My Geelong

Joe Parks with one of his treasured and well-played accordions. (Rebecca Hosking) 228480_01

After decades in law, playing in bands and competing for several local sports clubs, is there anything Bell Post Hill hairdresser Joe Parks hasn’t done? He speaks to Luke Voogt about his 660-goal soccer career and life in Geelong.

Tell us about you…

I live in Bell Post Hill and I’ve been in Geelong for 69 years. I have three children Annette, Justyn, who died when he was 40, and Nick, and three grandchildren.

I was born in Germany, of Polish parents. My dad had two salons, one in Warsaw and one on the Rhine.

We came here when I was five, on January 12, 1950. We lived Bonegilla, Rushworth, Shepparton and Benalla before moving to Bell Park in 1952.

My dad worked on the cranes, cutting hair and as a butcher. My mother was the brains, he was the workhorse.

How did you become a hairdresser?

I started cutting hair when I was about 14 after school with my father.

He did ladies and gents, I just did gents. After I left school, I became a law clerk.

We were based in Geelong but we travelled all over Victoria when needed.

I later became a legal executive and I worked in law for 33 years. Then I qualified as hairdresser.

My dad was still working full-time when he died in the shop from his third heart attack at age 86.

People started saying, “Joe, cut my hair because your father’s gone.” I knew how to cut so I just kept cutting.

I’m planning to work until the same age as dad but I’m only working a few days a week.

What sports have you played?

I played Aussie rules with Geelong West from nine to 14 and later Chanel College.

As a kid I played several sports. I was a very fast runner – that’s how I kicked all my goals – they couldn’t catch me.

I was amateur boxer from 16 to 17. I went to Tasmania, Sydney, all over the place with school. I was undefeated in 10 matches.

I also grew up playing soccer, which I continued as an adult.

I kicked 501 goals for Bell Park Sports Club and about 160 for other teams.

I played for East Geelong Tennis Club for 23 years. I also played volleyball for 40 years for Syrena Sports Club.

I’ve got a new hip and two new knees but I’m still walking around OK. I’m starting to kick the ball again.

What do you like to do locally?

I love going to Bistrot St Jean in Moorabool Street – that’s my favourite place to eat.

I’m a life member of White Eagle, my brother Michael is one of the founders.

I also like to go to Geelong’s Croatian clubs for a fish meal on Friday.

How have you coped with COVID-19?

I haven’t been playing music as much as normal. With hairdressing, except for this five-day lockdown, we’ve been open all through.

What’s something about you that people might not know?

I’ve played the accordion for 63 years and I’ve got eight of them. I’ve played for 13 nationalities.

I’ve got my own band called Joe Parks and the Flamingos. We play at Warrnambool every year for Oktoberfest and we’ve played at The Rheingold for 31 years.

I played at Pako Festa for 21 years but I haven’t been there for the past four.

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