My Fathers 70th Birthday - Les Jones
On Sunday November 2nd, 2008 (at 1pm AEST) my father, Les Jones, held his 70th Birthday party in Sorrento with close friends and family.
I was asked to do a speech for this very special occasion... a loose transcript of which (including associated slides) follows...
Les Jones 70th Birthday speech by Dean Jones.
OK. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Dean Jones and I am Les’ eldest son.
Firstly... id just like to say thank you to you all for coming today, hope your all having a good time.
I’d also like to thank Nanette for organizing everything for today including the lovely food and generous servings of alcohol.
This is really a special occasion, the 70th Birthday of a very special person.
I've been thinking lately about how I might feel at the age of 70, that is after living through a cold war, a world war, a space race, an Internet boom and bust, the current financial crisis… and becoming a father and grandfather.
My first thought is that I'd probably be a little tired and ready for a radox bath and a bit of a rest.
But look at my dad. 70 years old, and in better shape and more active than many people my age.
As famous US Journalist Dorithy Thompson once said…
“Age is not measured by years. Nature does not equally distribute energy. Some people are born old and tired while others are going strong at seventy.”
1938 was an eventful year that saw the US economy go into recession, the birth of Superman, the Invention of the Photocopier, Nylon, Freeze Dried Coffee and the Biro pen… and it was the year when the famous Orson Wells dramatization of the "War of The Worlds" radio programme caused wide-spread panic when it was broadcast more like a breaking news story than a play.
Closer to my fathers interests, 1938 also saw Howard Hughes set a new Round The World Record of 3 days, 19 hours and McDonnell Aircraft, a leading producer of military aircraft, was founded.
1938 was also the year my father was born. November 6, 1938 in Parramatta, NSW.
Shortly after being born, my dad and his mother moved to Mein St. Spring hill, Brisbane spending part of WWII there.
In Brisbane, his Mother met Stan Jones who became his stepfather.
At the end of the war, around 1945, the 3 of them moved to Aspendale/Mordialloc where his step dad Stan opened a pastry cook business.
In 1947 when my father was around 8 years old he moved to Carlton and went to Rathdowne St Primary School.
Around this time he started working to help support his mum and step dad and had a morning paper round… and sold evening papers on the corner of Elizabeth St and Bourke St City.
In 1951, when my father was 12 years old, the family moved to a farm at Maryborough. There he would ride to and from school 8km’s every day.
2 to 3 years later, the family moved into Maryborough Township where my father, then around 14, started playing for Maryborough Seniors Cricket team
In 1955 he won the ‘Defence Department Cadet Engineer Scholarship’ and was subsequently paid a salary to go to school.
He moved to St Kilda in 1956 and stayed at a Methodist church Hostel whilst attending RMIT.
That same year my father joined the department of defense as a Cadet Engineer.
Around 1956/7 he moved to his Aunt’s (Ruth and Uncle Peter) residence in Nunawading and started playing Cricket for Nunawading. He also bought his first car… an Austin A30.
In 1958 my father graduated from RMIT with a ‘Fellowship Diploma of Engineering’ (Communications Engineering). At the completion of his tertiary education and work experience he became a Design Engineer at Government Aircraft Factories (GAF.)
That same year, his parents moved from Maryborough to Webb Street, Narre Warren where he met his future wife, and my mother, Irene.
In 1959 he moved to Adelaide for 6 months to attend Weapons Research Establishment as part of his Cadet Engineer training.
He returned to Melbourne late 1959 and started work at the ‘Government Aircraft Factories’ as a Design Engineer on the Jindivik Drone.
He bought his second car that year… a Vauxhall Velox.
The 60’s were an extremely eventful time in my fathers life.
In 1963 my father married my mum, Irene and very shortly after they were married they built and moved into their first house in Madelline St, Glen Waverly.
The 60’s were defined by 3 things… my fathers working at GAF, his starting a family and his love of dogs.
In 1966 my father would have me. 2 years later in 1968 my younger brother Evan was born.
My father started breeding and showing dogs in the 60’s and would enter them at the royal Melbourne Dog show winning many awards.
I have some very fond memories of our dogs… including my favorite… Prudence.
I remember when I was very young my teacher Ms Nichols at Yarra Valley asked the class to compose a sentence using the words ‘mate’ and ‘hate’.
I quickly raised my hand and said… “Daddy mated prudence and I hate yoghurt”.
In 1970, when I was 4, we moved to Park Orchards to a newly built house on a little under 5 acres.
I have some great memories of growing up in Park Orchards… and in particular the family home which had 36 fruit tree’s, 16 geese, 14 dogs and 4 donkeys… and lots of snakes.
Speaking of snakes… I remember my brother and our then next-door neighbor found a snake ‘very’ close to the house. My father almost fell over trying to race out the door and put his pants on at the same time.
Something I loved doing with my father while growing up was going camping… and it was during the 70’s that we started going on a regular basis both with my father’s friends and families at GAF and with my school friends from Yarra Valley.
In the late 70’s, early 80’s my father was promoted to Design Manager at GAF in charge of 38 Engineers. Around 1986 he was promoted to Chief Designer managing 250 people…and also became a member of the advisory committee for the Civil Aviation Authority.
Dave Prowse will be saying a few words shortly… and he will elaborate on my fathers time at GAF.
I left Yarra Valley in 1983 and soon after became a nightclub DJ.
As an little aside for the 80’s… I was the Park Orchards tennis club champion 3 years running only to be pipp’ed in the final for the 4th consecutive title by an in form Warren Kidd.
This pic (pointing to the pic of me and dad above) is also significant as it would be the last one with my father and me where I was shorter than he was.
In 1989, my nephew and my fathers first grandson Alex Jones was born.
In 1992 my father retired from GAF.
What does a retired career engineer do next…? Obviously, he starts a nightclub with his son.
In 1993, my father, myself and a group of friends including Charles Edleston, who is here today, started a nightclub in Ringwood called Jooce.
The venue was a huge success and everyone involved had a brilliant time.
Jooce would be the first of many business ventures that we would do together.
In May 1994, the 2nd of 3 grandchildren was born… Aimeelee.
Daniel, was born 4 years later in November 1998… and for anyone interested in buying him a present, he is turning 10 in a few weeks.
I think its fair to say that Alex, Aimeelee and Daniel have all brought enormous joy to my father… and to be fair to me, Uncle Dean.
(Short break from my speech where Alex, Aimeelee, Daniel, Thomas and Amelia each delivered a short speech to my father.)
In the late 90’s, early ‘naughties’ my father and Nanette became a couple. Shortly after, September 2000 to be precise… Nannette and my father became ‘official’ at their ‘co-habitation’ party… held here (at their place in Sorrento.)
The 2000’s also saw more grand children, this time from Nanette’s side of the family, with Grandson Thomas and Grandaughter Amelia.
In 2003 Nanette celebrated her 65th Birthday, also held here it would appear (Nanette: "No it wasn't")... and as you can see with this picture both my father and Nannette make a great couple.
I have never seen my father as happy as he has been in recent years and I know much of this has come down to his relationship with Nanette.
Not only are they great friends… but Nanette also shares my fathers love of Travel and Golf.
Over recent years they have traveled extensively overseas visiting China, Slovakia, Turkey and Istanbul.
Anyone that has met my father would know he is a mad golfer… and a very good golfer at that.
My father has made a lot of friends through Golf, some of them are here today.
Which brings us to today… my fathers 70th Birthday.
Dad… I have a couple of helpful tips for turning 70…
Tip number 1... Develop the power of a photographic memory – take photographs of everyone in your life you need to remember.
Tip number 2... Keep a personal diary – it will be a handy reminder of what you did yesterday.
Turning 70 though does have its advantages…
Things you buy ‘now’ won't ever wear out.
You can eat dinner early at 4 P.M.
You have a 'wild' party and the neighbours don't even realize it.
Your investment in private health insurance is finally beginning to pay off and
Your personal secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.
(My friend Richard called Joe to bring the special 'guest' to the party)
This last shot was taken recently and shows Nannette and my father enjoying a quality glass of red together. To me this sums up my father.
He is happiest sharing a nice wine and a having a chat with the people he loves.
As I have grown older I am constantly both amazed and re-assured at how smart, generous and patient my father is… more so it would appear, as he gets older. He is the smartest person I know.
Were always told as children that you don’t understand what your parents do for you until you stand on your own two feet and do it yourself.
As Mark Twain said… "When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished a how much he had learned in seven years!"
Since around the time I started working… and especially so when we developed Jooce Nightclub together in the early 90’s… we have become very close and have met on a weekly basis where possible… usually over a couple of Pizza’s at Sophia’s in Hawthorn to talk about pretty much anything… and nothing.
It is my favorite part of my week. I think dad enjoys it to.
Not only do I have a wonderful father… but as we have got older I have also gained a close friend and mentor. Happy 70th Dad.
So let's all raise our glasses to my father. Happy 70th Birthday Dad.
OK... I now have a little surprise (looking at my father)… someone you haven’t seen for a while… a special 'guest'.
Now if everyone other than my father can please walk outside to the balcony.
Dad... come with me (facing the opposite way.)
Everyone but my dad has at this stage worked out what is going on. Nanette, my fathers partner (whom unfortunately is out of shot in this pic), is a little confused at this point thinking that I have brought a strip-a-gram to the party (will make sense 'why' she thought this a few photo's from now.)
Penny dropped... 'Happy 70th Birthday Dad.'
Special 'guest', my fathers 70th Birthday present... a 2008 Mercedes C200 Kompressor. This shot was taken while my friend Joe was waiting to bring the car to the party.
Picture of car taken in driveway at my fathers 70th birthday party.
Photo of me and my dad taken shortly after my speech.
Special thanks to Richard and Joe for helping me keep the present a 'surprise' and for helping me on the day.
Special thanks also to Steve for the great pics.
Well... thats about it. An amazing party... and an amazing day. One that will stay with me for a lifetime.
Thanks for letting me share this with you.
Posted by Lindy Waldeck on 11/12 at 11:11 PM