It was a big year for Ron Fleming, 1943. After four months as an apprentice woodturner, his employers gave him a raise.
“They gave me a five shilling increase in my wage, to nearly a pound a week,” he remembered.
“I started working when I was about 16.
“They wanted me to serve people and I didn’t like that - so my dad found me another job because he knew I had an interest in timber, and that’s where I started.”
Seventy-five years later, at the age of 91, Mr Fleming is still working as a woodturner.
He does all sorts of projects, from the workshop at Toledo Furniture.
It’s more practical for him to work out of a secondary workshop now, but for much of his life, he had his own shop along with his late wife, Faye.
The workshop was located in in Gordon Street, Invermay.
“We’re from Invermay, we were good ol’ swampies,” he said.
“You wouldn’t know what it was like, what it is today.
“Unbelievable, what they’ve done there.
“I often think if dad came back, he wouldn’t know where he was.”
Craftspeople in Launceston sing Mr Fleming’s praises as a woodturner.
But it’s not his only role. He is also the primary carer for his twins, Mark and Diane, who have a number of handicaps including deafness.
Mark lives with him fulltime, while Diane lives at an EPIC home the majority of the week, and Mr Fleming takes her Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
“[Mark's] the boss,” he said.
“And he’s a good chef, and he does the washing and the ironing.
“I’d be lost without him.
“I’m only glad he doesn’t hear what I call him sometimes,” he joked.
Mr Fleming also had another son.
Dale died of cancer while he was living in Darwin, and the grief was too much for his late wife to continue running the shop.
Dale was an art teacher, and Mr Fleming speaks of him fondly.
But while he misses him, it’s a distraction to focus on the antics of the lively twins.
“Once [Mark] hooked a rubbish bin to the towbar of the car, and I didn’t notice and drove off down the street, through the traffic lights,” he said.
“He didn’t say anything, and I never thought … we were down at the supermarket, and a lady came along and tapped on the window and said, ‘do you know you’ve got a rubbish bin on the back of your car?’ I couldn’t believe it.”
When it comes to explaining his dedication to his craft, Mr Fleming is pragmatic.
“Money,” he laughed.
“No … I enjoy pottering around working with the wood.”
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