Vale – Bob Pounds ACS

There are people you `click’ with the moment you meet, the young man standing in front of me was one of those. He was 18 years old, fresh of face and had left school only a few days before. “This is Bob Pounds” the Programme Manager of the local Toowoomba television said, “He’s joining us as of today and we’d like you to show him the ropes” he concluded.

That meant that Bob was now part of the News Department, which to that moment, had a whole cast of three. Dixie, our lovely typist, Ian Leslie and myself as news gatherers, and I as reader.
As our news wagon was just outside and visible through the glass door of the newsroom, it became Bob’s first `introduction’. “Bob, meet Bongo” I said. It was a gutless green van, so named because its overall paint was officially Bongo green.

The film processor was next on the list. Processing the nights 16mm black and white reversal film became a regular part of Bob’s new job, and he quickly mastered the process. The processor developed the news film in two stages. After stapling the film to the machine’s leader in the dark, a light proof cover was positioned over the first row of chemical filled tanks and the processor started. Rising up out of the developer side, the film passed under a re-exposure light and into the second row of tanks to complete the image stability. From there it went into the heated drying cabinet…..and from there, to the film editor.
Bob, Ian and I all operated the processor at times, and the thing that had the ability to give us the `horrors’, was to find the processor had stopped with the metal staples in the `acid’, and had been eaten away over-night.
There are no prizes for guessing what the first job of the new day was.
Bob would come on location with us and help set-up the camera gear and lights, particularly if it was an interview or sound shoot. It wasn’t long before he was covering stories under his own steam.
In the 1960s regional television stations originated all their programmes and were not the metro relay stations they are today.
Most stations had stringers scattered here and there throughout their transmission area. Channel 10 Toowoomba ran three transmitters and was often referred to as DDQ (Darling Downs Queensland), Channel 10 or 10, 4, 5.
One of our stringers lived in the small township of Texas, which today has a population of 1,159 and is 2 km north of the New South Wales-Queensland border.
One day a telegram arrived from the stringer (also named Bob) asking if we were interested in some footage of a baby show.
Our return telegram said, `Yes….shoot babies….50 feet’. This greatly alarmed the Post Office lady handling telegrams and she promptly contacted the police. A short time later the phone rang, it was the Texas police, wanting to know what this `shooting babies’ was all about. When we explained that it was an authority to our local cameraman to film the babies he burst out laughing, and was still laughing when he hung up. It was our Bob who had the `pleasure’ of processing that footage for the next night’s news.

Bob soon became a valued part of the news team, as we were soon running the main bulletin and 3 `news up dates’ 5 nights a week. After a time, Bob began to suffer the media disease of `itchy feet’, and it was time for him to move on. The move was the first of five he would make in his working life and this one took him to TNQ 7 in Townsville as news cameraman. At this point he and I lost contact, but without either of us knowing, destiny was drawing our work paths together again.

After Bob’s TNQ stint he went to television in Wollongong, and from there to Canberra, where he joined the television section of the Federal Government’s Australian Information Service (AIS). The films produced by that small unit were exclusively for world television and not Australia.

In 1968 my family and I moved to Canberra and, after 4 years with Canberra’s then CTC 7, I joined the AIS TV unit and was once again working with Bob.
Coincidentally, the TV unit was headed by another Toowoomba cinematographer, the late Eric Kenning ACS.

Bob Pounds was born in Toowoomba on the 17 of October 1946. He had a younger brother Grahame, who was to later work in the aviation industry. Speaking of aviation, in the early 70s, when Bob, Eric Kenning and I would fly from Canberra to Sydney on the first leg of an assignment, as soon as the plane opened its doors in Sydney, Bob disappeared and was not seen until boarding for the next destination. Neither Eric or I had a clue about the vanishing Bob, and he was in no hurry to enlighten us. I don’t recall how we found out, but it seemed that romance was in the air, and it turned out to be a very personable young lady by the name of Carolyn Joan Randles. Carolyn became Mrs Robert Pounds in the Blakehurst Baptist Church Sydney, on the 3rd of November, 1977.
Bob and Carolyn had three children, Jeanea, David and Paul.
Bob was an easy person to like, and an easy person to talk to. In the years we travelled and filmed together, we had great fellowship, talks on a vast range of subjects, and in all those years, never an irritable word passed between us. Bob was a mate, a great mate.

The previous attack of `itchy feet’ he suffered in Toowoomba bit him again in Canberra, and in the very early 1980s, Bob swapped his cinematographer’s hat for that of a journalist within AIS, having graduated from what is now the University of Canberra.

Wearing his new hat he worked on the visit to Australia of Pope John Paul II and George Bush. The AIS became part of The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and they posted him to Canada and Thailand.

In 1997 he joined the Department of Veteran’s Affairs as Public Affairs Officer. As such, he received a request from America, asking if Australia would participate in producing a series of 60-second profiles on Vietnam service personnel, which would be screened nationwide under the title `A Grateful Nation Remembers’.
Bob asked me if I would be interested in making them; I said “yes.” He also told me that the same request was made of the other allied participants, but Australia was the only one who did. The reason behind the screening was that they were to be an apology, a very late apology, for the low level of enthusiasm and welcome shown to the returning veterans by the public. Not only during their coming home parades, but to the vets in general. Regretfully, Australia’s attitude was similar to that of America.

Those itchy Queensland feet of Bobs were again starting to make their presence felt when he was poached by the Department of Health and Aging…..from which he retired about 2011/12.

In 2014 he was diagnosed with cancer, which, after encouraging indications at first, spread to two other parts of his body. He died in Canberra, surrounded by his family, on June 30 this year, he was just 69.

Although Bob enjoyed his time in journalism, there was a special spot in his heart for his years as a cinematographer. If you walk into his home today, you will see a Golden Tripod sitting proudly on the mantelpiece. It was awarded to Bob for his filming of the parachute jump of the Crown Prince of Thailand as he twisted and turned in a successful attempt to untangle his lines and allow his canopy to open fully.

The award says ACS – 1977 Award for cinematography, Newsreel, Cinema and TV. Presented to – Robert Pounds for `Parachuting’.

Robert Edwin Pounds: as another Bob once said ‘Thanks for the memories’…..
Thank you old mate for mine…..I’ll miss you.

Robert Hargreaves ACS.