Smiley the One-Legged Polisher

WE DID a feature on Smiley, the Polisher, in Ozbike #298. Smiley has since had his leg amputated so we though we should pay him a visit to see how he’s going. Smiley was involved in a major bike accident in 1982 which put him in hospital for 58 weeks with more than 35 operations on his leg. The operations left the leg 2—3 inches shorter and fused just below the knee preventing movement.

Eventually the doctors amputated one of his legs because the difference in length meant his back was also being damaged. After the amputation he was transferred to a rehab centre where he learned not just walk but to smile again—it’s not easy to cope with the loss of a limb—and accept the inevitable.

At the rehab centre he met Christian who had come from New Caledonia with his seriously ill spouse. Christian, admiring Smiley’s tattoos, admitted he was a tattooist in his homeland but due to his tribal tradition, he was only allowed to do tattoos in black ink. They agreed that one day, when he returns to Australia, he would tattoo a dragon on Smiley’s back. 

Time passed and Smiley was released from the centre. More time passed and he had forgotten about the conversation with Christian until he received a call from the tattooist. He was back in town and ready to fulfil his promise.

The next day the dragon was on Smiley’s back, and not long after, his new leg was sporting a new tattoo applied by the airbrush of his New Caledonian friend. The design is tribal symbolism for health, happiness and good fortune. By decorating his new leg came Smiley’s acceptance of his new limb.

With his family’s support, and also the support of his many friends and the Masonic Lodge he belongs to, Smiley has managed to get through the hardest of times. He freely admits the one thing he always had in his mind was riding again. Obviously, he can’t do it on two wheels and will seriously need to look at a third wheel, probably a sidecar or trike. When that happens, we’ll bring you Part Three of our story…

It was during Smiley’s long and painful recovery that he took up metal polishing as a means of income and rehab. He now runs his polishing business from his home in Gross Vale at the foot of the Blue Mountains.

words & pics by George

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