Shop remembered

March 29, 2018

This week The Courier shares with readers a poem written by Goulburn Valley identity Don Kilgour about a Cobram business he remembers from the 1950s.

The business was a barber shop run by a man known as ‘Plugger’ Bourke.

Plugger had an apprentice hairdresser at the time named Les Hocking, who lived and worked in Cobram until two of his sons — Steven and Gary — became stars of Geelong Football Club.

Steven has now attained the position of operations manager of the AFL.

Many Cobram residents would know the Hocking family well and would remember the barber shop, which was the place to go to get all the news about sport.

Mr Kilgour lived in Katamatite as a lad and said he loved the monthly visit to have a haircut at Plugger’s.

Ode to 'Plugger' Bourke's

In the ’50s up in Cobram, a good place to find work,

There was an interesting establishment that was owned by ‘Plugger’ Bourke.

It fronted as a Barber Shop with three chairs on the floor,

But everyone in Cobram knew that it was much, much more.

For Plugger sold tobacco, some cigars and lots of smokes,

Two billiard tables right next door, a spot for many blokes.

Some men would wander in at times and hand Plugger some cash,

He wrote down names of horses just about to have a dash.

A radio was on the shelf a brand of much renown,

Would broadcast many races from the ABC’s Joe Brown.

Well Plugger stopped a haircut while he listened to a race,

Then grizzled if he had to pay out on a winner or a place.

We walked into the shop each time with Plugger as the host,

And waited for a haircut reading Australasian Post.

We loved Ned and his Neddy and the photos in the mix,

Or you could see the special girls with their pictures in the PIX.

As kids, we didn’t want a cut as Plugger’s cut was shocking,

We were so glad when Plugger hired an apprentice, young Les Hocking.

For Les was great, he cut so well, he smiled and had a chat,

Whilst Plugger hurt, he nicked your neck and caused your blood to splat.

When our turn came, we said to him, ‘‘you cut some other hairs,

’cause we’ll sit tight and wait our turn, we’d rather go to Les’’.

Well blokes would come and blokes would go, it was a busy place,

If it wasn’t for a haircut, they’d be betting on a race.

And late each day a man called Vince would turn up with a smile,

Put on the coat and get to work and cut hair for a while.

Then as the afternoon wore on, young Les would puff and blow,

‘‘There’s cricket practice Mr Bourke, I really need to go’’.

But Plugger made him stay a while and finish a few more,

Before he let him leave the shop to bowl and hit a score.

If you wanted news, you got the news at Plugger’s barber shop,

For as the blokes all wandered in, the banter didn’t stop.

But thanks to Les, we all enjoyed a haircut from the best,

Because he was so popular, old Plugger got a rest.

So we will long remember when our hair needed the works,

We headed up to Cobram to see Les at Plugger Bourke’s.

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