Bill Jenner was born in 1932 when the Great Depression was at its peak.
Within two years of his birth the destitute parents had to surrender Bill and his two siblings to foster care. Diphtheria killed Bill’s foster parents and weakened his health. By age seven he was made a Ward of the State and placed in the, now notorious, Tally Ho Home for Boys in country Victoria. He lived there for seven harsh years believing he had no family. Later, at nineteen, his natural mother found him and revealed he had fifteen siblings.
Bill’s life has been fired by his strong and generous spirit and coloured by two passions: cars and music, both of which have made him into a Byron Shire identity.
The first was consolidated when he became an apprentice mechanic at 14 and later in life earned him the title of Bangalow Bill for his mechanic’s workshop at Bangalow. The second surfaced when he was at Tally Ho and chose a harmonica from a selection of toys that had been gifted to the toyless children in the home. Bill taught himself to play music and has been entertaining others ever since.
He also taught himself to dance and became a dance teacher. It was a bittersweet revelation to hear from his mother that she had been a ballroom dancer.
Now in his eighties Bill is still playing his harmonica, anywhere anytime; encouraging the young; tinkering in the garage and talking cars; and saying he may not race in next year’s Billy Cart Derby at bangalow.
Bill lives with his wife, and mother of their five children, Frieda.
Bangalow Bill – Biography
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