Interviewee: Mr Arthur Raymond Repacholi
Interviewer: Jan Wallace
Date Of Birth 9 September 1932
Date Of Interview: 29 October 1996
Synopsis: Lyn Adams
Verbatim Transcript: Jan Wallace
BOHG No: 1997-007
Total Length: 1 hour 17 mins 23 secs
Ray was born in Kalgoorlie in 1932. His mother’s family, the McLeods were timber workers mainly around Wellington Mills. The origin of the Repacholi name is Italian but Ray’s great-grandfather married an Irish woman, so many of their descendants have Irish names. Ray’s father spent his early life in Bunbury But during the Depression, he worked in jobs in the North-West and Victoria. He returned to Bunbury, was married, and eventually bought a property with a shop in front and a residence at the back at 70 Spencer Street. His grandparents had a shop in Arthur Street and they negotiated to swap premises.
Ray’s early memories revolve around the Arthur Street property where they developed a successful mixed business, and lived in the residence behind the shop. They catered for the theatre crowds, the lumpers and railway workers and the school which was opposite. The shop was open for long hours but his father used to train show dogs and also run his own concert group.
Ray became involved in the business at an early age, doing odd jobs behind the scene and increased help in the process of icecream and syrup making for the soda fountain, especially when his father went away to the War, in the AIF, when it became a pretty hard time for his mother to carry on the business. Their home was at the back and their playground was in the school grounds or the streets. His mother had to learn to drive a car to make the deliveries, and Ray recalls incidents involved with his mother’s driving skills.
Ray attended the Infant School across the railway bridge and then graduated to the Central Primary School. He then spent three years at the Bunbury High School and enjoyed his time there. He recalls some of the experiences during the war and the consequences for the shop and others due to the shortages and rationing. While he was still at school he was recruited as a messenger boy in the ARP –Air Raid Precautions. Around the town, among other things, were air raid shelters, blackouts and barbed wire entanglements at the beaches.
One of the significant visits in the port was the HMAS Sydney, only a couple of weeks before she was sunk by the Cormorant. It was unusal that the school children were taken on tours of the ships in the port and were able to board the ships without any restrictions.
Another notable incident was what Ray calls “the great stampede”. The 10th Light Horse were stationed in Bunbury at the time and apparently the horses were spooked and got away. They charged through the town and to the beach. Ray describes the incident in detail and it is still large in his memory.
After leaving school, Ray worked for the Shell Oil Company but after some time he left and worked as a presser for a tailor. At this stage his father wished to go back into business and Ray joined him in the Arthur Street shop.
Ray married Elsie in 1954, and not long afterwards his mother died and his father wanted to get out the business. Ray and Elsie took over the Spencer Street shop until Ray decided on a change of career. He became a car salesman for VA Donaldson, selling Holden cars and later for Fred Flanagan. Later he worked at Spencer Motors for Barry Rewell and then Paul Vukelic.
Another change of occupation saw him working in Real Estate for HG Dean and Associates and then again back with Barry Rewell, this time in the office and as Parts Manager of Spencer Motors, until his retirement in the year 1996.