In the early fifties, I regularly attended the
Camden Stock Sales. These were held each Tuesday.
This was a great opportunity to meet the local
farmers and as I was selling tractors and motor
vehicles many sales were secured on these days.
After the sales, most gathered in the local
hotel for an enjoyable hour. I met many interesting
people on these days, including one of the most
remarkable characters I ever met.
Jim Rootes had lived in Luddenham all his life,
and had always been closely associated with horses.
In his early days, he used to round up wild horses
in the foothills of the mountains and drive them to
Wallacia. He said an Irishman paid him so much a
head for them. He also was into racehorses, touring
the country race meetings. He told me some great
tales about those days.
He started a butchery business in Luddenham
operating from a cutting cart. He did his own
killing and delivered the meat on a regular run in
his cart. As there was no refrigeration, any meat
left over after the run was boiled down.
At the time I met Jim, he had retired but still
had a few cattle and retained his interest in the
My first meeting with Jim was deliberately
planned by me. I had heard that he could be a
prospect for a new utility truck. After a couple of
sessions with him at the saleyards, I decided that
this was not the best venue to attempt a sale and I
would visit him at his home.
I had already summed up the nature of the man
and arrived at the following conclusions; he was
tough; he pulled no punches; he spoke his mind on
all things, regardless of whom he upset. If you
couldn't take it, that was your problem. If you
could you were his friend.
At the time he was in his sixties, but he could
still turn on the charm for the ladies.
I had already decided on a trade-in price for
his existing Ute. It was a 1937 International and
was in a most neglected state. Some of the cab
windows were missing and replaced by sheets of
I decided to call unannounced and duly arrived
about midday. I knocked on the door and was called
in. Jim was sitting on the front verandah and told
me his wife was away in Sydney for the day.
We talked for a while, but I couldn't bring the
conversation around to the sale of the Ute. The
verandah faced the old Luddenham road. On a block
of ground on the other side was an old
double-decker bus with washing hanging on a line
outside. I asked Jim if someone lived there. He
said there was a young married couple with five
kids. I think it's five, let me see, there's two
that's his and two that's hers and one that's
theirs. But she keeps them clean.
As I was getting nowhere, I suggested that we
would be better talking over a beer at the Wallacia
Pub and Jim agreed. At last I could get him in the
new Ute. When we finally reached the pub, I
realised that on the trip down Jim had absolutely
ignored all attempts to interest him in the
We settled down to hours of solid drinking and
anxious to get back to the Ute, I suggested we move
on. Jim immediately turned on me. "So you can't
drink any more" - I denied this and ordered two
more schooners. Fortunately one round after that
Jim decided he had all he could handle. We left the
pub and drove back to Jim's house. Again he
completely ignored the Ute. I began to think I was
wasting my time.
When we pulled up in his back yard, he surprised
me with an announcement. "Before you can sell me a
Ute Bare, you have to prove yourself". "I challenge
you a standing jump, a running race or a wrestle".
I was in no condition to jump or run, so I chose
the wrestle. We set-to on the lawn. In spite of my
age advantage, he was very strong. I also didn't
want him to be the loser. Just when I was
considering the outcome of the ridiculous turn of
events, we were inundated with a torrent of water.
Jim's wife had arrived home and, not knowing what
was going on, threw a full bucket of water over
When we picked ourselves up, she looked at me
and said "I know you. You are Roy Bare". I was
surprised because the last time we met, I was about
eight years old.
We certainly must have presented quite a picture, covered in
dirt, shirts torn and very drunk. She ordered us into the house
to clean ourselves up, while she made a cup of tea.
I figured I had passed all tests by this time
and when we settled down for the first time, I
suggested we close the deal on the Ute. His reply
was to throw his chequebook to me with instructions
to "write the cheque out my bloody self".
Victory at last! When I handed him back the
book, he grabbed my arm and shook hands vigorously.
He then said, "you know Bare, lots of fellers have
tried to sell me a Ute with their little bags and
their little mo', but I like the way you do
Finally, I was able to get away and it was a
great relief to find myself in the peaceful night
air. I was no sooner out than the door opened and
Jim called me back. He then asked a question that I
will never forget. He said, "Tell me Bare, what
sort of a Ute did I buy, not that I give a bugger,
but my boys are sure to ask me?".
How many salesmen can claim such a unique
After a good nights sleep, I woke up feeling
pleased with the previous days work. This feeling
was short lived. I decided to check over the
figures of the deal and discovered I had
undercharged him by One Hundred Pounds! This meant
I would have to go back and recover the money. He
would be sober and in a different frame of mind and
I fully expected him to call off the deal.
When I arrived he was working in his shed and I
told him that due to an error he owed me One
Hundred Pounds. His reply was to throw me his
chequebook and he simply said "there are plenty
more cheques in the bloody book aren't there?".
I realised that out of all our ups and downs, we
had developed a great respect for each other and a
friendship that lasted many years. I had earned his
respect by never backing down to his many
unorthodox approaches to all he met. This was his
way of sorting people out.
I recently attended Jim's funeral at the
Luddenham Church. He had lived in Luddenham for
just over one hundred years.
Roy Bare 2001
below, taken in 1937, shows Roy (centre) in his
first start in the Motor Trade under the Government
Trainee Scheme. The Motor Cycle Service company was
Watson & Kilfoyle - Macquarie St. Liverpool
NSW. On the right is Percy Watson (Proprietor) and
on the left is Oscar Easterbrook.
[Roy passed away on
the 29th June 2001]
Note the first electric petrol pumps which have
just been installed with petrol at
1 shilling & 9 pence per gallon (approx 4c /