Life's a piece of cake for Ted
LADIES throughout Laidley will recognise Ted Salmond as the man who always lifts his hat to them.
The 91-year-old has lived enough adventures to fill five lifetimes, let alone one.
He was born in 1926 in South Africa, where he grew up playing childhood games with the Zulu kids, and can still speak the language even now.
By the time he was 15, Ted had lost both his father and stepfather and had to petition his mother to allow him to join the Merchant Navy towards the end of the Second World War.
"I went to India, Burma, North Africa, you name it," he said.
"The nine men I lived with were rough, boy they were rough, but they treated me like their son."
Like many young men when they leave the family home, it was while living in these conditions that MrSalmond came to appreciate his mother.
He penned a moving verse to her titled Your Mother in 1943, still more than a year before he was to return home.
"I adored my mother, and I loved poetry," he said.
"I found out my brother was not visiting my mother and I wrote that poem for him."
The Yorkshire-born woman suffered daily during the war, with no knowledge of where her boy was and when he would return home.
Mr Salmond said he wrote home often in code, telling his mother either his left or right arm was sore depending on whether they were coming closer to home or going further out to sea.
One day, the news about her son's whereabouts was told horribly wrongly.
"My poor mother was told our ship had sunk," he said.
"She was at a dance and came across an officer who she asked about our ship.
"He just replied, 'Oh, it sank. There was a storm.'
"She didn't know (I was alive) for six months, until I came home and called her up from the port."
Luckily, the Laidley man hadn't died at sea but went on to live in Sydney for a while and then moved north to Ipswich, where he went into a very different business - cake making.
Mr Salmond said he worked his way up to store manager at Webster's cake shop in Ipswich and later bought three stores, one each at Ipswich, Wynnum and Mount Gravatt.
During the intervening years, Mr Salmond had married Agnes Mackay, who was a "wonderful dressmaker" according to her husband, and together they catered for brides across the two cities and into the Lockyer Valley region.
One quiet morning in 1989, Mr Salmond decided to make an unusual business move.
"I rang up Buckingham Palace and asked to speak to the Queen," he said.
"They asked me my reason for calling and I said I wanted to make a cake for Her Majesty's birthday."
As the royal officials tried to brush off Mr Salmond's offer, he only grew more insistent.
He told them about his family's long service in the British airforce, which he hoped would sway their good opinion.
"I said to them, 'I can't rise to the heights of my family, but I can make a good cake.'
"Three weeks later I received a letter from Buckingham Palace to say the Queen had been touched by my reasons and she would be happy to accept my cake," he recalled.
The logistics of sending a cake from one hemisphere to another were not easy for Mr Salmond, who said he paid about 240 pounds to have the cake specially couriered by plane.
"Worth every penny for the publicity I got," he chuckled.
"Then a few years later, I rang up Margaret Thatcher and told her I had the honour of making a cake for the Queen's birthday and asked if I could make one for her as well.
"Well, if it's good enough for the Queen, she could have hardly said no!"
Mr Salmond said he "found the Lord Jesus Christ as my saviour" in the early 1950s while attending a church service given by a sea captain and spent a few years travelling Australia helping others to understand the Scriptures.
Now aged 91, the former celebrity cake maker spends his days pottering around Laidley, preaching Christian values and keeping up with current events online.
"I've made so many friends here," he said.
"I love my iPad, I figured that all out by myself, and I email.
"All the coffee shops around town put up with me well.
"And most of the women know me as the man who lifts his hat to ladies."