There was a really great prank way back where the newspapers all agreed to report that America might have been vacated for several months, due to all the goldmines drying up. This was way back before the internet, and when hardly anyone could afford to make international calls, so you couldn’t just verify it instantly.

It was a wonderful joke and it caused quite a stir amongst people fearing that all the Americans were heading to Australia, in need of a new home. But ultimately, it was not true. Life was just a lot simpler, back then. You went to see Mr Gendo if you needed a car mechanic. Ringwood locals knew he was their guy. There was only Mr Gendo in the area, because it was a poor area and hardly anyone owned their own cars. No roadworthy certificates back then, either. You just got on with your driving and tried to ignore the rattling noises if you didn’t have enough money for the mechanic. Things were built to last then, however.

Mr Gendo gained quite a name for himself, being a mysterious foreigner in a time when you never saw that sort of person running a mechanic’s garage. He was really nice, but very firm. You don’t bother him about how long the repairs were going to take. “It gets done when it gets done,” he would say, sticking the cigar back in his mouth and going back to his work. I was just a kid and I never bothered him, so he’d let me watch the mechanical repairs, and I learned how car servicing worked, and how to repair a brake pad, and multiple swear words in other languages.

No more Mr Gendo. He went back to his family in Japan once he was too old to continue, and multiple auto service centres near Ringwood have sprung up since then. It’s nice to have choice, I suppose. But I can’t help thinking of how things used to be.

-Rolf