JACK Caple jokes that when he returned from World War II he could have been given a farm but instead he got a pair of cutting scissors.
The 96-year-old Rat of Tobruk returned to his home of 33 years on Wednesday for the Fletcher Jones Stories From Our Community Project.
Mr Caple started his career with Fletcher Jones at the store in Liebig Street and went on to become trouser production manager.
“I was put on the machines amongst a heap of girls and they said I didn’t look up for another hour,” he said.
He recalled how Fletcher Jones told him to hop in the car and took him to the site where the Fletcher Jones factory would be built, but at the time the council had fears it could become a shanty town.
“When we moved out to Fletcher Jones all the sections were run by women and I was the first male section leader,” he said.
“Fletcher Jones once said to me, ‘Jack I’d like you to remember this, at the strike of every hour it behoves each and everyone one of us to ask ourselves are we doing doing a job that a cheaper person could do?’
“I looked around and I couldn’t find a cheaper person.”
Now living in Melbourne, Mr Caple was born and bred on a wheat and sheep farm in the Wimmera and was 21 when he served in Tobruk.
He also survived two close encounters with German shells at El Alamein before coming back to Australia for training in jungle warfare to prepare for battle with the Japanese in Papua New Guinea where he spent another eight months.
Meanwhile for Jean and Wally Paton, FJs proved to be a place where love blossomed. Mrs Paton worked at Fletcher Jones on the sewing machines and Mr Paton was a bike mechanic. The young couple had been together for six months, when Mrs Paton was 18 and asked Mr Paton for a friendship ring.
“He said, ‘what about an engagement ring?’ I thought he had very good manners, he was kind, he loved my dog and he was a very good kisser. On the day, he went to pick up the ring at lunch time and came up the drive in his Standard eight.”
And with that the couple was engaged and have been married for 52 years.
The next morning tea is on Saturday, October 24 at the Archie Graham Centre. To book phone 5559 4920 or email Ms Ealges on firstname.lastname@example.org