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Folklore: Industrial Folklore

mark gregory 18 Jan 09 - 06:29 PM
Dave Hanson 19 Jan 09 - 02:37 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Jan 09 - 03:58 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Industrial Folklore
From: mark gregory
Date: 18 Jan 09 - 06:29 PM

The story of Geoff Wills' Coat

Paddy Crumlin (National Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia ay MUA 2008 Conference)

"I've got a gift for the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) and Big Bob's going to come up, there's a story that goes with this gift. It was donated by a very good friend of mine and a longterm veteran of our union, Alan Oliver and I'll tell you the story:

This jacket had an unusual begining and may yet have an unusual ending. Its original owner was Geoff Wills who was a militant member of the Seaman's Union of Australia and was also an intellectual during his lifetime at sea. He had once been an official in Adelaide for all of the South Coast ports. At the end of his life he was a highly skilled artisan creating violins, guitars and basses.

In 1948 he was part of a trade union delegation to the Soviet Union and in Moscow was given the gift of a Siberian winter overcoat of black leather that went way down to his boots. I also had a detachable sheepskin interior and complete ensemble was completed with a golden bearskin cap.

What was ideal for Siberia, however, was fundamentally useless in the tropical Queensland and most of the coast of Australia. In the words of a Port Kembla unionist it was 'about as useless as a wooden leg in a bushfire'. It would be eguivalent to takling an Alaskan winter in shorts and a shirt. So it spent a sterile nine years in Geoff's wardrobe until while sailing in the cycle, which was Banjo's last job, he passed it on to much smaller shipmate Alan Cameron."

read more and see video on the Union Songs website at

or YouTube at

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Subject: RE: Folklore: Industrial Folklore
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 19 Jan 09 - 02:37 AM

Wow ! that's so thrilling I think I'll go and watch the traffic lights changeing.

Dave H

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Subject: RE: Folklore: Industrial Folklore
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Jan 09 - 03:58 AM

That was great - interesting to see how the Australian dockers were once treated like penned cattle, just like in Liverpool.
Jim Carroll

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