1946...Unfortunately I do not remember exactly when dad bought the corner shop in Swanbourne but I feel it was possibly during 1945 as I do remember living there when I was 14. I had left Perth College at the end of 1945 and was now attending City Commercial College which I enjoyed immensely. At the end of the year I sat for and passed my Commercial Junior examination and the certificate showed I had passed in 6 subjects. I was also awarded a gold badge with CCC in its centre for being one of the top students of 1946. I was very proud of that achievement. I could have applied for a job immediately but dad said I was much too young as I was still only 14 so back I went to the college in 1947. People were allowed to commence work when they were 14 back then. This is a photo, taken by a street photographer, of me and my two best friends at City Commercial...Joan Uren and Shirley Manners. Don't the three of us look so serious? I was 14 then and June and Shirley were both 15. I actually met up with Joan many years later and we had a long chat but I've never seen Shirley since 1947. Shirley and I had both been at Perth College together. I notice we all three are wearing overcoats. I doubt many people in Perth these days even own an overcoat.
1947...It had been quite hard work running the shop as rationing was still in force and there were many shortages so shopkeepers had to try and be fair and share provisions among their customers. Dad used to deliver the grocery orders and mum mainly ran the shop and the house as well. I remember she did have a lady come in and do her washing and ironing which made her work load somewhat lighter. I think finally they had both had enough so decided to sell the shop. They then of course had to find a place to live and houses to rent were not easy to find in those post-war days. Fortunately dad was able to find a man who wanted to buy the shop and an arrangement was made that we could take over the house he was renting in North Perth (524 Fitzgerald Street). It was a brick and iron house with 3 bedrooms and a bathroom plus a front and side verandah, and mum made into a very comfortable home for us. We lived there from May, 1947 until 1952 when mum and dad at last built a home of their own in Joondanna (then known as Joondanna Heights) ... more about that later.
At the same time that we moved into this house I began my first job as a stenographer. I had mentioned that dad hadn't wanted me to start work while I was still only 14 so I subsequently spent the first term of 1947 still at City Commercial College. I mainly improved my shorthand speed and was actually offered a position at the college as a junior shorthand teacher. I was only 15 and the thought of teaching people my own age, or possibly even older, terrified me so I declined the offer. I had always been a rather shy child and although I probably would have done quite well I was just too shy to even consider it. You often wonder if important decisions one makes sometimes change the direction one's life takes.
At the end of April, 1947 the Principal called me into his office to tell me a very good job was available and he thought I would fill the position very well if dad would allow be to be interviewed. He telephoned dad and said he felt it was a good opportunity for me so dad weakened and agreed. I attended the interview at the Royal Automobile Club at 228 Adelaide Terrace in Perth and got the job. I was actually employed by Club Motor Insurance which was situated at the RAC. It was called Club Motor as it was situated in and autonomous to the Royal Automobile Club and only handled motor vehicle insurance. I started at the grand salary of £2.5.0d a week which was very good as I had friends who were only earning 18/6d a week. Obviously being rather good at shorthand made a big difference to my salary.
It was quite fun moving on the weekend and beginning my new job on the Monday. The bus route ran right past the house and on the journey home I had to remember where to get off the bus as I didn't know the area very well. Made it home OK and arrived home to tell mum all about this great job I had. I just knew I was really going to enjoy it.
Club Motor Insurance was an insurance company comprising a large number of companies that all had shares in the company. In those days the only insurance undertaken by us was comprehensive motor vehicle insurance and third party vehicle insurance. This was why this company had originally been part of the RAC. All Third Party insurance fell due on 30th June each year so every June was a particularly busy time and we girls would work overtime for several weeks before and after 30th June. I think we were paid five shillings tea money is we worked later than 6pm which was great as we usually waited until we got home to have a dinner that our mums had ready for us. It cost less than two pounds a year for Third Party insurance depending on whether it was a private or commercial vehicle. People had to have Third Party insurance before they could licence their vehicle or renew their vehicle licence. Only a few doors down James Street was the Police Traffic Office where car licences were renewed so it was convenient for car owners to pop into our office first and then walk the few yards to the Traffic Office. It was to that Traffic Office in 1954 that I went for my driving test which thankfully I passed without mishap. Don't tell anyone but I'd actually been driving since about 1949 but not a great deal. Roads were far safer in those days with lower speed limits.
The State Government decided to incorporate Third Party insurance into the vehicle licences and with so much of our business being Third Party the insurance companies involved in Club Motor decided to disband it altogether. Our boss then decided he would set out on his own and become an insurance assessor. We all decided we would stay with him and he hired one more lady (Greta Young) and also two gentlemen, a Sid Richardson who was a motor mechanic by trade, and Jock McKenzie who had been a policeman. Greta did the firm's books and Sid and Jock were assessors as well as the boss of course. The business prospered and I stayed with them until I flew to Melbourne in October, 1950 to work for the Department of Civil Aviation (more about that later).
It was in 1947 that I discovered yachting and also went out with a boy. We were once again holidaying down at Mandurah at Easter when this family arrived bringing with them a sharpie to sail on the Mandurah Estuary. The ANA Yacht Club in Perth had thought that perhaps an annual yachting carnival could be held at Mandurah each year so the Arnolds had been asked to try out the water to see if it would be suitable for such an event. Their son Gary owned the boat and with them also came his crew John Webster and Ron Felton. They too were staying at Mandurah House. One day Gary asked me if I would like to sail with them. Once again, not only my shyness but my doubts about sailing made me say "no thank you" Although I could swim very well I wasn't too sure about this slim looking boat with the huge sail. Mum then said she would like to go which of course made me think if she would go then it should be OK so I said "yes". A friend of mine, Shirley Cooksley, had joined us on this holiday so Shirley and I went for a sail in "Columbine", Gary's yacht. These boats were 19'6" in length with a cockpit and were not very wide. As with swimming, once I tried yachting I loved it and was in that boat every moment I could be. A couple of years later I bought myself a little 12ft VeeJay which I mainly sailed on the Swan River although one year we did take it with us down to Mandurah. (that is yet another story).
This is Shirley and me in the yacht at the Mandurah jetty with Gary, John and Ron waiting to go sailing. You can see by the people on the shore just how busy Mandurah used to be during the Easter holidays. This was a beautiful stretch of water to sail on and the ANA Yacht Club held annual regattas in Mandurah at Easter for several years and they were very popular.
At this time were were still living at the shop in Swanbourne so of course had a telephone (which we'd not had in our homes prior to that). Gary lived in Mount Lawley which was many miles away from us so he would 'phone me at night. I can remember dad coming into the shop and saying "Are you still on that 'phone?" which is probably what dads everywhere have been saying to daughters over the years. As very few young people owned cars in those days if one wanted to go out with a boy who lived some distance away it was normal to meet him at the venue where you were going to go, such as a picture theatre or similar and he would afterwards see you safely on to your bus or tram. The drinking age was then 21 so no thoughts of going to an hotel, not that many of us could have afforded to do so anyway and drinking was something young people didn't really bother with unless it was a very special occasion. Gary was an apprentice in the firm owned by his father's family and apprentice wages then were very low. I think Gary at 17 was earning about £2/week and quite possibly even less than I was earning as a stenographer. I do remember going with Gary to see "Pirates of Penzance" as a stage show and we thoroughly enjoyed. I think John Webster and his girlfriend came along as well.
Once our family moved to North Perth we were only within walking distance of where Gary lived and he would pop down most nights for a couple of hours and for a 15-year-old girl this romance became a little too serious. Later that year I decided to tell him I couldn't see him any more. It was strange 'cos there were evenings I would be out with friends and Gary would pop down and visit my mum. I think she felt a little sorry for him but I know she understood when I told her he was just too serious for me.
I do hope I've not made this section too long but it's difficult to know just where to stop. I am cutting it down into just a couple of years at a time but if I'm putting too much into any section please do be kind and tell me. Next week it will be when I am 16 and perhaps 17 and hopefully will be shorter.