OPINION: Gentleman Nic Geronimos fires up Geraldton’s history

Peter FiorenzaGeraldton Guardian
Nicholas Geronimos, Maddison Blakeney and Katie Walsh at a Geraldton business function.
Camera IconNicholas Geronimos, Maddison Blakeney and Katie Walsh at a Geraldton business function. Credit: Matthew Woodley/Geraldton Guardian

I never tire of learning more about Geraldton’s history and, indeed, the people who have contributed to its fascinating past.

Recently, on radio, I spoke with long-time resident, Nicholas Geronimos.

At 81, and still running a business, Nic knows a lot about this place and can tell a few funny stories.

I caught up with him soon after he was publicly recognised for his service of more than 60 years with the volunteer fire brigade.

Nicholas Geronimos and his wife Evelyn meet some admirers after Mr Geronimos accepted his award for 60 years of service as a volunteer firefighter.
Camera IconNicholas Geronimos and his wife Evelyn meet some admirers after Mr Geronimos accepted his award for 60 years of service as a volunteer firefighter. Credit: DFES/Mathias Moerman

I’ve only really known Nic, personally, for a relatively short time, but my parents’ recollection of him goes back to their youth.

So, it was a chance to just have a chat about the past, and our chat certainly uncovered some local history gems.

Nic is a life member of the Towns Football Club, but he began the radio interview, recalling his time in the volunteer fire brigade and tossing up between Brigades and Rovers when it came to football.

“Neville Burgess and I were good mates, having done our mechanical apprenticeship together,” he said.

“It looked as though we would lean towards Brigades, a club being born from the fire brigade, but for some reason, Neville ended up at Railways and I wasn’t going there.”

“So how did you end up at Towns,” I asked.

“Well that’s an interesting story that has something to do with Maurie Drennan.”

Drennan, who was a revered coach in the GNFL, was a good mate.

Apparently, he telephoned Nic one evening with a proposition.

“Nic, I’ve been offered a coaching job and I’d like you to come onboard and help me out.”

According to Nic, he quickly finished the conversation, asking Nic to ring him back with an answer.

Nic eventually called him back.

“So, you’ll help us out?” queried Maurie.

“I told Maurie, he knew that I would be on board.

“But who are you coaching Maurie?”

There was a silence on the other end before he answered.

“Towns.”

That was the start of Nic’s lifelong relationship with the Bulldogs that has lasted to this day.

Whenever I visit Towns’ clubrooms, I eventually meet up with Nic, who is a sincere gentleman and always immaculately dressed in a suit.

I really would love to chat to him more about Geraldton and its past, including the many characters he would have known.

As well as his involvement with the volunteer fire brigade and football, Nic likes to also reminisce about Geraldton’s old milk bars.

Although no longer fixtures today, they certainly have a story all of their own to tell.

“You know what Peter?

“There used to be a time when all the milk bars in Geraldton were owned by Greek families.”

Maybe we’ll leave that for another day.

* Peter Fiorenza is the host of Fiorenza on Sunday, 10am to noon on Radio MAMA.

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