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The last provedore

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                                     provedore  n. someone who provides supplies for a ship.

My role models in life have always been men with no frills who do not hesitate to get their hands dirty in the process of making an honest living.  This is a brief tribute to one of them.

I once knew a Provedore.
An occupation proudly announced on his simple business card.
His name was Arthur.  A large, quiet, and amiable gentle man, who, in his seventies, would never have entertained the idea of retirement from his one man business.

Arthur would never be seen without his trademark well-worn khaki shorts and shirt, greengrocers apron, two-wheeled trolley, a limp, and a rusting and rattling little flatbed truck which, on the outside, looked  almost as old as Arthur himself but was probably not.

He would come to the Saturday Rusty's markets in Cairns looking for the best quality fruit and vegetables from Atherton Tableland growers which he would then take back to his little warehouse stacked high with recycled vegetable boxes, before sorting it all out and delivering orders to ships berthed at the wharf.

Small ships.  Coastal trading vessels which ply the channel inside the Great Barrier Reef serving all the remote communities North to the tip of Cape York Peninsula.

We were proud that he chose to buy our sweet potato, taro, cassava and yams.

Occasionally his payment cheques would bounce, because you see, Arthur was, first and foremost, a Provedore.
Accounting and the management of money came in a very long last in his list of priorities.  We were always eventually paid the full amounts, including the $20 bank bouncing fee, in cash.

One day around the end of the last century he collapsed and died, surrounded by fruit and vegetables, in his warehouse.
A body worn out by a life of hard work which just refused to travel any more miles or carry any more boxes.

I think he would have liked the final curtain to fall like that.

My Collins Dictionary no longer includes the word Provedore.

R.I.P. Arthur Dun, role model, friend, the last, and the very best of Provedores.

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About GOF

"Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it, depends upon what you put into it." (Tom Lehrer)

10 responses »

  1. Here, Here! R.I.P. Arthur Dun, role model, friend, the last, and the very best of Provedores

  2. Being from land-locked mountains several hundreds of miles from water, I've never heard that term. Thanks for sharing it and a little of Arthur's story.

  3. Thanks m-t. It is a word which I also would not have known about had it not been for Arthur.I am happy to share his story for he was an unassuming gentleman who would never have thought his short association with me would have left such a lasting impression.

  4. Ever since reading Moby Dick I've wanted to take on that life with boats. It's really hard, I can't imagine a more honest day's work. I also admire Arthur's spirit. Some folks like that don't even make "minimum wages".

  5. A nice tribute GOF. I think Provedore is a word not used much outside Australia……

  6. Some folks like that don't even make "minimum wages".Thanks Ellie…..yes, I suspect this was the case with Arthur.As far as I know he did not own anything fancy.I think I would be OK with boats so long as the weather was favorable, but suspect I would need some sort of amphibious craft so that when it turned bad I could make a dash for terra firma. 🙂

  7. I think Provedore is a word not used much outside Australia.Perhaps that is right Emjay…..I should have done a little more research into the origin of the word…..that might be an interesting story in itself.

  8. I'd never heard of the word until you wrote it. It's a shame, everything is now so corporate and the small time men and women who used to provide small time services are disppearing. Every time another one bows out, the world gets a little bit less interesting…

  9. You have summed it up very nicely Vicola. Nowadays Arthurs job is done by large fruit and veg wholesalers. No personal touch involved at all. A little sad.


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