to social distancing. Greg rode an electric
bike which is just within the group rules. Greg hopes to get a mass ride under way soon after Christmas – watch this space.
Club Information
 Bearbrass Probus
Tuesdays at 10:30 AM
Library at the Dock
Top Floor
107 Victoria Harbour Promenade
Docklands, VIC 3008
0407 787 117
The club meets on the second Tuesday of the month, 10am for 10.30am start. Speakers offer a presentation at each meeting on a variety of topics.
Venue Map
Venue Map
Upcoming Events
Mission to Seafarers
Jun 06, 2023
2:30 PM – 4:30 PM
Trivia at the Nixon Hotel
The Nixon Hotel
Jun 08, 2023 6:00 PM
Table Tennis
Library at the Dock
Jun 08, 2023
2:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Cards 500 at the Seafarers
The Mission to Seafarers
Jun 14, 2023
2:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Trivia at the Nixon Hotel
The Nixon Hotel
Jun 15, 2023 6:00 PM
Athenaeum Library tour
Jun 15, 2023
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Walking Group (3rd Friday of the month)
Jun 16, 2023
9:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Book Group
Concavo Convesso Apartments
Jun 19, 2023
11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Workshop at Makerspace
Library at the Dock
Jun 20, 2023
9:51 AM - 12:52 PM
Mission to Seafarers
Jun 20, 2023
2:30 PM – 4:30 PM
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Birthdays & Anniversaries
Member Birthdays
Sheryl Tipton
June 5
Laura Walsh
June 8
Emilie Butcher
June 17
Kerry Franklin
June 18
Maryla Juchnowski
June 24
Julie Cookson
June 27
Tony Thomas
June 27
Judy Scott
June 29
Join Date
Kerrie Matthee
June 11, 2020
3 years
Pierre Matthee
June 11, 2020
3 years
Susan Bower
June 11, 2020
3 years
Neil Bechervaise
June 29, 2021
2 years
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Outings, Activities and Tours Officer
Hospitality Officer

Hi, we're keen to expand our retiree membership to enable more activity groups to get under way. We offer you friendship, recreation, fun and stimulation. To inquire just email our friendly secretary, Ph 0419 134 206. The dues are negligible - $30 to join and $60 per year. It's the best investment you can imagine.