Local Legend Johnny be goode!

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By Matt Malone

There are few people in this world who live up to their last names, but this man is one of them.

John Goode was born on the 17th of May, 1936, to parents William & Ivy Goode, at a private hospital in Rossi Street opposite the police station.

John’s father was a Yardman at the Telegraph Hotel in Gunning, and as a result, John and his siblings Mary, Pat, Bill Ann and Joan spent a number of years growing up there. The family was split as a result of the premature death of his father and mother.

“My mother died aged 38 and father died aged 48,” he said. “The two boys [Bill & John] went to live with my grandmother, and the girls went to St Joseph’s Orphanage in Goulburn. We always tried to visit them as much as we could.”

As children, visiting the orphanage in Goulburn: Mary, John, Pat, Bill, Ann and Joan.

As children, visiting the orphanage in Goulburn: Mary, John, Pat, Bill, Ann and Joan.

“My grandmother was a loving person. She was straight down the line, very stern. She had a heart of gold,” he added.

John attended primary school at St Francis Xavier’s in Gunning, and unfortunately for him, he always seemed to attract the attention of the nuns.

“They picked on me all the time,” he said. “I only had to look at them and I’d be in trouble. I absolutely copped it.”

He later went on to attend school at St Augustine’s School in Yass, and thankfully for him, finished his schooling in 1951.

“I hated school,” he said. “I learned more once I left school.”

The first chapter of his post-school learning began by undertaking a Pastry Cook’s apprenticeship at Harry Taylor’s cake shop, where the Commonwealth Bank is currently located. He served his full apprenticeship there before moving to Corby’s Bakery, at the current location of the shire offices.

But the fun began for John in 1955, when he undertook his compulsory National Service in the Australian Army.

“I enjoyed it,” he said. “I wanted to join the regular army, but you had to be over 21 and my grandmother wouldn’t let me.”

By his own admission, John was a bit of a joker, and he was often on the receiving end.

“I went to bed at the barracks one night, and when I woke up, I was in the middle of the parade ground!” he said.

“I was a bit scared of the guns,” said John. “I was handling a big .303, and I turned it around and pointed it at the Sergeant. He quickly dropped to the ground! I think I shot more bullets into the other soldiers’ targets.”

On another occasion, John was on the grenade range with an instructor, and pulled the pin out of a grenade.

“I was holding it and I was shaking. ‘What do I do?’, I asked the instructor. ‘Throw the bloody thing!’ ‘I can’t, you take it!’ and I gave it to him,” he said. “Luckily, they were only dummies.”

The last nail in the coffin of John’s infantry role was when they were training with flare guns. “You were meant to shoot them straight up in the air. Unfortunately, I shot mine on a slight angle and it landed in the kitchen. It nearly burned the kitchen down!” he said.

It was not long after that he was pulled aside and made a cook for the rest of his National Service. But that didn’t stop the uniformed shenanigans.

John clowning around with a mate: John was always the joker.

John clowning around with a mate: John was always the joker.

On the way to Singleton for an exercise, John was on a train packed with troops which had to pull into a siding to allow another train to pass.

“Two of the blokes on the train got out and unhooked the loco from the train,” he said. “The loco left without the carriages, and when the drivers arrived, they were asked where the troops were. One driver looked and saw there were no carriages and apparently said, ‘I thought she was going quicker up the hills!’ No one dobbed anyone in though.”

John returned to Yass and continued baking, moving on to Rivers bakery on the current site of Luff Motors. But he didn’t always bake throughout his working life.

After finishing his tenure at Rivers, John went on to pump fuel at petrol stations, before working as a life insurance salesman. “I went door-to-door. I loathed it,” said John. “I constantly copped abuse. I was told that I was ‘selling death’, and I was even told to shove ‘it’ up my nose. I copped a ribbing.”

In the 1980s, John moved on to work at the bakery in Irvine’s supermarket, which was later taken over by Franklins. It was during this decade that John met his second wife, Laura, from Zamboanga City in the Philippines, and they were married on the 22nd of October, 1988.

John working as a baker.

John working as a baker.

“It rained and rained. I’d never seen anything like it,” said John, about his wedding day. Instead of the Courthouse Garden, they went across the park and were married in the boardrooms of the Goulburn Returned Soldiers’ Club instead.

Laura had previously travelled through Yass on a trip to Melbourne from Sydney, when she reportedly said, “Who would live here?” She would eventually move to Yass and make a significant contribution to the town as a personal carer at what is now known as Thomas Eccles Gardens. She would also come to realise the benefits of Yass for raising children, after the birth of John and Laura’s daughter, Kirstin, in 1990.

John, Laura and daughter Kirstin.

John, Laura and daughter Kirstin.

John retired from baking after the closure of the bakery at Franklins. “Well, at least I thought I was retiring. That was when the real work started.”

“I’ve never been so busy in my life,” he added.

Retirement brought a new vocation for which John has become widely known. In 2001, John volunteered his services to Yass FM, undertaking training to operate the equipment necessary to run radio shows. He had always had an interest in music.

“We had a wind-up gramophone when I was a child, and we played mostly country music,” said John. “But with radio, I got to embrace all music.”

During his time with Yass FM, he has gotten to meet artists such as the Howie Brothers, Brian Letton, Lindsay Butler, Dianne Lindsay, just to name a few. “I have made a lot of friends through radio,” he said.

John plays music at Warmington Lodge for the residents there. Both he and the music he plays are big hits.

John plays music at Warmington Lodge for the residents there. Both he and the music he plays are big hits.

John has shows from 7am to 10pm on Sundays, 12pm to 3pm on Wednesdays and 5pm to 7pm on Fridays. He says he will keep going as long as he has a breath in his body.

In addition to his radio work, John plays music for the residents of Bill MacKenzie Gardens in Page, as well as at Warmington Lodge, Thomas Eccles Gardens and Horton House. His presence and his music have a significant positive effect on the residents.

“The residents love him, they look forward to him coming,” said Janice Puckett, Recreation Officer at Yass Valley Aged Care. “He comes out of the goodness of his heart.”

“They love the music, especially the people with dementia, it gets them up and dancing,” she added.

John was officially recognised for his contributions to the community when he received the Individual Community Service Award in 2014.

In 2003, John’s wife Laura died of Leukaemia after fifteen years of marriage. In that all-too-short time together, they raised a daughter and travelled all over Australia as well as to New Zealand and the Philippines. They also received significant support from the Leukaemia Foundation during Laura’s battle.

John plays music at Warmington Lodge for the residents there. Both he and the music he plays are big hits.

John plays music at Warmington Lodge for the residents there. Both he and the music he plays are big hits.

On May 22nd, John will throw a massive 80th birthday party at Riverbank Park, with live entertainment, a jumping castle and face painting. Entry will be by gold coin donation, with proceeds going to the Leukaemia Foundation as a vote of thanks for the support they gave to John & Laura.

When he is not playing music or behind a microphone, John is a doting father and grandfather, with his daughter Kirstin still in town. He has three grandchildren, Violet, Ezra and Denzil.

John believes that employment is extremely important to Yass, despite its proximity to Canberra. “It’s a double-edged sword being close to Canberra,” he said.

He also believes that Yass has recovered since the by-pass opened in 1994.

“Yass became dead after the bypass opened for a while,” said John. “But we have found new ways to market it.” He cited the upgrading of the main street and the increased development of housing as signs of recovery for the town.

John is a man who has lived his life for the enjoyment of others, and continues to do so. He has a positive impact on people whether it is over the airwaves or in person, and his broad smile is enough to lift everyone’s day.

John hopes to raise money for the Leukemia Foundation with his 80th birthday bash on May 22.

John hopes to raise money for the Leukemia Foundation with his 80th birthday bash on May 22.

Katharyn Brine

Editor / Publisher

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