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.
Masons have declined in numbers severely from the days when there were 80,000 in Victoria and a lodge in almost every town and district. Both his father and father-in-law were Masons, as is his brother-in-law. 
John was 37 years a teacher and principal, first training at Lunan House on Corio Bay. 
 John and Judy’s most colorful days were two years in PNG from 1971-72 where he was principal plus Grade 6 teacher at the Port Moresby expatriate school for 300. “All the support I had was a secretary two days a week. I’d be teaching and the office phone would ring and I’d run out to answer it, what a hassle.” 
“We were not far from squatters’ settlements and it was a bit dangerous. Judy was putting the kids into the car for kindy once and a mugger came from the backyard and they had a fight for her handbag. She screamed and luckily a lady from next door came out and he ran off. Another time we heard a prowler crunching leaves as he moved around just outside our bedroom. I kept a big steel bar handy by my bedside.”
Their great experience was the Mount Hagen Show, with hundreds of warriors in their finery and masks tramping onto the oval in perfect unison. “We could actual feel the ground vibrating,” he says.
“We travelled everywhere – Wau, Bulolo, Madang, the Bogia District’s volcano island, and Lae. We got to the Trobriand Islands on an old DC3 with the hostie serving refreshments from an Eskie. The clouds set in and we had to climb 3000ft where we sat shivering. The hostie told us, “If anything goes wrong, you go out that door but this door’s for me!”
John’s also been a lifelong churchman, with links to several churches finishing with the Uniting Church. He was bass in a church choir (“a good voice but a rough passage out,” he says) and loves music from classical to opera and Country & Western. He’s now picked up his previous habit of going to movies twice a week. He’s a film critic with our fortnightly club movie group and recommends to members American Utopia, a Spike Lee film of a Broadway musical. “I went home uplifted by the beautiful harmonies and instrumentation,” he says. #