To mark the end of his driving days, his step-daughter Lorraine Satori paid for an official statement from police to that effect. Although it covers only the last five years, Mr Eastwood has obviously made safe driving a habit throughout his life. Sifting through a box of old documents, Ms Sartori discovered a letter received in January 1958 from the grandly named Director of Posts and Telegraphs in the old Postmaster General’s Department, the forerunner of Australia Post and Telstra. Mr Eastwood was then employed as an engineer with the PMG, and the letter was recognition of his safe driving. In his letter, the director said “You have proved that a motor vehicle can be driven safely and by doing so you are not only maintaining the prestige of the Department but also setting a good example to other road users.”
Born to farming parents at Katanning on December 19, 1914, Mr Eastwood was a dam and well sinker until he became a shearer, which he gave up in 1940 to enlist in the RAAF. “I always wanted to be a fighter pilot, but I didn’t have enough education for that,” Mr Eastwood said. “Maybe my lack of education saved my life, I’d probably have been shot down if I was a fighter pilot.” His first marriage had dissolved during the war and Mr Eastwood returned to shearing in the Gascoyne region until he won a position with the PMG.
Safe driving had obviously taken hold because in the 1960s he took on a school bus contract at Carnarvon. Countless children, who are now adults, will no doubt remember the quietly spoken bus driver who ferried them safely to and from school for years. As we discussed his exemplary driving record, it seemed logical to ask what had been his first car, but that only confused him. “Gee, I don’t know, I’ve had so many down the years I just can’t remember what it was,” Mr Eastwood said.
However, it was a different story when asked if he could remember what vehicle he took his licence test in. “Oh I remember that well, I did the test at Gnowangerup, you had to be 21 to get a licence back then,” he said. “It was a Model-T Ford truck that belonged to one of my mates. Those old Model-Ts were tough — they’d do anything.”
That was reason enough to take him to Langer Marine, where brothers Carden and Beau Langer have a 1922 Model-T truck which has been in Geraldton for many years. We’ll look at the old truck in next week’s edition, for now it was a pleasure to see Mr Eastwood’s eyes light up as memories were rekindled.