Busy Barry's time to relax in retirement

After 66 years of working life, Victor Harbor resident Barry Foster has finally retired at age 80. Photo: Dani Brown.
After 66 years of working life, Victor Harbor resident Barry Foster has finally retired at age 80. Photo: Dani Brown.

After 66 years of working life, Victor Harbor resident Barry Foster has finally retired at age 80.

From his first job as a telegram delivery boy on a bike at age 14, to his last role as a weed sprayer around the town, he has always been dedicated to his work.

Born in Adelaide on February 5, 1941, Barry is the eldest of Bertram and Norma Foster's five children.

He grew up in Frewville and at the ripe age of 14, got his first jobs delivering telegrams and groceries, before securing work rewiring armatures in home lighting set-ups with Dunlite Electrical.

He soon scored a five-year apprenticeship at Hazelwood Service Station, first working as a motor mechanic then as an auto transmission and diesel mechanic.

Barry moved to another service station where he serviced and repaired vehicles, before getting behind the wheel of a truck, delivering building materials.

While delivering bricks, he put his mind to work; he said he was the first person in the southern hemisphere to go through with a concept of loading a truck with a forklift.

"You would go and load the bricks on the truck by hand, but I had an idea to put them on pallets and load them with a forklift," he said.

He picked up more work at Ampol, where he had an interesting incident while working on an Austin Sheerline. A small fire started and Barry thought he'd extinguished it, but the felt lining in the car went up in flames and it spread throughout the workshop and lubrication room.

He somehow did not lose his job and left on his own terms when he began marinising engines for ski boats.

"It was converting a petrol engine to make it a marine-type engine," he said.

Engines and car parts were clearly one of his special interests, and he began fitting modifications for cars at Indy Indianapolis Speed Shop.

"This led to motor racing with modified cars in the early 60s," he said.

He scored another job with Chrysler Australia in the rectification department.

Barry kept himself busy working this job, then once he would knock off he would head to the post office to collect newspapers and deliver them to Burra before coming back to work at Hazelwood or Chrysler the next day.

He switched car companies to work with Renault, where he settled down while managing the mechanical workshop.

At this time he got married to childhood sweetheart Christine, who had always wanted to live in a rural setting. The biggest change of Barry's life soon appeared, as the pair decided to become farm workers at a 14,000-acre property at Tintinara.

This work included land renovation for pastures and crops, lucerne trials, irrigation, fencing, and management of sheep and cattle.

"We lived in a little transportable house (on the property), and 10 years later with two children and rooms built onto the transportable, I saw a job advertised at Parawa," Barry said.

The family of four moved to "the wettest place in South Australia" to manage a property with sheep and cattle.

"We were going from a romantic, enjoyable time at Tintinara to a nightmare at Parawa - it was a reversal of what I knew about farming."

The "tortuous" situation led to a heart attack and a triple bypass, and after nearly a decade he had to "pull the pin". It was also around this time Barry and Christine split up - but the health issues and the split did not slow Barry down.

"I walked out of the job and the next day I was offered a job at Southern Motors in Victor Harbor, and two others," he said.

He then took on weed spraying work with a company that changed hands a number of times, and he learned the map of the area like the back of his hand. He did this for 20-odd years.

"Work has kept me mobile and sane - I feel like I've got some value and I'm not wasting oxygen," he said.

He finally retired on July 31, 2021, after 66 years of employment, but is still keeping busy by helping friends with odd jobs.

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