By Charlene Macaulay
Kevin Thompson is a jack of all trades. He worked in a hardware store, owned a petrol station and cardboard business, became a pilot and has spent 15 years tinkering with a 45-foot boat in his shed. The 90-year-old talks to Charlene Macaulay.
What’s your connection to Werribee?
I was born and bred in Werribee. I was born in Wandene House, where McDonald’s is now. It [Werribee] was a lot smaller than it is now. I went to the Werribee State School.
Tell me about your family.
I’ve been married for 67 years on April 14. I used to be an amateur bike rider and I was racing over in Tasmania and as I was walking around I saw this girl [Ilma] sitting on the mud guard of a car and I thought ‘I’ve seen her before’. So I went up and said g’day and bought her an ice-cream and everything happened from there.
I didn’t win any races, but I won the bird. We had four kids, Diane was the eldest, Gary and Susan. We lost a girl, Helen, when she was about 11 – she had a brain tumour.
Why have you chosen to spend most of your life in Werribee?
When we got married we moved back because we worked here. I worked in Werribee for the Thompson Brothers, it was the family business – my father and his four brothers and four nephews. You know where Bunnings is? That belonged to the Thompson Brothers, as a hardware store timber yard and saw mill and joinery shop.
They sold the business when I was 37, and it was after that time that I started selling scrap cardboard to Smorgons. Then I thought, if I buy a machine I can make my own boxes and sell them, which I did … and started a little business, K & G Cartons. My brother and I also ran Park Views service station.
You’ve got a 45-foot boat in your work shed that you’re now keen to sell, tell me more.
I brought it from Moorabbin, it was just the hull back then, 15 years ago. I’ve been fiddling with boats all my life, ever since I was about
15. I made models and stuff like that and I’ve built houseboats. This is my unfinished project. I lost my eyesight [through macular degeneration] about two years ago, so the work suddenly stopped. I’ve made everything on it – the deck, the rails, the inside – except the outside shell.
Do you have any other hobbies?
Aside from fiddling with boats, I learnt how to fly when I was about 40 as a private pilot, because I’d always wanted to. I’ve flown all over Australia many times and have taken many tourists from America wanting to see the outback.