A Life Well Lived, Douglas (Doug) Baker

Doug has created a lifetime of wonderful memories. From working at Sydney’s famous GPO, to becoming a Sydney Olympic torch bearer, working the land, playing Santa and skydiving at the age of 80!

Some memories stay with us forever, like Doug’s first job as an apprentice, tiling the front of Narrabeen shops, which still stands today. His most memorable job was tiling a bathroom with ‘carpet’ on the floor. “We had to keep the cement off the carpet,” Doug laughed. “And as a telegram boy, I remember riding my pushbike up the hill to Manly Hospital, to deliver telegrams to new mothers.”

As a young man, Doug’s favourite thing was helping his brother-in-law on his farm. He helped with ploughing right through to harvesting, and this he said was before tractors had air conditioning and suspension. “I would wear out a pair of pants a week, because of the steel seat on the tractor,” recalls Doug.

In 1960, Doug began working as a lift operator at the GPO in Sydney’s Martin Place, for the PMG (Postmaster General), now known as Australia Post. It was here that he met his beautiful wife Beverley. Doug recalls that very special day back in 1963. “There was this girl standing in the foyer and the lift driver alongside me said, ‘you see that girl standing there, I dare you to take her out’ - and I married her in 1966!”

Doug has many memories of the GPO building. ”One time, I was operating the lift and it became overcrowded with people wanting to get home, but no one would step out. I put the brake on when we reached the ground floor, but the weight of the lift continued into the tank stream and tunnels below!” Doug laughed. “We had to wait for the mechanics to manually pull the lift back up to the ground floor, to let people out.”

Having had two daughters, Leonie and Kristine, and no longer wanting to do shift work, Doug became a postman in Sydney’s CBD - delivering mail to solicitors, barristers, Queens Councillors and shops along Castlereagh Street - until his retirement in 1992. His friendly nature even secured a private tour of Centrepoint Tower for his wife and daughters, before its official opening two weeks later!

Doug still carries his GPO lift key as a souvenir, and his postal No. 31 Beat Badge - which was the area he covered; there were 100 postal beats operating in Martin Place at the time.

In his spare time, Doug became a NSW bowls umpire at both Seaforth and Balgowlah Bowling Clubs. “I learnt to play bowls because I took Dad to play, and I was his official driver,” said Doug. He then added, “Dad lost his legs in WW1 and I learnt to drive his car, which had been reconfigured. I had to push hard on the back seat, like a clutch, to change gears and the accelerator was more like on a motorbike. I also drove a blind Digger to bowls, whose hearing was exceptional. He could give me directions simply by listening to the sounds off the buildings as we passed them.”

Doug’s daughter Leonie reminds her Dad about their family ancestry, and he tells how he was born Douglas Elith Baker. Elith is the anglicised name for Llicic, which - when researching their ancestry - they discovered they descended from royalty. “My great grandparents were the Prince and Princess of Slovenia. During the mid 1800s, to keep them safe from harm, their son and daughter were secretly shipped out by boat. The daughter was sent to America and the son, Doug’s grandfather, to Melbourne. He had a daughter, who became Doug’s mother, the eldest of 12 and their link to a once royal bloodline.

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