Once home I of course had to get myself a job. I answered a position for a stenographer with a law firm (Dwyer and Thomas) in William Street, had the interview and the job was mine. They were a nice group of people to work for, both the legal eagles and the office staff. We were 'controlled' by a Miss Hartrey who was really a dear. Like many of us she was a smoker and one day after she arrived at work the boss, Mr Reilly, came into the office and laughingly told her she could be up for littering. She looked amazed and asked how that could be. Mr Reilly told her he was following behind her in his car that morning and saw her throw a cigarette butt out of her car window which, of course, was illegally littering. We all had a good laugh about that. Everyone was jovial and interesting to work for. In those days if you were typing a will or similar legal document you could not make alterations of any kind so your typing had to be 100% accurate. Remember we were using manual typewriters and there was no way of correcting your work except by using an eraser or a white coated paper which you would place over the error, type the incorrect letter/s and then retype over that spot. Both of those methods were obvious to a certain degree so typing accuracy was paramount. The paper being used was quite expensive so it didn't take long to become an accurate typist as you weren't meant to throw any of that paper away. If we ever had spare time we used to do speed tests to see how fast we could type without any errors and this became quite a competition amongst the girls. I also still did shorthand but it was always Miss Hartrey that took dictation from the big boss; we others from the 'lesser' mortals among the lawyers.
I found the legal work quite interesting but after about a year at the law firm I once again began to think about working in insurance which I had always enjoyed so I began looking for another job. Western Assurance Company were looking for a shorthand typist so I answered their ad and got the job. I became Assistant Claims Clerk to Mrs Harvey who was the Claims Clerk. I think perhaps my having worked for three and a half years for Norm Stehn, the insurance assessor, may have got me the job. I really loved my work there and "Harv" was a wonderful understanding boss and we got on so well. She was a happily married lady but had a soft spot for an insurance assessor who worked for us and occasionally if there was a need for something to be taken to his office Harv would go. She would go quite coy when his name was mentioned. She had beautiful greying hair and each morning on her way to work would call into her hairdresser and have a 'comb up'. She always looked so very elegant. The folk that worked here were a fantastic group and I regretted having to leave when I got married in 1953 but in those days it was always the case if you worked in a bank or an insurance company. I think Mrs Harvey had been taken on as a mature lady so her being married was taken not a problem. They did make an exception with the general manager's secretary. When Shirley married her Jack she did stay on as I think the boss would have been lost without her. She would of course have left as soon as she found she was about to have her first baby.
I, of, course began going out again and we still continued having our Christmas and Easter holidays down in Mandurah. I met up with Peter Webster (younger brother of John Webster of yachting days) and he and I would go out together but it was all very casual. He just wasn't the serious type and I knew he also went out with other girls which didn't bother me as I wasn't ready to be serious either. By this time my friends had serious boyfriends (June from Norm Stehn's office had actually married her long time boyfriend Doug while I was away in Melbourne) and so we would have fun as groups. There was a crowd of us at our place one day when mum and dad were out and Peter found dad's raincoat and a walking cane (I don't remember dad ever using one but he obviously owned one) and out he came dressed in dad's coat and hat. Of course a photo had to be taken of him acting the fool:
Also there was friend and workmate Wilma Longwood with her future husband Jim Dachtler (Jim was very much involved with Tornado class yachts and in fact won several Western Australian and National championships in the 1970s).
In 1951 I did actually receive a proposal of marriage from a young chap from New Zealand that I had met at the Mt Lawley tennis club dances. One night when he walked me home he asked me to marry him. He worked for a well know insurance company and was shortly to travel to South Africa to work and wanted me to go with him. He was a really nice young man but I had only known him a few weeks and certainly wasn't in love with him. I felt sad at having to say no to him but I knew it wouldn't have worked out. I've often thought of him and wondered how he fared in his life. I feel bad but have to admit I just can't remember his name so my memory does let me down at times. I do however remember he had really great auburn hair.
In April 1952 Peter's brother John was being married to Thelma Fisher (she was part of our yachting days) and Peter was to be part of the bridal party. He wanted me to go to the wedding so he asked his friend Aubrey Lewis (who had an invitation but no-one to take) if he would mind being my partner. As I'd known John and Thelma for a long time I of course wanted to go and see them married, but not on my own, so I said her that would be OK with me if it was all right with Aub. If you remember back a few episodes I wrote about the elderly couple who lived on the next corner to us in Fitzgerald Street. Turned out that this Aubrey was their grandson! He and his mum and step-dad in fact lived at 556 Fitzgerald Street while we were at 524. Small world!! This is me dressed up and ready to go to that wedding on 26th April, 1952:
That turned out to be quite a fateful day for me as from then on Aubrey became a constant visitor to our home and in May when mum, dad and I moved into our new home in Joondanna Heights (now only known as Joondanna) Aub more or less moved in with the furniture. No, he didn't move in to live with us, but became a very regular visitor to our home. He lived just a few miles from Joondanna and would ride his bike over nearly every night. We would go out dancing or to the pictures occasionally or perhaps borrow dad's car and take mum for a drive down to Mandurah or up to the hills. I still am not sure if I actually fell in love with Aub or if he became a habit as he was in my life so regularly. We even decided to buy a block of land together which mum seemed to think a little strange. This got us to thinking and the next thing I knew we were engaged to be married. We had an engagement party at home on 19 July, 1952 to which we invited several friends.
During 1952 I kept having regular serious bouts of tonsillitis to the extent that an ENT throat specialist said they should come out as soon as possible. Tonsillectomies were being avoided by doctors at that time (there was as lot of polio around) but as my tonsils were erupting so frequently there was no other choice than to take them out. The doctor recommended a day between Christmas and New Year but as I had my 21st birthday was coming up on 2 January I vetoed that idea and a date was set for mid-January.
I don't want to overburden you with too many words so will next week tell of my 21st birthday party with a few pictures and other happenings during 1953.