I realised there was too much to tell about my going to Melbourne to work so decided to do a separate post, and here goes. Just hoping I've not been too long-winded. Maybe if you are truly interested it might be a good time to put your feet up and enjoy a cuppa.....just a thought.
As you know mum and dad gave me a wonderful farewell party at our home and it was great to be able to say goodbye to my friends as I wasn't sure how long I would be gone.
I flew to Melbourne on a DC4 (big brother to the famous DC3) and was met at the airport by a lass from DCA and taken by tram to a boarding house in Toorak Road, South Yarra. It was a large double-storey place with a basement and a very large kitchen in the back garden. It was owned by a Mr and Mrs Ward who were a couple of characters and I was told later that they weren't actually a married couple. I was to share a big bedroom with two other girls, Phoebe (a Victorian) and Gina (also from Western Australia). I got on very well with both of them and there was never a cross word in all the time we were together. We had to share bathrooms with other girls and in the kitchen were stoves, fridges, cupboards, and dish washing facilities. The pictures may not be wonderful (I only had a 620 Kodak box brownie) but this is Shelbourne Lodge in Toorak Road, South Yarra where I lived, and the second photo is my corner of the bedroom I shared with Phoebe and Gina.
When Phil and I caught the #8 tram out to South Yarra when in Melbourne in 1983 the building was still there but had been turned into some shops of the boutique type from what I could make out.
In 1950 my brother Len's sister-in-law was living in Coburg with her husband Bluey Davies. On my first day in Melbourne they came to South Yarra to pick me up and take me to their home to have dinner and to stay the night with them. They felt it would be much nicer if I spent my first night in a strange city under a friendly roof and I thought this very nice of them. Of course the next day I had to catch the tram from their place into the city which was of course the opposite direction to that which I thought I would be going. However, I made it to the office without a problem and I always found Melbourne a very easy city to find my way to wherever I wanted to go.
I stayed with Nancy and Bluey on several occasions and while I was over there, their first child was born (a son they named Peter). Bluey came on that weekend to pick me up and take me to see Nancy and the new baby in the hospital. I bought a couple of small baby items to give them as a gift. Sadly, Peter died last November at the age o 63. Nancy is now living in a nursing home in Kingsley and at the age of 91 is still seriously troubled with asthma which has plagued her since she was a child. Bluey died in 2008, aged 85, and their other son, Greg, is now living in the eastern states. Nancy is very fortunate in having a niece who lives nearby (herself a widow of 64) who helps by doing shopping and running other errands for Nancy. From what Wendy has told me it if sometimes a difficult task as Nancy is very lonely and is not happy with her life. Knowing Wendy, I can never imagine her being impatient with Nancy. I remember how good she was with her own mother as she aged.
I had asked Val and Wilma if perhaps they would consider travelling to Melbourne with me but their mums considered they were far too young although they also would be 18 later in 1950. I was sorry in many ways that I had gone on my own as man of the young people in the boarding house knew each other or had come with friends. I became friendly with two really nice girls; here they are on one of our outings. Gloria is the tall one and Dawn the shorter one. We all got on very well together. There's a funny story about Dawn. I guess it was because I was away from home, but I decided to put a rinse through my hair....an auburn one. It went very well and when out in the sunshine it had realy strong red highlights. Dawn liked the look of my hair so much which decided her to follow suit but was so disappointed when her hair didn't look any different after the colour rinse, even though she left it on longer than I did. My hair happened to have gold/red highlights anyway but Dawn's was jet black so of course the rinse made no difference to the colour of her hair. We eventually had a good laugh about it once she had gotten over her disappointment.
We three quite often went out and about together but of course when you work five days a week there's not a lot of spare time with washing and ironing and shopping to do on weekends. We went on several train trips into the country together and I loved to visit the beautiful parks around Melbourne and this photo was taken up on the War Memorial. (We still wore our skirts quite long in 1950). I have views of the War Memorial, and views from it of surrounding areas, and I imagine those views would be very different today.
I really enjoyed my work with DCA where for the first two months I was employed in the typing pool where there were three other girls, somewhat older than I. Two Victorians and one Queenslander. I have never forgotten how the two Victorian girls used to talk about the third lass whenever she was absent. I am glad they didn't include me in their conversation but felt they were rather mean to do that.
None of the other three girls did shorthand and one day I was called into the main office and asked if I could take own some notes that would be read to me over the telephone from Sydney. I said I thought I could handle it OK but didn't expect to nearly fill a shorthand notebook, nor that I would be taking dictation for about 15 minutes. It was quite an experience. As I've never been able to hear well with my left ear when using the telephone I had to hold the 'phone to my right ear with my left hand and use my right hand to hold my pencil. Fortunately a young man stood next to me turned the pages as needed. I couldn't have done it without his help.
I then had to type all this up in draft form and was very pleased with myself when I actually managed to translate nearly all I had taken down. I felt I had done a reasonably good job but, strangely enough, although the exam I sat for in Perth was for a stenographer, that was the only time I was called on to do shorthand in the 6 months I worked for DCA.
After the first two months I was transferred from the typing pool to the office on the other side of Little Collins Street to join the Records Office of DCA. I was then the only female among about fifteen males whose ages ranged from about 18 to possibly 65+. They were all very polite the entire time I worked with them and I was treated as either their sister, daughter or granddaughter, depending on their ages. At lunchtime we often played darts and, although I wasn't quite as good as the men, I felt I held my own and it was all great fun. One of the middle-aged men used to tease me that "you sandgropers just come over here looking for a husband." It was the first time I'd been called a sandgroper but I knew he meant it just as a bit of fun. Finding a husband was furtherest from my mind at that time.
I have to mention the two elderly men who had their desks adjacent to each other in one corner of the big office. One was Australian and the other European with quite a strong foreign accent. They were so kind to me and used to compete to see who would be the first one to offer me a cigarette. Oh yes, I was wicked back then and was a smoker. The Australian chap smoked Craven A of which I was not particularly fond (I preferred milder cigarettess) and the European man smoked Turkish oval cigarettes, which were far too strong for me. I often would say "I've just put one out" to avoid having to take a cigarette from either one of them but then they would insist I "take one for later". I know they meant well and so I obliged and sometime would find a smoker who enjoyed either Craven A or even the Turkish cigarette.
A year or two after I returned to Perth I read that the Commonwealth Government was catching up with people who had worked past their retirement age. Probably the war had meant people had not been retired at 65 (for me) and 60 (for women) when they should have been. Just insufficient clerical staff to keep records up to date would be my guess. I often wondered if my two old friends came into the category of 'should have been retired long ago' as they were really quite elderly men.
I had a special friend named Geoff Lamb, a young man of about my own age. We would often walk down to Spencer Street station together as we caught the same train home. He had problems with his girlfriend and would open his heart to me and ask for my advice. He was such a lovely young chap and was a passionate follower of the Richmond Football Club. I've often thought of Geoff over the years and wonder how his life unfolded for him. I always hoped he had a good life.
At Christmas time Mr and Mrs Ward put on a lovely Christmas dinner and set out a large table along with trimmings in the big sitting room. Those that hadn't gone away had a wonderful feast and a great day. This is a photo of the setting (not a wonderful picture considering no flash on the Brownie, but at least it gives an idea of what it looked like).
Later that day Mr and Mrs Ward asked me if I'd like to accompany them down to Frankston for Christmas tea. I think they realised I had come to Melbourne on my own and may be a tad homesick. I accepted with pleasure and the fourth member of the party was a Canadian friend of the Wards. He was quite a lot older than me but he was really good fun. We had a wonderful meal and when we were outside the Canadian chap handed me a pair of salt and pepper shakers with the hotel logo on them. He said I may like them as a souvenir of a lovely evening. I did feel I was perhaps the receiver of stolen goods but I knew he meant well so I accepted them and have them still.
On the way back to South Yarra a policeman stopped us and asked Mr Ward where his front number plate was. "Round the back" said Mr Ward (he always tended to be lighthearted about everything). He was also asked what was wrong with his headlights. He of course said he had no idea. The policeman told him to be off (being summer, it wasn't quite dark at that time and we were nearly home) and to get new number plates and have the lights attended to. I think the fact that it was Christmas Day may have softened the policeman's heart as he didn't issue a ticket. We had another funny experience with headlights on another occasion when they included me in their outing on New Year's Eve. Mr Ward hung one of those 'trouble lights' on the front of the car as the headlights still weren't fixed and I recall us driving over paddocks trying to find the house of their friends. We got their eventually and had a wonderful evening. I don't think Mr Ward would have gotten away with any of his nonsense in this modern world. I look back on Mumma and Poppa Ward with much affection. They were such a caring couple, stood no nonsense from anyone but looked after all their boarders, both female and male, extremely well.
I enjoyed a nice social life while in Melbourne and went out with two young men, Jack and Laurie, separately of course. We would go to the beach, or dancing or sometimes just 'hang out' as they say these days. Jack's mother was a widow and he was helping keep the household going and at the same time helping to educate his younger brother. We knew there could be nothing serious between us as he was still committed to helping his family but we had some wonderful times together. Laurie had a Singer sports car and we'd often go out for a drive into the country. I went to both their homes and met their families and found the people of Melbourne very friendly.
Towards the end of my stay I met a young man whom I'd known briefly from our Mandurah days. He was a friend of some of the regulars that used to holiday down there. Mervyn was in the army and he and I went out several times. I rather hoped something serious would eventuate from our meeting as I really did like him and we got on very well. He was due to leave for Perth a couple of weeks before I was travelling back in the April and he arranged to meet me at the airport when I arrived. Before I'd left Melbourne I received a letter (a dear Margaret type of letter) from Merv telling me he'd met a young lady on the train home and now wouldn't be meeting me after all. Was I heartbroken? No, not really although I've often thought of him with fondness over the years and was saddened to see that he had died in 2009 at the age of 80. On reading the notice in the paper I feel that his widow had the same name as the lass he met on the train and I hoped they had a happy life together.
After I had been working at DCA for six months I was told I could return to Perth for a holiday and was given an open ticket to return when I wanted to by sea, air or train. I rang Len to pick me up at the airport so I could surprise mum and dad by arriving home unexpectedly. It was mum's birthday that week. I didn't take into account mum's intuition when it came to me. She somehow knew I was coming home and rang TAA to see if I was on the passenger list and of course they confirmed I was. I don't think these days they give out that information but that was the time when everything walked out on to the tarmac to say goodbye to family or friends and also to welcome them home. When I arrived home it was wonderful to see my folks again and I discovered while I was away mum had made pretty curtains and bedspread for my bedroom and really prettied it up for me.
I now remember something else involving mum's sixth sense. While in Melbourne I came down with a particularly nasty dose of 'flu so didn't write home for quite a few days. Next thing I knew there was a telegram from Mum "Are you all right? Worried about you." I rang mum to let her know I was getting better and not worry. It was a long weekend and on long distance (trunk) calls back then you would have an operator come on the line to say your time was up and did you wish to extend. Strangely enough this didn't happen once an Mum and I must have chatted for about 20 minutes. I then made a local call and while on that call the operator came on about the long distance call. I honestly said I was no longer on that call but didn't explain how long mum and I had talked. I told Mrs Ward about it and asked her to check when her telephone bill arrived but it was only listed as a 3-minute trunk call so we were very lucky. Always great to get a freebie occasionally.
It didn't take me long to make contact with my friends when I arrived home and it was then I decided I'd prefer to stay in Perth. I wrote to DCA, thanked them and returned the ticket explaining I wouldn't be returning. I received a very polite letter enclosing some holiday pay etc. I'd enjoyed my stay in the 'big smoke' and had fallen in love with Melbourne, but it just wasn't Perth and nor were my old friends there either. I sometimes I feel I was a little too young to have gone away on my own. We resumed our usual activities and the following year I met the man I eventually married.