When Doug Ahola is not “digging holes”, he is making grandfather clocks with great skill.
The reference about “holes” comes from the combination of his Christian and surnames, something that he laughs about.
But he is pretty serious when discussing his love for clockmaking that relies on his talents learned in the carpenters’ “shop” at the smelter.
The 85-year-old spoke while sitting in the lounge room of the house that he built about 1955 with his wife-to-be Johan helping and getting her fingers temporarily caught in the floorboards.
“The clocks are a fun thing,” he said, revealing that he had made a clocks for each of his adult children, Jennifer, Kathryn, Pauline and Neil.
He first admired the creations of late friend Leo Ayliffe before deciding to buy about eight planks of Queensland red cedar while on a trip to that state.
“I bought the plans and the movement. I got home it stayed in the shed. I reckon I would probably have had it for 10 years,” he said.
After prompting from a neighbour, Noel Laube, he “got stuck into it” and made a clock.
“When I made it, all the kids were nearly grown up. They said they wanted that clock to be bequeathed to them so I thought I had better do something and made a clock for each of them,” he said.
The grandmother clock in the lounge room chimed four times during our interview … once every 15 minutes. Mr Ahola is modest about his talents, saying it all stemmed back to winning an apprenticeship in his chosen trade of carpentry when he joined the smelters.
He praised tradesmen such as John O’Connor, Thorol Miller, Arthur Cllnton and Ron Combe.
“I was a bit lucky because when I started the managing director was A.J.Keith who lived in Melbourne and had furniture made for his house at the smelters,” he said,
I was a bit lucky because when I started work the managing director had furniture made for his house at the smelters.Doug Ahola, former carpenter
“He bought cedar trees from Queensland and dried them on the top floor and they made all this furniture for him and I assisted.”
He agrees it gave him the “feel” for his latest ventures.
Asked about his combination name of “dug a hole-a”, he said his father Tobias had changed his surname to the common name of Ahola from Rantalla back in Finland.
He had been named Douglas Ahola, but this was shortened and he became the target of good-natured humour all his life.
But no-one is joking about his prowess as a clockmaker.