At your service: City Chemist pharmacist Bob Lundy says being part of his community has kept him on the job. Picture: Marina Neil At 77, Bob Lundy shows no signs ofretiring.
“This is my second shed,” says the affable pharmacist, pulling up a stool in the small kitchenette behind the counter at hisCity Chemist, at 53 Hunter Street, Newcastle.
“I have social contact and I think everyone as they get old should maintain a form of social contact. It’s a village situation here.”
He reflectsbefore concluding: “Itaffords me a reasonable lifestyle and an overseas holiday once a year.”
The keen cyclist, arts and classical music buff was raised in Carrington, the son of a Burwood Colliery miner and a nurse.
Mr Lundy’ssister, a nurse at Royal Newcastle Hospital, urged him to do pharmarcy, so he convinced pharmacist Frank Vincent Callen, trading near the corner of Young and Cowper Streetsin Carrington,to take him on.
“In those days you did a year in a pharmacy as work experience before studying –it’s a good idea because you get a sense of the values required, an idea if you want to continue,” he says.
He did some practical work at E.V Campbell pharmacy in Tighes Hill before studyingpharmacy at Sydney University, working part-time in Pendle Hill.
Upon graduating he returned to Newcastle and his beloved surf, one day stepping from the ocean to walk upHunter Street and land a job at his second port of call, James AngusRobertson pharmacy at 63 Hunter Street [where Doggy Choo salon now trades].
There, one of hisroles was restocking medicine supplies on docking vessels.
“I went one time on a ship called the Star Geranteand after I’d clocked off I got drunk with the Norwegian captain on his whisky,” he says with undisguised nostalgia for a bygone era.
One hot sunny day, he met his late wife, Sandra, when he went to her aid after shefainted outside the chemist.
He formed a partnership with two colleagues and ran four pharmacies in Hunter Street, all the whileraising three children.
Mr Lundyhas no idea what will happen to City Chemist when he moves on, and says his industry is at risk from discount chemists and a government trying to reduce the cost of pharmaceuticals.
He dispenses methadone because he empathises with those who need it -“There but for the grace of God go I” –and enjoys working with staff in his circa 1906shop.
There, beneathvines hanging from a reticulated ceiling pipe, umbrellas moonlighting as wall artand shelves lined with old bottles that once held galenicals (naturalremedies used before the advent of synthetic medicines) he is at home.
“I love Newcastle, I have a girlfriend on the Gold Coast and she can’t work out why I’m still here,” he grins.