MILESAGO - Profiles
"The Fridge Man of Glebe" (1927-2001)
ONE FRIDGE MAN WHO NEVER SENT A BILL
Ernie Ridding, a man who devoted himself to collecting unwanted goods, repairing them and giving them to the poor and needy, has died. He was 74.
Known as the Fridge Man, Ridding lived in Glebe in a condemned building which overflowed with the fridges, computers and electrical goods on which he and a team of volunteers worked.
Ridding refused to make a cent out of anything he repaired and denounced charities which sold goods for money. "If you want to talk money, piss off," announced the hand-painted sign that hung above the rickety stairs leading to his home.
Rather than make a profit, he gave away his recycled items to anyone who asked him for one, especially to students and the needy, said Glen Harrington, a St Vincent de Paul outreach worker.
Ridding taught himself to carry out mechanical repairs. First he dabbled in radios and TVs. Fridges came later, until he almost blew his arm off re-gassing one, and he switched to computers.
"Ernie felt that waste was a terrible thing and he wanted to change the world, or at least do his little bit," said Harrington.
Ridding received a disability support pension, most of which went to help those less fortunate than himself. A health fanatic, he apparently lived on rice and apples. He was skinny and wiry, never drank or smoked, and boasted that he was the oldest virgin in Sydney. "He said the problems he'd had as a young man he didn't want to perpetuate on another generation," said Harrington.
In fact, his childhood and much of his adult life were extremely painful. An orphan, Ridding lived for many years in a series of psychiatric institutions, suffering from a form of schizophrenia. "In one of these places, in the space of three years, three psychiatrists committed suicide.
"He felt it was unsafe to be treated by people who were dying like that so he left," said Harrington.
Ridding was very religious without attending church, choosing instead to work seven days a week. He read widely and wrote his memoirs on one of the repaired computers.
"He had friends, people who would drop in on him all the time who would help him out in his quest," said Harrington.
"But he certainly marched to a different drum and I don't know any charitable worker who would put in the time that he did for nothing.
"He liked the idea of old prophets who walked without pockets and gave but never took."
LIGHTS GO OUT ON OUR FRIDGE MAN
PASSERS-BY once marvelled at the assortment of refrigerators, televisions,
washing machines and computers stacked outside Glebe eccentric Ernie Ridding’s
Corrections? More information about Ernie Ridding?
|REFERENCES / LINKS|
Village Voice Leichhardt Glebe Annandale Edition