“Gentleman and a scholar” turns 100

visiting families

As he celebrates a century of life, Jim from Northcourt Aged Care in North Parramatta remains the quintessential epitome of that well-worn phrase, “a gentleman and a scholar”.

Quietly spoken by his own admission, Jim measures each word carefully and each statement is worth its weight in gold, laden with wisdom, with only a mischievous twinkle of the eyes suggesting at the good humour that is about to follow.

Jim is Sydney through and through, growing up in Eastwood before attending Petersham Intermediate High. A good writer in school, Jim’s first job was as an office boy at a Wheat Broker’s at the age of 17. He was there for about four years, and graduated into the accounts department as a cheque writer, which began a career-long love affair with finance that would only end upon his retirement in 1986.

From the Wheat Broker’s, Jim went to an engineering firm at Auburn, Richie Brothers, who were making carriages for the railway. He recalls that Richie Brothers employed a number tradesman, and had in particular “a lot of old Scottish fellows!”

Richie Brothers has a special place in Jim’s life, because it was during this time that an Eastwood boy said ‘I do’ to an Eastwood girl when Mr Jim Gosling became Mr Jim and Mrs Dorothy Gosling. They would be married for 69 years and their legacy lives on in two children (a boy and a girl), a few more grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.

Jim smiles a lot when he talks about his Dorothy, and he remembers that “she came from a very nice family”. One memory in particular sticks out to Jim. Before they were married, Jim and Dorothy used to go dancing on Saturday. Jim notes that “these were old time dances, now if you jump up and down in one spot you’ll be all right!”

Having become an assistant in the pay office at Richie Brothers, Jim then transferred to A.E. Goodman, a large industrial manufacturing company at St Marys, for a promotion to paymaster. Jim and Dorothy were living at Auburn at the time, which was a difficult journey. To make life a little easier, they acquired an Austin Big Seven, which was quite an old car, and they would stay at Auburn for 17 years, before returning to their Eastwood roots. They would be there for another 49 years.

Worn out with the travel, Jim then applied for a paymaster position with Sydney Woollen Mills, who were based out of Parramatta. As the only successful applicant out of 72, Jim enjoyed his work with Sydney Woollen Mills and would stay there for 25 years. When he left the mills, he joined a company called Carpet Manufacturers (later High Craft Carpet), initially as the assistant to an accountant who Jim recalls “was only a young chappie”, before resuming paymaster duties for 10 years until his retirement.

Jim retired around Easter, 1986. One day, he came home and told his wife and the next day she and their daughter “went down to the travel agents and mapped out a touring adventure”. Jim’s interests have tended towards sport, especially soccer and cricket, where he was an excellent batsman who unfortunately never got to show his wares in front of the Australian selectors.

Nowadays, Jim relies on his young friend, John, for all of the latest gossip, often laughing quietly and helplessly to himself as John regales him with the latest Northcourt news.

He celebrated his 100th birthday with his family and friends at Northcourt, and will have another party on Saturday with all the grand and great-grandchildren.