WHAT A CHAMPION, WHAT A BLOKEOn Friday, September 1, we had a great send off for one of the most well-known and colourful members of the Eastern Suburbs community, Franciscus Oscar Oudenhoven, better known as ‘Well Dressed Frank’, ‘All Day’, ‘Frank Smith’, or just plain old ‘Gherkin’.
A crowd of over 600 people spilled out of Matraville’s Eastern Suburbs Memorial Centre and onto Military Road, listening
to hilarious tales of an Eastern Suburbs icon. The day was a great celebration of a life that was lived to the absolute fullest.
Frank was born in Holland in 1957 and moved to Australia when he was four years old. He didn’t speak English when he arrived, and he was still trying to master the language 55 years later.
Bondi ran through Frank’s veins. He grew up in Reina Street, North Bondi, and attended Bondi Beach Public and Dover Heights Boys Schools, and he never moved very far away from that famous stink pipe up north.
His school days were the learnings of life and sport for Frank, and he got through study the best he could. He sometimes got himself into trouble, but his golden tongue usually got him out of it.
He loved all sports and tried his hand at just about all of them.
“In 1977, at the NSW Junior Squash Championships, Frank made the final against Australia’s second ranked junior, Alan Love- day. The final went all the way to the fifth set, with Frank leading 8-0 and needing only one more point to win the title. At that point, Loveday went down with a cramp and the umpire gave him three minutes to get rid of it and resume play,” his friend, Grant Donald, recalled.
“Frank stepped in and said ‘No, we will start again when he is ready.’ Twenty minutes later, they resumed play and Loveday went on to win 10-8 in the fifth, securing the NSW Under 19’s championship.
“That day said a lot about Frank. He was all about giving people a fair go – the chance to be their best – and he didn’t want to be a winner just because someone else couldn’t compete. That was Frank, he never wanted the easy way,” said Mr Donald.
Many local residents have played touch football, tennis, or squash with Frank, or enjoyed a night out with him. He was a man that took time to get to know everyone, and everyone that he met was touched by his genuine nature.
“On a holiday to one of the Greek Islands, I was taken around and introduced as a ‘good friend of Frank’s’, which immediately provided a warm welcome and an array of Frank stories – Frank had been there a few months earlier,” said another close friend, Trevor Stegman.
“When Frank met someone, he made a lasting impression. This was the magic of Frank: the ability to make long-lasting friendships with a truly amazing variety of people from different parts of society and different backgrounds, and then bring them together and mix these people, at sport, or at the table (for Frank loved a good feed),” said Stegman.
“I had so many nights out with Frank, and half of them I can’t even remember. That was what Frank was about: the unplanned bender or the simple joy of having a beer at any Eastern Suburbs pub,” close mate, Brett Mcinnes, said.
“Frank was welcome every- where, from Randi Wix’s to the old Dolphin Street, and even the old Rugby Club. Our mate Frank was part of the furniture.
“But Frank was more than that – just ask all of his friends and family. I loved Frank for the company he kept, his quick wit and lightning tongue, and I’ll miss the random beers and bets we used to have. You would find him at the strangest places with the weirdest of people, but he loved everyone and he had time for everyone.”
My highlight of the day was being honoured to call the Frank Smith Cup – a phantom race call with some of Frank’s favourite names and phrases – and to say farewell to a very dear friend of mine. In the race, and in life, the people’s champion got up to win:
It’s a bob of the heads as they hit the line together. And it’s Franciscus Oscar Oudenhoven by a nose! And a long nose at that. The people’s champion gets up. What a win, what a champion, what a bloke!
And on that day, Franciscus Oscar Oudenhoven raced into Eastern Suburbs immortality.