Tuesday, February 25, 2014

TELLING IT ON TUESDAY (1949-1950) Part 8

It is now 1949 and I have just turned 17.  We are still living in North Perth and happily so as it is a nice neighbourhood and we have very pleasant neighbours.  There is a corner shop just diagonally opposite our house so it's very easy to do our grocery shopping (that will get a mention later).  On the other corner live an elderly couple and she and I often chat (that too will get another mention).

After spending two summers really enjoying yachting I decided I would buy myself a yacht.  I am not sure who helped me make my choice or really very much about it (unusual for me) but I finally bought a 12ft V-Jay.  I do have a photo of it but once again I'm not sure how to get it into my computer so am unable to show it.  This is a photo of Howard Ash sailing his V-Jay on Sydney Harbour in the 1934 and it is the same type of boat I had:


I kept it at Royal Perth Yacht Club.  This was quite a posh club on the Swan River and once again I forget how I came to keep it there.  A V-Jay has a crew of two and I would ask various people to come sail with me.  We would usually sail down to Mosman Park, have lunch, perhaps a swim and sail  home again.

I remember one day asking a young chap I knew if he'd like to come out for the day.  Don knew nothing about sailing but he was game and we managed to sail from Perth to Mosman Park where we had lunch and it was a quite successful day until the wind died on the way back and we were becalmed.  The only way we could make headway was to lie on each side of the deck and paddle with one arm.  I think we swapped placed a few times to stop our arms from aching.  It is a very long way from Mosman Park to Perth and it had got dark but still we paddled.  We finally got there and were met by a member of the yacht club who happened to know me to say Mum had telephoned asking if my yacht was back.  He explained about there being little or no wind but he said he was sure I'd be OK and not to worry.  I am still scratching my head at how I managed to keep my little yacht at that club with people knowing I did and yet they didn't seem to mind even though I wasn't a member of the club.  I guess I was fortunate that those that did know me were happy for me to do so (and it was only a little boat compared with the big cruisers that were moored there).  This will give you an idea of the type of yacht it was.  It only had a small cockpit and was made of plywood

I only kept the boat for one season but during that time we did take it down to Mandurah one Easter and on one particular day had a lot of fun.  The ANA yachting carnival was on but on that day the weather was so bad they decided to cancel that day's event.  John Webster's brother Peter was staying in Mandurah that year and he and I decided we'd take my V-Jay out regardless of the weather. These little boats are very light and if they capsize you just stand on the centre plate and up they come again. Well, on that day I think it was so windy we must have capsized about a dozen times. Peter and I had so much fun we found ourselves laughing even thought it was quite hard work sailing in those conditions.  When we finally got back to the jetty Mum was waiting for us.  I remarked to her that there seemed to be quite a large number of people on the foreshore and she said any of themhad been  watching and enjoying our escapades out on the water.  We'd not been intending to show off but just having loads of fun as young people do when they don't have a care in the world.  This is obviously not a V-Jay but the principal of righting it after a capsize is similar:


I was still very much enjoying my job as a stenographer with Mr Stehn and I get on really well with the girls I worked with (or should I say 'with whom I worked'?)  I had now discovered that I loved to dance and so each week I would go with friends to one of the tennis clubs where dances for young people were held every Friday or Saturday night.  Our most frequent venue which was nearest to where I live, was the Mount Lawley Tennis Club but we also went (when transport was available) to the Nedlands Tennis Club, the Alexander Park Tennis Club or occasionally to the refectory at UWA (University of WA).  Oh yes, the King's Park Tennis Club as well.  June and Wilma from work would often stay at our place and we would walk to Mount Lawley, dance all night, and then walk home again. We certainly got lots of exercise in those days.  It was probably a 2 mile walk each way.  We always wore flat heeled shoes (flatties) so walking was no problem.  We loved to dance and we loved to walk and it's a great pity young people can't find the same enjoyment out of simple fun like that these days.

It was at this time the "New Look" came into vogue so June and I bought a length of black satin backed crepe each and made ourselves skirts to wear with pretty tops.  The skirts were below calf length and beautiful for dancing. This was the fashion, the Dior look, and very elegant it was too:

As I was now 17 mum decided I should make my debut, as many young ladies did in those days, and still do I believe.  Mum discovered the Pleiades Ball was held each year.  Pleides of course is the constellation also known as the "Seven Sisters" and this ball was for girls who had attended the girls' colleges in Perth.  It was quite exciting and so a hunt was on for my first long dress.  Into Perth we went and to various shops until we found one that I liked and mum approved of.   A simple style but very comfortable to wear.   Even though I was quite tall at 5'7" the dress was a little too long so mum paid for it to be shortened.  It was white georgette with a very full gathered skirt and when mum picked the dress up on the Saturday before the ball we discovered it had NOT been shortened.  No time to take it back as the ball was the following Monday night, so mum carefully cut off the surplus material and she and I sat that weekend carefully sewing a rolled hem by hand.  We began one each side of the hem and worked until we finally met up and the job was finished. It was also fully lined so a second hem to sew, perhaps not quite so carefully, before the task was completed.  This is the dress and the photo was taken in the garden of my workmate June Wilson's home in Nedlands where I had stayed overnight on another occasion.   You can see it has a lowered waistline and a very full gathered skirt.


On the Monday night of the ball we were presented to Sir James Mitchell (the Governor of W.A. and strangely enough he was the gentleman who had the brother to our cat Molly...remember Molly?).  I didn't have a current boyfriend at this time but a friend of mine (Don Weir), who lived locally, agreed to be my partner and he did look very handsome in his dinner suit and he was also a good dancer.  I am almost sure we went to the ball and home again by taxi.  This is a photograph of the debutantes at the 1949 Pleiades Ball.  The two girls on the right of the front row are twins (June and Margaret Taylor) who also attended Perth College and were in my class, and I can pick out at least 5 faces of other girls I remember who also went there.   I am third from the left in the front row:



From here on in I began to grow up and have a really wonderful and full life.  I attended lots of balls and continued to go dancing but will leave all that till next week while I get my wits together, find some photographs and continue on with this very ordinary but happy life.  I have quite a few nice photos but not sure how many I should show as I don't want to over do it.



11 comments:

  1. Delightful! Being 64, I too made my debut in 1949 but I think you had more fun. My compliments on your lovely gown!

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment Geo. Knowing you, I think you too would have had lots of fun.

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  2. You and your gown look BEAUTIFUL.
    And I love the fun you had. This is a wonderful series Mimsie - thank you.

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    1. Thank you for the compliment EC. I am glad you are enjoying reading about what this 'kid' got up to as a youngster.

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  3. Ah..back in the days when women dressed like women and they were all ladies. Your dress was lovely.

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    1. I do think Delores that we were very ladylike, even as young adults. The dress was simple but looked well on me I thought.

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  4. Today your life seems extraordinary! I just love reading these posts. I had to laugh at the thought of a young person having to walk more than a city block these days - they'd never make two miles!

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    1. Your comment pleased me so much and I now feel I'm not being self-indulgent with these jottings. It was not an extraordinary life back then but very much the norm for most young people. We none of us had cars (not even the young men) so to walk was a method of getting to where one needed to go.

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  5. Your own small yacht and balls to go to...you've had such an exciting life!
    I'm really enjoying reading about it. I remember being able to walk home from anywhere, even at night, things seemed much safer back in those days.

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    1. Oh yes River, wasn't it wonderful feel safe and perhaps even more so for me as I am that much older.
      There were young women that lived much more exciting lives than yours truly; those that came from wealthy families, but I'm not sure they were any happier than I was.

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