It is with much sadness that we lost an old friend on Sunday 28 January 2018, Bert Glenister, so we say farewell and pay tribute to this generous and lovable character.
Bert was born in Sydney, but his family moved to Victoria when he was just a wee baby. Soon after the war, the family of six which included Bert and his three sisters moved ‘up country’ to Hurstbridge where he enjoyed life on the family farm for many years whilst still making the regular trip to Melbourne boarding weekly for school.
Following school, Bert tended a herd of a 5,000 angoras on the family farm. The goats were sold to the children’s hospital for baby’s milk which, at the time, was commonly used as a substitute for infant formula. The goats were not only useful for their milk; their tenacity for devouring pestilent blackberries made Bert a hit with the neighbours. Bert gave up farming in 1980, but stayed in the country doing various jobs, including working for the Country Fire Authority. Then in 1984, Bert’s father, an English Navy man, passed away. It was at this point that Bert decided to move to Port Melbourne to stay with his sister Kathleen.
On previous trips to Melbourne, the Market was a favourite haunt but once he made Melbourne his home, Bert became a regular face about the aisles. It wasn’t long before Bert made friends with a soldier by the name of Peter Varley who had a collectors’ stall, and it was Peter who offered Bert his first official foray into Market life when he gave him a job sorting items and selling bags. But it was his next job as Market security guard that Bert remembers with the most affection. Patrolling the market after hours with his dogs Max & Rusty, it was a regular occurrence that he bailed up intruders in various states of sobriety before calling the local constabulary!
After 19 years in the job, Bert gave up his guard duties in 2003 to set up a stall selling pre-loved books and records, fondly known as Bert’s Books. Characteristic of his generous nature, half the money he earned from this stall went to the Salvation Army. Originally located in Aisle C, his stall moved around as the Market went through changes and renovations, ending up in a little spot in the redundant lift shaft.
Whether he was selling bags or catching intruders, delivering mail or selling books, Bert was a part of the fabric of the Market for over thirty years. His favourite place though was the deckchair next to the fire hydrant in Aisle G, where you’d often find him perched in his favourite hat, enjoying a cup of tea and watching market life go by.
Until very recently, when his health got worse, Bert was still visiting the Market regularly from his nursing home, joining his dear friend Grace from The Soap Shop for that special cup of tea.
Thank you Bert for your warmth, generosity and your contribution to the life and history of South Melbourne Market.