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.
Their love of Europe never waned and they lived in Surrey UK for two years for Mel’s IT job. Back home they moved from Glen Iris to Clarendon Towers at City Road and Clarendon Street six years ago. 
 Last year was their great adventure living in Lucca in Tuscany in central Italy. “It was the birthplace of Puccini and we even got to his Tosca at the Teatro Lucca,” she says. Puccini: pic below.,
Why Lucca? “We checked out Assisi, Sienna and the wonderful hilltop villages, but many died away outside the tourist season with nothing much to do there. Lucca was an all-seasons place . 
“We rented an apartment from a recent widow who had gone to live with her son and she’d left everything in her apartment almost untouched. So we were immersed in an Italian home – porcelain tiles on the floor, paintings on the walls, crystals and glasses in the cabinet.”
Good as the stay there was, it all ended in tears when the Covid lockdown started and they couldn’t get home and spent months booking flights that were cancelled and needing rebooking, five times over. 
Pam is almost past that trauma after nine months and enjoying her walks in the Botanic Gardens, reading Cate Grenville novels and Jane Harper mysteries, and getting ready now for movies, theatre, concerts and ballet.
She’s also busy with minding their four grandkids, the youngest being Lenny 4. Daughter Louise is a primary teacher and son Chris has followed papa into digital spaces: he runs his own business consulting on website design for user-friendliness. 
We thought Pam was on the prim side but were disillusioned the other week when she chose the movie “Cuties” for our film group discussion. This movie is so out-there that it was banned in some US states as paedophilia, since its plot is about the sexualisation of young girls in the culture of modern France. However the group’s discussion of the film was mostly peaceful and we all learnt a lot from each other’s reactions.
Our final question was, “Who does the cooking in the Gray household?” The answer: “We pretend to share the cooking but I do it. I like to be in charge.” Well said, Pam. Too many husbands get above themselves.#