The Mechanical Mind, George Hodge

At 91, George Alfred Hodge is a pillar of good health, and attributes this to being active all his life. “I’ve run 8 marathons and 28 City to Surfs,” said George proudly, then added, “Near my home in Mount Pritchard, I had an 8 km circuit with challenging hills that I ran five days a week, and I was also a keen cyclist.” George began running at the age of 40 and didn’t stop until he was 70. He explains, “I ran for the simple enjoyment of it.”

George was born six years before the Great Depression ended and his dad, a government worker, thankfully always had a job and food on the table. George grew up with five brothers and sisters and the family often enjoyed camping at Collaroy Beach. “One night the air raid sirens went off. I wasn’t scared because they used to check the sirens every day,” George said before continuing, “But this time there was a Japanese submarine on the heads, and a small ship had come in and sank a ferry!”

While living in Annandale, George’s youthful curiosity ended in an accident that led to a triple fracture of his skull, after swinging from a peppercorn tree and a daring leap over a stormwater canal, leaving George with memory loss. However, this also left him with a thirst for knowledge.

It was then that George’s mechanical skills emerged. From the tender age of six, when he meticulously repaired his first alarm clock, to later years when he dismantled engines and gearboxes, George’s affinity for mechanics shone through. His talents caught the attention of many, earning him the affectionate nickname ‘Inspector Scott’.

Professionally, George’s journey intertwined seamlessly with his passion. “I worked at telephone exchanges, which in those days were full of mechanical equipment that I remember were very, very loud - 90 decibels!,” exclaimed George. A career spanning the Postmaster General’s Department, later divided into Australia Post and Telecom (Telstra), saw George continue in the field of telecommunications and embrace change. His expertise saw him become an instructor in the Telstra Training School and he guided the next generation of apprentices in the trade.

It was later in life that George met Barbara. “I met my lovely wife at the Church of Christ. We’ve been married 24 years and religion has always been a part of our lives,” said George, then added as he held Barbara’s hand, “We just love being with each other.” George has four daughters from a previous marriage and said the birth of his daughters was the proudest moment in his life.

Another passion George holds dear is his love of German Shepherd dogs. He said they’re the best dog of all the breeds. “My first dog was a Pomeranian in my early 20s, but since then I’ve only ever owned German Shepherds. The last one was Ty Ghee.

He was beautiful and such a good dog, well behaved and obedient,” said George with a mix of warmth and sorrow. He then recalled a funny memory where he once took his dog Bixie (because it loved Weet-Bix) with him on a run, and then had to carry it back the last 3 kilometres! But it eventually learnt to do the full distance.

Looking back on his life, George said, “I’ve had an interesting life and there have been ups and downs but overall I’ve had a satisfying life.” His advice to the generations that follow is this: embrace change as an inevitable companion on life’s journey, cultivate genuine connections with those around you, and approach each challenge with resilience and grace. George is also a firm believer in accepting what you can’t change, having the courage to change what you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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