'Where's Freddy?': Kiama stalwart found

To borrow from the well-known children's books Where's Wally?, Kiama has been playing 'Where's Freddy?' during the past six months.

The Freddy is, of course, Freddy Addison, a town stalwart of more than 60 years.

The disappearance of the boiler suit-clad 85-year-old from his regular haunt at Addison's Corner Garage in Manning Street six months ago has raised questions.

Had Freddy been kidnapped, run away to join the circus or even passed away and no-one told us?

We are pleased to report the man who once referred to himself as a VCOBIGO, or Very Cranky Old Bugger in Green Overalls, has been tracked down, happily living with his daughter, Lisa, in Queanbeyan.

His other daughter, Wyn, said her father wore out.

"Twelve or 13 hours a day, seven days a week on his feet just took its toll," she said.

"So when he decided he had had enough, Lisa asked him to move to Queanbeyan and live with her."

"Dad seemed keen and has settled into his new lifestyle well."

Freddy agreed, saying he was enjoying his new environment.

Still wearing his boiler suit on a visit back to Kiama recently, Freddy said the move had given him a chance to meet lots of

nice people.

"And some that aren't so nice", Freddy added in typically wry fashion.

"I go to three groups a week - that keeps me busy - and I help Lisa out around the house."

Wyn said her father was from a different time where there was a tradition of serving people. She said his journey to Queanbeyan had allowed him to reconnect with former Kiama resident Kerry Hill (McDonald), whose husband runs a service station on Yass Road and he loved calling in for a chat.

Freddy's history in Kiama is steeped in hard work and helping people.

When Roy and Ivy Addison moved to Kiama looking for work in 1932, little did they know that their four-year-old son Fred would become one of the town's most respected figures.

Born in 1928 in Croydon Park, Fred spent his formative years after the move living in a tent at Easts Beach while his father worked in Kangaroo Valley driving a lorry and returning when he could to check on his young family.

Fred went to school at Kiama Public School and his first job was mowing lawns for 25¢ a yard before getting work as a night shift worker at the Kiama Telephone Exchange.

His first break into the automotive industry came when he got an apprenticeship at Kiama Motor Works, on the corner of Collins and Terralong Street where Kiama Centrepoint now stands. He worked on Pontiacs, Cadillacs and Chevrolets and had the honour of helping service Kiama's first Holden.

His first business was located at 4 Henley Avenue and when the block of land diagonally opposite his business came on the market he snapped it up with the sole purpose of opening a service station and garage.

With the help of his father and his uncle, Arthur Wheeler, who was a bricklayer and builder, the building was quickly established and in 1952, a five-pump station was opened, serving Neptune petrol (which later became Shell) and selling Austin and Leyland cars.

Fred started with a staff of just four, but it reached 27 in its heyday and he was a contractor for Port Kembla Steelworks for 16 years.

He built semi-trailer bodies and steel frames for local businesses including Weston's Printery and Mitre 10.

His life changed forever when, in 1960, he rented out the garage's upstairs unit to a young midwife named Joan Collins, who has just moved into town to work at Kiama Hospital. Nine years later, she became Mrs Freddy Addison.

"It was in the middle of a baby boom in Kiama when at one stage babies were being born at such a rate that they ran out of cradles and they were forced to put babies in drawers," he told the Kiama Independent in 2003.

"I think Joan delivered half of Kiama, along with Sister Ryan and doctors Cranna, Stephen and Whitling."

The couple were married in 1970 and had two daughters, Wyn and Lisa, but Joan passed away in 1994 while having open heart surgery - something that devastated Freddy.

Thoughout the years, Kiama has undergone many changes, none more so than in the service station industry from the days when Kiama had 11 garages to this day when Addison's is the only one remaining.

Wyn and Lisa have arranged a message book at the garage for anyone who wants to pass on their best wishes.

The sisters said anyone visiting Canberra or Queanbeyan was always welcome to visit.

Kiama Independent

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