Mr Ed and a genius called Razor: memories from Nambucca Heads

LONG before we were able to buy our household electrical appliances and gadgetry from superstores like Harvey Norman, The Apple Store, Bing Lee etc, Nambucca Heads had its own electrical superstore.

This was MacPhersons Electrics just up from the Police Station, close to Joe Blackford's Barber Shop, where after getting a short back and sides, you were offered a piece of chewing gum, PK or Juicy Fruit.

Now unlike today's mega stores , MacPhersons Electrics was terribly lacking in floor space. In fact, to be honest it was almost on par with the chaos across the road and further up Bowra St at Tommy Crockett's Garage and Second Hand Yard.

In hindsight, I think MacPhersons may have been a victim of the many highly persuasive travelling salesmen who plied their trade up and down the Pacific Highway. The shop was overflowing with Astors, Kelvinators, Krieslers, HMVs, Seikos, Remingtons, Frigidaires etc.

Or ... they were most likely doing a roaring trade. No sooner did the appliances arrive than they were shuffled out the door to another happy customer.

Happy that is until repairs were needed! Fortunately, the proprietor and electronics genius, Razor Macpherson, was an expert at getting a crystal clear picture from a tv or perfect reception from a worn out HMV radio.

But in my experience, the customer service in reaching the required outcome, in other words, getting the bastard fixed,was quite often a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

After the bakelite boom in radios during the pre and post war, the 1960s ushered in the plastic generation. Suddenly everything was made from plastic, including radios.

Our household had purchased a shiny red plastic transistor radio with a white dial. It exemplified everything 1960s.

It took pride of place on the laminex cabinet in the lounge room and happily played out rock and roll or country and western tunes from 2KM in Kempsey.

Then, without warning, it stopped working. Nifty was blamed for twisting the dial in the forlorn hope of finding out where the fish were biting.

Anyway, it had to go back to Razor to get fixed!

Unlike today, getting electrical appliances fixed was a regular occurrence and MacPhersons normally had a pile of jobs to get through.

But for some reason this flash new radio took an eternity to repair.

Eventually it returned, but now it was placed high up on a shelf in the kitchen where you had to stand on a chair to tune it.

This seemed odd and why would you put it out of the way so that you could only see the front of it?

Now Nifty and Razor quite often shared a few drinks at the Old Golden Sands Hotel.

On the day the radio returned, Razor took it down to the Sands, in a plastic bag.

"Nifty, I had a bit of a problem fixin' your radio." As Razor took it out of the plastic bag, there was a huge hole in the top of it. "I couldn't get the bludger open so I had to use a hammer to get into it!"

From that day on the radio worked perfectly for years sitting atop the kitchen cabinet.

But, this was only a sign of what was to come next.

The pride and joy at the Fuller residence was the Astor black and white tv. Soon after it arrived, our house became like a picture theatre with kids coming from around the nearby streets to sit in our lounge room in rows on the floor mesmorised by shows like Mr Ed the talking horse, The Adams Family and The Fugitive.

And then, one day after the movie-goers had assembled, we switched it on.

There was a flash of light and then everything seem to vanish down a black hole.

"I think you have done a picture tube, Mrs Fuller," remarked young Butch Rider sitting in the corner with a large packet of Smith's chips on his lap and a bottle of Clouten's Creaming Soda in his hand.

So it was on the phone to Razor to organise a repair job.

It was decided that Razor would come around to the house to look at the tv and the aerial.

On the day of the repair no one was at home, so Razor and his installation team were advised that the key to the back door was under the pot plant near the letter box.

I was the first to arrive home that afternoon and what lay in front of me would today be considered a crime scene cordoned off with police tape to preserve the evidence.

It was almost like the culprits had left in a hurry after being disturbed.

The prized hippeastrum pot plant that had hidden the key was knocked over and lay dead and dying on the path with soil covering the grave while the broken concrete pot acted like a headstone commemorating a short yet colourful life.

There was a clear trail leading around the side of the house. Spiky bits of the old antenna acted like a portcullis defending the pathway.There were pieces of cable, clips, nails, tape strewn along the path and then on reaching the back door, there was a large razor sharp piece of alsynite laying on the ramp.

Now alsynite in the 1960s was an evolving product. They may have claimed it was hail-proof but it certainly couldn't survive a number 9 work boot as a roof cover.

The MacPhersons installation team had put a boot through the roof covering the patio at the back door.

I believe this had occurred when they had looked up at the daunting task of climbing on a slippery roof of a house built on the side of a steep hill with an antenna 50 ft above them.

It appeared we had a new antenna.

After opening the back door the crime scene was still unfolding. A chair had been knocked over and then as I approached the lounge room the Axminster carpet square had been lifted up at the corners and was skew whiff in the room with a number of ornaments in disarray.

Yet there standing vicariously on its four stick-like legs was the black and white Astor at an odd angle to the wall with the screen facing the wall, not the centre of the room.

Eventually I managed to sort out the mess put the tv back in its right place and prepare to switch it on.

True to form, Razor's electronics wizardry shone through.There was Mr Ed the talking horse coming through loud and clear with a perfectly crisp picture!

Like the radio, the tv worked perfectly for years until colour arrived. Unlike most tradesmen who leave a business card after a job well done the MacPhersons installation team always managed to top it off with a theatrical performance that lingered in the psyche long after a business card had been lost.

As a postscript to this tale, for many years, Razor was the doyen of ground announcers at Coronation Park for the Nambucca Roosters.

"It's long, it's straight, it's right over the black dot. Allan 'Bombo' Ahearn has put the Bowra Tigers in front by two points."

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