Here is a clip from a post I wrote not so long ago.
Many years ago R had a stint between jobs when he first arrived in Australia as a tram conductor. The chap who trained him as a tram conductor lived in an Albert Park boarding house. He was of Latvian extraction I think. For at least a decade, probably longer, he has caught the same trams from Albert Park every night to the Balaclava Hotel for his evening meal. He always sat at the same reserved table and either read his newspaper or chatted to his latest lady companion. Tonight there were flowers on the table and a funeral service card. No drawn out malingering for him. Quick and clean.
I wonder if R regrets not going up to him and saying, 'Hi, Charlie, remember me?'
I have learnt a bit more about this chap, Charlie Farrago, who died. (name spelling may not be correct) He did not live in Albert Park. He lived in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda. He lived at the Gatwick Private Hotel, a boarding house. He lived there for forty one years and retired from the tramways in the nineteen eighties.
Living in boarding houses in the sixties and seventies was quite respectable. Many people did it. I know one woman who lived in a boarding house while she owned an apartment on Beaconsfield Parade in the same block where, tragically, the marvellous Mary Hardy ended her life. She is very old now but she still lives in her large house in Lempriere Avenue in East St Kilda, the short street off Balaclava Road with fancy street lights at its entrance.
I am not sure how Charlie coped with the changes at the Gatwick Private Hotel. There was a murder there not so long ago. Many of the residents are drug addicts and often drunken black fellahs. It would certainly not be the place it once was.
Charlie's room was small but it would seem he was quite content there. During his employment with the tramways, he was a money lender. He charged interest of course, but often waived and it would seem he was very generous with money.
The chap who gave me this information told me he borrowed fifty dollars from Charlie once. He visited him to repay the money, but Charlie said, don't worry A, spend it on your family.
When he died his estate was worth over one million dollars, in very liquid assets. The bulk of it went to those at the Gatwick who looked after him well in his final years.
Charlie was physically and mentally able right up to when he died at the age of over eighty. He was admired and respected.
Oh that all of us should be so fortunate.